As we start this morning I want you to think for just a moment about the way that you talk about yourself and the way that you talk about other folks. You know what I mean, think about the words you would use to describe someone, and the way that you would use to describe yourself.
For example, someone else might be fat, while I’m a bit overweight or just big boned. Someone else is a gossip, and I am just trying to be helpful. Someone else may be self centered, while I have a healthy self esteem. And someone else might be stubborn, and I have a good resolve.
It’s interesting the way that we excuse ourselves, while we criticize someone else. We do that because we know our intentions, as well as our limitations. And that comes out in the way that we talk.
For example, there is something to be said about someone who has resolve, but there is another, less flattering thing to be said for stubbornness. Resolve is good because it stays with a task regardless of the pressures to quit. Stubbornness forges ahead despite repeated warnings to stop. One brings eventual success while the other leads to frustration.
In our text this morning we are going to see two people, one who has a good resolve and the other is just flat out stubborn. The text comes from the book of Exodus 8, and we find ourselves right in the middle of the showdown between Moses and Pharaoh. God is using Moses as His mouth piece, as He takes on the God’s of Egypt one by one.
In this story we see that Moses shows great resolve; he is determined to see God’s Children set free, and he is willing to go to Pharaoh again and again, until Pharaoh finally agrees to let His people go. Moses’ resolve is based on his faith in God. The Lord had told him that Pharaoh would reject his demands, but that Moses should persevere, and eventually Pharaoh would give in. So Moses shows great determination and stays the course.
Pharaoh on the other hand, acts a bit stubborn. He is determined to keep the Israelites as his slaves, and we see him rejecting Moses repeatedly. And with each rejection, the stakes grow more and more. At first his stubbornness costs him very little, Aaron’s rod turns into a snake and all of the water in the area turns to blood, but pretty soon his stubbornness will cost his own people their lives.
Exodus 8 tells about the second plague, and really the second attack on the Egyptian God’s. God doesn’t do things the way that I would, or that you would. God is taking on the greatest power on the earth, and He doesn’t send angels, or a mighty army, instead God fights this battle by sending frogs.
I want you to look with me at the text, because it’s quite comical. Let’s read Exodus 8 starting in verse 1: Then the Lord said to Moses, Go back to Pharaoh and announce to him, This is what the Lord says: Let my people go, so they can worship me. If you refuse to let them go, I will send a plague of frogs across your entire land. The Nile River will swarm with frogs. They will come up out of the river and into your palace, even into your bedroom and onto your bed! They will enter the houses of your officials and your people. They will even jump into your ovens and your kneading bowls.
I want you to try to imagine the scene that is unfolding here. Moses says that God is going to fight this battle with frogs, and they are going to be everywhere. We are not talking one or two frogs, we are not talking one or two hundred frogs, we are talking swarms of frogs.
Think about it, Pharaoh is in bed sound asleep, when all of a sudden, he is awakened by someone touching him on the chest. He quickly opens his eyes and looks around the room to see who touched him. Seeing no one he tries to go back to sleep, but before he can close his eyes there it is again. He throws the covers back and there are dozens of frogs. He jumps out of bed only to find hundreds of frogs all over his bedroom. He reaches for his robe and there is a frog in the pocket. He can’t even get his slippers on because of the frogs inside. There are frogs everywhere! You went into the kitchen and opened a cupboard there were frogs looking at you. You sat down on your favorite chair, and you would sit on a frog. You pulled your bed sheets back to get into bed and there were frogs in your bed.
You were making bread and strange lumps appeared in the flour. You started to knead the dough and your hands touch a frog. You open the oven door, and the smell of baked frog would fill the house, and when you finally got to eat, when you broke open the bread, there was this strange meaty taste in the bread. The people couldn’t cook, they couldn’t bathe, they couldn’t sleep. Frogs covered Egypt.
Pharaoh not only made this a battle between Him and God but He involved the entire nation. As the nation was going to her knees Pharaoh calls for Moses and gets right to the point. Let’s pick up the story in Exodus 8:8, (Read 8-10)
To me this is one of the weirdest texts in the whole Bible. Moses says that He will pray to God and the frogs will leave, but he asks Pharaoh when he wants them gone. Now I would have said, how about yesterday! But Pharaoh says, tomorrow, and I think really, tomorrow??? For days, and possibly weeks he has been dealing with this nightmare and when given the opportunity to get rid of the problem he decides to spend one more night with the frogs. How ridiculous do you have to be; he was offered a solution to his problem and he choose to wait just a bit longer. But honestly, there are times that I say the exact same thing.
Sometimes I say one more night because I don’t think it’s really all that bad.
I know that sounds a bit strange, Pharaoh and the Egyptians are dealing with millions of frogs and there might be the thought that it’s not that bad. But sometimes in the middle of a storm, we tend to get a distorted view of things.
I remember very vividly a time when I was working with a congregation that had gotten a bit sideways. There were some rumblings among the members, and they were taking their frustrations out on the leadership. In turn the leadership would call a meeting and rake the ministers over the coals for the obvious tension. The ministers would leave those meetings and spend the next few days in the church offices talking about how inept the leadership was. It was a very toxic time for this family.
One night during a meeting voices were raised, and tension was at an all time high, when someone suggested that we stop, take a moment, and pray before we go any farther. At that suggestion someone in the room scoffed and said, do you really think it’s that bad??
