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Exodus 12 and 14
TRIALS, TEMPTATIONS AND TRUTH
THE WRONG END (Exodus 12:30)
The day was done, the deal was over. Long years of exploitation had toughened both the bodies of the Israelities and the heart of Pharaoh. He was on a good thing, and had no intention of letting it go. Further, if he did, might not the Israelities in the midst of the Egyptian population prove a danger ? Therefore, let Egypt be grand and Israel be ground, and let glory appear for the eminent culture of the land of pyramids.
All this talk of their God, that they MUST serve Him! Were not the gods of Egypt, founded in nature, bounded by myth, the best available ? Was not Egypt already great! He, Pharaoh, would be a fitting eminence in the history of his proud nation. Did they complain of their labours as slaves, in return for the aid Joseph had given their nation long ago ? Then Egypt make it yet harder. The same spirit as seemed to occupy, indeed pre-occupy Hitler, took up residence and moved into Pharaoh.
In our own country Downer is telling us how much better it would be if we forgot our country of origin, Europe, Asia or whatever, and considered the consequences of national policies, not the extortion of the will of some traditional alliance. It would, however, also be better if we forgot the preoccupation with our own culture, the pseudo-nationalism, and with the idol of the United Nations, into which and its godless charter, many desire to thrust us. It is a matter, in some cases at least, of getting rid of one devil to get 7 worse ones. You need vision, not just homogenisation. Forget the nation ? even if so, remember the vision, when this is of Christ!
Pharaoh lacked the Lord. He had his national program, with its gods, just as currently Australia seems to have one of its own, with the State turning taxation advantages for families, into hand-outs, and succouring so much with so little that not only are we in debt handsomely, but in need of seeing what we are here for, as so many of our forefathers knew right well, and showed it in the Pre-amble to the Constitution, relying on God Almighty. The State almighty is no substitute, and Greece is only one example of profligate performance programs, without consideration of the end of it all, and for that matter, the beginning.
So the end came for Egypt in its day.
THE REALISATION (Exodus 12:31)
Pharaoh had been holding out, making arrangements as plagues came to reinforce the request for freedom from those of Israel, and then renegging, just as our Government renegged on the undertakings regarding the carbon tax. Government by renegging is asking for it; and when it goes on and on, then Egypt found, God is not mocked, but dreaming mockers are mocked (Galatians 6:7, Jeremiah 23).
The latest plague had been the death of the first-born children and cattle in the houses of the Egyptians; but God made a difference, as He always does. Israel did not suffer this. It was being delivered, as in this present era, it shortly will be, as the situation mounts to the heavens in terms of this world's repeated failures, its claims to help and then renegging when it counts. Britain did it, USA has declined towards it, and Germany under Hitler was one of the persecutors. Israel has been a test case, and both this and the ruinous results of it for those who oppress this returned nation of Israel, have long been predicted (Zech. 12, Jer. 30:9,16, Luke 21:24).
Thus this final plague hit Egypt, and who knows what the recent tempestuous horrors in the USA may signify - certainly time to pause and think! Then Pharaoh changed his tune. Go, he told the long delayed Jews, and serve your God AS YOU HAVE SAID, and take your cattle, AS YOU HAVE SAID.
It was capitulation. They went, were gone. Then Pharaoh recovered and tried to trap them, surrounding them, by the Sea.
Only one escape was then open for them. God first screened them with cloud, then opened the sea and closed it again ON Egypt's unbeatable army. Less power had they when dead! Drowned were the dread-noughts. Power belongs to God! Thus, while atomic submarines might help contemporary Australia, even they would be in vain while she rebels, teaching naturalistic irrationality and evacuated historical models to the children, thus cursed, and twiddling with newspaper and Web freedom, this now in, that now out! while the tune predicted plays on: Deprive, direct and fire with fables (II Timothy 4:1-4). Yet freedom is needed to drill wild dreams before drowning!
