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Sleepless In Egypt
Scripture: Exodus 11:1-12:27; Proverbs 16:7
Track 8 of 14 in the Moses: A Man of Selfless Dedication series
Running time: 59 minutes, 51 seconds.

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Mike Nobis Speaker: Mike Nobis
Sunday School Teacher, Former Elder at Madison Park Christian Church. Mike is President of JK Creative Printers & Mailing in Quincy, IL. He is married to Pam and has three children, Tom, Tyler and Jennifer. Mike has three grandchildren: Ryne, Ivy and Alicia.

View all sermons by this speaker.

Sleepless in Egypt

All throughout the Bible God is the central figure. However, to everyone’s surprise when I say this, there are only 4 eras of miracles recorded. In the Bible, there are only 4 periods of time when God stepped into the stream of time and space and displayed his might manifestations of his power. In each era, a major change was about to take place; a major shift in how God was going to relate to mankind. Of the 4 eras of miracles, 3 have already happened and 1 more is yet to come.

The first great era of miracles starts with Moses. In our lesson today we will see the mighty hand of God work. The second great era was in the days of Elijah. We just studied Elijah and through Elijah, some of the first ever miracles were performed. The greatest that comes to mind is when Elijah raised the son of the widow Elijah was staying with back to life. Never before in all of history had that ever been done until the days of Elijah. The third great era of course is the time of Jesus. The last great era is yet to come; that is the time when God returns with a series of devastating judgments on those who reject His Son, His Word and His ways.

It is interesting to me that the first and the last eras both deal with judgment. As we will see with Moses, the first era ushered in a whole new lifestyle previously unknown by those people who lived through that time. The fourth and last era won’t be any different. A time is coming for us that is totally different than anything we have ever experienced. We might see it in our lifetime. But for those who will live through that era of time, devastating miracles on the scale of what happened under Moses will be displayed. There will be no question to those alive who the real God is.

Do you think that all the miracles in Moses time would change the way our country thinks today if we were to experience what the Egyptians experienced? Can you imagine how our news media would cover the events of the plagues in Egypt? How would they handle it? What would they say? Who would be to blame?

It is important to note that when the plagues came upon Egypt, the effects of the plagues were felt by every Egyptian. No one escaped the results. These plagues not only brought about physical discomfort, the plagues also destroyed the daily way of life of every citizen. The entire economy of Egypt, the basic comforts stopped and daily hardship set in quickly affecting everyone.

How big of a mess is the United States in right now? Are we feeling the worst economy since the great depression? I read this morning that the bailout plan is 700 billion. How will that affect your daily lives?

If you go back and read about the great depression in the 1930’s, many, if not all the mistakes that were made back then, we as a country are repeating again. What is even scarier, the fixes that sound right were the very same mistakes that prolonged the depression for 10 years. However, the affects of a depression pale in comparison to what the Egyptians experienced with the plagues. Our depression took years to build up, the plagues took affect within a short period of time and devastated the country in a matter of weeks. Can you imagine what it was like to personally experience the first 9 plagues that struck Egypt?

What was the first big mistake Pharaoh made when Moses came to him the first time asking to allow the people to leave? Did the judgment on Egypt have to happen?

Ralph Waldo Emerson said it this way, “There is no history; only biography.” Thomas Carlyle, his contemporary added these words, “The study of history is nothing more than the study of great men and women.” History is biography. And that is especially true of the Bible. If you take away the people it would be impossible to think your way through the Scriptures. That is why I spend so much time on the individual characters in Scripture rather than the events. The events mean nothing if we don’t know the people and who they were. Exodus is primarily biography of one man, Moses. He is so important that 4 great books in the Old Testament are focused on Him.
As we get into chapters 11 & 12, the central point is the word obedience. God spoke, some people heard, and they did what God said. As a result, God used them in His plan at that time in history.

To you personally, how seriously do you consider obedience to God in your daily lives?
Do you concentrate on what God wants you to do every second of your day? If you were an Israelite and you just experienced the 9 recent plagues, how serious would you be about obedience?

Exodus 11:1-2 Now the LORD had said to Moses, “I will bring one more plague on Pharaoh and on Egypt. After that, he will let you go from here, and when he does, he will drive you out completely. Tell the people that men and women alike are to ask their neighbors for articles of silver and gold.”

