Exodus Message #14 Ed Miller, Nov. 4, 2020

Exemptions, Moraine and Boils

Listen to audio and follow along below with the full transcript…

Let me share this passage from Psalm 119:133, “Establish my footsteps in Your word.”  It doesn’t say to establish my brain in your word, or my mind.  God is not that concerned that we correct on stating all of our theology, but to establish my feet.   It’s not the doctrine of sanctification.  It’s a life of holiness.  He wants us to be established in our walk in the study of His word, by seeing the Lord Jesus.

Heavenly Father, we thank You that You’ve called us into this place, and Lord we just want to allow the indwelling Holy Spirit to unveil the Lord Jesus in a fresh way to our heart.  I pray You would protect Your people from anything I might say that originates in the flesh, and we pray that You might communicate Your heart Yourself.  Thank You for being the jealous Lover of our souls.  We commit our meditation unto You, and ask You to make it acceptable in Your sight.  We pray in Jesus’ name.  Amen.

I want to bring you quickly where we left off in our study.  We’re studying the nine plagues plus one.  I say it that way because that last plague needs to be studied by itself alone.  Our discussion of the plagues is based on Exodus 12:12, or at least a thought from that verse, “I will go through the land of Egypt on that night, and I’ll strike down all the first born in the land of Egypt, both man and beast.”  And it’s this part, “Against all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgment.  I’m the Lord.”  I call attention to the fact that God includes more under idolatry than we do.  We can think that I can be guilty of many sins, but I’m not guilty of idolatry, but there are principles of idolatry, and they still draw our hearts from the Lord.

The reason the Lord is at war with the false gods of Egypt, and the false gods of my heart, is state in Deuteronomy 32:16, “They made Him jealous with strange gods.”  The great revelation of the Lord in all of this is that He is a jealous God.  His heart is intolerant of any rivalry.  He insists on an exclusive devotion with His people.  He wants an intimate relationship with you and me, and with all of His children.  His jealous love will stand up against and destroy any rival god that is in competition with Him.  That’s how we’re looking at it.

As we noted, each plague that God brought upon Pharaoh and Egypt was directed against certain gods or goddesses, they had both.  Egypt at that time was very polytheistic, and they worshipped many gods, and I believe God selected these ten plagues because they illustrate ten of the great principles of idolatry that can draw our hearts away from the Lord.  The principle of idolatry remains.  The illustrations fall away.  We’re going to illustrate it from Exodus, that falls away, but then that principle that we always focus on, that remains and that principle make God as jealous today as it did in the days of Moses.

So far we’ve looked at the first four plagues.  I’ve attempted to show the principle of idolatry that is illustrated by those plagues.  I’m not going to develop it again, but let me just state that, so we can have those four.  Plague #1, they worshipped the Nile River god, and they worshipped that because they believed the Nile River god is the source of all life and blessing.  You and I know better.  Our Lord Jesus is the Source of all Life and blessing, and in any degree in my life, when I make something else the source of life and blessing, I’m guilty of Nile River god worship.

They also worshipped the frog god.  The frogs hopped along the banks of the Nile River, and they said that the frogs were protecting the source.  God turned it into a plague.  They had a superstition that if they hurt or killed a frog, it was a capital offense, and then they had to die.  They lived a life under condemnation.  When God made the frogs ubiquitous, omnipresent, they were everywhere, everybody had to tiptoe, they didn’t want to step on their god, sit on my god, cook my god in the oven.  So, they had to live under condemnation because they tried to appease that god.  God never intended us to live under condemnation.  “Therefore there is now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus.”  We don’t have to appease the frog god, or live in fear.  God doesn’t want us living in terror, fearing that every time we take a step, we might offend Him, or hurt Him.  That’s not His way.

The third plague, they worshipped the earth.  You remember when God told Aaron to strike the earth, terrible lice came and contaminated everyone from the palace right down to the servants quarters.  Every time we worship the earth, the world, we talk about worldly Christians, God is jealous, and He smites the world.  The more you go on in the Lord, the more He is going to deliver us from worldly wisdom, and worldly methods, and worldly values, and worldly pursuits, and God will smite the earth.

