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Moses and the Reality of God

Exodus 5-11 CSB | Trey VanCamp | January 15, 2023

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Our society is obsessed with redefining reality. We look to technology, entertainment, and education to pull our attention away from the reality of sin and attempt to control our future.

But at some point, reality hits us.

Whether in the form of a global pandemic that shuts our lives down, or 10 ancient plagues that shut a nation down, God often allows us to experience harsh reality checks to reveal our idols and point us back towards him.

When we practice communion, we remind ourselves of this reality. We remember that we are not God, that we cannot save ourselves, and Christ is the ultimate sacrifice. Jesus loves us, he’s rescued us, and he’s here when we’re willing to surrender our control.


You can take interactive notes here. At the end of the message, you can email the notes to yourself.


At this time Lisa Thompson is going to be reading our scripture today. All right. Thanks Jordan. Hi again. I’m Lisa and I’ll be reading the scripture, which comes from Exodus chapter five verses one in two.

Later, Moses and Aaron went in and said to Pharaoh, this is what the Lord the God of Israel says, let my people go so that they may hold a festival for me in the wilderness. But Farrow responded, who is the Lord that I should obey him by letting Israel go? I don’t know the Lord. And besides, I will not let Israel go.

Amen. Let’s pray. Father, we just ask that we would be good hearers of your word today, A passage that isn’t really culturally something that we would just easy to accept, but may not only we be hears, but God may we be even better doers. Empowered by your spirit, empowered by your grace, gladly welcoming the truth.

God, we love you. We thank you for what you’re doing in our lives, and we thank you that you take us for where we’re at and we just submit to you. In Jesus name I pray. Amen. Amen. Perhaps the greatest boast of our generation is our ability to redefine reality. The creation of machines in the past century has redefined our relationship to work.

It has saved us from sore backs, sweaty brows, and delayed timelines. Not only that, more and more, if you watch YouTube these days, artificial intelligence is taking everything by storm. It is redefined, sadly, how we even study. At the click of a button, it can literally write an essay for you. Teachers are now scrambling to figure out how do we check and make sure a bot didn’t write this essay?

Cuz you can literally tell it, write this in a fifth grade level in the voice of Donald Trump and it’ll do it. Like what? Right Here is creation, where we’re at. Virtual reality is another way we’ve re. Our mode of escapism. We don’t even have to take vacations anymore. We are exa. We are imagining a day where we can just enter into a new world where you don’t have to work out, you don’t have to sweat, you don’t have to go through trials.

You’re just immediately the hero and you look really good. We also have redefined reality and many good ways of course, and medical breakthroughs. We’ve redefined how long we live. Antibiotics, organ transplants, medical imaging is the reason many of us maybe even are here today. And let me be clear, I am very grateful to live in the 21st century.

I am not that romantic type that wants to live in the 15 hundreds. I enjoy air conditioning. I enjoy the computer. I enjoy vehicles. Praise God. I enjoy that. I have a microphone right here, right now, and I don’t have to yell. Now. With all these breakthroughs though, we have to recognize it does not come without side effects.

There are many side effects to us redefining our reality. . These breakthroughs have come because of a core value of the modern age. We don’t discover reality. We create it, which this is the boast of America, is it not? We don’t discover it. We create it, and this works great as long as we live in a peaceful and orderly world, relying on things we don’t really recognize until those things are gone.

A k a pandemic, a k, a, you get the worst scare of your life getting a diagnosis, and now your redefinition of reality begins to unravel. A few months into the pandemic, psychologists and counselors were ringing the alarm. They said The only way to happiness is to actually accept reality for what it is.

This was hard for. We are a generation who redefines reality, and now we’re told we are happy once we stop trying to redefine it and just simply accept it. But studies have shown the quicker you are to accept your condition, the quicker you are to find hope. And those who bury their head in the sand or run after other conspiracy theories or whatever it is, they actually wind up multiplying their anxiety, which thus multiplies their illnesses, which thus makes life so much worse.

