December 2010


I was reading the blessing of Moses to the children of Israel in Deut 33, I noticed that there was a very interesting description of God there, especially at the point before he bless the children of Joseph

“With the precious things of the earth and its fullness,
And the favor of Him who dwelt in the bush.
Let the blessing come ‘on the head of Joseph,
And on the crown of the head of him who was separate from his brothers.” – Moses (Deut 33:16)

Why did Moses called God, “Him who dwelt in the bush”?

I guess the imagery of God appearing in the burning bush left a very deep impression in Moses. But have we ever wondered the significance of the burning bush?

Exodus 1 is dedicated to introduce the suffering of the Israelites. Exodus 2 is dedicated to the first 80 years of Moses life. Ex 3 -25 is dedicated to the last 40 years of Moses life.

Moses life can be divided into 3 groups of 40 years.

1. First 40 years : In the Palace of Egypt
2. 40-80 : In the Wilderness of Midian
3. 80-120 : Leading the Israelites

In The Palace Of Egypt (Ex 2:1-15)

When Moses was born, his parents kept him from being killed by the Egyptians by hiding him in the house, the author of Hebrews called that an act of Faith Heb 11:23. They can see that Moses was no ordinary child. Later on, they floated him in a basket, and by grace of God, he was picked up by the Pharaoh’s daughter. Miriam his sister, arranged that the mother of Moses were to nurse the child under the employment of the Pharaoh’s daught. That is when the mother taught Moses his faith. She must have made Moses understand that God preserved his life is for a greater purpose, to save the children of Israel

He spent this early years preparing for his work to lead the people of Israel, he was learned in all wisdom of the Egyptians (Acts 7:22) and is mighty in words and deeds.

When Moses became of age, he refused to be known as the son of the Pharaoh’s daughter (Heb 11:24-26) He wanted to suffer with his people, he sincerely feels that he is ready for his task. He used his own wisdom and strength to try to save the Israelites. He killed an Egyptian bullying an Israelite, and he also tried to mediate between his brethren. When Moses realised that his deed to kill the Egyptian was known, he fled to the wilderness of Midian.

This was the beginning of Moses second phase in life, where God is molding him.

In The Wilderness Of Midian (Ex 2:16-25)

All that was mentioned about this phase of Moses life, is that he married a midianite woman called Zipporah, (Ex 2:21). Moses had more or less, lose that fervour to work for God, he is contented with his life in Midian. We can tell from the name of his son Gershom which means “I have been a stranger in a foreign land” .

He most likely had not much news , and he must have thought that God did not want to use him. For a good 40 years have passed. AT that time, he is given training in humility and patience.

I guess, that Moses must have often wondered, whether God ever cared if his people are suffering in Egypt, will God care for the people just like the way he would for his sheep? He must be wondering where is God when the people were suffering, why didn’t God make use of him to deliver the people?

In the worst case, he may have pictured God enjoying himself up in heaven while the people suffered. that God is not really a God that cares if his people is suffering. As times gone by, these feelings must have somehow numb Moses.

Perhaps he may have concluded in his mind, “Fine, let the people suffer, since God did not bother, let me just live my life quietly with Zipporah and ignore this whole matter completely”

Little did he know that Gods plan is slowly unfurling.

The Imagery Of The Burning Bush

Once, Moses was out there in the wilderness tending his sheep, that is when from a distance, Moses saw that there was a bush that is on fire. Due to the tough condition of the Midianite desert, it is not uncommon to see scrubs and bushes suddenly catch fire and burn. Usually, the fire will last for a few minute, until the poor plant is burnt out.

But this particular plant is very special.. It was burning for a long long time. that sight caught Moses was curious about what makes this bush so special. He wanted to find out what prevents the plant from burning out like other common scrubs (Ex 3:2-3)

It was then, when he approach it, God spoke from the midst of the burning bush, calling him “Moses, Moses!” (Ex 3:4). It was then Moses realised why the bush did not burn up. It was because God was dwelling in it.

Moses hid his face, he was afraid to look upon God.

Moses realised, that while he was busy accusing God that he was enjoying himself up in heaven while the children of Israel were burning and groaning under the yoke of the Pharaoh. God has always been dwelling among the bushes in this place at Mount Horeb (Ex 3:1). The fact of the matter, is that God was dwelling among the thorns and thistles in Mount Horeb. In fact God was suffering, the fire that was burning the bush was tormenting him all along and that torture was endless, since the bush refused to be burnt out.

In fact, whenever we are suffering, sometimes we tend to think that God is sitting high and mighty in the heavens and he cannot empathise with us when we suffer. But this imagery of the perpetual burning bush tells us that as we are suffering, God is indeed suffering alongside with us.

Can God Indeed Suffer?

