Earth is the Lord’s
Listen to audio and follow along below with the full transcript (which is also available for download in Word at www.biblestudyministriesinc.com)
As we come to look at God’s word there is that principle of Bible study that is indispensable; total reliance on God’s Holy Spirit. God is the One who wrote our Bible and He’s the only One who can interpret it to our spirits, so that we see Christ. Psalm 113:5&6, as we go through the lesson together you’ll see how this ties in. “Who is like the Lord, our God, who is enthroned on high, who humbles Himself to behold the things that are in heaven and on earth. He raises the poor from the dust, and He lifts the needy from the ash heap.” That passage is so powerful. God has to humble Himself to even look at the universe; the galaxies and the earth. And He raises the poor from the dust. In one capsule Psalm 138:6 says the same thing, “Though the Lord is great, He regards the lowly.” With that in mind, you know who you are, and I know who I am, and that God would even spend a minute with us is amazing, and yet He never takes His mind off us twenty four seven. Let’s just praise the Lord for a greatness that regards the lowly.
Father, we thank You so much that You are so great. As we come again to look in Exodus, and as we meditate on the 7th plague, we pray that we would get beyond the history and the words and behold You. Thank You that we can trust You to guide us in this. We commit out time unto You, in Jesus’ precious name. Amen
Welcome to our look at the Book of Exodus, in the book but on our Lord Jesus Christ. I want to give you the heart of the portion that we’ve been meditating on, just to get back into the flow. Our large section goes from chapter 4 through chapter 14, or in other words, from the burning bush when Moses and Aaron arrived in Egypt to the time that God’s people left Egypt as a redeemed people. That is the section we’re looking at. The portion we’re looking at is what we call “the plagues”. That told this to Moses at the burning bush, Chapter 13:18&19, addressing Moses concerning the elders, “They will pay heed to what you say, and you with the elders of Israel will come to the king of Egypt. You will say to him, ‘The Lord, the God of the Hebrews, has met with us, so now please let us go three days journey into the wilderness, that we may sacrifice to the Lord our God. But I know that the king of Egypt will not permit you to go, except under compulsion.”
These ten plagues are the compulsion. This is making him finally let them go. The plagues were God’s method, not only of softening Pharaoh so he finally let the people go, but also as a testimony that He is the One true only living God. Let me give two verses to get us back into the idea of this section. The first is Exodus 12:12, “I will go through the land of Egypt on that night. I’ll strike down all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both man and beast, against all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgment. I am the Lord. Our emphasis is to show that God was fighting, this was the war aspect, the gods of Egypt. Egypt was an idolatrous land; they worshipped many gods. Of course, they were not gods, but they thought they were. The plagues were God’s was against those idols; against those gods. Every plague was aimed at one or more of their gods or goddesses, and He was showing that He is the One and only true living God.
The second verse that I want to call attention to gives us the reason why God went after their idolatry. Deuteronomy 32:16, “They made Him jealous with strange gods.” God loved the Egyptians. God loved Pharaoh. God loved Israel. God loves everyone created in the image of God. It was breaking His jealous heart to see them turn from Him to some idol, and worship something that was less than Him. It was His jealous love that cause Him to go to war against these gods. He wanted relationship with those created in the image of God. He wanted them to find in Him what they thought they could find in idolatry. That’s what these plagues are all about; the jealous Lover of our souls goes to war with anything that competes, that is a rival, to His love for us, and He wants the seat of our affections.
The way we’ve been looking at the ten plagues is that we’ve tried to discover the god or goddesses, sometimes more than one, that was under attack and they worshipped to their hurt. We’ve been pointing out He made the idolatry visible. They were in their spirits worshipping idols, and God made that visible so that they could see it, and feel it. For example, we called attention to the fact idolatry stinks. Well, He made that very visible when the river was turned to blood and all the fish died and there was a big pile of frogs and all the frogs died, and all the animals died, and they had to smell what they were worshipping. After a while they said, “Idolatry stinks.” In just the same way, they were already being stung by idolatry; they didn’t know it. So, He sent a plague of insects with stingers, hornets and wasps and mosquitoes and horse flies, and all kinds of insects, so that they were being stung. Well, they were already stung with idolatry, but now they are feeling it.
