Life of Moses
Fighting the Locust Wind…
I remember about seven or eight years ago, in my early fifties, after receiving a couple of traffic tickets in a row, one for driving my son’s four-wheel drive with recently expired plates in the snow to pick up my son at the airport; another was when a policeman said I did not slow down quickly enough in a school zone, even though it had snowed that day and school was not in session, and even though I knew it was a speed trap and was slowing down at the time. After that, I said it was not worth it. After 35 years of driving, the Law had finally broken my spirit. Not that I still don’t speed at times, but before there wasn’t really a heart to obey the speed limit. Now, I don’t mind. What broke me? Two back-to-back tickets.
So what does it take to break you? When was the last time you attempted to plead your case to a policeman, judge, parent, teacher, girlfriend, boyfriend, customer service representative, coach etc.?
Did it work? Was is successful? Did they listen?
Ever not received mercy? What did you do after that? Did you shape up?
Were you motives genuine? Or were you conniving or being manipulative with no intention of shaping up?
What’s the key to working people?
If you received mercy, what did you do with that mercy? Did you take advantage of it? Did you blow it off? Or did you shape up and get your act together?
Watch Pharaoh’s manipulations. In the end, is it getting Pharaoh or Egypt anywhere, or it is just delaying the inevitable, and possibly even making the inevitable more painfully destructive? When you take on the God of the Universe, you always lose. He will NOT be manipulated. Only a fool attempts to manipulate God. Only a fool….
Read the Passage three times… (Note: since this is so long you might want to only read this twice).
Ask Questions (no answers)…
10:1 Then the Lord said to Moses, “Go to Pharaoh, for I have hardened his heart and the heart of his servants, that I may perform these signs of Mine among them,
2 and that you may tell in the hearing of your son, and of your grandson, how I made a mockery of the Egyptians and how I performed My signs among them, that you may know that I am the Lord.”
Interesting to note the connection of Yahweh’s command to Moses “to go to Pharaoh” and the reason for “going to him”—“for I have hardened his heart and the heart of his servants that I may perform these signs of Mine among them AND that you may tell your [children] how I made a mockery of the Egyptians AND who I performed My sign among them THAT you may know that I am the LORD (Yahweh…I AM).
In other words, despite all the plagues that had already been inflicted upon the Egyptians by Yahweh, had Pharaoh and his advisors not been hardened by Yahweh himself (and whatever that means), then Pharaoh might have already released Israel to go into the desert in order to host a festival to their God, Yahweh.
But since this is not the case—Pharaoh having released Israel to go into the desert to worship their God–due to Pharaoh’s unsympathetic heart, there are more destructive plagues to come, almost as if to imply that there is something else going on here besides just Israel’s release.
It’s as if God has something else to prove…that there is NO OTHER GOD other than HIMSELF…that Pharaoh is NOT a divine/human god and that the gods that the Egyptians have tied themselves and their incredible civilization too are NOT gods as well?
Could it be that it is time to discipline Egypt? Or could God also be diminishing Egypt as a future threat to Israel’s viability as a new nation?
Or is there something else about the last and final plague that transcends all of this?
Certainly, by the time this is all over with, no one will be able to dispute that the Exodus was a political miscalculation on the part of the Egyptians. Rather, it will be a disaster of immense proportions. Egypt will never be the same again, and 3,400 years later, this story still lives in a very powerful religio-historical context.
3 Moses and Aaron went to Pharaoh and said to him, “Thus says the Lord, the God of the Hebrews, ‘How long will you refuse to humble yourself before Me? Let My people go, that they may serve Me.
4 For if you refuse to let My people go, behold, tomorrow I will bring locusts into your territory.
Are “locusts” what we call grasshoppers?
5 They shall cover the surface of the land, so that no one will be able to see the land. They will also eat the rest of what has escaped-what is left to you from the hail-and they will eat every tree which sprouts for you out of the field.
6 Then your houses shall be filled and the houses of all your servants and the houses of all the Egyptians, something which neither your fathers nor your grandfathers have seen, from the day that they came upon the earth until this day.'” And he turned and went out from Pharaoh.
7 Pharaoh’s servants said to him, “How long will this man be a snare to us? Let the men go, that they may serve the Lord their God. Do you not realize that Egypt is destroyed?”
So now Pharaoh’s servants are having a change of heart, it would seem? They have had enough…
8 So Moses and Aaron were brought back to Pharaoh, and he said to them, “Go, serve the Lord your God! Who are the ones that are going?”