M Scott Peck, he’s an American psychology psychiatrist and bestselling author. He actually noted that mental health he has this quote, he says, mental health is dedication to reality at all costs. So in a generation today who is more obsessed with mental health than ever before, but lacking it more than ever before, will not do the one thing it says to do except reality for what it is he actually says in one of his books, if you expect life to be perfect, you will be very depressed and very frustrated.

And I blame my parents cuz the millennial generation, we were told the nineties Disney era life was supposed to be great. And it’s not now, but if you expect, here’s what’s incredible, the paradox of life. When you expect life to be hard, turns out to be full of joy, there’s great moments of peace. You’re actually really filled with purpose.

See, as Americans, we find ourselves in this tension because redefining reality is one of the hallmarks of our culture. It’s one of the hallmarks of our ingenuity and our individuality. But the same time, redefining our reality has turned out to be our Achilles heel. It’s the very thing that causes depression because we cannot stand reality for what it is.

So we just keep redefining it. And I don’t say this as an innocent bystander at all. As a Christian, I find myself finding passages and trying to redefine it so that it feels better for me, but it leads to more depression. It leads to more heartache. Carl r Truman, in his book, the Rising Triumph of the Modern Self, one of my favorite books I’ve read in the past five years, he has this scathing critique of the modern age.

He put it this way, the quote should be on the screen. He says, we all live in a world in which it is increasingly easy to imagine that reality is something we can manipulate according to our own will and desires, and not something that we necessarily need to conform ourselves to or passively accept. He goes on to give great illustrations and the farming culture, you are reliant on some sort of higher power to take care of your crops.

Today, we can just manufacture that right example after example. We are making a more and more detached where we feel like. We are not we are not having to submit to nature, but instead nature submits to us. My point is that you and I, we find it really hard to accept reality even as followers of Jesus at times.

And this kind of stubbornness feels unique, but it’s not. It’s just a little bit of a different flavor. In fact, this stubbornness is as old as the Garden of Eden in Genesis chapter three, and also as old as the pyramids of Egypt, which we read about in the Book of Exodus. So ancient Egypt is the context we’ve been learning about as we’re studying the life of Moses.

Most Sundays what we’re doing is looking specifically at Moses, but today I felt led to really look at Pharaoh. Now, ancient Egypt, they made a name for redefining reality. They were really one of the first innovative countries to do all sorts of things. They innovated the way when it came to architecture.

Engineering and writing. They redefined the way people worked, the way things the irrigation system. They developed the first complex irrigation system for farming that we still use based off of that foundation. Today, the list of their genius goes on and on. And you probably learned that in school.

And this is the world Moses and the suffering Israelites find themselves in the book of Exodus, Egypt. They are the powerhouse and they breathe the air of a stubborn spirit. It’s the spirit of Pharaoh where Pharaoh believes he is completely in charge and he can define reality however he sees fit.

But God has a word to say about that Exodus chapter. We’re looking at a lot of scripture today. Thank you, Lisa, for starting with Exodus five. It’s a helpful way for us to see the stubborn spirit of Pharaoh, but now let’s look at seven, the first seven verses. We’re gonna jump a lot from here all the way to chapter 11.

So bear with me. Verse one, the Lord answered. Moses, see, I have made you like God to Pharaoh and Aaron on your brother and Aaron. Your brother will be your prophet. You must say whatever I command you. Then Aaron, your brother, must declare it to Pharaoh so that he will let the Israelites go from his land.

This is the plan that God has for Moses and his people. Verse three is very interesting, though, he says, but so I have this plan, but I will harden Pharaoh’s heart and multiply my signs and wonders in the lands of Egypt. Pharaoh will not listen to you, but I will put my hand into Egypt and bring the military divisions of my people to Israelites out of the land of Egypt by great acts.

Of judgment. The Egyptians will know that I am the Lord when I stretch out my hand against Egypt and bring out the Israelites from among them. It’s pretty fascinating. We will see plagues always hitting Egypt, but Israelites seem to be spared. Verse six. So Moses and Aaron did this. They did just as the Lord commanded them.