The fourth plague was that dreaded blood sucking gadfly, along with other stinging insects; the wasps, hornets, bees, and all kinds of insects.  They were already stung by idolatry, but God wanted them to see it, to know it and feel it.  So, He made it visible.  The god they trusted there was Shu, the god of the atmosphere, and that was supposed to protect them from the swarms of flies.  Every time I trust a lie…  You couldn’t trust Shu; no security in Shu.  God is my security, and every time I trust a lie, I am an idolater.  The Lord is my source, the Lord is my liberty, the Lord is my portion, the Lord is my security.  Those are the first plagues.

Before we look at the fifth plague, I want to take a little by-pass, as I suggested last week that I would do.  That’s because when we were studying the fourth plague, the terrible with the swarming, stinging insects, I called attention to the fact that this is the first plague that mentions an exemption of God’s people.  Notice Exodus 8:22, “On that day I’ll set apart the land of Goshen where My people are living, so that no swarms of flies will be there, in order that you may know that I, the Lord, am in the midst of the land.  I’ll put a division between My people and your people tomorrow this time will occur.”  That’s the first time God made a division between His people and the Egyptians.  The swarms of stinging insects would sting the Egyptians, but they wouldn’t sting any of God’s people.  That’s an amazing thing!

Actually, just to give you an overview, there are five of these plagues where God separates His people from the people of Egypt.  Israel was exempted from this fourth plagues, the swarm of stinging insects.  They were also exempt from the next plague, the pestilence on the animals.  Exodus 9:4, “The Lord will make a distinction between the livestock of Israel, and the livestock of Egypt, so that nothing will die of all that belongs to the sons of Israel.”  Verse 6, “So, the Lord did this thing the next day, and all the livestock of Egypt died, but the livestock of the sons of Israel, not one died.”  Israel was also exempt from the 7th plague; the storm.  It’s called the “plague of hail”.  Exodus 9:26, “Only in the land of Goshen where the sons of Israel were, there was no hail.”  When we look at that we’ll see that the storm was a lot bigger than hail, and included a lot more.  In fact, it was at that particular place where Pharaoh said, “Enough of God’s thunder,” because there was lightning and thunder and all kinds of things.

Israel was also exempt from the plague of darkness.  Exodus 10:23, “They did not see one another, nor did anyone rise from the place for three days, but all the sons of Israel had light in their dwellings.”  And then the fifth exemption and final plague, the death of the firstborn, Exodus 11:7, “Against any of the sons of Israel, a dog will not even bark, whether against man or beast, that you will understand that the Lord makes a distinction between Egypt and Israel.”  Let me tell you why I wanted to address these five exemptions as a group, and why I want to take some time to do that.  It’s because there is a teaching out there that says, “We are the King’s kids.  We are Christians.  Therefore, we are exempt.  They think because of this that there were exemptions, if we are not exempt from troubles and trials, it’s because we have no faith, or little faith.

The question is, since I have this opportunity with exemptions, I’d like to address that whole issue.  In recent years that movement has taken on a name.  It’s not in the Bible, but perhaps you’ve heard it.  It’s called the prosperity gospel.  That’s the teaching that I’m exempt from poverty and bleak medical diagnosis, and marriage problems, and if my kids go astray, it shouldn’t happen to Christians; health and wealth; we can name it and claim, and if we don’t have it because God died, they say, for my sins, they say that He also died for diseases, and the same faith that would claim forgiveness, should be able to claim healing, because healing is in the atonement.  I won’t take time to show the error of that, but that’s not the teaching of the Bible.  Because of this it’s been made popular by TV evangelists, you know who they are.  I’m teaching Exodus by God’s grace, and I want to stick pretty much to Exodus.  So, I’m going to stay away from what I consider the essential errors, and get into the healing and atonement, the word of faith doctrine, and the error of storehouse tithing, and positive thinking as a substitute for faith, and that kind of things.

Christians are not exempt from boils, and storms, and locust, and those kinds of things.  God can use them redemptively.   There are ten plagues, and five of them they were exempt, and five of them they were not.  As I began to study this, I asked this question, “Does the Lord give five exemptions that contain five principles, so that I can say, ‘We can expect to be exempt from this!  But then there are five we are not exempt from, and we aren’t exempt from that.’”  That was the approach I was taking.  As I sought the Lord’s heart, I really was very confused.  The Lord used brother Lex to think this thing through and mull it over.  Lex raised the question that it’s true that God said they are exempt from these five, but are you just assuming that they weren’t exempt from the other five, or were they exempt from all ten, but He only mentioned five?”  Well, I hadn’t considered that, and I did a study, and the record is true, it doesn’t specifically say that God’s people got boils, and it doesn’t say that their animals got boils, and it doesn’t say specifically that no locusts went to Goshen, and so on.  I assumed because they weren’t mentioned as exemptions, they weren’t exempt. 