So Pharaoh tries to negotiate a deal…
9 Moses said, “We shall go with our young and our old; with our sons and our daughters, with our flocks and our herds we shall go, for we must hold a feast to the Lord.”
Everything? But if all go, might they not come back? But how would they survive in the desert? Where does their food and water supplies come from? And are they prepared to go to war for ancient lands that are occupied by other nations?
10 Then he said to them, “Thus may the Lord be with you, if ever I let you and your little ones go! Take heed, for evil is in your mind.
Is the “he” here, Pharaoh? Is Pharaoh being sarcastic here, meaning… “Since I NEVER intend to allow your little ones to go, Yahweh will NOT be with you”?” Or stated differently, “If I did let them go, Yahweh would be with you, but since I am not allowing them to go, he won’t.”
And what is the “evil” within Moses’ mind? Escape?
11 Not so! Go now, the men among you, and serve the Lord, for that is what you desire.” So they were driven out from Pharaoh’s presence.
Meaning, the men can go, but not their families, meaning…the men won’t go without their families? Is this all about escape on behalf of the Israelites, as well as, holding their families hostage on the part of the Egyptians, so that they will NOT escape, but return after the feast? Is this truly a sincere offer on Pharaoh’s part? Regardless, the end result seems that the Israelites will not be going out into the desert to worship their God.
12 Then the Lord said to Moses, “Stretch out your hand over the land of Egypt for the locusts, that they may come up on the land of Egypt and eat every plant of the land, even all that the hail has left.”
13 So Moses stretched out his staff over the land of Egypt, and the Lord directed an east wind on the land all that day and all that night; and when it was morning, the east wind brought the locusts.
“East” from the Middle East or what is now Saudi Arabia?
14 The locusts came up over all the land of Egypt and settled in all the territory of Egypt; they were very numerous. There had never been so many locusts, nor would there be so many again.
15 For they covered the surface of the whole land, so that the land was darkened; and they ate every plant of the land and all the fruit of the trees that the hail had left. Thus nothing green was left on tree or plant of the field through all the land of Egypt.
This has the potential to devastate Egypt, not only from an agricultural standpoint, but from an economic and national standpoint? And yet, can Egypt sustain one bad crop year? Probably. Perhaps even more.
16 Then Pharaoh hurriedly called for Moses and Aaron, and he said, “I have sinned against the Lord your God and against you.
Pharaoh seems to repent again. How many times is this? Pharaoh, once again represents Jacob’s brother Esau—everything is about the almighty NOW. When I am in pain, I want relief, therefore I am sorry; when I am not in pain, I don’t need relief and therefore I am hard and unsympathetic. Pain is the real teacher…
17 Now therefore, please forgive my sin only this once, and make supplication to the Lord your God, that He would only remove this death from me.”
18 He went out from Pharaoh and made supplication to the Lord.
19 So the Lord shifted the wind to a very strong west wind which took up the locusts and drove them into the Red Sea; not one locust was left in all the territory of Egypt.
20 But the Lord hardened Pharaoh’s heart, and he did not let the sons of Israel go.
Does Yahweh’s “hardening of Pharaoh’s heart” explain Pharaoh’s back and forth response to what is going on here? So is the Lord involved here? Involved within the affairs of man in order to affect a greater purpose? Does God do this with all things, or is there some combination between God and man in how things are played out upon the earth? Or does this just mean, in the final analysis that God is in charge—man is choosing and deciding, but God somehow still superimposes his will, perhaps all the time, perhaps NOT all the time, but just on occasion…answered prayers that confirm to his will or for greater theological purposes?
Control operations are continuing in Madagascar against an invasion of the Malagasy Migratory Locust, a voracious insect threatening rice and maize crops and therefore the food security and livelihoods of millions of people… The locust invasion, which started in April 2012, has damaged crops and discouraged farmers in affected areas from planting. The poor south of the Indian Ocean island nation have been particularly hard hit. An FAO-World Food Program mission conducted in June/July 2013 found that as many as 4 million people in rural areas of Madagascar were food insecure following the 2012/2013 reduced harvest and another 9.6 million people were at risk of food insecurity.
• Yahweh commands Moses to go to Pharaoh again.
• The reason Yahweh gives to Moses for commanding Moses to go to Pharaoh yet again is because he has hardened Pharaoh’s heart in order that these upcoming signs might be displayed before Pharaoh and that Moses’ descendants might tell how Yahweh God made a fool of the great Pharaoh.