Sometimes we tend to think, God is a spirit (Jn 4:24). So many of us will think that it is impossible for God to feel physical suffering such as pain and hurt. But does that mean that God is unable to feel suffering? On the contrary it is not the case.

“Then the LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And the LORD was sorry that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart.” (Gen 6:5-7)

“Now the word of the LORD came to Samuel, saying, 11 “I greatly regret that I have set up Saul as king, for he has turned back from following Me, and has not performed My commandments.” And it grieved Samuel, and he cried out to the LORD all night.” 1 Sam 15:10-11

“How often they provoked Him in the wilderness, And grieved Him in the desert!” Ps 78:40. The psalms of Asaph describing how God felt when the children of Israel provoked him during the 40 years in the wilderness.

“And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.” Eph 4: 30

Although God cannot feel physical suffering, but emotional suffering is usually much worst that physical pain. An attack of the mind is usually much worst that physical suffering. Over here, it is possible to grieve God. God is grieve whenever man disobeys him, God is grieve when people do not believe him, and God is grieve when the heart of man is constantly thinking of evil things.

Therefore Paul encouraged the Ephesians not to grieve the Holy Spirit.

In the example of Moses and the burning bush, God can hear the suffering of the people of God and in fact, he is grieve when he see the people suffering. Hence it is why he wanted Moses to deliver the people out from Egypt. Let us hear what God said to Moses

“I have surely seen the oppression of My people who are in Egypt, and have heard their cry because of their taskmasters, for I know their sorrows. So I have come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians,…….. Now therefore, behold, the cry of the children of Israel has come to Me, and I have also seen the oppression with which the Egyptians oppress them….” -YHWH (Ex 3:7-10)

Applying This To Our Lives

As a Christian attempts to apply his faith into his life, and to take that small and difficult path to heaven, There will be many trials that they have to go through,

Just like Paul and Barnabas encouragement to the churches “We must through many tribulations enter the kingdom of God.” (Acts 14:22). It is inevitable that a Christian will need to go through trials in order to finish is walk with faith.

Sometimes sufferings can come in the form of Physical suffering

“From the Jews five times I received forty stripes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods; once I was stoned; three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I have been in the deep; in journeys often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils of my own countrymen, in perils of the Gentiles, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; in weariness and toil, in sleeplessness often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness- besides the other things, what comes upon me daily: my deep concern for all the churches.” – Paul (2 Cor 11:24-28)

Sometimes it can be comes in the form of mental suffering, when someone attacks your belief, and scorns you for doing the right thing or even revile you and malign you for your good work.

“For this is commendable, if because of conscience toward God one endures grief, suffering wrongfully. For what credit is it if, when you are beaten for your faults, you take it patiently? But when you do good and suffer, if you take it patiently, this is commendable before God. For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us,leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps:

” Who committed no sin,
Nor was deceit found in His mouth”]

who, when He was reviled, did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did not threaten, but committed Himself to Him who judges righteously; who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness-by whose stripes you were healed” – Peter (1 Pet 2:19-24))

But as Christian who needs to suffer for our faith, we must often remind ourselves, that while we are suffering, God is not up there enjoying himself in heaven, but in fact, through the Holy Spirit he is also with us, facing the trouble. In fact, Jesus gave us the Holy Spirit because he did not want to leave his children alone, like orphans.

“I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you” – Jesus when talking about the Holy Spirit (Jn 14:18)

In fact, this Holy Spirit is with us, facing the trials and tribulation in our faith. In fact one day, if Christians were to face direct persecution of their faith, the job of the Holy Spirit is to give them the peace and to teach the believers what to say to their persecutors.

“Now when they bring you to the synagogues and magistrates and authorities, do not worry about how or what you should answer, or what you should say. For the Holy Spirit will teach you in that very hour what you ought to say.” – Jesus (Lk 12: 11-12)

Therefore, the imagery of the burning bush, reminds us that God is always with us when we are suffering, and now even more so as his Holy Spirit is dwelling in us. God no longer just dwell in the burning bush, but he dwells in everyone of us. Just as we are suffering, God is suffering alongside with us, giving us comfort and strength to face our trial.

As conclusion, I would like to quote what Paul’s says when he feels alone in his trial.

“At my first defense no one stood with me, but all forsook me. May it not be charged against them. But the Lord stood with me and strengthened me, so that the message might be preached fully through me, and that all the Gentiles might hear. Also I was delivered out of the mouth of the lion” – Paul (2 Tim 4:16-17)

It is difficult to pass our trials, it is even more difficult when the people whom we rely for help for, is not ready to help us. Yet for Paul’s case, it was God who still stood by him and strength him, in order that he is able to fulfil his ministry to the Gentile.

Let us all have the same heart of Paul as we face the trials of our lives.