Idolatry was also corrupting them, but they didn’t know it, so He filled the land with lice. They hated lice, and that was their god. It just made them see how idolatry is corrupting them. He also showed them the bondage of their idolatry with the plague of frogs. They worshipped the frog and now they had to tiptoe through to make sure they didn’t step on a frog, or sit on a frog, or roll over in bed on a frog, or cook a frog in their biscuits. He was showing them what a bondage it was. Then when it was all over, they had to clean up the mess, and sweep their gods away, and rake up the frogs and put them in piles. Their gods became a burden to them. God was making visible what was already true in their life.
I want review the principles of each that we’ve already looked at, and not show how He delivered them and us from that same idolatry. We’re going to follow the same pattern. We come to the seventh plague. We’re not really coming to it yet, but Exodus 9:18, “Behold, about the time tomorrow I’ll send a very heavy hail, such has not been seen in Egypt since the day it was founded until now.” We’re going to look at that plague. It’s recorded in Exodus 9:18-35. Before we get there, the verses that lead up to it I think give sort of an introduction to what this plague will be about. Exodus 9:14, “this time I’ll send all My plagues on you and your servants and your people, so that you may know there’s no one like Me in all the earth.” I want you to notice the focus “no one like me in all the earth”.
Then again in Exodus 9:15, “If by now I put forth My hand and struck you and your people with pestilence, you would have been cut off from the earth.” That’s more than, “I can kill you,” – “cut off from the earth”. They were worshipping the earth and He said, “I can cut you off from that idolatry.” Exodus 9:16, “For this reason, I’ve allowed you to remain, in order to show you My power, in order to proclaim My name through all the earth.” There you have it again, “Through all the earth.” Exodus 9:23, “Moses stretched out his staff toward the sky, and the Lord send thunder and hail, and fire ran down to the earth, and the Lord rained hail on the land of Egypt.” Exodus 9:29, “As soon as I go out of the city I’ll spread out my hands to the Lord. The thunder will cease, and there will be no hail any longer, that you may know that the earth is the Lord’s.” Everything is about, “my name in all the earth,” “the earth is the Lord’s.” Exodus 9:33, “Moses went out of the city from Pharaoh, and spread out his hands to the Lord, and thunder and hail ceased, and rain no longer poured on the earth.”
The jealous God is going to go after once again the earth God. I want to make a difference. You remember in plague #3, the plague of lice, or gnats, Exodus 8:16, “The Lord said to Moses, ‘Say to Aaron, “Stretch out your staff, and strike the dust of the earth, that it may become gnats through all the land of Egypt.” They did so. Aaron stretched out his hand with his staff, struck the dust of the earth. There were gnats on man and beast. All the dust of the earth became gnats through the land of Egypt.” In plague 3 God struck the earth. He’s going to deal with the earth in plague 7, but it’s different. When God struck the earth in the third plague it was because they worshipped the earth; the creature rather than the Creator. It was more of an attack against materialism, and they had become worshippers of this world; worldliness. But in plague 7 God is going to strike again, and strike the earth, but it’s a different kind of idolatry. It’s not really against worldliness. This is more against nature worship. This is more against worshipping the earth as a God. They worshipped the earth and worshipped the environment. They worshipped nature as god. They tried to be careful not to offend the earth god. They wanted good crops and wanted fair weather. God was jealous and He wanted them to know, end of verse 29, “…that you may know the earth is the Lord’s,” or the Psalmist says in Psalm 24:1, “The earth is the Lord’s, and all it contains; the world and those who dwell in it.” Everything is the Lord’s.
Although the God of heaven attacked many gods in this plague, the main god was called Isis, the god of nature. That’s the god they worshipped. They believed in Mother Nature. They didn’t believe in Father God. They worshipped the sun, the rain, the seasons, the laws of nature, the weather, the climate, and they did not worship the Creator, the Governor of the universe. They did not believe that the earth is the Lord’s, but by the time this is over, they have good reason for seeing that the earth is the Lord’s. I think the prophet Isaiah summarizes God’s heart for sending this plague. Isaiah 28:17, “The hail will sweep away the refuge of lies.” Isn’t that a great verse! That’s exactly what happened.