Moses was 80 years old and Pharaoh 83 when they spoke to Pharaoh, and now you have the showdown. So Exodus seven through 11 are the 10 plagues, and this brings up a lot of theological truths that quite frankly, we don’t have enough time to fully exhaust. And to be honest, most of us theologians have debated for centuries and nobody’s really come up with okay, we can all agree this is the answer, but I’m gonna bring it out.

A major point of discussion that we’re gonna go so fast through, you’re gonna be upset with me, is the hardening of Pharaoh’s heart. The questions we have to ask ourselves are two. One did God heart and pharaoh’s heart without his free will. Or number two, did Pharaoh already harden his own heart? Okay let’s look at the text.

Seven three chapter seven, verse three says, but I, this is God speaking, will harden Pharaoh’s heart and multiply my signs and wonders in the lands of Egypt. So what does it look like? It looks like God is in charge and God hardens the heart of Pharaoh. But hold on, look at this next verse, eight 15, chapter eight, verse 15.

But when Pharaoh saw there was relief, he hardened his heart. And when not listened to them as the Lord had said which is it? Does God harden your heart or do you harden your own? I don’t know. . Here’s the here’s what we do. Now what you do does something to you. And the more you say no to God, the harder it will be to say yes to God.

That’s good. And this is why in the Book of Acts Peter says, today is the day of salvation. Why? Be careful. The more you reject this message, the harder it will be for you to receive it. And the reality is, every single time, if you grow up in church, if you’ve ever heard the gospel, you have always responded to the gospel.

Now the question is, did you respond with a yes or with a no? But every week you are responding. John Mark Homer, one of my favorite modern day authors in this book, live, no Lie, such a great book. He has this line. I think it’s really helpful. He says, our freedom or this free will right, expands or shrinks with each decision we make.

So we have this ability, when we say yes to the Lord, it actually empowers us to keep saying yes even. But be weary because then the more you say no to him, the easier and easier it is to say no to him, all the more. Now, what I love is that we believe God is a God of grace. We believe there is a part where it seems like his grace is irresistible and it seems like God just comes down into the scene and saves your life.

But there are stories where people are not with God now because they just kept saying no. Which one does it? Is God the one who saves or are we the one who receives? Yes. Was it God who hardened Pharaoh’s heart or was it Pharaoh who hardened his own heart? Yes. So now that we’ve 2000 years of theological debates, we’ve settled it.

Praise the Lord. Let’s look at the 10 plagues. Shall we? ? Let’s talk about pain. All right, so starting Indus seven. What we see here is God sends 10 plagues to the Egyptian people. And as I starting this week, it’s pretty fascinating. The ancient Egyptians, they had about 80 Hear me, 80 major gods and goddesses, right?

So they had a God for everything. And what happened is they took these 80 gods and they have really three main categories. So you have gods that are Gods of the Nile. The Nile River is what made Egypt so unique compared to all the surrounding countries. And it’s what they’re boast in their pride. This is where they got life.

Then you have the land. And because of the irrigation system and their ingenuity, the land was really fruitful. So it again was something that made them very unique. So they had many Gods contributing to their land. Lastly, you have the sun, or some would even go even larger and say the sky. There are many gods concerning the sun and the sky.

What’s amazing is when you look at these plagues, there’s 10 of them. Every single plague is directed at one of these three domains. So the first two plagues are actually against the Nile River, against all of the gods of the Nile. If you don’t believe that, you’re just in denial. I don’t know. Denial.

The next four I had to pull in my inner jungle cruise whatever they call that person, skipper. All right, the next four are against the land. . So Nats, the flies, the diseases, livestock, and the boils, they are specifically against the gods of the land. And the final four, including the death of the firstborn son, is actually against the sun and everything associated with the sky.

It’s as if God is saying, I’m gonna give you a reality check. You think you know what life’s all about. I’ll take away everything you’ve put in your trust in, and then what do you have left? This is what God does. The first plague is blood in the Nile. You see this in chapter seven. For the Egyptians, the Nile was the source of life.