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Lately I have been thinking a lot about, the life I wanted to lead and how different is it compared to the life i am leading now. And as I was thinking about it, I was listening to Les Miserables and suddenly the lyrics of the song sang by the character Fantine floated to my mind.

In case if anyone wants to know, Fantine was the mother of Cosette and she had a dream of settling down with the man she loves, but somehow the man that she liked was a libertine and he stayed a summer with her only.. Leaving her pregnant with Cosette

Later when Cosette was born, she was placed under the care of the Thernadier Family while Fantine had to work in Paris. She was working in the factory of the M’sieur le Mayor ( Jean Valjean change his name to Monsieur Madeleine to hide his identity as a convict). Valjean started the factory using the money he received selling the silver candlesticks given by the bishop of Digne who purchased his soul for God.

Fantine refused the advance of Valjeans foreman, who was a very unjust person. There was a brawl between Fantine and the ladies of the factory. Valjean only witness the brawl stopped them from fighting, and left the foreman with the authority to handle the matter. The foreman decided to make use of his authority to sack Fantine on the grounds that Fantine was a immoral woman.

After that, Fantine started to sing that song.

Personally that reminded me of a friend who was in the similar situation, finally they sacked him saying that the company was “cutting cost” which to me is really a very dumb reason for a company that was making money.

This just prompted me to post the lyrics of this song, but I must say that my favourite song in Les Miserables is still “On my own” .. haha let us enjoy this song.

Title: I dream a dream
Artist : Elaine Paige, Susan Boyle, Lea Salonga, and many others
Musical : Les Miserables

[Fantine is left alone, unemployed and destitute]

[FANTINE]
There was a time when men were kind
When their voices were soft
And their words inviting
There was a time when love was blind
And the world was a song
And the song was exciting
There was a time
Then it all went wrong

I dreamed a dream in time gone by
When hope was high
And life worth living
I dreamed that love would never die
I dreamed that God would be forgiving
Then I was young and unafraid
And dreams were made and used and wasted
There was no ransom to be paid
No song unsung, no wine untasted

But the tigers come at night
With their voices soft as thunder
As they tear your hope apart
As they turn your dream to shame

He slept a summer by my side
He filled my days with endless wonder
He took my childhood in his stride
But he was gone when autumn came

And still I dream he’ll come to me
That we will live the years together
But there are dreams that cannot be
And there are storms we cannot weather

I had a dream my life would be
So different from this hell I’m living
So different now from what it seemed
Now life has killed the dream I dreamed.

Lately I was having a discussion with a friend, we were talking about fasting and its effects on faith. Hence I have decided to share with my readers here.

What is fasting in the Biblical context?

Intially I thought that fasting was not legalised and defined in the Mosaic law, however, I was told that Fasting is commanded by God to the Israelites to be performed on the Day Of Atonement. In the Law of Moses there was a term which is commonly translated to the english bible as “Afflict your souls” is generally understood by the Jews as fasting.

This term appears very often when the Moses was talking about the day of atonement (Lev 23:27,39,32 , Num 29:7, Lev 16:29.31)

Besides that, there is no other records of fasting as a requirements in Gods Law.

Jesus once said this when he was questioned about why his disciples did not fast

“Can the friends of the bridegroom mourn as long as the bridegroom is with them? But the days will come when the bridegroom will be taken away from them, and then they will fast” – Jesus (Matt 9:15)

According to the bible, a fast is a voluntary abstinence from all forms of food and drink, and at the same time, it must be accompanied with prayers and study of God’s word. In event of a long fast, in the case of Moses and Jesus, consumption of water is assumed , because it is physically impossible to withstand 40 days and nights without food and water. (If one were to read wikipedias entry on survival skill, a person generally can only survive 3-5 days without water)

Fasting is a voluntary affliction to the soul, for someone to humble in the presence of the Lord, and to make his supplication before God. Fasting is a serious act and is always done with reverence for God. just like what the Psalmist said

” But as for me, when they were sick, My clothing was sackcloth; I humbled myself with fasting; And my prayer would return to my own heart.” David (Ps 35:13)
“Because zeal for Your house has eaten me up, And the reproaches of those who reproach You have fallen on me. When I wept and chastened my soul with fasting, That became my reproach.” -David (Ps 69:9-10)

” But You, O GOD the Lord,
Deal with me for Your name’s sake;
Because Your mercy is good, deliver me.
For I am poor and needy,
And my heart is wounded within me.
I am gone like a shadow when it lengthens;
I am shaken off like a locust.
My knees are weak through fasting,
And my flesh is feeble from lack of fatness.
I also have become a reproach to them;
When they look at me, they shake their heads.” – David (Ps 109:21-25)

Although fasting is never recorded in the Mosaic laws of the old testaments as a law, we often see people like Moses, Samuel, Ezra, Daniel, Cornelius, Peter, and many others fasted. When these bible characters fasted, and God accepted and granted their petitions from time to time according to Gods will.

