Notes on the Exodus (93)

“Exposing the Exodus”

The way, the truth and the life!

Beelzebub!   (Chapter 8 Verses 20-32)

Iffff we do not stand we will not speak either (v20). A clear warning is to be given to Pharaoh, the flies are not an accident of nature. God is present, acting, and waiting for Pharaoh’s response. The Lord will accept nothing but unconditional surrender. General Ulysses S. Grant, the US general who finally led the North to victory in the American Civil War, was called U.S. Grant. His nickname given him by his soldiers, using the initials U.S., was ‘Unconditional Surrender’. Unconditional Surrender Grant they called him. Because those were his only terms in dealing with the enemy. Those too are God’s terms for Pharaoh here. A clear declaration of the emancipation of his people from the enemy who holds them. His demand in any day and generation is, “let my people go.” For worship, “that they may serve me.” Pharaoh’s office is more than a political one, he is in the place of God, “proclaiming himself to be God” (2 Thessalonians 2:4). He is an Old Testament type of the Anti-Christ. As Ceasar after him in the New Testament. Pharaoh required the same submission as did Ceasar, no lords but them. So too will the Anti-Christ at the end of the age. So he sees this as a challenge to his supposed divine authority. Alas, he is up against God, the warrior God, the God of Israel, the Almighty, who is fighting for his people. He here acts in power to deliver his people from the darkness of Egypt’s idolatry. But this is the divine purpose, freedom for his people to worship him, freedom! The idolatry of false religion is slavery. The worship of the Christian God is restful, refreshing, enjoyable. It issues from hearts that have been set free by God himself for this purpose. That we might know him, love him, serve him willingly, gladly. We do so because he is not a tyrant, he doesn’t demand bricks without straw. He provides all, we just worship him all day long and all life long, then for all eternity. Idolatry is evidence of the flesh, “now the works of the flesh are evident: idolatry” (Galatians 5:19-20). “It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is no help at all” (John 6:63).

If Pharaoh thinks that Moses himself is a gadfly, he has seen nothing yet. He is about to meet an entire host of gadflies and every one of them God-sent (v21). There is a kind of play on words here, the king, Pharaoh, won’t send the Hebrews out so God will send the flies in. Remember Egypt has a variety of gods, so-called, that are supposed provide for them and protect them. Beelzebub, which means the ‘the lord of the flies’ who was supposed to protect them from natural disasters, like swarms of flies. It’s no accident that the prince of demons is so called in the New Testament, Beelzebub. He was kind of like an insurance policy to the Egyptians. But, of course, at the back of all this is indeed the prince of demons, the devil. He will get people to trust anything, apart from God. Their god is no match for God, power belongs to God. He alone can remove the effects of his judgments upon a people. In the meantime Israel are perhaps thinking that God is doing nothing, as we sometimes do. But he is working, albeit in judgment. But step by step he is weakening the nation of Egypt, their oppressors. The Lord here makes a clear distinction between Egypt and his people (v22-23). It’s not that Israel are a better people than the Egyptians, not at all. They, Israel are just better off, they have God for their God. They were fractious, rebellious, they too were idolatrous, in their histroy they turned out to be the most idolatrous nation of all nations. But God had set his love upon them, that was the only difference. That’s the only between us and the world around us today. We are better off, we have a Saviour, Christ the Lord. God set his love upon us before the foundation of the world, and in time saved us, brought us to Christ. Is there a picture here of the future coming judgment at the endtime (v22-23)? When God separates the sheep from the goats? The saved and the lost. What follows for Egypt, the severity of God’s judgment upon them is a down-payment, a guarantee of that coming final day of judgment.“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left” (Matthew 25:31-33).

 (© James R Hamilton, written Spring, 2015)

Sermon Audio


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