And what does God do through the hand of Moses? He turns it into blood, which now is communicating this source of life is now the source of death. And God goes, what you good do about that? The reality is, what does Pharaoh do? The whole idea, what is Moses trying to get done? Trying to get his people the permission to leave Egypt and to go worship God in the wilderness?

And so you’d think after this terrifying incident, Pharaoh says, wow, your God is more powerful than ours. Go ahead. But he has a stubborn spirit. I wonder how many of us have been given chance after chance, and yet we stick to being stubborn. The second plague is the frogs. I didn’t know this, but this week, as I learned for the Egyptians, frogs actually had magical powers and were considered sacred.

Like they would create images of frogs and worship it. And so here’s the worst part. You have all of these frogs just consuming everything. Can you imagine all the warts, isn’t that not true? Do you get warts from frogs? I’ve always heard that. And then I heard maybe it’s a.

That’s good. It’s a theory, whatever. So the frogs, here’s the worst part about it. This is annoying, but guess what, according to the Egyptian worldview, their religion, the frogs could not be killed. They had to just endure the frogs. Why? Because the frogs were gods, and the last thing they wanna do is kill a God.

And so they just had to deal with it. All right? I would’ve said, all right, go. I’m out. But third plague is Nats. So here is pretty fascinating for the Egyptians we’re now transitioning from the plagues against the Nile, to the plagues against the land. And they actually believe that there was a God called Gbb.

And Gbb was supposed to protect their land from anything such as Nats. But look at, let’s look at chapter eight, verses 19, 8 19 says the people, they were overwhelmed by the Nats. Wouldn’t you be? They said, and I’m even imagining as they’re speaking, It’s getting in their mouth. You know what I’m saying?

This is how overwhelming it is, and they’re saying this is the finger of God. And the magician said to Pharaoh, but Pharaoh’s heart was hard, and he would not listen to them as the Lord had said. So already, the people around Pharaoh after three plagues said, enough’s enough. God is in control. We are not.

We are able to fabricate some of these plagues, but not this one. Let’s give in. But what does Pharaoh do? He doesn’t listen and he hardens his heart even more. But now the Egyptians are thinking, what’s up with all the God? How come the frogs are doing this to us? How come Gbb didn’t protect us? Then you have plague number four, which is the swarm of flies for the Egyptians.

Many insects were associated with DeeDees, and so they couldn’t just kill insects. What they have to do when you had the swarm of flies, they had to simply endure them to kill them with, to go against their faith with to. Ruin, maybe a reincarnated person or a sacred deity, and so they again had to just endure the flies.

The fifth plague is the disease, livestock. As livestock is people’s like income in this day. So this was everything for the Egyptians. Also though, the livestock were the incarnation of sacred beings, and so they believed in a bull god and a cow goddess, and they were thinking, how come the bull God couldn’t protect all the bulls?

We give and sacrifice to it every day, and yet the bulls are dying. How come the goddess of the cows is not stepping up and healing these cows? They are dying of diseases and now we can’t even eat them or use them. What God is slowly doing is he’s unraveling the Egyptian’s concept of reality, and yet some still stayed stubborn all the more.

Five plagues in. They’re not done. Plague number six boils. This one is fascinating. Let’s look at chapter nine verses eight through 10. It says, then the Lord said to Moses and Aaron take handfuls of furnace, soot, and Moses is to throw it towards heaven in the sight of Pharaoh. And so verse nine, it will become fine dust over the entire land of Egypt.

It’ll become festering boils on people and on animals throughout the land of Egypt. And so they took furnace, hood, and stood before Pharaoh. Moses threw it toward heaven and it became festering boils on people and animals. Now, this is really fascinating. God is playing with them now because this is what I learned this week.

James Montgomery Boy has a really good commentary on this, and he says the following, he says, in the practice of their Egyptian religion, the Egyptians took the ashes of an offering. and threw the ashes into the air just as Moses was doing right, but wow, as a means of blessing, this was common in their culture.