Compulsory Fasting on the regular basis comes very much later in history, and is especially practised by the Pharisees (Lk 18:11-12) but there are also very Godly people who fasted regularly for years, like Anna in Lk 2:36-37.

Is Every Fasting Acceptable before God?

In the earlier discussion we were looking the the fasting of the Pharisees and the fasting of Anna, we knew that only the latter ones is acceptable to God. Hence there are fast that are not acceptable before God.

Isaiah once said on behalf of God

“Tell My people their transgression,
And the house of Jacob their sins.
Yet they seek Me daily,
And delight to know My ways,
As a nation that did righteousness,
And did not forsake the ordinance of their God.
They ask of Me the ordinances of justice;
They take delight in approaching God.
‘ Why have we fasted,’ they say, ‘and You have not seen?
Why have we afflicted our souls, and You take no notice?’ ” – Isaiah (Is 58:1-3)

God also said through Prophet Zechariah
“Say to all the people of the land, and to the priests: ‘When you fasted and mourned in the fifth and seventh months during those seventy years, did you really fast for Me-for Me? When you eat and when you drink, do you not eat and drink for yourselves? Should you not have obeyed the words which the LORD proclaimed through the former prophets when Jerusalem and the cities around it were inhabited and prosperous, and the South and the Lowland were inhabited?'” – Zechariah (Zech 7:4-7)

From here we can see that God doesn’t always accept fasting of the people, just like God once turn away the offerings of Cain. Fasting accompanied with prayers are also part of our offerings to God and God takes every offering and deed that his children has done in his name seriously.

Like what Jesus said in Matt 9:15, that there will come a time for Christians to fast and to pray before God. Therefore it is important for us to understand what types of fasting pleases God. Just like what Paul encourage believers to offer themselves as a living sacrifice to God, he called that a “Reasonable Service” (Rom 12:1). Therefore it is important for us to ensure that our fasting is acceptable before God and will go up as a memorial before God, just like what the angel of God said to Cornelius “Your prayers and your alms have come up for a memorial before God” (Acts 10:4)

The Dos and Don’ts in Christian Fasting

Dos

1. Constantly pray to God
Whenever we are fasting, we are bringing request and supplication to God, We must always trust that in God, as well as to pour out all our heart before God. (Ps 62:8). Whenever the disciples needs to get direction from God, besides fasting, they will always accompany it with prayers (Acts 13:3) Remember, fasting without prayer is just called dieting.

2. To do Good and to Help the Poor
Whenever a Christian fast, he should always continue to do good and bless the people around, God has one complain against the fasting of Judah and he had spoken through Isaiah

Is this not the fast that I have chosen:
To loose the bonds of wickedness,
To undo the heavy burdens,
To let the oppressed go free,
And that you break every yoke?
Is it not to share your bread with the hungry,
And that you bring to your house the poor who are cast out;
When you see the naked, that you cover him,
And not hide yourself from your own flesh?
Then your light shall break forth like the morning,
Your healing shall spring forth speedily,
And your righteousness shall go before you;
The glory of the LORD shall be your rear guard.
Then you shall call, and the LORD will answer;
You shall cry, and He will say, ‘Here I am.” – Isaiah (Is 58:6-9)

When the Jews were fasting at the time of Isaiah, they continue to oppress the weak, exploit the labourers, and continue their strife and debate among themselves, as a result, God did not want to answer them when they fast and pray. Over here, God is encouraging them to share , and do good to others, only then will God response to their prayers.

Don’ts

There are a few things that should never be done when you fast

1. Do not let other know you are fasting

“But you, when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, so that you do not appear to men to be fasting, but to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly” – Jesus (Matt 6:17-18)

Jesus encourages Christians to fast, but they should always do this in secret, and not to let other knows that he is fasting, God who sees it in secret, will reward openly.

2. Do not fast for the wrong reasons

In the same chapter in Isaiah 58, God spoke through Isaiah the prophet saying

“Why have we fasted,’ they say, ‘and You have not seen?
Why have we afflicted our souls, and You take no notice?’

