Wednesday, October 11, 2006

WHAT THE PLAGUES [CAN] TEACH US

On Sunday, I explored with our congregation the story of the plagues and the Passover in Exodus 6-12. This was the fifth in a series I'm calling "Moses Today." The story of the plagues and Passover seemed easy to teach to Sunday School children (and to grasp as a child); it's much harder to teach and apply with adults. Nonetheless, I offered the following points for consideration and response to the Word:

WHERE GOD BEGINS. The ultimate OUTCOME of human striving is arrogant pride (Pharaoh) and spiritual despair (Moses & the Israelites), but that's where God's power to deliver BEGINS. See Exodus 6:9-12, 28-30, 7:1-6. Here are the challenges for us:
  1. Recognize human striving for what it is and what it brings; and
  2. Be still and wait for God to fulfill His promises and reveal God's power to deliver.

DENIAL DEVASTATES. Pharaoh's pattern of DENIAL in the face of God's power is a spiritual problem that has DEVASTATED individuals and peoples for millennia. See Exodus 7:8-11:10. Ask:

  1. "Do I have a denial problem?"
  2. "Is my denial of God's promise and power having a negative, detrimental, harmful impact on those I love?"
  3. "If so, am I ready to break denial, confess reality, and begin to cooperate with Grace?"

LOVING TO DELIVER. In the plagues, Pharaoh is being exposed to the REALITY of a God who loves and delivers those who enter into COVENANT with God. See Exodus 7:8-12:42. The action of God is not so much about destruction and punishing as it is about God's love and liberation for a people who have entered into covenant with God. While God gave Pharaoh one opportunity after another to let God's people go (to do the right thing), God's love for the people would not be deterred by Pharaoh's pride and refusal.

MARKED BY EXODUS In the plagues and Passover, Israel is being FORMED as a people who will forever be shaped and defined by EXODUS. See Exodus 7:8-12:42. Their power is not in their armies. Not in their wealth. Not in their influence. For people formed by faith it is always "not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit." The implications of being a person and a people who live by faith and not by pressuring, controlling, calculating, or the threat of violence are many. Contemplate this.

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