No flies on the Israelites
In this passage of Exodus God sends the plagues to Egypt and hardens Pharaoh’s heart so that Egypt, Israel and the world will know that “I am the LORD”. Through this, we can see that God (who is merciful) is the Lord.
A power outage and a Facebook debate
In 1998 (15 years ago), the New Zealand city of Auckland was without electricity for five weeks. There were two 40-year-old gas insulated cables that were past their replacement date. One of the cables failed on 20th January, possibly due to the unusually hot and dry conditions. A second cable failed on 9th February, leaving only the Liverpool Street cables supplying the city.
The remaining two cables failed on 19th and 20th February – meaning 20 city blocks lost all power. Very few businesses could operate for five weeks – and an international city completely ground to a standstill.
It’s a really basic thing – electricity – but just imagine life without it!
It was that kind of devastation and worse, that God wrought upon Egypt in the chapters of the Bible we are looking at today.
As we started to look at the book of Exodus, we began with God revealing himself to Moses – and commissioning Moses to do his work of leading his people out of slavery – to the land that he was giving them.
Looking on from a distance – it might look unfair.
I was in a little exchange on Facebook this week – and I was having a little to and fro with a guy. At the root of it were our different views of God. He made a comment, which I’ll quote to you. The issue that had sparked the exchange was the massacre in Colorado during the Batman movie ten days ago. Although he was commentating on Colorado, what he said touches on some of the things we can consider.
He wrote (thinking about the people who survived the gunman’s shooting in the movie theatre):
‘I cannot fathom the thinking behind this – that God showed mercy to the survivors, that he showed mercy to some but not others, all seemingly quite arbitrarily. If he didn’t show mercy to those who died, then are you saying that God was metering out deserved punishments to some but sparing others? This is abhorrent thinking.
We need to be very careful with the words we use to express our thoughts on these issues.’
He was commenting on Colorado, but he could have been saying, Why has Auckland has a power outage? Why has Christchurch had an earthquake? Why are there flies on the Egyptians, but no flies on the Israelites?
Pharaoh’s arrogant question and God’s answer
Who is Yahweh? (Exodus Chapter 5:1-2)
Let’s pick up the story in Exodus 5:1, with Moses and Aaron going to speak to Pharaoh.
Moses and Pharaoh go to Yahweh asking him to let God’s people go.
‘Later, Moses and Aaron went in and said to Pharaoh, “This is what Yahweh, the God of Israel, says: Let My people go, so that they may hold a festival for me in the wilderness.”2 But Pharaoh responded, “Who is Yahweh that I should obey Him by letting Israel go? I do not know anything about Yahweh, and besides, I will not let Israel go.”’
You got the question? The wicked man who rules Egypt, who was responsible for a genocide order – ordering the killing of the Israelite baby boys – asks:
‘WHO IS YAHWEH?
I am not listening to him. I don’t know about him. I am not interested him.’
I have heard that before. I have heard people in Sydney say that:
‘Who is God?
I am not listening to God. I don’t know about God. I am not interested in God.
You can hear people all around us say that can’t you!
‘I don’t care about Yahweh?’
In fact – if I am going to be honest – there are points in my life when I have said that. Let me go out on a limb – I bet every single person at some stage has said:
‘Who is God?
I am not listening to God. I don’t know about God. I am not interested in God.’
Now what is God’s reaction to that? Well, we will see in a moment that God wants Egypt to know that he is YAHWEH, the Lord, and the powerful one. But God also wants Israel to know that. God wants the World to know that.
If we move it into the present, God wants the rejecters of him to know that he is powerful. He wants his people to know that he is powerful. And he wants the world to know that he is powerful.
The Lord wants Egypt/Pharaoh to know that I AM Yahweh (Exodus 7:3-5).
“But I will harden Pharaoh’s heart and multiply my signs and wonders in the land of Egypt. 4 Pharaoh will not listen to you, but I will put my hand on Egypt and bring the divisions of my people the Israelites out of the land of Egypt by great acts of judgment. 5 The Egyptians will know that I am Yahweh when I stretch out My hand against Egypt, and bring out the Israelites from among them.”
We will see in a moment that God’s purpose in all of this is that Egypt (the rejecters of God) will know that I AM YAHWEH’
Right now, would you call yourself a rejecter of God? (I expect there are some who hold that view) if that is your position, then God has a message for you today!