The Egyptians were pantheists. Theos is that word, which means God. Pan just means all: all god. We’re familiar with pan when we talk about a panorama; that’s a view of all; a wide view. A pandemic, and we’re in the middle of one, is everywhere. If it were just local it would be an epidemic. We’ve been seeing on TV some peaceful marches, and they turn into pandemonium. The pan is everywhere there’s trouble. They did not see God behind nature controlling it. They believed nature is God, all God, not manifesting Himself through nature, like Psalm 19:1, “The heavens are declaring the glory of God; the expanse declaring the works of His hand.” Romans 1:20, “Since the creation of the world, His invisible attributes, His eternal power, divine nature, have been clearly seen being understood through what has been made. So, they are without excuse.” They didn’t believe, of course they didn’t have it, the truth was there, Ephesians 1:11, “He works all things after the counsel of His will.” Psalm 148:8, “Fire and hail, snow and clouds, stormy wind, fulfilling His word.” Actually that passage goes on and mentions mountains and hills, and fruit trees and cedars, and beasts and cattle, and creeping things, and fowls of the air, winged fowls, the kings of the earth, and all peoples, the princes and judgments, and young men and old men, virgins, and all that, and says, “…according to fufill His word.” Colossians 1:17, “He’s before all things; in Him all things hold together, and all things consist.”
To the Egyptians in their thinking, there’s not a god behind nature controlling, and superintending, guiding, directing. They believed nature was God. I’m going to spend a little extra time here because this is a most subtle idolatry. Some Christian mystics have come dangerously close, and others have fallen into this form of idolatry, and it was because they wanted to see Christ in everything, and wanted to see Christ everywhere. So, they looked at the weather, and they say, “I see Christ there.” They looked at the tree and they said, “I see Christ in the tree.” “I look at the flower, and I see Christ in the flower.” “ I look at the squirrel, and I see Christ in the squirrel.” I see Christ in man, and I see Christ in women. I see Christ in good men. I see Christ in bad men. I see Christ in false religions. I see Christ in Hinduism. I see Christ in Buddhism. I see Him in Islam. I see Him even in animism.” They got so Christ centered, except it went Christ centered in the wrong direction. If Satan can’t keep you off the horse, he’ll push you off the other side. That’s exactly what happened. They tried to say, “I see God in it,” but then they said, “Christ is in the tree; the tree is Christ. The tree is God.” And they turned to pantheism. It’s a very thin line, and they did it with themselves. They say, “Christ lives in me. Christ lives in me as me. Because He lives in me as me, I don’t live. I’m God.” They actually went that far. I say this is a dangerous form of idolatry.
The relationship between Creator God and His creation in the Bible is not fuzzy, but in our minds sometimes, it is fuzzy, because God sometimes uses means, and uses second causes, and uses laws that He has created; the laws of motion, laws of gravity, the laws of pressures –high and low and they come together and starts the wind swirling and so on – laws of evaporation, the settling of tectonic plates in the earth, temperature laws – something freezes at this temperature and boils at that temperature – genetics, the tides and so on. They didn’t see God using means. They looked to the second cause, and looked to the means, and said, “That’s why this happened,” and God was jealous. He said, “That’s not why. I use that but that’s not why. Looked to Me and not to second causes; not for blame or for praise.
Every time we looked to the means instead of to the Lord, every time we looked to the second cause instead of the Lord, we are guilty of this idolatry, and the jealous God’ heart beats hot to deliver us from that. Because of the subtlety of this particular form of idolatry, and how many Christians fall into it, even without realizing it, I’m going to ask for your patience. We’ll get to plague #7, because it illustrates all of this, but I want to take a few minutes and just expose it for what it is, especially in these days. I think it will give us light. It’s a refuge of lies that needs to be swept away. Eventually we’ll get to the 7th plague, but for now, for the sake of His jealous love, let me take this privilege. It’s important to see why God went after in order to sweep away the refuge of lies, and demolished this idolatry, because He loved them so much, and He knew if they did not understand His sovereignty out there, they could never have peace inside of themselves. It would be an impossibility. That’s why He said, “I’m doing this, that you might know that the earth is the Lord’s, and I’m the Lord of heaven and earth. I am the governor.” Not some of it; every part of this creation is in the hands of the Lord.
In that connection I love Psalm 50:10&11, “Every beast of the forest is mine, and the cattle on a thousand hills. I know every bird of the mountain, and everything that moves in the field is mine.” Do you know how many things move in the field? There’s those little bugs and insects. Go to any tree and pull a piece of bark off, and you are going to see little creatures. He said that knew every one of them. In fact, He know them so well, He’s given them ability to see and to fly and a digestive system and a respiratory system, and He’s given them a reproductive system, in that little tiny gnat, “I’ve done all that. I am God.” To have peace, real peace, I need to believe with all my heart, and taking out all the stops, that He is sovereign out there. The more I believe that with growing conviction, the more I’ll believe that He’s sovereign in here, in my heart and yours.