Look, if ashes fell on individuals, they consider themselves very fortunate. But what had been considered a blessing suddenly became a curse causing boils to break out on the people. See how God is just reversing everything you think You gotta figure it out. This very action that used to bless people, he’s saying no.

I am done letting you play your reality game. This is reality. That’s not what blesses you. In fact, you keep doing it, it’s gonna start cursing you. I wonder how many of us have done this where we practice in something outside of the faith of Jesus, and for a while it blessed us, but in God’s grace, he begins to expose it for what it really is.

and the curse is actually meant to send us back to the real blessing. So they were thinking, where were the healing Gods? Egypt was known for their medical innovations. Gods like emote, thought, and sec, those gods are supposed to heal the people and they are powerless in the face of God. Almighty, what Gods are you serving and will you recognize they’re powerless in the face of Jesus?

The seventh plague is hail and lightning. This freaks us all out as Arizonans. When it lightnings, we do nothing. We freak out. And deservedly I do too. So I’m, whatever. Let’s look at verse 15. Let’s look at the story of the hail and the lightning. But by now, I could have stretched out my hand and struck you and your people with the plague, and you would’ve been obliterated from the earth.

However, I have let you live for this purpose. I love God. He says, to show you my power and to make my name known on the whole earth, you are still acting arrogantly against my people by not letting them go. So tomorrow at this time, I will reign down the worst hail that has ever occurred in Egypt from the day it was founded until now.

So therefore, give orders to bring your livestock and all that you have in the field into shelters. Every person and animal that is in the field and not brought inside will die. Notice all, all, still the compassion of God. I’m giving you a warning. If you go in the shelters and listen to my word, you can be saved.

But so many of us, we hear his commands and we still do the exact opposite. And and Brandon will die when the hail falls on them. Many of them did not believe this. So those among Pharaoh’s officials who feared the word of the Lord made their servants in livestock flee to shelter. So Pharaohs stubborn, but his people are putting the dots together.

Saying, it looks like your God is not as powerful as this God. So we’re gonna do what this God says, verse 21. But those who didn’t take it to heart, didn’t take to heart. The Lord’s Word left their servants and livestock in the field. Man, as I was reading this, I thought, Lord, do I take your word to heart?

Or am I like the foolish Egyptians daring God to do what only he can do? Verse 22, then the Lord said to Moses, stretch out your hand toward heaven and let there be hail throughout the land of Egypt on people and animals, and every plant of the field in the land of Egypt. So Moses stretch out his staff toward heaven, and the Lord sent thunder and hail.

Lightning struck the land and the Lord reigned hail on the land of Egypt. Notice this is now the plague of the sky. The hail with lightning flashing through it was so severe. That nothing like it had occurred in the land of Egypt since it had become a nation. So God is a God of his word.

Verse 25, throughout the land of Egypt, the hails struck down everything in the field, both people and animals. Can you imagine this? This is like the movies we create today about the end of the world. The hail beat down every plant of the field and shattered every tree in the field. The only place it didn’t hail was in the land of Goshen.

Where’s that? That’s where the Israelites were. So Pharaoh sent from Moses and Aaron, I have sinned this time. This is a huge deal, right? He admits I have sinned, not just that I’ll let you do it. No, I have sinned. He said to them, the Lord is the righteous one. I and my people are the guilty ones, a change of heart.

He says, make an appeal to the Lord. There has been enough of God’s thunder in hell. I will let you go and you don’t need to stay any longer. So Moses said to him, when I have left the city, I will spread out my hand to the Lord. The thunder will cease and there will be no more hell. So that you may know the earth belongs to the Lord.

Last verse. But as for you and your officials, I know that you still do not fear the Lord God. There is a way to repent because of the consequence versus repenting because of who God is. Many of us have a false comfort that we’re saved, that we’re okay, but we never actually have surrendered to King Jesus for who he is.

Pharaoh, it almost looks like he had the sinner’s prayer. I have sinned. Save me now. I don’t say this to bring doubt. I don’t say this to, for those struggling with shame and fear. Oh no. Now I don’t know if I’m saved. If you’re wondering that, I promise you Pharaoh wasn’t wondering that. That’s already a good sign.