The Lord wants Israel to know that I AM Yahweh (Exodus 10:1-2)
‘Then the Lord said to Moses, “Go to Pharaoh, for I have hardened his heart and the hearts of his officials so that I may do these miraculous signs of Mine among them, 2 and so that you may tell your sons and grandsons how severely I dealt with the Egyptians and performed miraculous signs among them, and you will know that I am Yahweh.”’
God’s purpose is so that his people – their sons and grandsons, will know that he is Yahweh.
Right now, are you someone who thinks of yourself as one of God’s people – well God has a message for you today? God intended the story to be told to you of how severely he dealt with the Egyptians, so that you might know that he is Yahweh.
I will be attempting to tell that story – with that purpose!
The Lord wants the world to know that I AM Yahweh (Exodus 9:15-16). Then there is a broader goal of these events. Look at Verse 15:
‘By now I could have stretched out my hand and struck you and your people with a plague, and you would have been obliterated from the earth. 16 However, I have let you live for this purpose: to show you my power and to make my name known in all the earth.’
God did these various plagues so that the whole earth might know the name of Yahweh!
The Lord sends Pharaoh ten plagues so that Pharaoh will know that he is Yahweh
We are going to zoom through nine of the ten plagues, and then we will stop and analyze the themes. We are leaving the tenth plague until a later chapter because it is just so big.
A sign (Exodus 7:8-13)
First there’s a sign – a warning to Pharaoh…
‘The Lord said to Moses and Aaron, 9 “When Pharaoh tells you, ‘Perform a miracle,” tell Aaron, “Take your staff and throw it down before Pharaoh. It will become a serpent.”’
God gives a command – then lets see what happens…
‘So Moses and Aaron went in to Pharaoh and did just as the Lord had commanded. Aaron threw down his staff before Pharaoh and his officials, and it became a serpent. 11 But then Pharaoh called the wise men and sorcerers – the magicians of Egypt, and they also did the same thing by their occult practices. 12 Each one threw down his staff, and it became a serpent. But Aaron’s staff swallowed their staffs.’
There was a power contest, and it ends up that Aaron’s snake/staff was more powerful.
Pharaoh’s response (Exodus 7:13)
But the warning sign was not successful –
‘However, Pharaoh’s heart hardened, and he did not listen to them, as the Lord had said.’
I want to suggest that God is going to trouble here. He is warning Pharaoh.
And in each of these activities, in each of these rounds, as Pharaoh will not listen, the stakes are gradually increased.
The first plague – blood (Exodus 7:14-25)
And so we begin the first of ten plagues – and the stakes get raised a little.
These plagues don’t all happen in one day, in fact they probably stretched out over a year.
What did God tell Moses to do?
‘Go to Pharaoh in the morning. When you see him walking out to the water, stand ready to meet him by the bank of the Nile. Take in your hand the staff that turned into a snake. 16 Tell him: “Yahweh, the God of the Hebrews, has sent me to tell you: Let my people go, so that they may worship me in the wilderness, but so far you have not listened.”’
Why is this all happening? This is what Yahweh says:
‘Here is how you will know that I am Yahweh. Watch. I will strike the water in the Nile with the staff in my hand, and it will turn to blood.’
What happens – is that Moses and Aaron did what God told them to do …
‘Moses and Aaron did just as the Lord had commanded; in the sight of Pharaoh and his officials, he raised the staff and struck the water in the Nile, and all the water in the Nile was turned to blood. 21 The fish in the Nile died, and the river smelled so bad the Egyptians could not drink water from it. There was blood throughout the land of Egypt.’
Pharaoh’s response was negative.
‘”But the magicians of Egypt did the same thing by their occult practices.”
So Pharaoh’s heart hardened, and he would not listen to them, as the Lord had said.’
The first round is unsuccessful in persuading Pharaoh.
The second plague – frogs (Exodus 8:1-15)
And so God raises the stakes in round two. God said there would be frogs.
And so there are frogs – covering the land of Egypt. And Pharaoh asks Moses to take the frogs away. Moses gives Pharaoh the choice of deciding on the timing…so that Pharaoh will know that it is the LORD who is actually in power:
8 ‘Moses said to Pharaoh, “You make the choice rather than me. When should I ask on behalf of you, your officials, and your people, that the frogs be taken away from you and your houses, and remain only in the Nile?”
“Tomorrow,” he answered.’
And it happens exactly on time!
Pharaoh’s response – (Chapter 8:15)
What was Pharaoh’s response?
‘But when Pharaoh saw there was relief, he hardened his heart and would not listen to them, as the Lord had said.’
Round two is unsuccessful in persuading Pharaoh!