Psalm 135:6, “What the Lord pleases, He does, in heaven, in earth, in the seas, and in all deeps.” We must believe that absolutely. He may use means, but He’s behind it; He’s the Mover. I know from Ezekiel 1 and other places that He controls the wings of the angels. I know He controls the wings of the insects, as well. We must not limit His absolute sovereignty in any way. His control, his superintendence extends to everything; to the minute, as well as the entire creation, all the laws of the entire universe. Even the small system in that little insect, or His control of the galaxy. It’s always been that way. Job mentions the constellation of the bear, and the Orion and Pleiades, and some of those galaxies. Job is not only the oldest book in the Bible, it’s the oldest book in existence. They’ve never found an older book anywhere than the Book of Job.
Psalm 97:1 says, “The Lord reigns; let the earth rejoice.” Psalm 99:1 says, “The Lord reigns; let the earth tremble.” Both are true. I think marvelous evidence of His sovereignty is Exodus 34:23&24, “Three times a year all your males are to appear before the Lord God, the God of Israel. I’ll drive out nations before you, and enlarge your borders. No man shall covet your land when you go out three times a year to appear before the Lord your God.” Sometimes those annual feasts were a couple of weeks—a couple of weeks to get there and a couple to get back. They could have been gone six weeks. God said, “Now your kids are home and your wives are alone. What is the chance that someone is going to come in and take advantage of them? They are vulnerable.” God said, “Don’t you worry. While you obey Me, I’ll take care of your family. Not one enemy will not come to his mind to come in and take advantage of that situation.” And he did that three times a year for years and years and years. What a picture! God is in charge.
Some think that God can’t possibly be in control. I have one commentary that says that it’s beneath God to think that God would consider the minute, the schools of fish and every fish is on His mind. That’s why we started with Psalm 138:6, “The Lord is great, yet He regard the lowly.” It’s part of His greatness to think about you all day and all night, and to consider the insignificant. We go through the Psalms and we read that young lions cry out to Him for food, and the young ravens cry to Him. In Job it says that the ostrich lays an egg and buries it, and He says, “I’ve given no wisdom to the ostrich.” So, that mother walks away. Then Job asks this question, “Who keeps another animal from stepping on that egg and crushing it? Who keeps an animal from digging it up and eating it? God said, “I’ll watch over that egg.” That’s amazing! God watches over all of that. He clothes the lilies of the field. Every sparrow that falls He knows who they are. It’s not cause and effect, and some law God has created.
As I sit before you I am not calling on you to comprehend all of this. I’m just calling you to believe it. You can’t comprehend it. It’s overwhelming, and the more you believe it, the more you will admire, and the more you will praise the Lord, and the more you will worship, and the more you see it out there, the more you can see it in here. If I’m not absolutely certain of His dominion out there, I’ll never have it in my own heart.
Theologians have tried to describe it, and they have two technical words, and you’ll know what they mean by it, “God has an executive will, and God has a permissive will.” The executive will, He ordains it and determines it, a permissive will He allows it. God did it immediately; executive. He transcends the laws of nature and all the second causes. He commanded the animals two by two’s and sevens to march into the ark. Noah didn’t gather those animals. They marched up there. God is not in bondage to His own creation. He’s above the universe. He opened the Red Sea. He opened the Jordan, and He made the sun stand still. He made the sun go back on the dial of Ahaz. He opened up the earth at His command to swallow up Dathan and Abiram and Kora, and so on.
By His permissive will He uses means. We know nations in God’s eyes are not very much—not just America, but nations. Isaiah 40:15, “Nations are like a drop from a bucket, and regarded as a speck of dust on the scales.” That’s all the nations, but He can use them. He used Assyria, Isaiah 10, “Whoa to Assyria, the rod of My anger, the staff in whose hand is My indignation. I send it against a Godless nation. I commissioned it against the people of My fury, to capture booty, to cease plunder, to trample them down like mud in the street. Yet it does not so intend, nor does it plan so in its heart. Its purpose is to destroy and cut off many nations.” God says, “I’m using that.” There’s another passage in Isaiah that says, “God whistled, and they came.” They didn’t know. Their purpose is to destroy and conquer, but God said, “I’m using them to chasten My people.”
