December 11, 2022

Our Unstoppable God (Exodus 7:2-5)

Preacher: Bryce Morgan Series: Our Bible Reading Plan (2022-2023) Topic: One Lord: No One Like You Scripture: Exodus 7:2–5

message video button copy

Children's Lesson (click here)

I. The Glory of Egypt

Though it is difficult to nail down which Pharaoh from history is the Pharaoh mentioned in the book of Exodus, the events of that book almost certainly took place during what historians and Egyptologists call the New Kingdom. This period lasted from 1550 BC to 1069 BC, and included what are called the 18th, 19th, and 20th dynasties. The New Kingdom, as one source describes it, “was Egypt's most prosperous time and marked the peak of its power.”

When you add to this the fact that the Egyptians believed their Pharaoh was the earthly embodiment of the god Horus, then I think it's fair to say that the ruler of Egypt, during the life of Moses, enjoyed unparalleled authority within his borders, and the kingdom itself, regionally, enjoyed unrivaled supremacy beyond its borders. And talk about well established! When Moses was born, the famous pyramids at Giza were already 1000 years old. Without a doubt, it was a glorious time to be Egyptian.

But as our recent readings from Exodus have made clear, it wasn't a glorious time for the Hebrews living in Egypt. Welcomed as the family of Joseph over 400 years earlier, the descendants of Israel had become slaves. Listen to how Exodus 1:13–14 describes this awful development (note the emphasis here):

So they [the Egyptians] ruthlessly made the people of Israel work as slaves [14] and made their lives bitter with hard service, in mortar and brick, and in all kinds of work in the field. In all their work they ruthlessly made them work as slaves.

Even worse than this, because the Egyptians feared that the growing Hebrew population (especially the male population) would become numerous enough to pose a military threat and side with one of Egypt's enemies, Pharaoh order that male Hebrew babies be killed. This is what Stephen tells us about Pharaoh in Acts 7:19, “He dealt shrewdly with our race and forced our fathers to expose their infants, so that they would not be kept alive”. But as we'll see this morning, in the words of Exodus 2:25, “God saw the people of Israel—and God knew.”


II. The Passage: “Great Acts of Judgment” (7:2-5)

Turn over to Exodus 7:2-5, and listen to how God instructs Moses about confronting Pharaoh...

You shall speak all that I command you, and your brother Aaron shall tell Pharaoh to let the people of Israel go out of his land. [3] But I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and though I multiply my signs and wonders in the land of Egypt, [4] Pharaoh will not listen to you. Then I will lay my hand on Egypt and bring my hosts, my people the children of Israel, out of the land of Egypt by great acts of judgment. [5] The Egyptians shall know that I am the LORD, when I stretch out my hand against Egypt and bring out the people of Israel from among them.”

Now when you consider these instructions in light of the original context, in light of the power and glory of Egypt, and the power and glory of Pharaoh, these are stunning words aren't they? But in light of the Hebrews' suffering and the Egyptians' ruthlessness, I believe that this passage, and the whole Exodus account, communicate something so powerful and so encouraging. Let me sum it up this way...

The biblical account of the exodus confirms that no earthly or spiritual power is able to stop God from accomplishing his liberating purposes in the lives of his people.

I hope that truth encourages you. It can and should encourage us, right? Why? Because the God of the exodus is at work today. Because He is continuing to accomplish his liberating purposes... and he is just as unstoppable. Amen? Think about this: in so many cases, the New Testament invites us to experience what the Old Testament describes. So ask yourself this, “Do I believe this same God wants me to personally experience his liberating purposes today?” I can assure you that He does.

But we need to better understand those liberating purposes, both in the context of this ancient story and in terms of how and why we can experience those today. Let me share three aspects of those purposes, three aspects I see in our main passage this morning. First of all, we read here about...


1. God Defeating Our Enemies

Though from an earthly perspective Egypt was mighty and Pharaoh was powerful, they were no match against Yahweh, the God of Israel, since he was in fact the one, true God. And as our main passage makes clear, God was not entering into negotiations with Pharaoh. This was not about carefully applying pressure in the hope that Pharaoh would relent. God's plan from the very beginning was to bring Egypt to its knees. Defeat, not diplomacy was always going to be the outcome.

And did you notice how Yahweh's power and authority were made clear on two fronts: verse 3, “I will harden Pharaoh's heart”, and verse 4-5, where God speaks about his “great acts of judgment” and “stretch[ing] out [his] hand against Egypt”. These “great acts” were of course the ten plagues that begin in verse 14 of this chapter, and continue through chapter 12. So neither the heart nor the heavens, neither the land or the ruler over that land, were beyond the scope of God's awesome power and unrivaled authority. And Egypt was brought to its knees. It was defeated, decisively. This was the first step in God's liberating purposes.

Today, if you belong to God by faith in Jesus, then you have experienced and will experience his liberating purposes in this same way. In fact, this God has defeated even greater enemies on your behalf, believer; far greater than the king or armies of Egypt. The Apostle Paul described this victory when he wrote about the resurrection of Jesus in 1 Corinthians 15:54–57...

When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory.” [55] “O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?” [56] The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. [57] But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

The future defeat of death is made sure by the past reality of Christ's victory over the grave. Did you hear in that passage how death is connected to sin and sin to the law? The death and resurrection of Christ has broken the power of both!