Is a Christian exempt from some plagues and not other plagues?  Let me give what I think is God’s heart and answer to that question.  A Christian is potentially exempt from all plagues.  I’ll explain that in a moment.  A Christian is not exempt from trials and afflictions and hard times, disease, and so on.  How do I reconcile those two seemingly contradictory statements?  You’ve got to remember what the plagues were.  The plagues were God’s war against false gods.  To put it in our own language, the plagues were chastening.  He was chastening them.  He was dealing severely.  It was discipline.  Am I exempt from chastening?  Potentially; if I walk with the Lord I’m exempt from chastening.  He’s not going to chasten me if I’m walking in union with them.  Potentially I’m exempt from that.  Here’s the point.  You say, “What about the trouble that comes into my life?”  May God bring this home to your heart!   They are not plagues.  All of this exemption from plagues; these are not plagues.  When a believer loses a loved one, or gets an disease, or suffers some financial loss, or some storm comes into their life, or someone in their family is not rescued, or the car breaks down, or the dog dies, that is not a plague necessarily.  That is a redemptive work of God. 

Philippians 1:29, “For you it has been granted for Christ sake, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake.”  We aren’t exempt from suffering.  If fact, according to that, it’s as great a gift as believing.  John 16:33, “These things I’ve spoken to You, in Me you may have peace, in the world you’ll have tribulation.  Take courage, I have overcome the world.”  We aren’t exempt from tribulation, but we have victory in our overcoming.  Romans 8;25, “Who will separate us from the love of Christ?  Will tribulation, distress, persecution, famine, nakedness, peril, sword?  Just as it is written, for you sake we are being put to death all day long.  We are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.  But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who love us.”  We are not exempt from tribulation distress, persecution, famine, nakedness, peril, sword, but we conquer through that.  Here is the redemptive passage I love so much, 2 Corinthians 4:8, “We are afflicted in every way, not crushed; perplexed, not despairing; persecuted, not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying about in the body the dying of Jesus,” (not the dying of self), “so that the life of Jesus, also, may be manifested in our body.  We who live are constantly being delivered over to death for Jesus sake.  Why?  So that the life of Jesus may be manifest in our mortal flesh.” 

So, the trials of life are redemptive.  Remember what Paul said of his own experience in Philippians 1:12, “I want you to know, brethren, my circumstances,” (and they weren’t good – he was in prison), “have turned out for the greater progress of the gospel.” God allows those things redemptively.  Potentially you don’t have to be chastened.  Walk in union with Christ.  Every father chastens his son.  If you get out of step, there is such a thing as a divine woodshed, and God will bring you into the woodshed.  He’ll deal with you.  But potentially you need to understand that what comes into your life aren’t plagues.  Pruning looks a lot like being cut off.  It feels the same way, but He prunes the fruitful, that it might bring forth more fruit.  We need to understand pruning.  We had a dear sister one time, and she was very upset because she had to have her leg amputated.  So, I decided to encourage her, and I called it pruning.  That wasn’t very tactful.  She looked at me.  I said, “This might be for somebody else.”  She said, “All I can say is that I hope they appreciate it.”

Do you remember Joseph’s testimony?  Genesis 45:5, “Do not be grieved or angry with yourself.  You sold me here; God sent me before you to preserve life.”  “You sold me; God sent me.”  And again he said in Genesis 50:20, “As for you, you meant evil against me.  God meant it for good, in order to bring about this present result, and to preserve many people alive.”  What comes into your life, the trials, you aren’t exempt.  That’s redemptive.  God uses that to manifest His life.  It might feel evil, but God means it for good.