The third plague –gnats, (Chapter 8:16-19)
The third time round it’s gnats. God says it will be gnats – in 8:16 – so it is.
But this time, the magicians can’t match gnats. They can pull bunnies and frogs out of their hats, but they can’t pull out gnats.
Pharaoh’s response (Chapter 8:19)
Pharaoh’s magicians say this can’t be done by their magic, so there must be a force more powerful than they are- God.
“This is the finger of God,” the magicians said to Pharaoh.
The magicians are persuaded because here is someone more powerful than they.
But Pharaoh isn’t.
But Pharaoh’s heart hardened, and he would not listen to them, as the Lord had said.’
It’s NOT said here that he ‘hardened his heart’, but (passively), hat his ‘heart hardened’.
The fourth plague is flies. (Chapter 8:20-32)
With the fourth plague, there is a difference. God sends flies, but only on the Egyptians, and not on his people, the Israelites.
See Chapter 8:22:
‘But on that day I will give special treatment to the land of Goshen, where my people are living; no flies will be there.’
There are no flies on the Israelites!
Why are there no flies on the Israelites? The answer is in verse 22:
‘This way you will know that I, Yahweh, am in the land.’
In order that Pharaoh will know that there is a distinction. There will be no flies on the Israelites.
See Chapter 8:23
‘I will make a distinction between my people and your people.’
What happens is that the Lord does it – flies pour into Pharaoh’s palace and into the houses of his officials, and all through Egypt!
Pharaoh’s response was to try to bargain.
‘Then Pharaoh summoned Moses and Aaron and said, “Go sacrifice to your God within the country.”’
They had asked to go beyond Egypt to sacrifice. Pharaoh says ‘I’ll give you fifty – you can have a public holiday, but do it here.’
I’ll give you fifty percent!
It happens in parenting. As a parent with a little child – you say to the child, ‘Come here!’ They ignore you. You keep playing at their game.
‘Come here!’ You keep playing.
‘Come here – or there will be a punishment!’
And they come – some of the way – and they are looking closely to see if this level of half-hearted obedience is acceptable to you.
I’ll give you fifty!
But their hearts are not with you. Their heart doesn’t want to do what you tell them. Their heart is not recognizing you as their parent – who they should obey.
Pharaoh’s heart is not recognizing God as the one he should obey. They reject his offer, so he comes a little closer. Listen as Pharaoh offers God sixty percent.
‘Pharaoh responded, “I will let you go and sacrifice to the Lord your God in the wilderness, but don’t go very far.”’
Moses agrees and says there will be no more flies then. Then, as soon as the flies are gone:
‘But Pharaoh hardened his heart this time also and did not let the people go.’
The fifth plague affects their cattle. (Chapter 9:1-7)
The fifth plague is cattle – and I am presuming it’s something like an anthrax plague. Significantly, God says the Egyptians will loose their cattle, but the Israelites won’t:
‘But the Lord will make a distinction between the livestock of Israel and the livestock of Egypt, so that nothing of all that the Israelites own will die.’
This clear distinction – some people’s livestock dying, and some surviving, seems exactly what my friend on Facebook seems to have been objecting to.
What happens is exactly as God commands – the Egyptians’ livestock dies!
The Israelite livestock lives!
Pharaoh finds out that that is what has happened.
‘Pharaoh sent messengers who saw that not a single one of the Israelite livestock was dead. But Pharaoh’s heart was hardened, and he did not let the people go.’
Next there is a plague of soot. (Chapter 9:8-12)
Next there is soot.
What happens … (Chapter 9:10-11)
Pharaoh’s response … (Chapter 9:12)
Now, look at Pharaoh’s response here.
‘ But the Lord hardened Pharaoh’s heart and he did not listen to them, as the Lord had told Moses.’
Now, that is interesting. It is not just that Pharaoh hardened his heart, or his heart was hardened – but the one responsible for heart hardening here is God.
The seventh plague is very great hail – (Chapter 9:13-35)
‘Then the Lord said to Moses, “Get up early in the morning and present yourself to Pharaoh. Tell him: This is what Yahweh, the God of the Hebrews says: Let my people go, so that they may worship Me. Otherwise, I am going to send all my plagues against you, your officials, and your people. Then you will know there is no one like me in all the earth.”’
That’s God’s purpose in all of this – to show that God is God.
‘By now I could have stretched out my hand and struck you and your people with a plague, and you would have been obliterated from the earth.’
God could have given him the big one. God could have blown him away.
So why didn’t God do that?
I thought of three reasons….