Right this, oh, I want to be with the Lord. Pharaoh did not think that Pharaoh was using this as a game, but be weary just saying a few words without meaning, it doesn’t really mean anything. So for the hail enlightening the Egyptians, they served and sacrificed to Gods who protected their fields and preserved their atmosphere.

And now they’re thinking, where are those gods now? But Pharaoh still won’t accept reality. How often do you and I do the same Next plague, the eighth plague locust, right? Where is Neet? Because nee is the goddess of grain, but the locust completely consumed it. What about the God of men? Am I in the deity of the harvest?

Again, the Egyptians are thinking our whole worldview is crashing. The things we thought gave us security and purpose and understanding of life is crumbling before our eyes. And we tend to be mad at God. When that happens. But we have to see God as opening up their eyes to see what the truth is actually to deliver them.

The ninth plague is darkness. Now, this was the greatest of all Gods, according to the Egyptians. I remember this, in fifth grade we did those Egyptian wax museums. Did anybody else do that? Or is that just my school? It was the coolest thing ever. And then I thought, Lord, are you gonna judge me? Like when I was like in fifth grade, I was like, I’m sorry that I’m this God thing.

Oh no. So I, anyways the Lord’s forgave me, but, so this is the greatest of all Gods and his name is raw. Here’s the reality during this came because guess what? Pharaoh was considered raw incarnate. So Pharaoh is saying you can do all those things, but my domain is the sun. Egypt, like Arizona can boast that it never rains here, that it never gets dark.

We always have the sun, ironically, on the day that it rained, but you get it , and now darkness has come. God is slowly humiliating the Pharaoh. Now he is directly humiliating the Pharaoh. You think you are in control of the sun? It’s now pitch. Black people also just quickly, they think of the darkness.

I’m reminded when Jesus was crucified, darkness entered the land showing that this plague, all the plagues actually rested on Jesus so that you and I could be saved. The 10th plague was the death of the firstborn sons. This is, you reap what you sow. As we talked about in the first week, pastor Caleb did such a great job.

What do the Egyptians do? 80 years prior to this, they killed all the infant sons of Israel. They killed all the firstborn sons and now their firstborn sons who are gonna be killed. Now you have to ask this question, why would God sin these plagues? Isn’t God a god of love?

God is loving enough to rip off the bandaid and expose you to reality for the sake of your soul. Eugene Peterson, I, I can’t think of a better way to put it, talking about the plagues in Revelation, but also he was pointing back to Exodus. He says this, he says, however, practice we become at tuning out sounds that we do not want to hear, including the sound of God’s displeasure at sin.

God finds new ways to penetrate our defensive deafness. God is actually really gracious for sinning the. . God is causing Egypt and Israel to open their eyes to the destruction of sin and all that it brings. We say this all the time, but what’s so evident in this passage, sin is not bad because it is forbidden.

It is forbidden because it is bad. It’s not good for you. It’s not good for anyone. It’s not like it’s this great thing and God just is a killjoy. Sin is destructive. It knows no other, let me put it this way. To disobey God is to unleash chaos and disorder in your life and everything around you. God is communicating.

This is the law of. God didn’t sense some magical plagues. It’s just the things of nature. All of a sudden it began to unravel. So many scholars have actually noted what’s happening in the 10 plagues is the undoing of Genesis one and two. In the beginning was chaos. But God takes these elements like man, women, animals, plants, land, water, sky and he turns them into beauty.

He takes it and he makes something in harmony. He puts it all in order. What happens with sin? It begins to take all of creation apart. It begins to make all of these things undone, and what sin does, it makes everything ugly. It’s no longer beautiful, it makes it dysfunctional. It’s no longer harmonious.

It makes things chaotic. It no longer has. And in this passage, what is sin? Sin a chief form of disobedience in this passage and all throughout scripture in life is what the Bible calls idolatry idols, which is what the Egyptians were famous for, and you and I are famous for. We just don’t dress them up.