It’s not only that nations are like a drop in a bucket, and like a piece of dust on a scale. Listen to Isaiah 40:17, “All nations are as nothing before Him. They are regarded by Him as less than nothing, and meaningless.” All the nations on the earth; Russia and China, and the Middle East, and America, all the nations on the earth, He says that they are nothing, and less than nothing to the Lord. God uses means. In the book of Jonah He talked to an east wind, and talked to a fish, and He talked to a worm, and He talked to a plant, and He talked to the sun to increase it’s intensity. He uses means. He uses Satan. He uses angels. He uses people; good and bad. Remember Joseph, “You meant for evil; God meant it for good.” He always accomplishes His purpose. He uses natural disasters, but He is doing it. He uses sickness, but He is doing it. It’s always Him, and sometimes we don’t think it’s Him. He uses wind currents, pressures high and low. He uses floods and earthquakes and sink holes and fires and violent storms. We need to see those things, but behind it we’ve got see that He is in control. We must never give blame or credit to a second cause, as if He had nothing to do with it.
I’m about to read a verse to you. It bothers some and thrills some Christians. Let’s see what it does for you. Job 36:32, “He covers His hand with lightning, and commands it to strike its mark.” Do you believe every time lightning strikes it hits God’s target? Here’s a guy out on a golf course carrying a bag full of lightning rods and is struck. Did God direct that? It strikes a little child. Did God direct that? Don’t be afraid brothers and sisters in Christ to pull out all the stops (that’s a picture of an organ) so the full sound can be heard! Nothing has ever occurred and nothing occurs now, and nothing will ever occur in all God’s created universe apart from His sovereign direction or permission. It’s not the clashing of the hot and the cold air. It’s the Lord superintending that! It’s not the settling of tectonic plates. It’s the Lord saying, “I want an earthquake there now.” It’s the Lord behind it all.
Daniel 4:35, “All the inhabitants of the earth are counted as nothing. He does according to His will, in the host of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth, with means, or without means.” The question comes, can we know for certain why God does or allows certain things. Of course, the Bible gives the big answer, and that’s beyond dispute. It’s for His glory. There’s verses all over the Bible to tell you that. But there’s a passage that gives a general answer. Job 37:13, “Whether for correction, or His world, or for loving kindness He causes it to happen. It’s always one or a combination of those three things. It’s either for correction, I have a high suspicion that’s what might be happening in our USA for correction. God is judging, or for His world, He might be watering the earth, He might be purifying the air, He might be feeding the fish or birds, or something like that. It’s for His pleasure, for His earth, or for lovingkindness. That’s what I like to call redemptive. He has some purpose to use that in some way to bring people to know Him. So, all things that take place are for correction, or for His earth, or for lovingkindness, and many times it’s a combination of that.
We begin here with the assurance that the earth is the Lord’s because I said if you don’t believe that without doubt out there, how are you going to believe something like Matthew 10:29-31, that He has every hair of your head numbered, that He knows every bird that falls down. Psalm 46 is called the noisiest Psalm in the Bible. You are all familiar with verse 10, “Cease striving, and know that I’m God.” Another translation says, “Relax, and know that I am God.” Another, “Don’t be anxious, rest.” How can I do that? That’s verse 10. Let’s go to verse 2, “Therefore, we will not fear, though the earth should change, though the mountains slip into the heart of the sea, though it’s waters roar and foam, though the mountains quake at its swelling pride.” Verse 6, “The nations made an uproar. Kingdoms tottered. He raised His voice, and the earth melted. The Lord of hosts is with us. The God of Jacob is our stronghold. Come, behold the works of the Lord who has wrought desolation in the earth. He makes wars to cease, to the ends of the earth. He breaks the bow. He cuts the spear in two. He burns the chariots with fire. Relax, and know that I’m God.” I’ve got to know He’s out there controlling it, and then I don’t have to be anxious.
I think a wonderful picture of what I’m trying to say, Matthew 8:24, “When He got into the boat His disciples followed Him, and behold, there arose a great storm on the sea, so that the boat was covered with the waves, but Jesus Himself was asleep.” Verse 26, “He said to them, ‘Why are you afraid, you men of little faith.’ He got up and rebuked the winds and the sea, and it became perfectly calm.” Sometimes when there’s a storm, it looks like Jesus is asleep. It looks like He’s unconscious, and He can’t see anything, hear anything, feel anything, and it looks like He’s not in control. He’s asleep. He was in control that storm and that boat. If He went down salvation went down. He’s not going down. Sometimes it’s hard to see God, but as I said, the peace I have in here depends very much on what I see God’s sovereignty out there.