THE PLEA (Exodus 12:32): BLESS ME ALSO
Sometimes as in Greece financially, the terrible realisation comes that there is an end; there is a standard, there is nothing better than truth for exercise. Pharaoh put in his pathetic, because superficial plea to Moses: "and bless me also." Imagine Hitler asking Israel for a blessing! The power of God however, when confronted, leaves no other option but ruin (Malachi 2:2).
pathetic, poignant sentiment was this in Pharaoh - but he soon left it, and when
they were gone, pursued them to his own destruction, and that of his army. Is it
not so personally! someone is enlightened for a time, and then runs away from
it, the cost being too great. Sinking even more into sin, he insists it is but
culture, in unreason ignoring the threefold construction imparted to man, and
still more the reason for it. God can wait! Can He! Then the end comes
(Hebrews 9:27), for a dying hard-heart, or for a nation; and for this present
world (II Thessalonians 1).
Neither the mythical elevation of a race, past or present, nor of a culture, whether one in Australia, Germany, Japan or Britain, avails at all! Such attributions merely mangle truth.
It is GOD who can bless and make it stick, and what better than to know Him and to understand Him (Jeremiah 9:23-24), whose presence as First Founder of the orderly universe could well be acknowledged in meetings as is His place, in the Pre-amble to the Australian Constitution. Therefore find His will, His own salvation in Jesus Christ, for you now Discover how He would have you show His love, Gospel and greatness; and set about it with diligence and desire in the midst of a fallen and disgraced world!
Setting his heart on blessings in man, then, this way or that, with his own fleet of cultural preferences, Pharaoh merely the more fled from God in a fever of superstition, in vain and to ruin:
"Cease from man,"
says Isaiah 2,
"for of what account is He!"
If ever a soul was idly lost, the REALITY perpetually avoided, though in gusts and gushes of negativity rather than a simple continuity, swept aside; and if ever one might well have yielded to the sublimely obvious, the categorically apparent, the thrusts of divinely delivered data, it would seem the Pharaoh of the Exodus figures. He would be highly placed for a record of folly, a masterpiece of desolatory achievement, for his vexed soul and acrid spirit. He had given to him, what could be compared to a machine-gun series of shots at mercy, any one of which could have left not ruin, but a pellet of truth; but he evaded them all. Mercy flowed repetitively to his aberrant soul, but the faster it came, the more he ran away. Opportunity bred like rabbits, and he even exercised temporary surrender to the power of the Lord and the placement of His mercy; but the masterful maestro could not die. He lived, the blatant image of the Pharaoh, but Pharaoh himself died in desolation, devastation and brilliantly warranted judgment!
Man in his intemperate self-assurance, his inveterate disbelief, his grinding against grace is perhaps the most prodigious fault-plane to be found, like a subsidence extraordinary, relishing his end as if born for it, and putting aside truth as if it were poisonous, about to spit in his eye like a rattle-snake. Pharaoh gives for us in history, a kind of laboratory demonstration of the perversity which afflicts the human spirit, like dust in a tornado, going up and down as it destroys, but in this case, not a land below it, but its very self. The deliverance is dynamic, the power to overcome the enticements and the bravado, is intense, while potent is the peace through which to be delivered from the confusion; for this mercy is beyond all human power, divine: and the heart of the matter lies in the heart of man before the lovingkindness of the Lord.
If evil is chosen, as before God and all time (Ephesians 1:4), then sustained it may be, but this is grievous to the love of God (Matthew 23:;37, Luke 19:42ff., I Timothy 2, Colossians 1:19ff.), who would have it otherwise, but not by manipulation, for the love of truth is the other side of the truth of love. It is not force, fiction or appearance, but reality which is in store and in view, and where this is declined, so is the soul which declines it. .Love is elemental and not manipulable. Anyone with a dog should know that. But we are more than dogs, though this lower but lovable creation can illustrate much simply for us: in this, like so much that the Lord has made which, despite the curse, still shows something of the things which are beautiful, and their source, as well as in the path of decline, elements of our own situation.