• Moses and Aaron once again go before Pharaoh and give him Yahweh’s message, which is if you don’t release my people in order that they may serve me, I will bring a plague of locusts on your country tomorrow as you have never seen before. They will devour everything and fill your homes.
• Then Moses and Aaron leave.
• After advising his servants to release the Israelites, Pharaoh attempts a duplicitous negotiation with Moses and Aaron—you may go, but not your families.
• Yahweh commands Moses to extend his staff over the land and a eastern wind delivers millions of locusts which devour the land entirely.
• Pharaoh summons Moses and Aaron and once again repents, and asks Moses to pray so that the locusts will go away.
• Moses prays and Yahweh causes a strong westerly wind to drive the locusts into the Red Sea.
• But then once again, Yahweh hardens Pharaoh’s heart.
Summary… Once again, Moses and Aaron are commanded by God to confront Pharaoh concerning his releasing the Israelites to go into the desert to worship Yahweh. Once again, Pharaoh attempts to bargain with Israel, allowing only the men to go, but not their families. But this is not enough, and so the eighth plague, a plague of locusts from the east, is unleashed upon the Egyptians. The locusts devour every vegetative thing in sight. Finally, Pharaoh repents again and Moses prays for the plague to be ceased and the locusts are driven by a west wind into the Red Sea, but once again, Pharaoh’s heart is hardened and he refuses to release the Israelites.
Bottom line… After another failed negotiation between Pharaoh and Moses and another destructive plague—this time a plague of locusts—once again God hardens Pharaoh’s heart and he refuses to allow the Israelites to leave so that they can worship Yahweh in the desert.
• Via Yahweh’s message to Moses, we are clearly told that Yahweh has something to do with Pharaoh’s refusal to release the Israelites to go and worship Yahweh in the desert. But why would Yahweh be working against himself here? That doesn’t make sense. But it does make sense in the bigger picture. Apparently, God wants to make “fools” of the Egyptians and for this story to be passed down from generation to generation. God is taking no prisoners here. This is complete and utter defeat and humiliation. He will NOT share his glory even with the might and great Egyptian civilization. After this experience, no one will deny that Yahweh is God. This also seems to be the case with Christ’s two comings—the first, via his atonement for sin upon the Cross, to save man via trust in his atonement for sin, from the inside out, where sin’s cancer has its greatest and most destructive affects…upon the heart, soul and mind of a human being or human beings…and then, via his second coming, from the outwards affects of sin…or evil and injustice…by his defeating and crushing of the forces of Evil…so that in the end, no one will be able to say that Christ is NOT God! The defeat and humiliation will be so conclusively, extensive and without question, that every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus is LORD!
So why is God involved in the hardening or Spiritual resistance of a man or ruler’s heart? Utter defeat. The greater the resistance, the greater the defeat. It’s like a mad ruler holding out to the very end until his country lies in ruins. In fact, it is said that Adolf Hitler, the Nazi fuhrer of Germany’s Third Reich, (as a part of the fuhrer’s end-of-war “Nero Decree”) ordered his Minister of Armaments and War Production, Albert Speer, to destroy Germany completely, including her power grid – if Hitler could not have Germany, then no one could, apparently. Fortunately, Speer, understanding that it would send Germany crashing back into the Dark Ages, not only ignored the fuhrer’s insane order, but tricked his fuhrer into thinking he would carry out the order when Speer never had any intention of doing such (See Albert Speer, Wikipedia). It would seem that God is about to send Pharaoh and Egypt back into a Dark Ages of its own via God’s hardening of Pharaoh’s heart.
• Another observation is the process by which God repeatedly allows Pharaoh and Egypt off the hook momentarily. He does so by not connecting relief from the plague to Israel already being released into the desert. In other words, Moses makes his request; Pharaoh denies it; the plague occurs; Pharaoh repents and asks for the plague to stop; Moses prays and the plague stops and then Pharaoh changes his mind again. Had God said, release my people first and the plague will stop, would have Pharaoh released Israel? Perhaps not, thinking that Moses was not really involved in the plague’s coming and going. Regardless, disconnecting the plague’s ceasing from Israel’s release allows Pharaoh to repeatedly recant his repentance—an action that eventually will cause utter devastation to his army, throne and country.
• And yet another thought, is what did God do to “harden” Pharaoh’s heart? Did the Spirit block thoughts of mercy or sanity? Did evil spirits put into Pharaoh thoughts of grandiosity and that the plagues’ were just coincidence? Were there other thoughts that were created, inspired, heightened or blocked? What does it mean to “harden one’s heart”? Has God done this to others, or other rulers? Does he still do it today? And for what purposes? The same? And why does Scripture say both at different times…that Pharaoh hardened his heart and that God hardened Pharaoh’s heart? Does God’s hardening a soul’s heart take them off the hook as far as being held accountable for their decisions?