I know, and I hope you know, that my natural heart is an idolatrous heart; it’s pantheistic. It just is. We’re too prone to look to second causes, to attribute things to second causes. Lillian has a disease, and her disease is muscular dystrophy 2. Why does she have that? I would say it’s genetics. No way! God used genetics. That’s a means. It’s the Lord. I have a son that’s profoundly deaf. It’s in the family; genetics. It’s not genetics; it’s what God told Moses at the burning bush, “Who made the blind and who made the deaf? I’m the One who did that. Who made your mouth? I’m the One that did that. God uses means, but we can’t look to the second causes, or look to natural laws, we can’t look to Satan and to say that Satan did it. May God deliver us from the idolatry! His glory He will not share with another, and He’s not going to share His glory with something called “means or a second cause”.
When it was all over and they finally got it, Matthew 8:27, “What kind of a man is this that even the wind and the waves obey Him?” Brothers and sisters in Christ I don’t need to tell you this. The world is start mad these days. Everywhere there is sin and superstition and idolatry. It’s crazy out there. And we, as His children, believers, we’ve got to know that He’s in control. A great shaking is taking place in our days. The world is restless and is confused. There is a great fear out there. Order is upside down. Laws are being disregarded. Wickedness is rampant. There’s corruption out there in high places. We can all see it. Religious liberty is being trampled on and being taken away from us. A virus is ravaging the earth. We see those things. Is God in control? Oh, that God would deliver us from the idolatry, and give us eyes to see that even though He is invisible and it looks like He’s sleeping, He’s controlling wheels within wheels. We’ll never understand it, but the Lord reigns. At least let His people rejoice!
Finally, let’s look at the seventh plague. This is the plague of hail. God is attacking several gods, chiefly as I said the god of nature; Isis, the earth god Zed, Shu the atmosphere god, Zokar the god of peace; many gods. God’s thunder terrified him. This is one of God’s loud judgments that’s coming. Sometimes you need a lot of judgment to get your attention, and god uses those. Exodus 9:29, “Moses said, ‘As soon as I go out of the city, I’ll spread out my hands to the Lord, and thunder will cease, and there will be no hail any longer, that you may know that the earth is the Lord’s.” What I have prefaced all of this, that God is sovereign out there, therefore He is sovereign in here, all of that is illustrated in this seventh plague. I’ve broken it down into four categories that I’d like to show you. Now God is going to give us a little detail. I know He’s sovereign out there, and the earth is His, and He’s in control, but how, in what ways? In fact, I’ll mention them up front, and then try to develop them. #1 The earth is the Lord’s in terms of the timing of what He allows. #2 The earth is the Lord’s in terms of the intensity of what He allows. #3 The earth is the Lord’s in terms of the scope and extent of what He allows. #4 He’s in control of the means that He chooses and that He allows. All of that is illustrated in this seventh plague. We’ll take it apart one by one.
He’s sovereign over timing. There are two illustrations in this plague of the timing of the Lord. Exodus 9:18, “Behold, about this time tomorrow I’ll send a very heavy hail, such as has not been seen in Egypt from the day it was founded until now.” Timing; God knows when it will begin. Exodus 9:29, “As soon as I go out of the city I’ll spread out My hand to the Lord and thunder will cease. There will be no hail any longer.” God knows when it will end. We need to know that. God is in charge, and I’ve got to know when something comes into my life, He knows when it’s going to begin, and how long it’s going to last, and He’s knows when it’s going to end. He’s sovereign over the timing. It’s under His control.
A second illustration is in verse 21 & 22, “Now the flax and the barley were ruined, for the barley was in the ear, and the flax was in the bud, but the wheat and the spelt were not ruined.” They ripen late. This passage is not only telling me He knows the exact time it’s coming, when it’s going to leave, and how long it’s going to be, but He knows the season when it’s going to come into my life. In our calendar this was toward the end of January. Barley is planted in August, but it’s harvested in late January or early February. The flax was used for clothing, for light linen. The barley was mostly animal food. They didn’t depend so much in their own diet; that was for the animals. The spelt and the wheat was spared because that doesn’t come out until March. The wheat was for human consumption. Spelt was some kind of an herb. The whole point is that God knows exactly when that is. Because their hearts were hardened, in the next plague of the locusts, they are going to take care of the spelt and the wheat, as well, because they were so hard. The Lord has timed everything that takes place in our life. He know when it’s going to come, how long it’s going to last, everything about what season and when it’s going to end.
The earth is the Lord’s, and He’s also sovereign over the uniqueness and intensity, Exodus 9:18, “This time tomorrow I’ll send out a heavy hail, such as has not been seen in Egypt from the day it was founded until now.” Verse 24, “There was hail, and fire flashing continually, in the midst of the hail, very severe, such as has not been in all the land of Egypt since it became a nation.” This plague was unique to Egypt. They don’t get a lot of rain in Egypt. The average is two inches a year, sometimes six or eight inches, but the average is two inches a year. A heavy rain, hail, thunder, lightning, frost, hail strong enough to kill animals? Do you know how hard some of those animal heads are? It’s killing the animals, and killing people.
