A Talk Given in the Plainfield Church
by Doris W Evans
This morning as I was sitting here and the lesson was being given to us through the love of God, I began to think of how the children of Israel got into Egypt. They went there for a wonderful purpose. It was Joseph who took them there 400 years before, when he rescued Pharaoh from famine. Soon his brothers followed him and he forgave them for having tried to kill him and sell him into slavery. And they were all saved and went to live in Egypt in peace, because Joseph had been appointed to a high position and was next only to Pharaoh in power.
However (and I couldn’t help but think about Mrs. Eddy’s wonderful revelation and the Christian Science movement), God’s people in Egypt let their standard slip, as they began to fall into the fleshpots of Egypt. Idol worshiping, sin, is contagious, and instead of holding to the one God whom they knew and whose power had been proven in their lives in every way, they fell into idolatry; and with their slow decline and fall into idolatry, as generation followed generation, they fell into slavery. They became trusted slaves. They were allowed to be armed because it was a wild place in which they lived where marauding tribes came in and attacked, and the slaves had to carry weapons to protect themselves and to protect their masters’ goods.
After 400 years of this situation, God decreed that it was time for them to come out from the fleshpots of Egypt, from slavery to the human mind with all its evils. So Moses was sent by God to Pharaoh to say that “The Lord God saith, ‘Let my people go, that they may serve Me.’ If thou refuse, the hand of the Lord is on your cattle. They shall all die.” But Pharaoh wouldn’t listen and all the Egyptians’ cattle died; but not the Israelites’ cattle. Still, Pharaoh’s heart was hardened.
Again, Moses went to Pharaoh. I think this undoubtedly occurred over a period of months or years. Again he went to Pharaoh and said that the Lord had told him to sprinkle handfuls of ashes before Pharaoh and to tell him that if he did not let the people go, there would come an epidemic of boils. Pharaoh again would not listen. The boils came, and even Pharaoh’s magicians could not stand before Moses’s prediction, for they had boils. Still, Pharaoh’s heart was hardened. This is a picture, dear ones. Do you see yourselves in any of it? Do you see where you’ve had experiences and you still haven’t listened?
So we continue. Early in the morning, Moses went to Pharaoh and again warned him that there would be plagues. Hail and fire would smite every man, beast, tree and herb. But Pharaoh still wouldn’t listen. And so hail and fire smote every Egyptian, every one of their beasts, every tree, and destroyed every herb. At this point, Pharaoh said, “Oh, entreat the Lord, Moses, that there be no more thunderings. I have sinned, I will let you go.” As soon as the thunderings stopped, Pharaoh hardened his heart and would not let the children of Israel go.
I’ve seen – over the years in the practice – when somebody’s gotten hit pretty hard, they say, “Oh, please. I’ll do right now. I’m willing to obey.” And the minute they get well, they repeat the error again.
The fourth time Moses and Aaron came again to Pharaoh and said, “Thus saith the Lord, ‘How long wilt thou refuse to humble thyself before me? Let my people go that they may serve me. If you refuse, I will bring locusts to cover the face of the earth, to eat the residue that remaineth unto you from the hail’ (because there wasn’t much that was left) ‘and they shall fill your houses and your servants’ houses and all the houses of the Egyptians.’” At this point, Pharaoh’s servants advised him to let Moses go, because he had destroyed Egypt. But Pharaoh wouldn’t listen. Do you see any of yourselves there? Take a look. Take a look. How much is it going to take to make you listen?
After his advisors said this, Pharaoh, still stubborn, wanted to let only the men go and keep the rest for slaves. So the locusts came and darkened all the earth, and no green thing remained. Then Pharaoh called Moses in haste and said, “Forgive my sin this once and ask the Lord to take away this death.” So the Lord sent a strong wind and cast the locusts into the Red Sea. And Pharaoh’d heart was hardened and he would not let them go. Then thick darkness was in all Egypt for three days, but all the children of Israel had light in their dwellings.
And then Pharaoh, pressed to the wall, said, “Go, but not the flocks or herds.” Moses said, “We must have these because they are part of our worship of our God.” And Pharaoh hardened his heart, and Moses then forecast that, “The firstborn of every Egyptian shall die, even from Pharaoh that sitteth on his throne, and not a dog shall move this tongue against any of the children of Israel. The Lord doth put a difference between Egyptians and Israel. And Pharaoh’s heart was still hardened. And the firstborn of each Egyptian died, and the firstborn of their cattle and their horses died.” And then Moses and the children of Israel withdrew to their God in worship and in prayer. From that came the Passover where their houses were passed over when the plagues came. After that, Pharaoh let them go. And they went out harnessed – and harnessed means they went out armed because there were roving bands out there – marauders – ready to pillage and kill.
Pharaoh again changed his mind, and when they came to the Red Sea, pursued by the Egyptians, it opened. As most of you know – Moses raised his arm for the children of Israel to go into the Red Sea before the Red Sea was opened – that was how thorough his trust was in his God. And when the children of Israel had passed through on dry land, God spoke and the waters closed. And they didn’t just drench the Egyptians and their chariots. They drowned them – every single one! They drowned, the best captains, the chosen of Pharaoh, as well as all his men. This is a lesson in the stubbornness of the human mind. If you are withholding anything from God, don’t do it. This is a lesson for us. We should prosper and learn from it, and withhold nothing from God. Do you need plagues and death and destruction?
When the children of Israel began their march in the wilderness, because they had taken on the contagion of idol worship, materialism, they would not listen to Moses. They would not listen to the Truth. And they wandered a small area for 40 years – an area of 500 miles which they could have traversed in two months had they been willing to listen and had they not taken on the contagion of mortal mind.
It’s a tremendous lesson! It’s something that we can learn from and profit by. We have God’s work to do here. No power can bind us. Nothing can hold us back or keep us from doing what God has given us to do and what we want to do for Him. This lesson in the Bible should be enough to break the back of any error that may be trying to bind anyone. Don’t fight against your God. Don’t argue with right. Don’t waffle and justify. Obey quickly. If your love for God is there, you’ll do it when He speaks to you, and you won’t seek to justify or whine or cry, or in any way withhold what you owe God, which is your love and obedience. And only in your heart do you know what that means. Let’s be sure we all do it and go up harnessed. And that means armed with Truth to do God’s work – not foolishly or in a dipsy-doodle do-goody way – but firm and strong, knowing what is needed in this world. It starts right here with us – love and honesty and caring and doing right and putting God first at all times.