Therefore, in light of God's defeat of death and sin through Jesus, rest assured, brother, sister, that there is no enemy in your life that God cannot defeat, there is no threat God cannot neutralize, there is no shadow that God cannot dispel, no burden he cannot lift. How and when we experience his liberating purposes may not always line up with our expectations. But if he has defeated our greatest enemies, then we can be sure there is nothing else in this life that can be victorious over us in any way that truly threatens God's liberating purposes. Isn't that wonderful?! Is the God of the exodus your God? God's victory leads us into another aspect of God's liberating purposes. It should come as no surprise that this passage is also about...


2. God Rescuing Us from Slavery

God is clear about the outcome of his victory in verse 4. I will “bring my hosts, my people the children of Israel, out of the land of Egypt”. Or in verse 5, I will “bring out the people of Israel from among them.” And God did exactly that. He promised this in Exodus 6:6, “Say therefore to the people of Israel, ‘I am the LORD, and I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians, and I will deliver you from slavery to them, and I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with great acts of judgment.” And it was fulfilled in 12:40–41, “The time that the people of Israel lived in Egypt was 430 years. At the end of 430 years, on that very day, all the hosts of the LORD went out from the land of Egypt.”

This is what God did and this what God does for his people: he sets them free. No exceptions. Paul writes in Romans 6:17–18, “But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed, [18] and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness.” What an important reminder: God's liberation is not simply to rescue us from bondage; it's also to rescue us for a new life savoring and serving him. Where did God take the Israelites when they left Egypt? He took them to Mount Sinai, and made a covenant with them, that they might know him and serve him. It was the end of bondage. But it was also the beginning of a new life.

Paul wrote in Galatians 5:1, “For freedom Christ has set us free...” What is true freedom? It isn't you as a creature doing what you want. It's you doing what your Creator wants. To live in the will of God is true freedom. Are you experiencing the liberating purposes of God in this way? To be clear, this doesn't mean our struggle with sin is over. But it does mean a new freedom from sin because of a new heart to love and serve God. You see, even in your struggle God will be victorious. Jude prayed to “him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy”(Jude 24). And Paul expanded on that reassurance in 1 Thessalonians 5:23–24:

Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. [24] He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it.

Brothers and sisters, those are the liberating purposes of God, and no earthly or spiritual power is able to stop God from accomplishing his liberating purposes in the lives of his people. His victory in Egypt points us to that. The liberation of the Hebrew slaves points us to that. The covenant with Israel points us to that. For as it says in Romans 15:4

For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.

But there's one aspect that we can't miss in this passage. This exodus account is also about...


3. God Revealing His Glory

In chapter 14, in God's final confrontation with Pharaoh, his ultimate purposes are revealed: “And I will harden Pharaoh’s heart... and I will get glory over Pharaoh and all his host, and the Egyptians shall know that I am the LORD.” (v. 4) But that's just part of the story. Concerning the tenth plague, the final plague, God declares in 12:12, “and on all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgments: I am the LORD.” But there's more. Just before the eighth plague, God tells Moses, “Go in to Pharaoh, for I have hardened his heart and the heart of his servants, that I may show these signs of mine among them, and that you may tell in the hearing of your son and of your grandson how I have dealt harshly with the Egyptians and what signs I have done among them, that you may know that I am the LORD.” (10:1–2)

Do you detect a common theme? The ultimate aim in every single aspect of the exodus is that Yahweh would get the glory as Lord over all things. Why ten plagues? Because Pharaoh was stubborn? No. Of course, he was stubborn, but that wasn't the reason for ten, increasingly severe plagues. Pharaoh and the Egyptians were not being tested to see whether or not they would be judged. They were already judged, even before Moses returned to Egypt! The hardening of Pharaoh's heart was evidence of God's judgment. And the ten plagues that followed were foreordained. Why? Because God was just to judge such a wicked nation and their wicked leaders. But also, so that (7:3) God might “multiply [his] signs and wonders in the land of Egypt”. And what awe-inspiring wonders they were. The Egyptian magicians were frustrated. The taskmasters were out of jobs. The Pharaoh was brought to his knees. And the gods of Egypt, gods of water and field, gods of animals and sky, were shown to be helpless.

Brothers and sisters, what an incredible reminder that the highest purpose among God's liberating purposes is to get the glory in all things, as he shows himself incomparably glorious. Did you know that's just as true in your rescue. Though the Egyptian plagues and the suffering at Golgotha have supernatural darkness in common, the wonders of the Exodus simply cannot compare to the glory of God revealed at the cross of Christ. Remember what Paul said about God's work at the cross: Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them... For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. (2 Corinthians 5:19, 21)

The greatest act of judgment was not in Egypt. It was at Golgotha. The cross was a judgment against my sin, and your sin. But Jesus' bore our judgment.

Again, what victory could compare to that victory? What liberation, what emancipation, could compare to the freedom that God secured in that exodus? And for it God gets all the glory! And when we recognize that God gets all the glory, that's liberating for us. Without that recognition, you are not fully experiencing his liberating power. Why? Because you must still believe that some part of your salvation is up to you. And that tempts us to work in our own strength rather than rest in Christ. For when we rest in Christ are we most fruitful for Christ.

What should you take from reading about the exodus? Great encouragement! Why? Because you have there one of the very best confirmations in all human history that no earthly or spiritual power is able to stop God from accomplishing his liberating purposes in the lives of his people. So if you have embraced the wonder of the cross and empty tomb, and have received the rescue of Jesus, then no matter what enemy or power or danger or uncertainty or burden or opposition or struggle you are facing, be reassured that you serve an unstoppable God.


other sermons in this series