This never happened before in Egypt since the time it was founded. It’s a unique thing. If Moses had come and said, “Tomorrow about this time God is going to send bears, tigers and gorillas,” that would have been just as unlikely as what He did send. This is a unique thing, and God may permit in your life and mine a once in a lifetime experience that hasn’t been heard of, and it’s tailor made just for you. He not only controls the timing and how long it’s going to last, when it’s going to end, but the intensity. Remember Elijah prayed, “Lord, it’s enough. Let me die.” God said, “I’ll tell you when it’s enough.” Do you know if God had answered Elijah’s prayer, what would he have missed? See, he’s one that got raptured. If God has answered his prayer, he would have missed the rapture. What a resting place to know that God is in charge, and what comes into my life and when it comes and how long it lasts and when it’s going to go away and how strong it’s going to be and how unique it’s going to be! Don’t believe the lie that someone says, “The Bible teaches God will not give you more than you can bear.” That’s not in the Bible. God will definitely give you more than you can bear, because if you can bear it, you aren’t going to trust Him. He’s got to go beyond that. 2 Corinthians 1:8, Paul was saying, “We were burdened excessively beyond our strength, that we might learn to trust in Him who raises the dead.” Exactly right!
God also controls the extent and scope. Exodus 9:19, “Bring your livestock, whatever you have in the field, to safety. Every man and beast found in the field, not brought home when the hail comes down on them will die.” It affected animals and man. The Psalmist gives us the details. Psalm 78:48, “He gave over their cattle to the hailstones, their herds to bolts of lightning.” You can picture that. That was their livelihood, you know. Then in Exodus 9:25, “Hail struck all that was in the field, all the land of Egypt, both man and beast, the hail struck every plant in the field, shattered every tree.” That’s very general; every plant and every tree. The Psalmist spelled it out. Psalm 79:47, “He destroyed their vines with hailstones, their sycamore trees with frost.” Psalm 105:33, “He struck down their vines, their fig trees, and shattered the trees in all their territory.” When God sends anything, when He allows anything in our life, He controls the timing, He controls the intensity, and He controls the scope. It hit the herds, it hit the flock, it hit humans, it hit kids, it hit plants, it hit bushes, it hit trees, it wiped out the vine, it wiped out the sycamore, it wiped out the fig tree. He’s doing what He’s been doing. He’s making visible. Idolatry was invisible to them. He made them smell it, He made them feel it, He made them clean it up, and it was a burden to them. Now for the first time it’s killing them. They need to see that it’s killing them.
He also determines what will not be affected. Exodus 9:26, “Only in the land of Goshen, where the sons of Israel were, there was no hail.” The spelt and the wheat were exempt. When God sends something into your life He’s in charge. He knows the time, He knows when it starts, He knows how long, and He knows when it ends, He knows how severe it will be, and He know what it won’t hit, and what will be spared. I just want you to see the sovereignty of God in all of this.
Finally, the earth is the Lord’s, and a great evidence of it is providence. I think if a quote a very familiar verse, Romans 8:28, you’ll see that in this story, “We know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, who are the called, according to His purpose.” You ask any Christian to quote Romans 8:28, and I’ll be they’ll quote it wrong. They’ll begin, “All things work together…” It doesn’t begin, “All things work together.” It begins with, “God causes all things to work together.” Don’t forget that God causes. That’s the point of the verse.
This seventh plague mentions many of those “all things”. Exodus 9:23, “He sent thunder and hail and fire to rain on the earth. The Lord rained hail on the land of Egypt.” Thunder, hail, fire, lightning. Remember I told you that in Job there is a verse that said, “The lightning always hits its target? Let me develop that. Job 37:11, “With moisture He loads the thick cloud, He disperses the cloud of lightning. It changes direction,” may I say at the speed of light, “and turns around by His guidance, that it may do whatever He commands it on the face of the inhabited earth.” How sovereign is that! There is not only thunder and hail and lightning. Exodus 9:33, “The thunder and hail ceased, and rain no longer poured on the earth.” There was a pouring rain, as well. Psalm 78:47 mentions this, “He destroyed their vines with hailstones, and their sycamore trees with frost.” Exodus didn’t mention the frost. Isn’t that amazing! What a storm! Talk about God causing all things to work together; thunder, hail, lightning, fire and rain and frost. God made all that, so that they would learn, “So that you would know that the earth is the Lord’s.” It’s not nature, it’s not climate change, it’s not some law that He made.