Let me make one more comment.  Why is the last plague mentioned as an exemption?  I think it’s because it gives the key to all of these exemptions.  There is no question that Israel was being judged for idolatry.  We’ll see more of this when we do the tenth plague.  Israel was as guilty of idolatry as any Egyptian was.  Leviticus 17:7, “They shall no longer sacrifice their sacrifices to the goat demons, with which they play the harlot.”  There are other verses.  That’s Israel.  They were guilty of worshipping goat demons.  I think the golden calf, and so on.  They had idolatry.  Why were they exempt, if they were as guilty as Egypt?  I believe He put that one in there in order to remind us that they are exempt because they had a substitute; the blood of the lamb.  And that would apply to all of the exemptions, and we can’t stop praising God for the blood of our Lord Jesus.  That is our only hope.

I’m going to attempt to show you from this next plague, #5, the pestilence on the livestock.  This is recorded in chapter 9:1-7.  I’ll give general observations that will describe the plague, and get you a feel for the plague, and then we’ll look at the god and the principle.  My first observation is to call attention to the severity of the plague.  Exodus 9:3, “The hand of the Lord will come with a very severe pestilence on your livestock, which are in the field; on the horse, donkeys, camel, the herds, and the flock.”  If you have KJV it says, “A very grievous moraine,” which means to whiter or perish.  This is the second plague that God worked without Aaron or Moses’ rod.  He’s going to use His own power to bring this about.  It was a very grievous pestilence; very severe.  That loss of livestock was tremendous.

Notice verse 6, “The Lord did this thing on the next day, and all the livestock of Egypt died, but the livestock of the sons of Israel, not one died.”  Some are confused because it says that all the livestock of Egypt died, and then in an upcoming plague, the livestock of Egypt are affect again.  If they all died in this plague, then how in the world can there be more?  Don’t forget the Israel was slaves and no livestock died up in Goshen.  Pharaoh could have gone up and gotten those animals.  There’s another reason.  Every time I see an opportunity to give you a Bible study principle, I’ll weave it in.  There’s a wonderful principle of Bible study that is illustrated here, stated in these words; study the Bible carefully.  That’s a simple truth.  Exodus 9:3, “Behold, the hand of the Lord will come with a very severe pestilence on your livestock, which are in the field.”  That’s the point.  Not all the livestock, but the ones that were in the field.  They had corrals for livestock. 

Keep in mind that this dying of the livestock added to the stench; you know – idolatry stench.  I don’t know if the water turning to blood still had a stench, and the pile of dead frogs still had a stench, but now add to that the animals that are dying.  Usually when we think of these plagues we say, “That was a terrible plague,” but we don’t think about the clean-up, and that is terrible.  After a natural disaster like a hurricane or tornado, it can come in, and ten minutes later you are cleaning up for weeks or years.  They had to deal with that.  It’s an amazing thing that these people are worshipping animals, and they are dropping over dead.

My second observation has to do with the supernatural nature of the plagues.  Let me suggest that every plague was a double miracle; bringing the plague was a miracle, and then getting rid of it was a miracle, as well.  Many of my commentaries, more than three questers of them, look at these plagues and try to give a natural explanation.  They explain the locusts and flies, and the frogs attract the flies, and try to give a natural explanation.  We shouldn’t do that.  We should just believe that God can do this.  Let me give you from this plague three indications that it was supernatural.  There may be others.  Exodus 9:3, “The hand of the Lord will come with a very severe pestilence on your livestock which are in the fields, the horse, and the donkeys, on the camel, the herds, and the flocks.”  One illustration of the supernatural nature of this plague is this different kinds of animals.  They were horse, donkeys, camel, herds, and flocks.  Usually animal diseases are limited to that species.  The mad cow disease sticks with the cows.  I actually read there is such a thing as camel pox.  There is also mad camel disease.  I read there is goat encephalitis that just sticks with the goat.  I’m sure the horses caught horse fever and different animals had different diseases common to the sheep and chickens.  But this plague was the pestilence of God and it transcended all the species.  It’s just an illustration of the mighty miracle of God.  It’s not on just one species.

And then in Exodus 9:5, the Lord set a definite time; the Lord set tomorrow to do those things.  It didn’t just happen that the animals are starting to get sick.  There was a definite time.  The third illustration is the exemption, Exodus 9:6, “The Lord did His thing on the next day.  All the livestock of Egypt died, but of the livestock of the sons of Israel, not one died.”  That was supernatural.  Even with all that evidence of the miracle, that God transcended all the species, and set a particular time, and separated His people, Pharaoh hardened his heart.  We’ll look at Pharaoh in another connection.

