Summary: Pharoah delayed in getting rid of the plague of frogs; we procrastinate in getting rid of sin.
Exodus 8:1-11 – Frogs
You remember George Burns, TV star of the 50’s and 60’s, one half of the comedy duo Burns and Allen, with his wife Gracie Allen. I heard a story about Mr. Burns. His friends always kidded him about his singing. Burns, a master of self-deprecating humor, decided to take advantage of this and insure his voice for a million dollars. He thought it would be a wonderful publicity stunt.
"I was so excited," said Burns, "I couldn't wait to rush down to the insurance company. I took a cassette and a tape recorder with me so the insurance man could hear my voice. It was one of my best numbers -- a syncopated version of Yankee Doodle Blues with a yodeling finish. The insurance man listened patiently to the whole thing, then he just looked at me and said, 'Mr. Burns, you should have come to us before you had the accident.'"
Today I want to share a fairly simple thought with you, and it has something to do with this story about George Burns. It’s about procrastination. It’s about putting off doing something good for a more convenient time.
And it’s found in a familiar story in the Bible that you’re likely to recognize but perhaps have never though of in this way. It’s found in the book of Exodus, the 2nd book of the OT. I’ll give you some back story, and then read the scripture.
Moses, the former prince of Egypt, has been called back by God to convince Pharoah to release the Hebrews, to be free from slavery to live in their own land and work their own soil. God had told Moses that He, God, would work through him, Moses, with signs and wonders to persuade Egypt’s evil king to let His people go.
So Moses walks back into Egypt like a Middle Eastern John Wayne or Gary Cooper, almost all alone in the battle against evil. In order to convince the Pharoah that God’s way is better, Moses performs a miracle: turning the waters of Egypt to blood. All the water became undrinkable, un-usable. This plague does nothing to convince Pharoah to let the Hebrew slaves go. Here’s where we pick up today’s story: Ex.8:1.
I find this somewhat of a funny story. It’s not funny that God’s chosen people were in prison. It’s not funny that Moses had to go back and confront the man who was his uncle by adoption. It’s not funny that the Egyptians were about to go through horrible times because of the stubbornness of their leader. No, what’s funny about this story is what Pharoah says in response to the plague of frogs. Moses asks him, “When do you want these things gone?” And Pharoah replies, “How about tomorrow?”
Now, why would Pharoah say “tomorrow”? I mean, I’m thinking that if I had frogs all around me, I’d want them gone ASAP. Someone described this situation: "Frogs in the houses, frogs in the beds, frogs baked with the food in the ovens, frogs in the kneading troughs worked up with the flour; frogs with their monotonous croak, frogs with their cold slimy skins, everywhere--from morning to night, from night to morning--frogs."
I think I’d pretty much want those things gone. But Pharoah wanted one more day of them. Why? Why would he tolerate them another day? Because he wasn’t quite ready not to be in charge anymore. He wanted one more day of being in power, being in control, being in charge. He wasn’t quite ready to say that God was the boss.
You know, we look at Pharoah and say that he was a fool for continued rejection of God’s rule. But I don’t know that people are much different today. You can look around at people on this island, people whose lives have been devastated by sin, and yet they still continue to do what they’ve been doing. They may have heard that God should be loved and obeyed. They may have even experienced forgiveness and grace at some point. But they still continue to do what they’ve been doing because it’s easier to sin than to trust. They think, “Well, I’ll change – just not today.”
Gloria Pitzer has written this clever little poem:
“Procrastination is my sin, It brings me naught but sorrow.
I know that I should stop it; In fact, I will...tomorrow.”
I just wonder how many frogs we put up with in our lives because we want to be in charge. Even as Christians, set apart for God, bought with a price, the bridegroom of Christ, His body, His temple, His people, called by His name, called from the darkness into His glorious light… yes, us, even us, we may have frogs. Not so much punishment from God, but the consequences of our own actions.