Each week we webcast Lord's Day Sabbath School at 10a, morning public worship at 11a, and p.m. singing and sermon at 2:30p (sermon at 3:30); and the Weds. Prayer Meeting at 6:30p

Wednesday, November 03, 2021

2021.11.03 Hopewell @Home ▫ Exodus 8:20–32

Read Exodus 8:20–32

Questions from the Scripture text: Who speaks to whom (Exodus 8:20)? When is Moses to rise? Where is he to go (cf. Exodus 7:15)? What is Moses to say (cf. Exodus 7:16, Exodus 8:1)? What will the Lord do if Pharaoh doesn’t (Exodus 8:21)? On which three groups of people and in which location? But not where or on whom (Exodus 8:22)? That Pharaoh may know what? What will the Lord “make” (Exodus 8:23)? What happened (Exodus 8:24)? Then where did Pharaoh tell them to sacrifice (Exodus 8:25)? What does Moses say about doing so (Exodus 8:26)? Why wouldn’t it be right? Where does Moses say they will go instead (Exodus 8:27)? What concession does Pharaoh make (Exodus 8:28)? For what does he ask? What does Moses say that he will do (Exodus 8:29)? But what does he say for Pharaoh not to do? What does Moses do (Exodus 8:30)? And what does Yahweh do (Exodus 8:31)? With what miraculous result? But what does Pharaoh do (Exodus 8:32a) and not do (verse 32b)?

If you’re Pharaoh, and you’ve got a ritual washing as the first thing on the agenda every day, you might want to clear the rest of the agenda if Moses shows up to your first appointment (Exodus 8:20). The 80-year-old Hebrew is about to ruin your day—unless, of course, you are willing to let Yahweh’s people go that they may serve Him (Exodus 8:21). But Pharaoh isn’t willing. He doesn’t have it in himself to be willing, and the Lord is justly withholding the grace that could make him willing.

This is the fourth plague. In the third one, we saw something new: that the Lord does not owe sinners a warning or a call to repentance. Now, Pharaoh gets those back, but the Lord does something else new: He makes a distinction (Exodus 8:23), “in order that you may know that I am Yahweh” (Exodus 8:22). 

From the beginning of creation, we have seen that God is a God of distinctions: light and darkness, water and dry land, male and female. Even the temptation to eat the fruit was a temptation to be the one who makes the distinction between good and evil—to this day, one of the clearest marks of the wicked is that they call evil good and good evil. 

Now, we see God displaying Himself as the God Who makes distinctions in the sphere of providence/redemption. The reason that Exodus 8:24 finds the Egyptians covered and corrupted with the flies, and the Israelites unaffected, is not found in any moral or spiritual superiority on Israel’s part. As anyone familiar with the rest of the Bible will tell you, the reality about Israel is that they can sin with the best of them. No, as Exodus 8:23 specifically points out, it is God Himself Who makes the difference.

How hard is Pharaoh’s heart? In what he probably considers to be a great concession, Pharaoh actually directly disobeys the first part (“let My people go”) of Yahweh’s command. He says that Israel is to sacrifice in the land. Civil government doesn’t need to forbid worship in order to express its wicked rebellion against God; it indulges this rebellion quite well by attempting to dictate to God’s church how/when/where she may worship.

Moses’s response subtly makes the same point: God’s right worship is repulsive to the Egyptians (Exodus 8:27). Let those enraptured with God and committed to His way of worship never think that worshiping Him well in the way that He says can be made attractive to the world! 

Amazingly, Pharaoh concedes this point (Exodus 8:28), and like many people who will have nothing to do with our God, he still hopes to get some benefits: “intercede for me.” Also amazingly (amazing grace!), the LORD answers. As anyone who has tried to deal with a fly infestation can tell you, the miracle in Exodus 8:31 is probably the greatest miracle in the passage: “not ONE remained!” 

Our powerful, merciful God shows goodness to all. But, He makes a distinction in reserving His softening, saving grace for His chosen people. For them, it is clearly He, and not they, Who makes the difference!

In what ways does the Lord show Himself today as the God Who makes the difference? How does government try to control Christian worship? What happens when the church worries about whether the world will dislike their worship? To whom is the Lord good? To whom is He savingly gracious?

Sample prayer:  Our Creator and Redeemer, we bless Your Name for the wisdom and goodness of the distinctions that You have made. Thank You that one of the ways that You make this distinction is by giving to sinners, who deserve the same Hell as everyone else, softening and salvation instead. Grant unto us to remember that the world will hate Your worship, and us for offering it; but, give us the courage and commitment to offer it to you gladly anyway. For, Christ has earned this, and we ask it through Him, AMEN!

Suggested songs: ARP2B “Why Do Gentile Nations Rage” or TPH2B “Why Do Heathen Nations Rage”


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