Doesn’t that strike you a little strange? The Hebrews slaves were to ask for silver and gold from their Egyptian neighbors. Why? In essence, God was sending them to the Egyptian ATM. First, the gold and silver were wages the Egyptians owed the slaves for 400 years of slavery. Second, God had plans for that precious metal that he would later explain to them.

Exodus 11:3 The LORD made the Egyptians favorably disposed toward the people, and Moses himself was highly regarded in Egypt by Pharaoh’s officials and by the people.)

What is stunning about verse 3 compared to what we studied a few weeks ago? Remember, Moses had a very bad day, why? How has things changed and what brought about the change in attitude? Because Moses stood all alone and trusted God (he obeyed), and the Lord gave him favor in their eyes. The Lord delights to do that and he will do that for you too.

Proverbs 16:7 When a man’s ways are pleasing to the LORD, he makes even his enemies live at peace with him.

Does this proverb work today? Is this relevant in our modern society? Have you experienced this fact in your own life experiences?

9 plagues have ravaged the nation of Egypt. The people have been severely affected and have turned their hearts toward the Israelites. But Pharaoh was not impressed and refused to let the people go. In spite of all the hardships his people had to endure, the losses of Pharaoh we not yet personal. Sometimes hardships have to be personal to get a person’s real attention. God is now going to get Pharaoh’s attention by removing his most precious commodity, his linage. To royalty, the linage is very precious and imprints the legacy onto the pages of history. Pharaoh is going to lose that.

Exodus 11:4-8 So Moses said, “This is what the LORD says: ‘About midnight I will go throughout Egypt. Every firstborn son in Egypt will die, from the firstborn son of Pharaoh, who sits on the throne, to the firstborn son of the slave girl, who is at her hand mill, and all the firstborn of the cattle as well. There will be loud wailing throughout Egypt—worse than there has ever been or ever will be again. But among the Israelites not a dog will bark at any man or animal.’ Then you will know that the LORD makes a distinction between Egypt and Israel. All these officials of yours will come to me, bowing down before me and saying, ‘Go, you and all the people who follow you!’ After that I will leave.” Then Moses, hot with anger, left Pharaoh.

What is hard to imagine, the 9 plagues were only a warm-up compared to what God intended to do with the last plague. In a way God showed mercy to Egypt by not going to step 10 right away. He gave Pharaoh 9 chances to change but it made no difference. The next step by God was harsh and severe; Pharaoh dared God to act and act He did. Pharaoh had run out of rope and it was time to deal the final hand of judgment.

How is our modern society today like or unlike Pharaoh in chapter 11?
Are we too daring God to act? Are you concerned about those around you? What message do we have to give them?

What is important to understand at this point is a crucial fact; obey or perish. This will be the first lesson in their new relationship with God. Obedience is required. It is not forced obedience, it is voluntary; but the fact remains, disobedience means death. If anyone of the Israelites doesn’t follow the instructions perfectly, they too will experience what the Egyptians will experience.
It is time to prepare for moving. Remember there are over 2 million Israelites to move. But before that happens, they have to survive the 10th plague. Strict obedience must be followed and the proper communication has to be made so all know what to do.

Exodus 12:3-5 Tell the whole community of Israel that on the tenth day of this month each man is to take a lamb for his family, one for each household. If any household is too small for a whole lamb, they must share one with their nearest neighbor, having taken into account the number of people there are. You are to determine the amount of lamb needed in accordance with what each person will eat. The animals you choose must be year-old males without defect, and you may take them from the sheep or the goats.

What do you think would happen if someone prepared the lamb a day too early or a day too late? Is God really that picky about obedience? What if someone decided to eat steak instead?

Exodus 12:6-7 Take care of them until the fourteenth day of the month, when all the people of the community of Israel must slaughter them at twilight. Then they are to take some of the blood and put it on the sides and tops of the doorframes of the houses where they eat the lambs.

One of the problems with reading this passage of scripture is that some of us have read it so many times that we become ho-hum about it. We too often miss the dynamics that are present. Let’s pretend this event did happen in the time of Moses; let’s pretend this event is going to happen today. Can you imagine if Chuck got up in worship this morning and repeated the exact same instructions to you. He announced that we were leaving Quincy and here is what we need to do NOW! What do you think the reaction would be from such a message?

