As an 18-year-old freshman in college, I was “living the dream.” Free from my parents’ rules and their stodgy religious beliefs, I had recast myself as a self-sufficient and self-directed man without cares, worries, or the need for anyone’s help. I considered religion a crutch that only weak people needed. My misguided views did not change until some friends reintroduced me to God through their efforts to help children of low-income families. Accepting their invitation to join them, my hardened heart and attitude toward God were transformed by the compassion I felt for the children. At that point, listening to God changed from a “have to” to a “want to.”
- How often do you take time to listen to God and follow his directions?
READ THE WORD: EXODUS 9:1-12 (ESV)
1 Then the Lord said to Moses, “Go in to Pharaoh and say to him, ‘Thus says the Lord, the God of the Hebrews, “Let my people go, that they may serve me. 2 For if you refuse to let them go and still hold them, 3 behold, the hand of the Lord will fall with a very severe plague upon your livestock that are in the field, the horses, the donkeys, the camels, the herds, and the flocks. 4 But the Lord will make a distinction between the livestock of Israel and the livestock of Egypt, so that nothing of all that belongs to the people of Israel shall die.’” 5 And the Lord set a time, saying, “Tomorrow the Lord will do this thing in the land.” 6 And the next day the Lord did this thing. All the livestock of the Egyptians died, but not one of the livestock of the people of Israel died. 7 And Pharaoh sent, and behold, not one of the livestock of Israel was dead. But the heart of Pharaoh was hardened, and he did not let the people go.
8 And the Lord said to Moses and Aaron, “Take handfuls of soot from the kiln, and let Moses throw them in the air in the sight of Pharaoh. 9 It shall become fine dust over all the land of Egypt, and become boils breaking out in sores on man and beast throughout all the land of Egypt.” 10 So they took soot from the kiln and stood before Pharaoh. And Moses threw it in the air, and it became boils breaking out in sores on man and beast. 11 And the magicians could not stand before Moses because of the boils, for the boils came upon the magicians and upon all the Egyptians. 12 But the Lord hardened the heart of Pharaoh, and he did not listen to them, as the Lord had spoken to Moses.
English Standard Version, copyright 2001 by Crossway Bibles. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
- Describe the two plagues that happened in this passage.
- What information did Pharaoh seek after the livestock of the Egyptians died (vs. 7)?
- How did Pharaoh respond to these plagues? What does this indicate about his beliefs of his authority versus the authority of God (vss. 7, 12)?
- How would you define a hardened heart based on this passage?
RESPOND TO GOD
Until now, Pharaoh’s unwillingness to release the Hebrews had caused minor annoyances for the Egyptians. Yes, they dug new wells when Moses turned the water in the Nile to blood. They smelled the stench of the frogs and withstood the infestations of gnats and flies. But they had not suffered any personal loss. This changed when God stripped away their wealth (by killing their livestock) and their health (by striking them with boils). While the evidence of God’s hand in these additional plagues was overwhelming, Pharaoh remained unconvinced. We, too, are prone to resist and suppress the evidence that God is in control. Each day we make a choice to follow his lead or our own.
- Praise God for the clear evidence he has provided in his Word of his supremacy and authority over all creation.
- Consider giving God control of a specific area of your life that you have held closely and, with a hardened heart, resisted his presence and authority.