Summary: God has recorded his dealings with his people for our benefit, so we can trust him to carry out his promises knowing how he’s carried them out in the past.
I remember talking to a girl of about 15 a number of years ago who was struggling with the question of whether she was really a Christian. She’d grown up in a Christian family and had always been a Christian, but now was having to work out what that meant for herself. Her parents were both involved at church. They taught Sunday School, her father was on Vestry, they were always sharing the gospel with people. They read their Bibles for 30 minutes morning and night without fail, and she just didn’t feel like she measured up. She had begun to wonder whether her faith was real or not.
I find this happens often. It’s not just something that 15 year olds worry about. Often people begin to wonder whether their faith is real when they look at other people whose Christian life seems so active. sometimes the reason for their questioning is that they don’t feel like they’re living a life of victory over the attacks of Satan. Well, they may not put it in those exact terms. Often they’ll say they feel like the Christian life isn’t real any more. Or they’ll say they don’t have the excitement or enthusiasm that they once had or that others say they have. But however they express it, what it indicates is that they’ve lost confidence in themselves as followers of Christ.
Now what do you say to someone like that? What do you say if that’s you? Don’t worry about it, it’s just a passing feeling? You’ll be back to normal again soon? Well, chances are, that won’t be much help will it? So what can you do? // Well, let me suggest that the way God helps us in that situation is to remind us of what he’s done in the past and of what he will do in the future. More importantly, he reminds us that everything that needs to be done, he has done, or he will do. That is, everything depends on God. Nothing depends on us.
This is what the story of the Exodus, thus far, has been all about. (Exodus 11) The people have been struggling under great hardship and God has come to rescue them. They’re powerless to help themselves so God has come to set them free. And this message is to be remembered and told from generation to generation. Be clear about this: the Passover celebration which we’re looking at today is focused on the generations to come. This is to be a lasting ordinance so future generations can celebrate it as a festival to the Lord: as a reminder to them of God’s rescue of his people against all odds and as a reminder that the freedom they enjoy came about not by their own efforts but by the power of God alone.
Now I want to do something a little bit different today. I want you to do a bit of the work. So I want you to open your bibles, if you haven’t already, to Exodus. Turn to 7:22 and tell me what was the result of the first plague, the plague of blood? (Nothing because Pharaoh’s heart was hardened.) Now look at 8:15,19, & 32, after the frogs, the gnats and the flies. Each time there was a plague Pharaoh softened his stance until the plague was removed, then when the danger was over he hardened it again. And the same process is repeated for each new plague. So why does this happen? Why doesn’t Pharaoh learn his lesson? // Well, partly it’s because, as I said last time, he’s an arrogant and stubborn man. He thinks he knows how to handle a political situation like this. He’s like so many politicians. He thinks he can promise what the electorate wants but doesn’t need to deliver on his promises. He can always wheedle his way out of them. Well he’s wrong this time isn’t he?
But that isn’t the only reason his heart is hard. Look back at 7:3-5. What does that tell us? // The hardening of Pharaoh’s heart has three effects. First it’s the catalyst for God doing even greater signs in their midst. Secondly the result of these greater signs is that God will lay his hand on Egypt and bring his people out of Egypt, company by company. And thirdly, the result will be that the Egyptians will know that he is the LORD.
So God is laying the groundwork for his later act. He wants them to be in no doubt that their rescue from Egypt was due to his mighty power alone.
But there’s one other thing he wants them to know. Turn over to ch 11:7. What is the thing there that he wants them to understand? // He wants them to know that the LORD makes a distinction between Egypt and Israel. That is, that Israel is God’s special people. His special possession he calls them in another place. God cares for all peoples of the world, but he has a special place for Israel, because of all the nations, they’re the one that he’s called out to be his. They’re the one that he’s made a covenant with, to make them a mighty nation, to make them a blessing to all peoples, and to give them a land. And to fulfill that covenant that he made with Abraham in the beginning, he’s about to rescue them and take them to that land, the land of Canaan.