In statues is trusting in someone or something to bring about peace and order in our life. Sacrificing to it, giving our time, talents, treasures, attention to it, thinking if I do this enough then everything will be okay. If I have that, then my life will have meaning. If I get this, then I will be secure.

And how is that working for you? The reality is outside of the grace of God, you and I are no different than Egyptians. We look to our spouse to guarantee our happiness. Your spouse doesn’t deserve that, nor can they do that. We look to our career to guarantee us a sense of significance. The moment we do that, our career winds up killing us.

We look to our finances to guarantee US security. , but our greed takes over and it’s never enough. It destroys relationships. It destroys our self-worth. We look to public opinion to give us comfort. Public opinion changes more than the waves, right? It is always different. Sometimes you’re in their good favor, and other times you’re not.

See, we may think that these idols are actually giving us exactly what they need, what we need. However, here’s the reality. I’m so grateful for this reality will not bend its knee to our delusions. Reality will not bend its knee to our delusions. Even culturally. Our attempts to redefine biology today are already producing massive pain, dysfunction, and destruction.

Reality not, is not gonna bend its knee. Our attempts to redefine our sexuality. And if that’s you in this room, we are so sympathetic and empathetic to that, and we get that there’s a lot of things like identity and abuse and just all sorts of things being misunderstood, not being allowed to share some of your longings, and it got you to this point.

But here’s the reality is reality will not bend its knee to your delusion. You can say you are happier and more fulfilled all you want, but it’s doing the exact opposite. There is a time where the idol makes you feel, and it does seem like it is succeeding, but God in his grace will begin to make it completely unravel.

Our attempts to redefine truth as relative what’s true for you is true for you. What’s true for me is true for me is only making us more divisive, more disintegrated, and more anxious, right? So reality is reality. So before we identify with Moses, we need to take a long look at Pharaoh. Do we come to God to discover reality?

Or do we just look to ourselves to define reality? Reality will not bend its need to our delusions. So the question is, will we bend our need to reality? It reminds me of a passage in Philippians, one of my favorite passages of Philippians two verses nine through 11. It says, for this reason, God highly exalted him and gave him the name that is above every name.

I want you to even think of Pharaoh here. This is what Pharaoh wanted, but literally it’s the exact opposite. And Jesus came as a servant, right? And his name is now above every name. Pharaoh wanted to be exalted, but it was Jesus, so that at the name of Jesus, not at the name of Pharaoh of any other God, at the name of Jesus, every knee will bow.

Why? Because reality. Will not bow to your delusions. Every knee will bow to the reality of Jesus in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father. So in the end, reality wins. But here’s what this passage is telling us. We can either bend the knee with joy and delight or bend the knee with a stubborn spirit and only because we have to at the end of all time.

God is gonna fully reveal himself. And as at that point, those who are not even in heaven will have to at least acknowledge God. You are the God, you are in control. Jesus, you are the Lord over all creation. And yet, as their knees are being bent one theologian says that their knees will break. They will have to bend.

They will still have the spirit of Pharaoh thinking. But I don’t want to, or you and I can have the spirit of say Moses, the spirit of Mary, the spirit of Paul, the spirit of these of David these people in the scripture is saying, it’s nothing in my hands. I bring simply to Christ. I cling. I don’t bring any argument.

I bring no other plea, but that Jesus died and he died for me. I’m here to say, Jesus, you’re in control. I am not God. As these plagues are entering my life, may I wake up and recognize this isn’t to punish me. In fact, it’s to push me back to grace, back to love. To see the reality for what reality really is.

I want us to use this moment as we close to ask ourselves, are we trying to make reality bend to us or do we have the humility to bend to reality And the scriptures say the ultimate person and work of Jesus, that is the reality. Will we submit to him? So I was thinking through and praying and Exodus we finished at Exodus 11, chapter 12 starts to begin to explain what the Passover is.