Let me identify the gods that they worshipped, and the god that was being judged, and then the principle of idolatry under that particular plague.  It has different names.  I believe the god is Hapis, or Apis; the sacred bull god.  The Egyptians worshipped all animals, but the sacred bull was their chief animal god.  Archaeologists have unearthed mummified cattle, because they were revered.  I think that’s why when Israel experienced and expressed their idolatry, they made a golden calf, because that was a big deal in Egypt; worshipping the bull.  As I suggested, what an insult to their idolatry.  They were bowing down to her majesty the bull, and then the bull falls over dead!  That should say something about their idolatry.  Then they had to haul the carcass off.  God is making foolishness of this idolatry.

Let me attempt the state and apply the principle.  Did you notice that this plague was on the livestock?  It didn’t mention dogs or cats or parrots or gerbils or rabbits, or any pets.  It’s the livestock because this plague was against the animals of burden.  They worshipped the very animals that God gave to serve them.  That becomes the principle.  Mark 2:27 states it this way, “Jesus said to them, ‘The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.’”  That’s the same principle.  Any time we worship what God has given to minister to us, and we turn it around and worship the creature rather than the Creator.  One of the clearest applications is from Roman 6:16, “Do you not know when you present yourself to someone as slaves for obedience, you are slaves of the one you obey, either of sin resulting in death, or obedience resulting in righteousness.”  When we were first created, God made our body to serve our spirit.  When we turn that thing around and our spirit begins to bend down to the passions of the body, we’re guilty of worshipping the sacred bull.

There’s an expression in church terminology, it’s not in the Bible. I didn’t want to use it, but I couldn’t come up with a better expression.  I didn’t want to use it because it’s abused.  Let me mention it and show the abuse, and then show you how I think it should be applied.  It’s called “the means of grace”.  Have you ever heard that expression?  I don’t like it because some people define it this way; the means of grace is something that God has chosen to communicate, to give spiritual benefits.  I don’t accept that.  For example, I grew up in a church where they believed that water baptism was a means of grace, and by water baptism you got saved; you received salvation.  That is not a means of grace. 

Some people teach that the Eucharist, the breaking of bread, is a means of grace, that it gives you forgiveness, and it gives you a right standing with God.  It does not.  Some people believe that confession of sin is a means of grace, and gives you an absolution from your guilt.  It does not.  In that sense, that a means of grace is something God uses to give you some spiritual benefit, is false. 

Here is what I think, and I’m going to use it this way…  The means of grace is God’s provision of an opportunity to go forward in the Lord.  In other words, the Lord’s Table is not going to give you forgiveness.  Just taking the bread and the cup isn’t going to give you forgiveness, or right standing with God, either.  But it is going to give you an opportunity to examine your heart, to reflect on all the Lord has done for you on the cross; the finished work.  It’s an opportunity for you.  The Lord’s Table was made for man, not man for the Lord’s Table.  When that becomes a bondage, we’re very close to idolatry.  Anything God has given us as a means of grace to give us an opportunity, praise God for what we call “manna,” or “quiet time”, or “morning devotions”.  Praise God for that!  That’s an opportunity to go forward with the Lord.  But if you look at that as, “I missed my quiet time.  My day is shot, and I’m not going to be blessed.”  Morning devotions were made for you, not you for morning devotions.  That would be true of all these things; prayer, meditation, fellowshipping with God’s people.  If you have to go into a depression because you missed a morning session, or you didn’t show up at church one particular time, that becomes idolatry.  Thank God for teachers.  God says in Ephesians 4:11&12, “God has given us apostles and prophets and evangelists and pastors, and teachers to equip the saints, to build up the body of Christ.”  Praise God for that!  That’s an opportunity for you, but that’s all it is.  We don’t look to the man, we don’t look to the ministry, we don’t look to anything except the Lord Himself, otherwise we’re doing what they did in Egypt.

