The One Year® Chronological Bible, NKJV (Tyndale, 2013), February 3
Some people refuse to believe in God, no matter what. They have hard hearts. But even hard hearts have their gods. Collectively they create a culture of hardness of heart and idolatry, like the Egyptians. Like Pharaoh: "Pharaoh's heart is hard; he refuses to let the people go" (Ex. 7:14).
To the Egyptians, the Nile brought life, so they worshiped the Nile by creating a god of the Nile. God strikes at their idolatry by turning the water into blood and churning frogs from its midst. Later, He takes the Hebrews into the wilderness to teach them that He is the sustainer of life. Rather have Him―the Living Water―in the waterless wilderness than to have the Nile without Him.
The creation of lice from the dust stumps the Egyptian magicians. Only God creates life from the dust of the earth.
Wave upon wave of disease, pestilence, boils, hail, locusts, and darkness pound like a furious storm and destroy the economic infrastructure of Egypt. Still, Pharaoh refuses to bend. Only after the death of his firstborn in his own house does Pharaoh release the Hebrews to worship the LORD.
Creation reveals God's invisible attributes, "even His eternal power and Godhead" (Romans 1:20). The Fall, however, altered man's ability to perceive God. The Apostle Paul summarizes man's fallen state, "Because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened" (Romans 1:21). Those who are alienated from God operate out of a futile thought system developed in darkened hearts. Only the light of the Gospel transforms the human heart and illumines the mind.
The death of Pharaoh's firstborn may have broken Pharaoh's will, but it didn"t change his heart. Miracles actually condemn those who view them. They see the acts of God and walk away. The resurrection of Christ from the dead was one such miracle, yet most refuse to believe and turn to God.
This story reveals a number of truths about hard-heartedness:
- Those who worship creation or things made by man do so to avoid encountering the Living God.
- Man is more hard-hearted (and hard-headed) than he imagines. In the presence of miracles men often maintain their hardened position toward God.
- It is more important, therefore, to seek Truth than to seek a miracle.
The hearts of most people are not affected by miracles. A few, however, do respond, "He who feared the word of the LORD among the servants of Pharaoh made his servants and his livestock flee to the houses. But he who did not regard the word of the LORD left his servants and his livestock in the field" (Ex. 9:20-21). A few believing Egyptians accompanied Israel when they left Egypt (Ex. 12:38).
Questions from today's reading (Exodus 7:14-9:35):
What are the short term goals of God's deliverance of Israel out of Egypt?
What are the long-term goals of God's deliverance of Israel out of Egypt?
How was Israel to commemorate their departure from Egypt, and what should this story teach future generations about God?