“But I will harden Pharaoh’s heart that I may multiply My signs and My wonders in Egypt.” Exodus 7:3
Welcome back, girls! I am so excited to have you back for this very special week in our study. We are making the transition from God as our Sufficiency to God as our Fame. We are also phasing out of our time in Egypt and looking forward to an abundant land of peace and plenty. Spiritually speaking, we are moving from a place of dwelling on our past trials and afflictions to one where we are more than conquerors through Christ who strengthens us!
I have always been intrigued by the concept of the fame of the Lord. It is mind-boggling to discover God is our identity and likewise we are His. How utterly terrifying to think that how others respond to our God is directly tied to what and how much they have heard about Him from us! In the same manner, our fame as a woman of God is directly tied to the mighty acts He has done on our behalf. I can not wait to explore this idea for the next four weeks.
We will be taking a couple of side roads during this Chapter into the lives of Rahab and the Apostle Paul. Today, however, I want us to see a Divine Set Up for a Divine Show Up. God orchestrated the harsh servitude of the Israelites and used the hardening of Pharaoh’s heart ‘in order to multiply His wonders in Egypt.’ The Egyptians may not have heard of the God of Israel before the Exodus, but He would not remain anonymous for long!
I should preface this next paragraph with a *NERD ALERT*. I love archaeology and ancient history so the following information may not ring your bell, but I hope you will see how important it is in considering the plight of the Israelites in Egypt.
In my studies I learned something I find incredibly interesting. Prior to the slavery of the Israelites in Egypt, there is no archaeological evidence of any people group being enslaved or oppressed in the harsh manner in which the Hebrews were. This site has a lot of information about the Egyptian labor relations. Keep in mind when you look at this webpage as well as many others like it that most secular archaelogists do not believe the Israelites ever inhabited Egypt because of the lack of archaeological evidence. A great place for an explanation of this is Christian Answers. However, I want to emphasize that based on the papyrii that have been found, the Egyptian society was one that prided itself on treating slaves well. It is important to keep in mind slaves were not what we consider slaves today. Most of these individuals in effect sold themselves into slavery to pay off debt and were often in a much better situation providing this service, called ‘corvee’, than their previous station afforded them. What you will also find is that workers were granted time off to worship their gods. Why did it all change with the Israelites? Why were they treated so harshly and denied the basic rights of workers the Egyptian government had previously allowed? Sounds like a Set Up for a Show Up to me.
What??? You mean God would orchestrate misery? He would create a situation whereby we could be oppressed? Yes and Yes. Now before you get all freaked out on me, understand that this is not the case every time and that, as the prince of this world, Satan has also the power to create chaos and pain. The difference is that where Satan has our failure and destruction in mind, God is instead creating a situation whereby we can be sanctified and He can be glorified. Chastisement by the Lord is a concept clearly taught in Scripture (Hebrews 12) and though we often pout up like children when we receive it, we can also be confident it is a God who loves us as a Father who administered it. With a Job-like response to Satan’s schemes, we can also take what he means for evil and react to that thing in a way which will give make God famous. Can you even imagine God in His throne room saying to Satan, “Have you considered my servant, (your name here)” and Him knowing you will not fail Him? Let it be, Dear Lord, let it be!
I believe where Jesus used parables for spiritual application in the New Testament, God used role-play in the Old. To make the Israelites understand the bondage of sin, He forced them to suffer physical bondage to such a degree they would never want to go back. Unfortunately, they often did fall in to rebellion, but God was always able to say, “Do you remember what it was like when you were in Egypt?” and immediately they had an experience to draw back on to understand exactly what God was trying to free them from. Because God had so much to teach Israel and ‘those who are far off’, I believe He created a ‘new thing’ never before seen, this harsh institution of slavery, to serve as a visual to teach generations about sin and the effects of disobedience. I know I have been crushed under the consequence of sin many times when I prayed to God, “If you will just help me out of this, I’ll never do it again”. Sometimes I do, but most times I don’t because I remember what it was like to be in that Egypt. There are some lessons we want to only have to learn once!
I have often wondered when Moses went to Pharaoh with his Tool of Wonders in hand if he thought Pharaoh would just say, “Sure, okay. You want to leave? Take off!” Remember God had warned Moses that only a mighty hand would compel Pharaoh to let the people go, but Moses nor the Israelites were ready for circumstances to become immediately worse before they got better. The Israelites found themselves being forced to not only make bricks as before, but to collect their own materials to do so. “Why Lord?”, Moses asked. “You haven’t done a thing for these people but make life harder. Why did you even send me?”
Oh, girls, here is where it gets good.
Are there any of you out there who will raise your hands to the fact that rock bottom is the place where God is most visible? Gideon would. He started with an army of 32,000 men to fight against the Midianites yet God whittled the number down to 300 so there could be no other possible explanation for the victory save for realization there is a God who works on behalf of His covenant people. (Judges 7) God shines most brilliantly in dark places and the Israelite’s plight was no different. The show with Pharaoh was on. Little did he know he was about to be the recipient of ‘multiplied wonders’. I pray I am never the dark side of the Light Show!
“Now, Moses, you shall see what I will do to Pharaoh.” Now, you shall see. When all hope is gone, when things can not get any worse. When the debt is crushing, when the husband is unfaithful. When the child is wayward, when the friend betrays, when the health is gone. Now is when you are in a place to credit God for a deliverance only He can bring. And what happens as a result? When you proclaim what He has done on your behalf, You will make your God famous. Those who hear will either respond in worship, fear, or denial. We will discuss in future lessons the implications of each of these.
Know this as we end today – When an oppression is set up, whether it originated in heart of God or the hate of Satan, expect God to show up. He will. Every.single.time. Our responsibility is to make sure people know what He did for you when He got there.
“I AM your fame, and thou art mine.”
Blessed be Yahweh!
1. On a scale of 1 to 10, rate yourself on how often your conversation is seasoned with the works of the Lord on your behalf? If you speak very little of Him, is there a reason you know of? If you speak often, how do people respond?
2. Have you experienced a Set Up for a Show Up when you were uncertain whether the situation was the chastisement of the Lord or a temptation of Satan?
3. Have you ever or are you now experiencing any Job trials where you can still not identify any wrong-doing on your part?
4. Apply this principle: How can my response make my God famous? Will obedience result in my sanctification and God’s Glory?
5. Does the origin of our affliction matter in view of the fame God can gain from it?