In the time we have left, I’d like to look at the next plague.  Exodus 9:8-10, “The Lord said to Moses and Aaron, ‘Take for yourself hands full of soot from a kiln, and let Moses throw it toward the sky in the sight of Pharaoh.  It will become fine dust over the land of Egypt.  It will become boils breaking out with sores on man and beast throughout all the land of Egypt.’  So, they took soot from a kiln, stood before Pharaoh, and Moses threw it toward the sky, and it became boils, breaking out with sores on man and beast.”  I only need to make one observation to give you the sense of this plague.  It’s in verse 9, “Take for yourself hand full of soot from a kiln, and let Moses throw it toward the sky.”  What is the kiln?  There are two possible answers.  I incline, of course, toward the second, but let me mention the first.  There were kilns in every shop, every factory, where they baked the bricks, and they fired the pottery.  The slaves did all that, and they were very well familiar with those slime kilns.  When God spoke of their time in Egypt, Deuteronomy 4:20, “The Lord has taken you, and brought you out of the iron furnace from Egypt, to be a people for His own possession.”  Some think the kiln was just what they used to bake the bricks and fire the pottery and so on.

The other possibility, you need to remember what God is doing.  He’s smiting their worship, and smiting their gods.  He’s going after their false worship.  How was the kiln used in worship?  Making bricks was not how it was used in worship.  It was used to sacrifice to the god, and when they threw those ashes up, they were throwing it to the gods.  What did they sacrifice in the kiln?  You might say animals.  No, they worshipped animals.  Egyptians did not sacrifice animals.  What did they sacrifice?  Let me quote from the prophet Micah and then come back to Exodus.  Micah 5:6, “With what shall I come to the Lord, and bow myself before God on high?  Shall I come to Him with burnt offerings, with yearling calves?  Does the Lord take delight in thousands of rams, in ten thousand rivers of oil,” (note this next part), “shall I present my first born for my rebellious acts; the fruit of my body, for the sin of my soul?”  It was believed that the greatest sacrifice anybody could make to the gods was to give their babies; their first born, or their babies.  The idea was that I can’t give more than that, and the god’s better be appeased with this, because I can’t give anything else.  I sacrifice my baby.  They would be burned and they would be incinerated in these kilns, and then when they threw them in the air they would say, “Ashes of blessing.”  Well, God turned the ashes of blessing into ashes of cursing.  Although this was to appease the gods, it was offered to the god Typhon, from where we get our word “typhoon”.  In other words, the idea was that this was supposed to blow away curses, and blow in all the blessings.

I can’t give more evidence, they thought, of a complete surrender, than offering my baby.  If I offer my baby, the gods have got to be appeased.  It’s such a thorough sacrifice.  Exodus 9:8, “The Lord said to Moses, ‘Take for yourself handful of soot from the kiln.  Let Moses throw it toward the sky in the sight of Pharaoh.  It will become fine dust over all the land of Egypt, and become boils breaking out with sore on man and beast throughout all the land.”  Archaeologists have told us that they have unearthed more than a thousand temples from ancient Egypt, and it was surprising that there was a kiln in every temple.  They had kilns in the temple.  This has to do with worship.  Enough about talking about that atrocity, sacrificing infants to the god Typhon, and so on.  I can’t think of this particular plague without thinking about our own national sin of aborticide.  Psalm 16:4 says, “The sorrows of those who have bartered for another god will be multiplied.”  I’m amazed at the forbearance of the Lord, that He has not judged our nation before this for that particular sin.

Let me identify the principle of idolatry that provokes the jealous heart of God.  I’ll tell you that several of the plagues coming up have affected me personally very, very deeply.  This one turned a big part of my life all the way around.  It may at first appear radical when I state it.  Don’t stone me right away.  Give me a break to get through this.  As we move toward the tenth plague, the plagues become more subtle, and the principle of idolatry becomes more insidious.  The principle of idolatry is surrender.  I thought you’d raise your eyebrows on that.  Let me make it more radical.  The principle of idolatry is total surrender; absolute surrender.  Let me explain what I mean.  When a Christian gives his heart to the Lord, he’s encouraged to surrender to the Lord.  It starts off usually this way.  I begin to surrender my untamed tongue to the Lord; I used to say bad things, and now I don’t say them anymore.  I surrender certain habits; I give up smoking, and gambling, and I give up godless associations, and going places I used to go, and some godless friends.  I didn’t actually leave them.  They left me, because I became a Christian.

