The plague of locusts (plague #8) begins our reading today. Notice how God explains some of the reason behind what is happening. He wants future generations of His people to have stories to tell their children and grandchildren so they will know that He is God. Do you have stories of how God has worked in your life? If you are saved you have at least one story. I hope you are sharing with your children, nieces, and nephews so they will know that God truly exists. Having a first-hand report adds a lot of credibility especially in a world where the existence of God is doubted more and more every day.
Its interesting how Pharaoh’s officials were breaking ranks with him. At this point they wanted the Israelites out of their land. Pharaoh again agrees – sort of – by letting only the men go. Essentially Pharaoh was using the women and children as hostages to ensure that the men would return and he wouldn’t lose his slave labor. But Moses doesn’t fall for it. I started thinking about this and how we sometimes compromise on what God wants for us. God wants us to have an unbelievable life, including the part of our life that will take place on this earth. But I think we settle for “good enough” because we are impatient and don’t want to wait for “unbelievable”. I wonder how great my life, and yours, could be if we just waited for the greatness that God wants to give us.
One of the hardest parts of the Bible to understand, I think, are the times when we read that God “hardened Pharaoh’s heart” as He does in Exodus 10:20 and 27. Why would God do that? I don’t have a great answer, but after thinking about this for a few days I think it has to come down to God giving Pharaoh what he (Pharaoh) wanted. Pharaoh wanted no part of God. And He kept breaking promise after promise. His claims of repentance seem to be fake. God loves everyone but He lets people who are defiant keep slipping further and further away from Him in hopes that they will reach “bottom” at some point and repent. God lets people have what they want, even if it isn’t Him. Love doesn’t force itself.
The ninth plague was darkness. Egypt had been living in spiritual darkness for who knows how long – worshipping all their false gods. But notice how the light continued to shine in Goshen. There’s a lot of symbolism in this plague.
The final plague is the death of the firstborn. This is the one that will finally cause Pharaoh to let the Israelites leave Egypt. God’s plan is that He Himself will pass through Egypt (Exodus 12:12) and kill the firstborn son of every man and animal in the country. The Jews are told to prepare for this event by sacrificing a young lamb, cooking it over a fire, and eating it. They are to take some of the lamb’s blood and put it around the doorways to their homes. When God sees the blood on the door frames He will “pass over” that house (hence the Jewish festival of Passover). We’ll read about the conclusion to this plague tomorrow.
In Matthew Jesus tells a parable about workers in a vineyard. Even though some of them work a full day, and some only a partial-day, they all receive the same wages. Notice that the landowner didn’t cheat anyone. The early workers agreed to work for a “normal daily wage”. The later workers didn’t agree to any specific wage at all. The landowner gave them all what he wanted to give them.
The landowner in this parable is obviously God. The workers are us. God can give His free gift of salvation to everyone, even if they “show up” at the very last minute, such as on their deathbed. Those people who have lived their lives for Christ and made many sacrifices for Him from an early age don’t get any more pay-out than those who don’t believe until later in life. That isn’t unfair at all. What is unfair is that any of us get to go to heaven in the first place. None of us deserve heaven. We all deserve to be separated from God eternally (i.e. hell). But by God’s great and infinite grace He gives us what we don’t deserve. No one has any right to complain about that! I’m sure glad God isn’t fair.
Jesus predicts His torture and crucifixion in Matthew 19:20 today. Jesus knew exactly what was going to happen to Him. He certainly knew it before He left heaven to be born and throughout His whole life on earth. I wonder if He thought about it when He was a boy. I’m sure He saw many crucifixions growing up. I wonder if He ever looked upon them and thought about how He was going to have to go through the same agony someday.
To be a leader, you must be a servant (Matthew 19:26). Leaders don’t dictate. They serve. Leaders are not about themselves. They are about others. They spend their time making other people better. Jesus was a leader. Notice that He didn’t come to be served, but to serve others by giving Himself up for them (us).
I really like Psalm 25. As soon as I started reading it today I thought of the song “My Hope Is You” by Third Day which is clearly based on this Psalm. You can hear it here: http://bit.ly/11hoCH6 Despite all the mocking I may take as a believer I will never be disgraced for putting my trust in God (verse 3). God will lead me down the right roads, even when they aren’t the roads I would normally take (verse 4-5).
I can relate to verse 7. In my youth I was an atheist. I’m sure glad I am not one any longer. I am even more glad that God chooses not to remember that about me. Instead He has had mercy on me and my mistakes and remembers me with love.
If we go astray God will lead us back onto the proper path (verse 8). Notice that God leads and teaches the humble (verse 9). Its hard to teach and lead someone who isn’t humble. We learned earlier that a leader must be a servant. To the humble someone who acts like a servant isn’t a leader but is someone who to step all over. That is why arrogant people cannot be lead.
Did you know that we can learn from ants? Proverbs tells us that we can. Ants have no leader to watch over them, yet they work hard all the time. Not only that but they are wise, gathering food for the winter (verse 8). We think we are hard-working, and intelligent creatures. But not compared to the ant!