Paul does make the case in Romans 9-11, that the potter, God, has a right to use some clay, people and in this case, Israel, for noble purposes, such as being included in the vessel, and some, Pharaoh, for example, for ignoble purposes, such as NOT being included in the vessel. And if the truth be known, as we were building Fellowship, we burned lots of scrap lumber that did not make it into the building itself. Thus the scrap lumber and materials were destined for ignoble purposes while the materials that were used were destined for noble purposes. But some would argue that’s building materials, not people! How the Creator chooses to fully or partially interact with, influence or control the heart, mind, will and emotions of his creatures and for what purposes is certainly a challenging thought to ponder, much less to understand. We just know he does. We don’t know a lot about the How? We do know hardness when we see it, but to say how much is of God and how much is of his creature, who knows?
• Some final thoughts…it does seem a bit interesting this bargaining or negotiating that Pharaoh attempts to do. It’s as if, despite his advisors advising him to allow the Israelites to leave so that Egypt will suffer no more plagues, Pharaoh is still attempting to hedge his bets. At first, it seems like a risky thing to do to indeed allow the men to go, but in fact, he has to know that the men will NOT leave without their families, so is it a real offer? Doubtful. I said you could go. But not really. Are many of us not like Pharaoh in our own bargaining? We want our cake and to eat it too (which seems like a ridiculous metaphor to begin with—why have cake, if you can’t eat it?).
I will let you go and worship, but I am holding your families hostage to ensure that you will return after you have celebrated your festival. Two interesting thoughts: 1) Despite Pharaoh having zero negotiating leverage because he has lost every battle with Yahweh so far, seven and counting, he still does not believe that the Israelites will return. In other words, he wants his slaves. Why? Who knows? Perhaps he still has dreams of resurrecting ancient dynasties? And 2) a part of the festival, as we are about to discover, is passing the truth about Yahweh and his ability to save mankind, on to the next generation, so it would have been ridiculous and have defeated the purpose for the men to have gone out into the desert to celebrate Yahweh without their families, especially their children.
Bottom line…it is senseless to bargain with the Creator of the Universe. Either ask what you want or keep your mouth shut.
So What’s? How does this truth personally apply to one of my life’s struggles?
Thanksgiving… God has been so gracious to me and my family, both immediate and Spiritual, during this season. My mother-in-law is near, although I sense she is struggling with dementia more and more, and that breaks my heart (otherwise, she is fine), and my Spiritual daughter remains sober after more than two months, and it looks as if she is about to be cleared within the next day for the next phase of her recovery. It’s been a seemingly long wait—six weeks, but it seems she has cleared every hurdle. I know she has fears, and it will be a test, but a good test. It’s about growth…growing up, depending upon God, trusting God, one day at a time. God, continue to be gracious. Amen.
Struggle… Trusting God for this next phase of my mother-in-law’s journey, my Spiritual daughter’s journey and my own personal journey. I need to get back to finishing SLove.
Principle or Truth…1) Somehow, for his greater purposes, the Sovereign of the Universe can impose his will upon the heart or mind of his creatures, including the hardening of a creature’s heart against God, which is truly amazing. 2) Often times when the pain of discipline is removed, we tend to become hard and defiant again, which in the end, exposes one’s true heart and affections. 3) The greater the defiance against a superior force, including God, often results in a greater humiliation; by the same token, greater trust in God, despite a seemingly superior opponent, results in a much great story and glory of God’s deliverance and salvation.
Application… The greater the opponent, the greater the task, the higher the mountain, the greater glory when that opponent, mountain or task is finally overcome. Do be intimidated by difficult tasks, be they people or tasks. Continue to seek and trust God, one day at a time, regardless of how difficult the task or person, and in so doing, witness the greater glory of God as he delivers me one day, task, person or subtask, conversation, prayer at a time, including my mother-in-law’s growing dementia, my Spiritual daughter’s anxiousness about the next leg of her Spiritual journey or what I am to write, ponder, consider, shape or edit next.
What about you? Struggle? Truth? Application?
Scripture quotations, unless noted otherwise, are taken from the Holy Bible: New International Version‚ NIV‚ Copyright 1973, 1978, 1984, International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers. All rights reserved.