When I was a Bible School we had chapel every day, and there was time for testimonies.  I’ll never forget this testimony.  A young Bible student, theology student stood up and he said, “I want everybody to know that from this day forward I will never again have dessert.”  You understand his heart.  His heart was wanting to give himself to the Lord.  As you go on they say, “Alright, you’ve given off these things.  Now think a little deeper.  Surrender all your comforts, and surrender your vocation.  Think about missions, and think about giving yourself to the work of the Lord.  That bank account is not yours.  Surrender that to the Lord.  Surrender to the Lord your time and your talents and your treasure.  It’s all part of being a Christian, all part of the cross, it’s all part of understanding that we deny ourselves daily.

 I’ve never met anyone who was more burned by this particular god that I have been burned.  I wanted victory over my indwelling sin.  I was a Christian and was shocked that I could think the thoughts I thought, and do the things I did as a Christian.  As time went on I thought I’d get better, and I’d improve, and it didn’t get better.  I cried and went to the Lord.  I wanted deliverance so much.  One time I felt like the Holy Spirit was saying, “Why do you want deliverance, so you can trust me less?”  Because I was trusting Him, begging, crying out, and I knew if I got deliverance I’d stop crying out to Him.  The Lord was really dealing with me. 

I was told by Christian leaders that every time I fell into sin, it can’t be God’s fault.  It had to be my fault.  You can’t lay sin at His feet.  So, I must have not been surrendered.  I needed to surrender more, and there’s something hidden, and you need to search your heart, and find out what is hidden.  So, I went through this surrender.  If you’ve come to my house, you’ve seen my books.  I have thousands of books.  I went through every book, and I surrendered each one, one at a time to the Lord.  I went through my body.  I started with my head, “I give you my brain.  I gave Him my ears, my eyes, my nose, my mouth,” and I went through my whole body.  I went through my family.  I gave my Lillian, I gave all my kids.  I surrendered everything.  I got up and I sinned against the Lord.  I said, “What is wrong?  They are telling me that something is hidden.  If there is, tell me what it is.  Show me, so that I can live in union with You.”

The message of surrender as it came to me gradually, was in terms the altar; a whole burnt offering, “Give yourself to the Lord, living sacrifice, get on the altar,” like Jesus was the whole burnt offering, nothing held back.  That’s another picture by itself.  I can’t tell you how many times I laid on the altar, and I thought because I did, God would bless it.  Some of our hymns, and I’m not knocking them, because I understand the poet’s heart when he wrote it, I’ll still sing these hymns and know what I mean by them.  That Hymn “I Surrender All” is a beautiful, beautiful hymn, but verse 3 says, “All to Jesus I surrender, Lord I give myself to Thee, fill me with Thy love and power, let Thy blessing fall on me.”  I surrender— now where’s the blessing?”  I want the blessing because I have surrender.

Are you familiar with Elisha Hoffman’s hymn, “Is You All on the Altar?”  It’s another beautiful hymn and I’ll sing it because I understand in my heart what it means.  But in the chorus it says, “You can only be blessed and find peace and sweet rest, as you yield Him your body and soul.”  Really?  Then why didn’t it work for me?  I didn’t know how to surrender more.  I was one with the altar.  I gave myself to the Lord.  Deuteronomy 10:17, “The Lord your God is the God of gods and Lord of lords, and great, the mighty awesome God, who does not show partiality or take a bribe.  God will not be bribed by something called surrender. 

It wasn’t surrender I needed.  They didn’t tell me that.  I had a vision of Christ that big; He was my Savior, and I totally surrendered to that.  I didn’t need more surrender.  I needed a new vision of the Lord.  I needed to see Him in a greater way, so that I could surrender to the new vision.  I needed to see how big God was.  I didn’t need more surrender.  I needed a greater vision of the Lord.  If I’m totally surrendered to one horsepower, I’ll do a lot of pushing.  If I’m totally surrendered to one hundred horsepower, I’m going to do a lot of riding.  That’s the Christian life.

