It never fails to surprise me, I start studying some familiar passage in Scripture, and WHAM! I find something new. Part of that is because I begin by translation, but what that practice does is force me to slow down, and pay very close attention to the text. The real shocking stuff is not made up of the linguistic details, but the mundane stuff.
Here’s a great example, I found it in Exodus 9, buried in the middle of the “plagues” or, more accurately, the signs and wonders. Yahweh has turned staffs into a snake fight, turned the Nile to blood, inundated Egypt with frogs, sent lice or gnats, a swarm of something, a pestilence on livestock, and really nasty boils. Sometimes Pharaoh steels himself against Yahweh, and, at other times, Yahweh steels Pharaoh against Himself. It’s been weird, to say the least. Finally, after these signs and wonders, Yahweh gives Pharaoh an explanation of what’s going on. And, therefore, giving insight to us as well.
Then the LORD said to Moses, “Rise up early in the morning and stand before Pharaoh and say to him, ‘Thus says the LORD, the God of the Hebrews, “Let My people go, that they may serve Me. For this time I will send all My plagues on you and your servants and your people, so that you may know that there is no one like Me in all the earth. For if by now I had put forth My hand and struck you and your people with pestilence, you would then have been cut off from the earth. But, indeed, for this reason I have allowed you to remain, in order to show you My power and in order to proclaim My name through all the earth. Still you exalt yourself against My people by not letting them go. Behold, about this time tomorrow, I will send a very heavy hail, such as has not been seen in Egypt from the day it was founded until now. Now therefore send, bring your livestock and whatever you have in the field to safety. Every man and beast that is found in the field and is not brought home, when the hail comes down on them, will die.”‘”Exodus 9:13-19 NASB
Read that passage slowly. Notice the main point of Yahweh: To show His power and proclaim His name in all the earth. All of these “plagues”, people and animals dying, the land ruined, the river polluted, were all to glorify Himself in a foreign land, among a people who deny His existence. Set aside for a moment your 21st-Century sensibilities that cause you to abhor all the death and destruction. Notice He gives than a choice to avoid danger. He explicitly says He doesn’t want to destroy them. What Yahweh wants is for the Egyptians to know Him. They worship everything and everyone EXCEPT Yahweh. Yet He wants them. Don’t let your modern world view let you miss that.
Think about the following:
- Egyptians believed in a creator, but worshiped created things and gods
- Our culture knows of a Creator and may even acknowledge His existence but have no time for, or interest in Him.
- Egyptians sought to appease the spiritual aspects of the physical world: god of the Nile, goddess of fertility of soil and animals, god of the sun, and so on.
- Our culture is inordinately focused on the physical, yet metaphysically explaining its existence, and our care for it, even to the point of “sacrificing” human life.
- Yahweh sought to make Himself known to the Egyptians, leaving their society and economy in complete upheaval. He loved them enough to let nothing stop Him from reaching out to them.
- Our culture, in total rebellion against our Creator, is desperately loved by Him. That means each person, regardless of their regard for Him.
- What will He have to do to get their attention?
That person in line at the supermarket with you, you know the one. The one who has the wrong payment method, a thousand groceries, and a bad attitude. Yeah, that one, Jesus died for them. What about the jerk on the freeway with you who seems more familiar with his horn than his brake? Yep, him too. Crowded subways are full of these rebellious people loved by their Creator. We work with them, go to school with them, run in the park around them. They want nothing to do with their Savior, but He wants everything about them.
And here we are in Goshen, the faithful to Yahweh, the Lord Jesus Christ, watching them go their merry way. We know the truth, but live as if it’s not true. It’s me, and probably you. The excuses are many and varied, but pointless. Why wait for plagues and signs and wonders? Why not spare who we can by standing up, and being different, and being bold? Love them. Our Savior does. He went to a humiliating public torturous death for them. Where will we stop short? He rose from the grave, ascended to heaven, and sent His Spirit to empower us. What excuse will cause us to hold back from these rebels?
Scripture quotations taken from the NASB. Copyright by The Lockman Foundation