Show me Your glory, I pray.
Then the LORD said to Moses, “Pharaoh’s heart is hardened; he refuses to let the people go… Say to him, ‘The LORD, the God of the Hebrews, sent me to you to say, “Let my people go, so that they may worship me in the wilderness.”’ But until now you have not listened. Thus says the LORD, “By this you shall know that I am the LORD.” See, with the staff that is in my hand I will strike the water that is in the Nile, and it shall be turned to blood.
Exodus 7:14, 16-17
Who, or what, do you worship? I know that I would say I worship God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. And yet, there are times I do have to ask myself about that to which I am devoted, that to which I give my life, time, energy, and money. I do have to remember that the apostle John closes out his first letter with a warning to Christians: “Little children, keep yourself from idols” (1 John 5:21). We might not have graven images in our homes, or shrines to gods and goddesses, but yet, we might be serving idols. For example, the apostle Paul says: “Put to death…greed (which is idolatry)” (Colossians 3:5).
An essential step in the Exodus journey is to rid our lives of the idols, falsities, and flimflam around which we have so painstakingly formed our lives. The idols are killing us, robbing us of the life God intends for us. That is the reason God initiates the plagues on Egypt. Each of the ten plagues is for the purpose of exposing the gods of the Egyptians as bogus, powerless nonentities. Later in the Exodus story the Lord God will say that the plagues are “on all the gods of Egypt” (Exodus 12:12).
It is fitting that in today’s scripture the Lord God warns Pharaoh that He is about to turn the waters of the Nile into blood. That will be God’s first step in debunking and demythologizing the gods of Egypt, because the Egyptians worshipped the Nile as divine. The Nile was thought to be the bloodstream of the great god Osiris as well as the lifeblood of Egypt, as all agriculture, business and trade depended on it. “Thus, for the Nile and its canals to be turned to blood meant that chaos had crossed Egypt’s border, that Pharaoh had failed in his duty, and that a divine power was at work against them.” (New International Version Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible)
Eugene Peterson emphasizes the importance of the plagues to the broken spirited, enslaved Israelites:
“The ten plagues were employed to expose the emptiness of evil, to purge the Hebrew mind of all envious admiration of evil, to systematically demolish every god-illusion or god-pretension that evil uses to exercise power over men and women…The ten plagues cleansed the ‘doors of perception’ so that Israel could see life in a totally different way.” (Eugene Peterson, Christ Plays in Ten Thousand Places)
Up to this point in the Exodus story Pharaoh has hardened his heart against God and refused to let the Israelites go. But God says that by the plagues, Pharaoh and all of Egypt “shall know that I am the LORD.”
Neither the Israelites, nor you and I, can begin God’s Exodus journey until we see the emptiness of the gods we have served, and come to believe in the overwhelming, liberating power of God!
- Can you name an ‘idol’, or a false way of thinking, you might need to let go? If so, ask God to help you.