” In fact, in the day of your fast you find pleasure,
And exploit all your laborers.
Indeed you fast for strife and debate,
And to strike with the fist of wickedness.
You will not fast as you do this day,
To make your voice heard on high.
Is it a fast that I have chosen,
A day for a man to afflict his soul?
Is it to bow down his head like a bulrush,
And to spread out sackcloth and ashes?
Would you call this a fast,
And an acceptable day to the LORD?” – Isaiah (Is 58:3-5)

Therefore let us learn to show reverence to God whenever we fast, let us not fast for the sake of fasting. Let us not fast just because we cant find food for ourselves. Always remember, that God does not look at outer appearance,

“Do not look at his appearance or at his physical stature, because I have refused him. For the LORD does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.” – YHWH (1 Sam 16:7)

Biblical example of fasting, and the reason for fasting

To conclude our discussion, I would be quoting examples of fast that God accepted, and we would draw examples from the old and new testaments.

Generally, there are 4 known reasons why people fast in the bible

1. To Receive Power from God

a. Lord Jesus himself fasted forty days and forty nights before he started his ministry (Matt 4:1-2)
b. The Apostles fasted and prayed with one accord before commissioning and sending out of workers (Acts 13:1-3)
c. Healing and casting out of demons should be carried out through fasting and prayers (Mt 17:19-21)

2. To Request for Gods help

a. Ezra fasted and prayed for Gods protection before starting his trip to Jerusalem (Ezra 8:21-23)
b. Esther fasted 3 days and nights before she takes on the risk to see the king (Est 4:16)
c. Nehemiah fasted and pray for God to request for his grace (Neh 1:4-11)

3. To understand the truth

a. Daniel fasted for the Revelation for the things to come (Dan 10:2-12)
b. Moses fasted in forty days and nights in mount Sinai before he received the 10 commandments (Ex 34:27-28)
c. The apostles fasted for Gods revealation on the directions to take for ministry (Acts 13:1-2)

4. To Confess, Repent, and Request the Forgiveness of sin

a. The people of Nineveh fasted and repented before God when they heard the preaching of Jonah (Jon 3:5-10)
b. The Israelites fasted, and confessed their sins and turn to God (1 Sam 7:3-6)
c. King Ahab fasted and prayed and repented before God when Elijah spoke against him (1 Kings 21:27)

I quoted King Ahab because it is interesting to see that even someone as evil as Ahab, when he genuinely repent before God, God actually took pity on him and said this through Elijah his prophet
“See how Ahab has humbled himself before Me? Because he has humbled himself before Me, I will not bring the calamity in his days. In the days of his son I will bring the calamity on his house.” – YHWH (2 Kings 21:28)

This tells us how much does fasting means onto God. But it has to be done for the right reasons for God to accept it. Therefore, let us not just fast without a purpose, or else that fasting will fit exactly to what Paul warned the Colossian about .

“Therefore, if you died with Christ from the basic principles of the world, why, as though living in the world, do you subject yourselves to regulations- “Do not touch, do not taste, do not handle,” which all concern things which perish with the using-according to the commandments and doctrines of men? These things indeed have an appearance of wisdom in self-imposed religion, false humility, and neglect of the body, but are of no value against the indulgence of the flesh. ” – Paul (Col 2:20-23)

Therefore, let us keep these principles in mind and to serve God in the way that he would want us to.

So far I have completed 3 parts of my sharing

Part 1: Talks about the introduction and a brief summary of the story of Exodus
Part 2: Talks about the fairness of God in the 10 plagues
Part 3: Discusses how the 10 plagues teaches us about the power of God Vs the power of the devil

This discussion would help us understand, that even in the midst of God punishment, his mercy is clearly evident as well.

Many a times, people accuse God of the old testament as unfeeling., barbaric and one who loves to see death and blood. He tramples on the winepress with the blood of the sinners, and he cannot tolerate any form of sin. If you were to sin against God in the old testament, you only have one end, that is to die at the hands of God.

They love quoting Sodom and Gomorrah, Amalekites, the Moabites at Shittim, as example of Gods anger.

Yet at the same time, the same God speaks through the Prophet Ezekiel
“For I have no pleasure in the death of one who dies,” says the Lord GOD. “Therefore turn and live!” – YHWH (Eze 18:32)

This is also the same God that taught Jonah that he had compassion for the 120 000 babies and animals who are living the city of Nineveh
” And should I not pity Nineveh, that great city, in which are more than one hundred and twenty thousand persons who cannot discern between their right hand and their left-and much livestock?” – YHWH (Jon 4:11)

Indeed, even as God executes his punishment onto the people, his mercy is always shown. The study of the 10 plagues will tell us even more about Gods mercy when he chastise the people

Gods punishments Comes With Increasing Severity

The serverity of each plague increases as we move down the list. God is putting in much effort to lead the Egyptians and the Pharoah who are hard hearted. Eveytime a plague happens, he is waiting for the Egyptians to change, and help that they will see beyond the sufferings and to turn to GOd. Whenever the Pharoah entreat Moses to stop the plagues and humbles himself before God. God immediately stopped the plagues. However when the plague is lifted from the land, Pharoah started to disobey God again.