The first one I got from Australian Politics. I thought back to 1992, when Paul Keating was Prime Minister. The Opposition Leader was John Hewson, and Mr. Hewson released a tax policy.
The Prime Minister called it a dud. Mr. Hewson tried to put the psychological heat back on Keating by noting that if he was so confident that the policy was a dud – then there was one obvious course open to him.
Hewson called out across the parliamentary chamber:
“Why don’t you call an election?”
Prime Minister Keating, replied:
“The answer is, mate, because I want to do you slowly. There has to be a bit of sport in this for all of us.
In the psychological battle stakes we are stripped down and ready to go. I want to see those ashen-faced performances. I want more of them.
I want to be encouraged.
I want to see you squirm out of this load of rubbish over a number of months. There will be no easy execution for you.”
So is the reason that we do all these rounds because God wants to ‘Do Pharaoh slowly’ in the Paul Keating way?
I don’t think so.
The second reason I thought of springs from the character of God. The character of God is to be merciful. So each of these plagues – or acts of judgment – holds out an opportunity, a warning, and a chance for Pharaoh to repent.
And, seeing that he says – no, no, no, no, no! One could not say he wasn’t warned.
But there is a third reason, and this one springs directly from the passage …
Look at sentence 15 again:
‘By now I could have stretched out my hand and struck you and your people with a plague, and you would have been obliterated from the earth.’
Now see sentence 16 – this is why it has gone on …
“However, I have let you live for this purpose: to show you my power and to make my name known in all the earth.”
In the prolonged power struggle between God and Pharaoh – which went on for months – it became clearer and clearer to all the earth that God is powerful.
As these two mighty powers – GOD and PHARAOH – go head to head over a year, it was made blindingly clear who was the most powerful. God says to Pharaoh, through Moses, ‘I have raised you up as emperor over all the earth so that it might be seen that I am more powerful.’
Look at verse 17:
‘You are still acting arrogantly against my people by not letting them go. Tomorrow at this time I will rain down the worst hail that has ever occurred in Egypt from the day it was founded until now.’
What happens … (Chapter 9:22-26)
The stakes are raised again.
There are people in our church who were in the eastern suburbs the night the hailstorm hit that part of Sydney a decade ago. And it was devastating. Not as devastating as the storm in Egypt that night. In fact, the only part of Egypt that wasn’t devastated was…sentence 26:
‘The only place it didn’t hail was in the land of Goshen where the Israelites were.’
Pharaoh’s response … (Chapter 9:27-35)
‘Pharaoh sent for Moses and Aaron. “I have sinned this time,” he said to them. “Yahweh is the Righteous One, and I and my people are the guilty ones. Make an appeal to Yahweh. There has been enough of God’s thunder and hail. I will let you go; you don’t need to stay any longer.”’
But the response wasn’t sincere. As soon as Pharaoh saw that the hail had stopped – he hardened his heart again.
So often people do bargains with God – and make insincere commitments to God!
‘Give me the girl – and I’ll trust you!’
Pharaoh’s response is insincere….
(Chapter 9:35: ‘So Pharaoh’s heart was hard and he would not let the Israelites go, just as the LORD had said through Moses.’
The eighth plague is locusts: (Chapter 10:1-20)
God says: (Chapter 10:1-120)
Now, with the eighth plague, we see that the pattern is clear.
‘Then the Lord said to Moses, “Go to Pharaoh, for I have hardened his heart and the hearts of his officials so that I may do these miraculous signs of mine among them”’
God now has hardened the heart of Pharaoh!
The next round is a plague of locusts. And locusts are devastating. This is a plague that rids the country of every fruit and vegetable crop. There is now nothing to eat!
What happens: (Chapter10:13-15)
‘So Moses stretched out his staff over the land of Egypt, and the Lord sent an east wind over the land all that day and through the night. By morning the east wind had brought in the locusts.’
Pharaoh’s response: (Chapter 10:16-20)
Pharaoh apologizes. The locusts are removed. But see chapter10:20:
‘But the Lord hardened Pharaoh’s heart, and he did not let the Israelites go.’
The ninth plague is darkness. (Chapter 10:21-29)
Then there is the second last plague – darkness:
What happens is in Chapter10:22:
‘So Moses stretched out his hand toward heaven, and there was thick darkness throughout the land of Egypt for three days.’
It was reflecting on the darkness that got me thinking about the electricity problems in Auckland. I am imagining that there was not only pitch darkness – but also the stars didn’t come out at night either.