And so I was thinking through, is there a practice from the way of Jesus that can help us bend our need to Jesus? And it’s the practice of communion. See at the Passover mill, which starts in Exodus 12, God is showing us what the mill is actually about in the person of Jesus. What you have in Exodus 12 is they have to sacrifice the lamb and take that blood and put it over the doorpost, and the angel of destruction will pass over that house.

This destruction that honestly, they deserve. The firstborn should have died, was passed over. They were redeemed, they were rescued because of the blood. Jesus, the last Supper says, I am that lamb. I am going to the cross because you need my blood to put over the doorpost of your life. He takes the bread and he takes the cup and he is tell, telling his disciples, as you partake in this, recognize you’re partaking in.

The bread is represented of the body, which is being broken on behalf for you. The blood is being spilled out. The cup is my blood and it’s being spilled out so that you can be saved. See, we are in shock that the firstborns died, but let us be even more shocked that the firstborn of all creation died for you and for me.

God, in his sovereignty, he ultimately saves us through the death of his own son. And at the cross, Jesus takes all the plagues, all the chaos that sin produces, and he puts it on his shoulders so that you and I can be rescued from oppression and enter into the promised land, no longer defined by sin, no longer defeated by Satan, no longer in destruction because of death.

We have life, and life and abundance, and what I want us to do is to humble ourselves and accept reality. For these next two songs, I almost encourage you to do this right away, to come forward and to partake in the communion here on your left or your right. Take it one at a time, the bread and the cup, and maybe pray as a family or pray on your own, however you came and just say, okay, God, you are God.

And I am not God. I cannot save myself, but Christ, you have rescued me. Maybe before you even go to the communion you wrestle with God and say, God I’ve had the spirit of Pharaoh. I’ve heard your warnings. And I keep saying no, but I don’t want it to get to the point where now you begin to harden my own heart.

God, I want to soften my heart. I want to come back. I wanna receive the grace that is mine in Christ Jesus. So if we can, I would love for us to allow this to be a holy moment.

Group Guide

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Begin by taking Communion

Instead of a practice this week, we’re partaking in communion together as a group to start the night. Make sure everyone has the elements: a piece of bread and a cup of juice.

  1. Take a moment to have everyone quiet themselves before God with silence. Encourage everyone to offer a short prayer of confession and thanksgiving individually.
  2. After a minute or two, have the leader, host, or a volunteer read 1 Corinthians 11:23-26 out loud.
  3. Pray over the meal, thanking God for the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus and the new life we have in him. Have everyone take the elements, then have dinner as usual.


Overview of Teaching

Our society is obsessed with redefining reality. We look to technology, entertainment, and education to pull our attention away from the reality of sin and attempt to control our future. But at some point, reality hits us. Whether in the form of a global pandemic that shuts our lives down, or 10 ancient plagues that shut a nation down, God often allows us to experience harsh reality checks to reveal our idols and point us back towards him. When we practice communion, we remind ourselves of this reality. We remember that we are not God, that we cannot save ourselves, and Christ is the ultimate sacrifice. Jesus loves us, he’s rescued us, and he’s here when we’re willing to surrender our control.



Read Exodus 7:1-6 and discuss the following questions:

  1. How do you respond to God hardening Pharoah’s heart? What resonates with you about these verses, and where do you feel resistance to these verses?
  2. What does this tell you about the way that God’s sovereignty interacts with our free will? How should this influence the way that we live?

Now read Exodus 11:4-10 and discuss the following questions:

  1. What is the significance of the final plague being against the firstborn children in Egypt? How does this point to the gospel?
  2. Like Pharoah, all of us tend to worship false gods and idols for security and success. What are some common idols you notice in our culture today? What are some idols you find yourself worshipping in your own life?
  3. Like the plagues in Egypt, sometimes God allows hard moments and events in our lives to reveal our idols and point us back towards him. If you’re comfortable, share about a time when this happened and how you responded.



Before closing for the night, recap last week’s practice by having everyone answer the following question:

How did last week’s practice go? What did you learn from your reflection?



As you end your night, spend some time praying for and encouraging one another.