Unfortunately we see God as our last resort, the one that we turn to when we have exhausted every other option that we have at our disposal. We become enamored with our strength, beauty, wealth, and resolve believing that we can find a way out of this. And while things might not be great we can handle this little bump in the road. And who knows this might all just work out, these problems might just go away by themselves. Maybe our struggles will disappear over night. But it never does.
This line of reasoning, the “it’s not that bad”, type of thinking is what we hear from folks who are suffering addiction. An addict will tell you that it’s not that bad they can handle it. Then they lose their jobs and they still say that they can handle it. Then comes the loss of their families, or get involved in a life altering accident and they still believe with all of their hearts that it’s not that bad and that they are in control.
I love the fact that Alcoholics Anonymous meets this lie head on, with their 12 step approach. Let me share the first three steps from the big book with you, the place an an addict must start to get better.
First you must admit that you are powerless over alcohol, and that your life had become unmanageable.
Secondly you must come to believe that a Power greater than yourselves could restore you to sanity.
And thirdly you must make a decision to turn your will and your lives over to the care of God.
If we are going to stop living in the lie of tomorrow and start living in the freedom of today, we have to do the difficult thing of humbling ourself before God and giving Him our will and life.
Another reason we take one more night with the frogs is because Sometimes it is easier to put up with the pain than the change.
Honestly it is hard and painful to make a change in our lives. Regardless of the destruction that we see happening in our lives we buy into the lie that it is going to be too difficult to change and eliminate the habit. After all it is easier to put up with the consequences than it is to make a change.
We can be addicted to anything, there are alcoholics, workaholics, chocoholic, shopaholics. And we allow these destructive habits and addictions ruin our lives and the abundant life we were created for. Eventually these addictions will cause us to hate ourselves, and we believe that we are powerless to change.
An alcoholic with drink every night and wake up every morning hating his behavior. But he will not stop drinking. A shopaholic will spend money they don’t have to buy things they don’t need only to be put out on the street because there is no money to pay the bills. And they buy into the lie that it is too hard to change so they continue in this destructive behavior. Addiction is a painful motive in the world.
It is like the frogs with Pharaoh. Once you become use to the frogs, the effects are not as severe. In fact some addiction is a comfort for people. Even though they hate the behavior, it is what they are use to and feel secure with. People would rather accept the pain instead of working to change.
I understand that change is painful and difficult in certain situations. This is why some people have to hit rock bottom before there is real change of heart. And as long as we believe that we can control our situation, tomorrow is always a better day to change.
Everyone who has struggled with addiction, whether drugs, drinking, work, anger, and over eating has told themselves at one time or another that today was the last day. That they will never pick up the bottle again, never abuse their wives again, never over eat again. Tomorrow will be different, but they refuse to do the work of change and tomorrow never comes. For Pharaoh and for us too many times tomorrow is just a dream.
Finally, I think that Sometimes we believe that living with the frogs is better than living with God.
There is this great lie that we have seemed to buy into. While Jesus says that He came so that His followers could have a full, satisfying, real and abundant life, that’s not the picture that many of us get when we think about living with God. We believe the lie that a life of sinfulness is a life of joy and a life following God is cold and emotionless and best.
The world paints a beautiful picture of living life to it’s fullest, we see in commercials and internet ad’s folks who seem to be having the time of their lives. They claim that the abundant life comes when you drink a particular type of beer, or wear a certain kind of tennis shoes, or drive a certain type of car. They never show the homeless person who lost it all trying to keep up with the Joneses. They never show the guilt that the 50 year old woman still feels over the baby that she aborted 30 years ago, they don’t show the kids afraid to go home at night because there is no telling what dad will do when he’s drunk.
We have bought into the lie that living and hoarding the creation is somehow better that living with the Creator. The truth is that God is the best option, and the option that we were created for. But we have put it off for so long, that it almost seems that we are completely happy in our filth. We don’t desire a better life, and we are not sure what a real life would look like. This lie has convinced us to wait as long as possible to come to God. We are told to take some time now to sow our wild oats and when we get older and we have no better options then we can come to God.
The problem of spending one more night with the frogs is where it eventually takes us. That one night takes us to a doctor’s office trying to find out how to live with a terrible disease. It may lead us into a lawyer’s office fighting over our possessions in a bitter divorce. It may direct us into a physical therapist’s office where we are trying to learn to walk after a terrible accident. Or one more night with the frogs will lead us to a empty house all alone because folks are tired of our childish behavior.
Pharaoh could have gotten rid of the frogs that day; all he had to do was swallow his arrogant pride. Instead, he figured if he had one more night he could figure something out, and in the end it cost him more than he could have ever imagined.
What about you? Will you choose one more night with the frogs? Will you keep your sinful habits around? Or, will you call out to the Great Deliver for help. Will you cry out to Jesus to deliver you from the certain, eternal punishment that is coming your way if you do not repent, turn from sin and self, and follow Him? Will you spend one more night with the frogs, or will you start a new day with Jesus?
Questions For You To Consider
What are you putting off until tomorrow? (What sins are you holding on to?)
What do you think you will gain by waiting?
Repentance is immediate and requires a change, that is noticeable. Why does waiting for tomorrow to repent just add to our problems?
If you choose to follow Christ, then what will it cost you? (Don’t be vague, what are some things you need to change?)
What is the biggest reason that you are avoiding making that change?