Pharaoh’s response: (Chapter 10:24-29)
Pharaoh goes to give God 95%
‘Pharaoh summoned Moses and said, “Go, worship Yahweh. Even your families may go with you; only your flocks and herds must stay behind.”’
Moses lays down his conditions …
‘Moses responded, “You must also let us have sacrifices and burnt offerings to prepare for Yahweh our God. 26 Even our livestock must go with us; not a hoof will be left behind because we will take some of them to worship Yahweh our God. We will not know what we will use to worship Yahweh until we get there.”’
But Pharaoh will not agree finally.
‘But the Lord hardened Pharaoh’s heart, and he was unwilling to let them go.’
He will not acknowledge that.
So we get to the end.
The Lord is Yahweh (cf Philippians 2:10-11)
And the supreme leader of the great superpower Egypt, arrogant Pharaoh who is respected and considered to be godlike by his people, is sniveling and impotent before God.
The superpower Egypt has no food. Egypt has no livestock. But still, against all the odds, Pharaoh is somehow arrogantly defiant against the God of Israel.
We can see that it has been the Lord’s aim that these plagues might teach Pharaoh that he is powerful. It is looking like Pharaoh will not come to God in respect, repentance and awe.
It is the same today … as the New Testament looks forward to the consummation of all things. The Apostle Paul teaches that the Lord Jesus will be glorified…. and in Philippians 2, verse 10:
10 ‘so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow — of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth —
11 and every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.’
Now, some there will bow the knee willingly – and some in the end unwillingly.
But just as Pharaoh will come to acknowledge the greatness of God’s name, those who reject Jesus today will ultimately have to come to acknowledge / to confess the name of Jesus – to confess that he is Lord.
The Lord’s hardening (Chapter 6:7, 7:3-5, 8:10, 9:14-16 – cf 1 Chronicles 21:1; 2 Samuel 24:1, Mark 3:6, Acts 2:23)
We also see in this narrative that as Pharaoh rejected God – God hardened his heart. This is a point that has caused all sorts of debates among Christians. It is because our view of God is too small. We need to see that God is in control over the hearts of everyone – even non-Christians – even when they do the most wicked things. And yet – him being in control – does not mean that we are not responsible for our own decisions.
Pharaoh chose to go his own way – against God – and yet God was in control – supervising, bringing about his plans and purposes. Look with me at another couple of verses – 1 Chronicles 21:1 and 2 Samuel 24:1
In 1 Chronicles 21:
‘Satan stood up against Israel and incited David to count the people of Israel.’
But in 2 Samuel 24:
‘The Lord’s anger burned against Israel again, and He stirred up David against them to say: “Go, count the people of Israel and Judah.”’
It is the Lord who is the responsible. I think – since Satan delights in tripping up the people of God, we can conclude that the Lord allows Satan to lead David astray. And similarly here in Exodus, Pharaoh, influenced by Satan would want to go against God – and the LORD allows him to do that here. But we need to see that nothing is beyond the control of God – not even the heart of the Pharaoh.
I mean, to pick the worst-case scenario, the ultimate rebellion against God was the murder of his son. And yet look at how scripture deals with that incident.
In Mark 3:
‘Immediately the Pharisees went out and started plotting with the Herodians against Him, how they might destroy Him.’
And yet in Acts 2, when Peter is explaining and teaching on the resurrection of Jesus, he says:
‘Though He was delivered up according to God’s determined plan and foreknowledge, you used lawless people to nail Him to a cross and kill Him.’
And even in the execution of his son – that wasn’t outside God’s control.
And the signs and wonders of Exodus are a spectacular demonstration of that.
The Lord’s just judgment and mercy (cf Luke 13:1-9)
I think we have seen here the just judgment of God and the mercy of God. We see that there were a number of disasters sent – and the severity was measured, increasing each time – to attempt to get attention.
I think we see that in the New Testament. Jesus says God sends disaster and mercifully gives extra time for people to repent….
So in Luke 13…
‘At that time, some people came and reported to Him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mixed with their sacrifices. And He responded to them, “Do you think that these Galileans were more sinful than all Galileans because they suffered these things? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all perish as well! Or those that the tower in Siloam fell on and killed—do you think they were more sinful than all the people who live in Jerusalem? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all perish as well!”’
There has been disaster. Jesus doesn’t say – it was unfair what happened to them. See, they are sinners – they deserve death. We tend to forget that, to push it away. We all rebel, and deserve to be punished.
That I haven’t been booked every time I have broken the speed limit – is an expression of the mercy of God – but I get complacent, and then I get angry when I do get booked.