In fact God sent the Moses to the Pharoah and tells him not to treat God deceitfully. (Ex 8:29). Unfortuntaely, the Pharoah and his people choose to continue their rebellion against God . In Ex 8:15, Ex 9:27-28. These are not the only times when Pharoah admitted his guilt. But everytime when he repented, God stopped the plagues. But when he treated God with deceitfully, God increase the serverity of his Plagues.

Despite the Pharoahs disobedience, God continue to show his mercy and lift the plagues when he show signs of repentence.

Now let us ponder over the effects of each of the plagues onto the people

1. Nile Brought fear and inconvience to people
2. Frogs Brought fear and inconvience to people
3. Lice Brought pain onto man and animals
4. Flies Brought discomfort to man and animals
5. Livestock Death to animals only
6. Boils Brought severe pain to man and animals
7. Hailstone (Refer Below)
8. Locust (Refer Below)
9. Darkness (Refer Below)
10. Firstborn Death to all the firstborn of Egypt.

7th Plague : Hailstones

So God decided to rain hailstones down onto the earth, this is a very startling reminder of the fire and brimestones that God has cast down on Sodom and Gomorrah isnt it?
So was God angry that he decided that it is war time, no more mercy will be given to the Egyptians?

Let us look at that plague in details
“Behold, tomorrow about this time I will cause very heavy hail to rain down, such as has not been in Egypt since its founding until now. Therefore send now and gather your livestock and all that you have in the field, for the hail shall come down on every man and every animal which is found in the field and is not brought home; and they shall die” – YHWH (Ex 9:18-19)

Can we see the warning God gave to the Pharoah and his courts? He told them to gather all the livestocks, stay indoors and to harvest as much of the food in the fields as possible. God did not sent Moses to speak the Pharoah in the morning and he gave them one day to prepare it. So God did not rain these hailstones like Zeus would have done with his thunderbolt. God did not rain down hailstones out of anger.

Some of us may wonder, did anyone listern to this warning? Lets look carefully at Ex 9:20-21

He who feared the word of the LORD among the servants of Pharaoh made his servants and his livestock flee to the houses. But he who did not regard the word of the LORD left his servants and his livestock in the field. (Ex 9:20-21)

God was trying to rescue even the Egyptians who already had understood Gods message to the Egyptians and have feared God. Only on the next day, the hail appears. That was one big hail, that hailstorm destroyed everything on the ground, clausing fire and broken trees all over Egypt. The land of Goshen was miraculously spared, as well as the Egyptians who feared God

So was God cruel? always eager to see blood like what everyone thinks he is?

This part of the story also gives us a big warning. When God gave the people time to prepare, not all Egyptians listern. So when we listern to the story of Gods judgement, do we believe in it? Do we write the teachings in our heart? or do we treat it as a mere story? Now ask yourselves what would you do when the Plagues strikes?

There was another interesting fact about this hailstorm. Let us read Ex 9:31-32. Only Barley and Flax are struck. The Wheat and Spelts are spared. This is actually Gods grace, God left them some produce of the land. Barley is used as food for the livestock. Wheat and Spelt are food man for Human beings. God preserved them, God left food for these Egyptians who disregard God. God gave them a chance for surivial. God allowed them to keep their lives, God only wanted to punish them for their hard heartedness. Just like what God said in Ezekiel that he doesnt desire mans death.

God hopes that they will repent after he struck them.

8th Plague : Locust

The locust are more frightening than the hail and thunderstorm. Ex 10:15 tells us that the land was darken, everything green is eaten. When the locust came, they ate the land dry, nothing green was left in the Egypt. This plague was so server that Pharoah summon Moses back, admit that he had sin again God, as well as sin against Moses and Aaron. If we were to count, this should be the 8th time he admited his mistake. But when God relented, his heart goes back being stubborn

Now think about it, are we sometimes as stubborn as Pharoah?

9th Plague : Darkness

This plagues seems relatively harmless but lets think about it. For 3 full days, non one can see each other. This is an attack on the hearts of the people. This Plague is specially targeted at Ra, the god of the Sun. It is one of the Most Important God of Egyptians. It is their greatest reliance. Now he appears helpless before God. The Egyptians believed that Pharoah is the son of Ra. So now even Pharoah is punished by Goid, and can only see darkness. This made great fear fell upon Egyptians. Yet God did not take away their lives. God wanted them to give them a chance to repent.

What we can learn from this?

In Jer 26:2-3, God is still showing mercy to the Jews who came to worship in the temple of GOd. Although God has already pronounced his judgement on the kingdom of Judah. God can see that the people did not listern, but the fact that since they are still willing to worship God in the temple., God wanted JEremiah to continue to speak and to tell them every word that God wanted to say. Perhaps they will listern and turn away, and God can relent from his judgement. In Jer 36:2-3 God still asked Jeremiah to write it on a scroll so they can read by the people. GOd wanted it so that he can forgive them and relent from his punishment.