Let me give what I think is New Covenant surrender.  We’re so used to Old Covenant surrender.  Romans 12:1, “Therefore, I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, present your bodies a living holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship.”  Romans 6:12, “Present yourself to God as those alive from the dead, your members as instruments of righteousness to God.”  We’ve got this Old Covenant idea of surrender, and it goes something like this; “You are a wicked person.  You are a sinner.  Your life is broken, and you are like a potter, and you’ve got all the shards laying on the ground.  You messed up, and everything you do goes wrong.  Give it to Jesus.  He can put it back together.  Give Him all the shards.  Let God fix your life.  Let Him repair your life.  Let Him take the broken pieces.”  That’s Old Covenant surrender.

I don’t want to play with this, but may God help us to see it.  That sinful you that I just described that’s always messing up, and is always doing wrong, and can’t have victory over sin, He took that to the cross two thousand years ago.  When He died, you died.  Don’t burden Him with that again.  Don’t come before God, “I give you my life.  I really messed up.  I’m no good.  I need your help.  Put it back together.”  May I suggest to you that you have the Holy Spirit living in your heart, and that you are seated in the heavenly places, and that you are more than a conqueror in Him, and there is no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, and the blood of God’s Son cleanses you from all sin, and you are in Christ?  Surrender that to Him, and watch what happens.  Surrender as one alive from the dead.  You don’t surrender yourself as one who is all broken, and no good.  He took that one two thousand years ago.  Forget that.  But now you are alive from the dead.  You are filled with the Spirit of God, and you are seated in the heavenly places, you are more than a conqueror.  You are a child of God.  Surrender that to the Lord, as those alive from the dead.  That’s a living sacrifice that He’s calling for.  May God free us from this form of idolatry, so subtle – total surrender – bull worship!  Making an offering to God because I’ve given you this, and now I want your blessing is not going to happen.

I struggle with prose.  I’m trying to communicate this.  Maybe I did, and maybe I didn’t.  My deep heart expresses itself in verse, and I think some of you are familiar with that.  If you’ll have patience with me, I’ve written out my testimony on surrender in a way I can communicate it to God.  Everything I just said, let me share this with you.


On countless altars I have laid

The world and all concerning me;

Unnumbered tear stained vows were made,

Then broken, to my agony!

How to resign? Be His at last!

Abandon self? I did not know!

‘Twas not the world that hold me fast!

Surrender was my greatest foe!

Was faith to blame? Did I not seek?

What evil kept me from my quest?

Some secret sin? Was flesh too weak?

Was Satan keeping me from rest?

Must I forever rise and fall?

Is there no power to break the sway?

How often must I give my all

And take it back the very day?

I tried in vain to give Him more;

The light of hope was growing dim!

Surrender was the barrier

That kept my homesick heart from Him!

Is His arm short?  Will He not hear?

Is He reluctant to receive?

Is He not ever drawing near

To grace the sinner to believe?

I could not yield; I could not die;

My spirit like the moonlight waned;

I wearied of the question, “Why?”

And o’er my life confusion reigned!

Why if surrender was the key

To know the Lord and be made full,

Then, why the struggle to be free?

Why was it so impossible?

As blossoms drop for fruit to make

As sunshine melts the morning dew

As Spring arrives to make things new,

My wilted root, by unseen Hand,

Was guided on its thirsty course,

Wending its way through barren land,

To tap at last the Living Source!

One glimpse of HIM and all the strain

And struggle did at once depart;

Those things I counted once as gain,

Appeared as rubbish to my heart!

As lovers need no influence

All rival loves to set aside,

I felt in His preeminence,

At last my heart was crucified!

Who finds the treasure counts no wealth

Too dear or difficult to give;

Who would not trade disease for health

Or give up death and choose to live?

As children gladly drop the toy

Their loving parents to embrace,

Surrender was my greatest joy

While gazing on His lovely face!

No eagle in its lofty flight

Above the world could be so free;

My soul, with effortless delight

Enjoyed the Lord in liberty!

Now HIM I seek!  Not, how to give,

Deny, or mammon to forsake!

For me, to know Him is to live!

Surrender follows in the wake!

Little children, keep yourself from idols.  Christ is the source of your life and blessing.  Christ has set you free.  Christ has overcome the world.  Christ has given you servants, opportunities to know Him.  And Christ never needs to be appeased by anything, especially something called “surrender”.

Father, thank You for Your word.  As I said, protect Your people from anything that is not from Your Spirit.  Deliver us from idols.  We ask in Jesus’ name.  Amen

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