That I haven’t been executed yet for my sin – is an expression of the mercy of God- but I get complacent, and then I get angry when anyone’s sin does result in death.
Jesus uses disaster as an opportunity to remind those who escaped the disaster of the need to repent.
So there’s been an earthquake in Christchurch or a Tsunami in the Indian Ocean or a flood in Queensland. And Jesus says … you escaped this judgment – but you need to repent!
‘Or those that the tower in Siloam fell on and killed – do you think they were more sinful than all the people who live in Jerusalem? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all perish as well!”’
There’s been a shooting in Colorado, at a showing of The Dark Knight Rises Batman movie and Jesus says…
13 ‘at that time, some people came and reported to Him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mixed with their sacrifices. And He responded to them, “Do you think that these Galileans were more sinful than all Galileans because they suffered these things?”’
Do you think the people killed in the massacre at the Batman movie were more sinful than all the other people who saw Batman and weren’t killed?
Now here’s the word – to those of us who saw The Dark Knight Rises and didn’t get killed… This is Jesus holding out the olive branch of mercy….
6 And He told this parable: “A man had a fig tree that was planted in his vineyard. He came looking for fruit on it and found none. He told the vineyard worker, ‘Listen, for three years I have come looking for fruit on this fig tree and haven’t found any. Cut it down! Why should it even waste the soil?’
“But he replied to him, ‘Sir, leave it this year also, until I dig around it and fertilize it. Perhaps it will bear fruit next year, but if not, you can cut it down.’”
The judgment was deserved. But mercy is held out. Likewise for Australians – for those of us who survived Batman – mercy is held out to us.
God expects full obedience (the first time).
A fourth implication is that it isn’t acceptable – this ‘I’ll give you fifty’ when what God wants is obedience’. God wants Pharaoh’s heart, his will – to come to submission to his will. I raise this because I think we, as individuals, need to not just say to Jesus: ‘I’ll give you 50%’. There’s a saying in the Bible – to those who have ears to hear – what the spirit says to the churches. God says to Pharaoh that 50% is not OK. I can tell if you are being obedient – let my people go!
There’s a lesson here for parenting. Our kids learn how to relate to God from how we teach them to relate to us when we give them an instruction.
And the problem isn’t comprehension, when our children know what we have told them.
‘Pack up your toys. Be home by five o’clock.’
And our children send the message back to us:
‘I’ll give you fifty! I’ll give you ninety!’
We are teaching them a pattern, we are ingraining into them a pattern that it is acceptable – appropriate – to relate to the one over you like that.
Just as God expects obedience, we should expect obedience. We should be careful with the instructions we give so as not to exasperate them, but when we give an instruction we should expect obedience.
God achieves his purposes (Deuteronomy 4:34; Joshua 24:17; Joshua 2:9-10; Hebrews 11:31;)
Throughout the Bible we see that God achieved his purpose. We will see that Pharaoh learnt that I AM is YAHWEH, but Israel, God’s people, they learnt that lesson too:
In Joshua 24: ‘For the Lord our God brought us and our fathers out of the land of Egypt, out of the place of slavery, and performed these great signs before our eyes. He also protected us all along the way we went and among all the peoples whose lands we traveled through.’
But it’s not just the Israelites who learn the lesson that I AM is YAHWEH.
The world learns the lesson. Hebrews 11:31 tells of a prostitute named Rahab who lived in Jericho, a city in Canaan, forty years after God taught Pharaoh that I AM is Yahweh. Israel is sending spies into Jericho just ahead of conquering the city. The pagan prostitute Rahab says to the spies ,in Joshua 2:9-10:
“I know that the Lord has given you this land and that the terror of you has fallen on us, and everyone who lives in the land is panicking because of you. For we have heard how the Lord dried up the waters of the Red Sea before you when you came out of Egypt, and what you did to Sihon and Og, the two Amorite kings you completely destroyed across the Jordan.”’
We have learned that the Lord is powerful, because we have heard what the Lord did. The Lord’s purpose was that his name be declared throughout all the earth. And this has happened. His reputation ran ahead of his people to Canaan and brought Rahab to faith and opened the door to the Promised Land.
And here we are 4,000 years later declaring the same glorious name because of the same mighty act of deliverance, just as God had intended. We are speaking today of the greatness of the name of God. This is our God, now revealed in our Lord Jesus Christ.
I have problems with the movie Prince of Egypt, but I am delighted that it is on sale. Because even today the account is being told, however muted, that Yahweh is I AM.