Pharaoh, then, being on the evil side permanently, was used to illustrate principles for all time, and what will not learn, despite all, makes the brilliance of reality disappear in a dust-storm of self-induced confusion. Alas at times, humanity can sorrow for its inadequacy, yet avoiding trust in the Lord, surrender not to God, but to convenience, merely aggravating the evil. How wonderful that the DESIRE of God, it is one for the outcome of love, though it is never forced! How blessed are we to KNOW this and to be enabled to act on it, knowing it is NEVER God who avoids the issue, who loses the point, but man only.
HIS POINT is forever painted in that magnificent tableau of the battle of all time, Christ crucified, and the inescapable outcome of His life which being irresistible with life in Himself (Hebrews 7:16), ultimate and eternal, so irrupted through the very corpse for sacrifice which He had suffered, that it staggered His disciples, though they were prepared for it, so that they could eat, touch, cling and assemble with Him around a breakfast fire. Past all bounds, in many this energised the doubting, while for all, it rebuked the proud, exposed the assassins and remains as inexplicable as life, without the action of the God of truth, whose works speak to those who listen*1, and whose words direct history from first to last.
But let us see in more detail the finale of Pharaoh.
THE POST-OPERATIVE PROBLEM
(Exodus 14:19,26-27), for Pharaoh, and
ITS GODLY SOLUTION for those being led
Having done his religious jaunt, and let Israel go, Pharaoh's pride returned, and he found the Lord had many procedures to follow the superficial operation on his remorseless heart. First there was the cloud to separate the Egyptian Army from Israel, then the trap, as they advanced on the fleeing? but actually guided and led Israelite people. Then came the return of the evacuated waters, to swallow up pride in victory - that for Israel. For the Christian, there is a better victory in a better setting and a better strife.
For the Christian, there is a better victory in a better setting and a better strife.
Christ crucified is the authority for the sea to open,
Christ resurrected is the power which has come (cf. Ephesians 1:19),
the Spirit of God has pulsed into His people like a flood,
Did GOD make Pharaoh evil ? Not at all, he managed that himself. Did God USE his evil ? but of course (Psalm 76:10), and the remainder He restrained. The army failed, the Israelites walked and later baulked, themselves showing the meaning of superficiality, before at last, they went in to the land of promise.
Better now, at once, than rile with Pharaoh, or dither with the wanderers, who had 40 years of it. Realise reality with Joshua, find and obey God (II Cor. 6:1-2), for while grace is sufficient and efficient in salvation (Ephesians 2), obedience is its fruit, and life its tenor. Trust God and act: do not compromise. You have if a Christian, a spiritual war on your hands, so prosecute it in peace (Ephesians 6). Don't waver or falter or grumble (Exodus 14:11-15). Rejoice that there is meaning and method in the ways of the Lord, and being free, worship.
On Christ's stature and resurrection, see:
SMR Ch. 6, The Magnificence of the Messiah , esp. Endnote 1
Christ, the Wisdom ... Ch. 8 and Repent or Perish Ch. 2
Great Expectations ... Greater Faith Ch. 7;
Barbs ... Appendix 3,
Biblical Blessings Ch. 15, Extended Endnote 2,
BIBLE TRANSLATIONS 33
Acme ... Ch. 11,
With Heart ... Ch. 3, Spiritual Refreshings ... Ch. 5
Dastardly Dynamics ... and Immovable Faith Ch. 11,
The Kingdom of Heaven Ch. 9, Section 14,
Joyful Jottings 25,
A Spiritual Potpourri Chs. 15, 16,
Stepping out for Christ Ch. 5,
Things Old and New, Ch. 2, Excursion 2A;
Light of Dawn, Ch. 3,
Beyond the Crypt ... Ch. 2; DDHCBIT 2; REF 5, 6,
Ancient Words and Modern Events Ch. 8 (on resurrection and Lazarus, yes and both with Jerusalem); contrasting Greek bodily terms -
Let God be God Ch. 2 ;
and New Zealand
Dizzy Dashes ... and the Brilliant Harmony of Inevitable Truth Ch. 6, 2,
The Frantic Millenium ... Ch. 4;
Bewilderment ... or the Beauty of Christ's Holiness Ch. 1.