God has already pronouce his judgement, and calmity is on its way, yet God still wanted Jeremiah to continue preaching, hoping that they will listern and turn from their evil way, . God will forgive and stop his calamity.

God judgement is alwas full of the mercy and grace of GOd. God only wanted to deal with the sin of the people. God has no intention to kill them. Therefore when we see calamities from God. Let us depart from evil and return to God, regain Gods mercy and favor. Do not only see the pain and suffering clause by the 10 plagues, we must see Gods mercy within it as well.

I guess I left this article uncompleted for too long a time. Lately God pushed me to re-listened to the sermons and now I have more than enough materials to complete this series
My only fear is that I may not have all the time to record everything.

Actually there is a part 6. If time permits, I would like to write that down too.

So far, we have covered 2 parts of the discussion of the 10 plagues

Part 1: Talks about the introduction and a brief summary of the story of Exodus
Part 2: Talks about the fairness of God in the 10 plagues

Part 2 teaches us that we have to fear God, we cannot just say that because God loves us, gives us the Holy Spirit and we are his children, therefore we can just do what we please. If we ignore the moving of the Holy Spirit, we will grieve the Holy Spirit and one day he will leave you. So when God punish us and send calamities upon us, do we now re-examine our faith or to continue sinning? I guess my wise readers will know the answer to it.

Today lets talk about “How the 10 plagues Teaches About The Power of God And The Power Of Satan”

The Ten Plagues Are Chosen To Target Specific Egyptian gods

Recall that Pharaohs hard heartedness stems from the fact that he believes that the gods of Egypt will be able to withstand the attacks of the God of the Hebrews. At the beginning of the plague God told Moses to go to the bank of the river Nile in the morning. God knows that the Pharaoh would be there (Ex 7:14-15). Why did the Pharaoh have to visit river Nile in the morning? I hardly think he was planning to take a bath or to take a drink. In fact, I would think that he was trying to make a prayer to the god of River Nile (Hapi) to protect the land against the God of the Hebrews.

God specifically chose the time when the Pharaoh was asking for the river god to give him his blessing, so that the blessing would be turn to a curse. God wanted the Pharaoh to understand that the God who controls River Nile is actually the God of the Hebrews, the only God. and that God has chosen to execute his judgement because of his disobedience.

I came across an interesting website that discuss the gods targeted in the 10 plagues by some scholars.

1. Nile Hapi, god of the Nile
2. Frogs Heket, goddess of Fertility
3. Lice Geb, god of the earth
4. Flies Khepri, god of creation, rebirth
5. Livestock Hathor, goddess of love, protection
6. Boils Isis, goddess of medicine and peace
7. Hailstone Nut, goddess of the sky
8. Locust Seth, god of the storm and disorder
9. Darkness Ra, the sun god
10. Firstborn Pharaoh, Ultimate power in Egypt

These plagues are targeted specifically at the gods Egyptians worship.. God uses the plagues to proclaim to the Egyptians that the idols they worship are not gods, and the idols cant protect themselves. God of the Hebrews indeed controls the heaven and earth.. since no one wanted to believe Him. so God uses the 10 plagues to prove his point. The 9th plagues was interesting because the Pharaoh of Ancient Egypt are known to the the sun of Ra the sun God. and the Pharaoh was targeted at the 10th Plague, when he refused to talk to Moses anymore (Ex 10:27-29)

We have discussed earlier regarding the reason behind Pharaohs hard heartedness, and that his submission to the God of the Hebrews may lead to him losing his divine status to the Egyptians, thus costing him his throne and his threatening his position as Pharaoh.

As Pharaoh is the king of the world, right now the king of the world is none other than Satan (Lk 4: 5-6)

But we also know that his power is limited by looking at the 10 plagues

The 10 Plagues shows that the power of the devil is within the constraints of God

1st Plague: River turn into Blood

We can see that the magicians of the Pharaoh were able to turn water into blood too. (Ex 7:22). it will seem that the power of the devil is the same as the power of God, but is it true? Now let us wear the shoes of the Pharaoh to appreciate it. If you were the Pharaoh, would you command your magicians to turn the River Nile red or to reverse the spell cast by Moses? But clearly, the magicians cannot go against the will of God, it was God who wanted the River Nile to be turn into blood, they could only reproduce the miracle and not go against it. They are unable to go against the will of God.