The thing in this plague that most effected Pharaoh, Exodus 9:27, “Pharaoh sent for Moses and Aaron and said, ‘I’ve sinned this time. The Lord is the righteous One. I and my people are the wicked ones. Make supplication to the Lord. There’s been enough of God’s thunder and hail.” That’s what got him—the thunder and the hail. “I will let you go. You can leave now.” Of course, he didn’t mean that. You know the power of thunder. Great day! Some claps of thunder…. I’m jumpy anyway. Somebody makes a little noise, and I get scared. My grandchildren love to scare me, especially the youngest one. He shows up under my desk and in my closet. He’s always popping out to scare me. The dogs hide under the bed and little kids cry and the dishes rattle and you’re startled when you hear a thunder clap.
That’s what got to Pharaoh, and it almost looked like he repented in verse 27 & 28, but God gave Moses insight. Verse 30, “As for you and your servants, I know you do not fear the Lord your God.” Pharaoh said, “Enough of God’s thunder.” As you follow that through the Bible, God’s thunder is often a picture of the voice of God. Job 37:5, “God thunders with His voice wondrously.” In that connection Psalm 29, “The voice of God in the storm…” I won’t go there now. But God is sovereign and sometimes He speaks with thunder, a loud voice, and there’s another whole teaching in scripture; the still, small voice. Sometimes He uses the still, small voice, but never, never, never, is it just a second cause. It’s not arbitrary, and it’s not luck, and it’s not chance, and it’s not fortune. Everything is the Lord. He’s in charge of everything. I hope you can believe that.
We aren’t going to take time to look at Leviticus 26. Deuteronomy 28, 2 Chronicles 6, 1 Kings 8. I’ve looked at those, and the reason is, that’s the curse and the blessing, and it tells you what things God will use in your life, just to show His sovereignty. I made a list. He said He would use fruit, prosperity, sunshine, famine, plague, rain, blight, mildew, locusts, war, pestilence, fever, consumption, inflammation, itch, boils, tumors, blindness, madness, snow, hail, frost, snake bites, animal attacks, fear, miscarriage, lightning, fires, crickets, in the city, in the country, in the house, in the garden, when you go out and when you come out. Is He in charge of anything? He has many means, but bless God in everything, if you know it’s Him, listen to the other verses. You can rejoice ever more. If you know it’s Him, then in everything you can give thanks. If you know it’s Him you can always be in triumph and be led by Him. He even uses wickedness. There would be no salvation if He didn’t use wickedness. Acts 2:30 it says that be predetermined counsel of God Jesus died and was killed by wicked men. So, He uses everything. The more I know He’s sovereign out there, the more I can relax in here, concerning everything.
Psalm 139, “Oh, Lord, You’ve searched me and know me. You know when I lie down, when I rise up. You understand my thoughts from afar. You scrutinize path, my lying down. You are intimately acquainted with all my ways, even before there is a word on my tongue, behold oh Lord, You know it all. You enclose me behind and before. You lay Your hand on me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me. It’s too high. I cannot attain to it.” Don’t doubt for a lonely moment, He’s sovereign out there and sovereign in here. He’s in charge of every detail. Even elections! You don’t have to worry, and you don’t have to be nervous. You can relax and know that He is God. The more He’s sovereign out there, the more He’s sovereign in here.
I want to end with one final passage that has to do with His sovereignty out there and how He works all things for the church. Ephesians 1:18-23, “I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you might know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, what is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe. These are in accordance with the workings of the strength of His might which He brought about in Christ when He raised Him from the dead, seated Him at His right hand in heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and every name that’s named, not only in this age, but also in the one to come. And He put all things in subjection under His feet, and then gave Him as head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all.” Everything for you. Everything that happens in the earth is for the church. He’s head over all things for the church.
Father, thank You for Your precious word, not the little bit we think we know, but what You’ve inspired. Please help us to see that and not to give any glory to any means or second cause, and to know at all times and all places and all circumstances that You are in control. Lord, we love you for that, and thank You. Give us rest and help us to be anxious free and to rejoice evermore, to give thanks for everything, and to know with settled conviction that the earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof. We pray in Jesus’ name. Amen
(full transcript is also available for download in Word at www.biblestudyministriesinc.com)