We assume wrong sometimes about the obvious. One would think that leaving slavery would be a great thing. But how many do you think wouldn’t want to leave? What Moses told the nation was something they had never done before. They’d never roasted a lamb in that particular way. They’d never gathered blood in a pan for a special purpose. They’d never smeared the blood on their door posts and they never heard of such a thing as an exodus. When had a whole nation picked up in the middle of the night and left the country where they had been living for over 400 years? This was all new stuff , and it must have stunned these soon-to-be freed slaves.

How powerful is the sense of “familiar surroundings”. How much hardship, trouble or lack of opportunity will someone endure only to secure a sense of familiar surroundings? How powerful is the fear of the unknown?

Exodus 12:12-13 “On that same night I will pass through Egypt and strike down every firstborn—both men and animals—and I will bring judgment on all the gods of Egypt. I am the LORD. The blood will be a sign for you on the houses where you are; and when I see the blood, I will pass over you. No destructive plague will touch you when I strike Egypt.

I find this whole message fascinating. Notice, where is the congregational meeting? Where does God allow the people to think this whole process through? What happens if the people had questions and wanted to know why God was taking such harsh measures? What about special dietary needs? What happens if you don’t know how to roast a lamb or can’t find one?
Here is the problem; this meal was designed to be a meal that the nation was to hurry through. It was not designed to be like meals we have when guests come over. They weren’t to sit around and chit-chat, play some cards and enjoy each other’s company. In a way, it was the last supper in Egypt. The nation was to be packed and ready to go because when the 10th plague was finished that night, they were to leave immediately. They were to eat ready for travel. Be dressed for travel, be ready to march

Exodus 12:11 This is how you are to eat it: with your cloak tucked into your belt, your sandals on your feet and your staff in your hand. Eat it in haste; it is the LORD’S Passover.

We must understand a very important point; the people didn’t fully understand exactly what was coming. They knew what God had told them but until the Passover actually took place, they couldn’t imagine the sounds or devastation they would hear and see Egypt go through. It is one thing to read about a catastrophe, it is another thing to see it with your own eyes. Israel saw firsthand what the judgment of God looked like and it was horrible. You never want to find yourself on the wrong side of God’s judgment.

God sent a message to the unbelieving world that He is God and His judgments are coming for them unless they turn away and come to Him. But I think the plagues were meant more for the people of Israel than the Egyptians. He wanted the people never to forget what judgment looks like and how much God spared them from it. It was by God’s grace and their obedience that death passed over them.

Exodus 12:25-27 When you enter the land that the LORD will give you as he promised, observe this ceremony. And when your children ask you, ‘What does this ceremony mean to you?’ then tell them, ‘It is the Passover sacrifice to the LORD, who passed over the houses of the Israelites in Egypt and spared our homes when he struck down the Egyptians.’” Then the people bowed down and worshiped.

Every year the nation celebrated the Passover to remember what God did for them and how He rescued them from slavery, the bondage they were in and couldn’t escape from on their own. Little did they know that they were recreating an event yet to come. For 1,200 years (1,200 times) they practiced the sacrifice of the real Lamb of God to come.

Exodus 12:14 is a verse very few ever sit and consider what God told Israel.

“This is a day you are to commemorate; for the generations to come you shall celebrate it as a festival to the LORD—a lasting ordinance.

When did the celebration of Passover end? It didn’t end. The concept of Passover still exists today. It is a lasting ordinance. Passover changed but the idea is still the same. We call it the Lord’s Supper. Jesus didn’t abolish Passover; He fulfilled it and continued the act of remembrance. What we are to remember is the same thing the Israelites were to remember. Just as Israel was to remember how God, through the shed blood of a lamb, brought the nation out of bondage; the church today is to celebrate the same thing. We are set free from our bondage through the blood of the only Lamb of God to live and prosper in a new land. The Earth is no longer our home. We have a new home that is promised to us and God is leading us there.

Are you dressed for travel? Are you ready to get up at a moment’s notice and leave where God wants you to go? Are you willing to leave tonight to places unknown so God can use you to lead His people out of bondage? This is the challenge for the church. Too many churches are not eating meals ready to travel. They eat meals that are designed for their own luxury with the intention of staying where they are. God calls the church out of bondage into a land that is free. Too many churches like the land of slavery as long as their surroundings are familiar. What kind of church is MPCC? Are we ready to move tonight?