From this we can see that the power of the devils is limited by the will of God

This is more clearly evident in the next plague

2nd Plague: Frogs

Lets read Ex 8:6-7, would you call your magicians to make more frogs or to drive the frogs away? It is evident that the magicians cannot go against the will of God, from their enchantments, they can only fulfil Gods will further by making more frogs pop up into the land of Egypt. in Ex 8:8-9. The Pharaoh had to humble himself and to ask Moses and Aaron to chase the frogs away.

Some scholars claimed that there is a reason why Moses told the Pharaoh to choose a time for the frogs to return to the river (Ex 8:9-11) . According to Egyptian records, the river Nile had ever became red before, and the Egyptians have their own explanation how it occurs. And during such calamity, it is natural that the frogs would escape from the river and hop all over the land. Pharaoh may have think that Moses and Aaron is just making use of natural disasters to threaten him, so why must he submit to Moses. In order to make the Pharaoh understand that the frogs and the river are not natural disasters. God told Moses to ask Pharaoh to decide a time for the frogs to depart, and it will be done according to the order of the Pharaoh. God wanted the Pharaoh to know that the water turn into blood because of Gods command to Moses, and the frogs leave Egypt at his command as well. Even the Pharaohs magicians are unable to control when the frogs were to leave Egypt. This could only be done when Pharaoh is submissive to God.

You can see how God taught the Pharaoh

3rd Plague Lice

This is the time when God decided to limit the power of satan. The magicians cannot reproduce lices God has stopped them from succeeding. This is when the magicians gave up and told the Pharaoh, it is the finger of God. Ex 8:19

6th Plagues: Boils

This is the time when God judges the magicians Ex 9:11. There is something special about this plague, for the first 5, God always allow Moses to speak address the Egyptians before and this time God told Moses not to say anything, just walk up, take the ashes from the furnace, and scatter it onto the heavens. Ex 9:8. in this particular plague, God decided not to give warning, and immediately punish the magicians of the Pharaoh as well as everyone else.

This is to allow Pharaoh to understand that the very people that he trusted to defend Egypt from the God of the Hebrews, cannot even defend himself if God choose. God spoke again to Pharaoh in the 7th plague, he made a very unusual comment

“for at this time I will send all My plagues to your very heart, and on your servants and on your people, that you may know that there is none like Me in all the earth. Now if I had stretched out My hand and struck you and your people with pestilence, then you would have been cut off from the earth” – YHWH Ex 9:14-15

God reminded Pharaoh that if he would have willed to kill him from the earth, he would have done so much earlier in the plagues.

What we can learn from all these?

If we can look beyond the pain and suffering of the 10 plagues and search deeper into the truth behind the 10 plagues, we can see that our God is indeed a mighty God. Although we can deny that there are evil spirits int he world and there are many pagan and occult practises in the world. God constraints and limit their power. God at the same time punish the people who uses it. Therefore as Christians let us not be afraid of them, but rather we ought to be afraid of not following God and opening a foothold for the devil to world. If we do not draw near to God but yet rely on enchantments to protect us, we will lose our faith eventually.

This calls to my mind the story of King Saul, a mighty king who used to draw close to God. He fought many battles for God and even David called Saul a great hero. But in the end, he failed in his faith because of pride and jealousy. He was greedy for money and power and he turn his heart toward evil. Grieving the Holy spirit. Finally the Spirit of God left him. At the very end of his life, he even have to consult a mediums, whom he had banished from the land of Israel.

The bible left these examples behind to encourage us to draw near to God, and not grieve the Holy Spirit. Let us stay away from superstition and draw near to God. Just like what Elder James says

“Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded.” – James (Jas 4:7-8)

Can we resist the devil? James tells us he can be resisted, only if we were to submit to God, and draw near to him. The devils will flee from us. We can never resist the devil if we rely on our mere power, self determination. We must humble ourselves and draw near to him. How do we do that? James told us to cleanse our hands, purify our hearts. Elder Peter added

“Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world.” – Peter (1 Pet 5:8-9)

The devil is like a roaring lion, but e looks for targets, he cannot just eat anyone, or else we should be afraid. He is often prowling for people to devour. and who are those? They are people who have lost their faith in God, people who stay away from God and not repent, just like King Saul, who initially left a foothold for the devil and finally sought for the devil himself.

Peter tells us to resist him, be steadfast in faith, he has given to us many other brother and sisters who had suffered tribulation in their walk of faith. At that time, there are brethren who had lose their faith asking “Why are tribulation not over? Why is the attacks of the devil so powerful now?” Peter exhorts them not to give up and lose faith. We need to be steadfast forever, not give up, just like Job. Job has an mentality within him that the devils may harm his body and his life, but he cannot harm the soul of Job. Even if Job would to die, he knows that he will be able to meet God, this faith is something the devils can never devour. So from remembering the story of Job we can understand what it means to resist the devil. We have to ask God to increase our faith.

This is another lesson we can learn from the 10 plagues.