God works to free us from whatever obstructs us
• We harden our hearts when we say that you have come this far, you can come no further. That there is nothing that will get past my feelings and thoughts about this issue.
When we obstruct we work to keep everything out and all of us in.
The problem with obstruction is that it is not selective.
• Pharaoh hardens his heart in our passage this morning. 12 times in ch 7-9 we hear either that pharaoh’s heart was hard, that he hardened his heart or that strangely, God hardened his heart. Now these all mean the same thing. God we don’t believe hardened his heart before but that as a cause for His work, God’s actions hardened his heart.
• Because we are obstructionists at heart
• We want whats best for us
• Even if it’s not best for us
• And so we work to either preserve against what’s already happened or to propel what could happen.
God removes what is rooted
Exodus 9:17 ESV
You are still exalting yourself against my people and will not let them go.
• The Plagues are a long conversation with pharaoh
It’s a standoff between God and Pharaoh
Exodus 8:14–15 ESV
And they gathered them together in heaps, and the land stank. But when Pharaoh saw that there was a respite, he hardened his heart and would not listen to them, as the Lord had said.
• When God introduced the plagues into Egypt He wasn’t trying to cut down a trunk He was working to uproot the entire tree.
• Here is how deep that power and chaos goes.
Exodus 8:9–10 ESV
Moses said to Pharaoh, “Be pleased to command me when I am to plead for you and for your servants and for your people, that the frogs be cut off from you and your houses and be left only in the Nile.” And he said, “Tomorrow.” Moses said, “Be it as you say, so that you may know that there is no one like the Lord our God.
• A couple times, Moses does recant and he is asked when he would like in this case the frogs removed from his people.
• Pharaoh is so entrenched in his own power that even when he is overpowered he still obstructs freedom.
God brings order to chaos
Genesis 1:1–4 ESV
In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.
And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. And God saw that the light was good. And God separated the light from the darkness.
• God takes what is chaotic and brings order to it. Even the rest of the Creation narrative is God communicating absolute power and order over other gods that were worshiped.
• God over all other gods
God orders our freedom
Exodus 9:15–16 ESV
For by now I could have put out my hand and struck you and your people with pestilence, and you would have been cut off from the earth. But for this purpose I have raised you up, to show you my power, so that my name may be proclaimed in all the earth.
• The point here is that Pharaoh has become THE obstruction between God’s people and freedom. And it is Pharaoh that God has to remove to have the people set free.
• Plagues become the way to remove the obstruction between the Israelites and their captivity and freedom before God.
What about our hard hearts?
• God uses means of power to come up against your greatest obstructions in life
• These are places that keep freedom hidden from us. That keep peace far from us.
• And so to experience the goodness of God, the fullness of God, to know the revelation of Him in our lives, we need to see God remove obstructions in our lives.
• God uses Himself to remove obstructions. He lifts us out and from things that keep us knowing Him,
• We don’t have plagues because we have Christ who has come up against our obstructions.
• Christ has come as the revelation of God and has pushed against evil and has beaten death itself.
• Simone Weil, a writer in the mid 20th century tells us that evil is limitless. And we can feel that. We feel sometimes the oppression of limitless evil. But she says, evil is not infinite.
• In her book Gravity and Grace she writes: “Evil is limitless but it is not infinite. Only the infinite limits the limitless.”
Luke 4:18–19 ESV
“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
because he has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives
and recovering of sight to the blind,
to set at liberty those who are oppressed,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”
• Christ is offering us freedom from anything that obstructs.
What should we do?
– When something is entrenched, it cannot get out on its own when it’s really entrenched it needs a second pair of hands. It needs another tool. It needs other attempts to get out when it’s stuck on its own.
• Ask God to dig out the roots, ask Him to hook a chain to the vehicle, ask Him to get at whatever is entrenched in your life.
• Trust that He is strong enough and gentle enough to free us.