TODAY’S READING IN THE OLD TESTAMENT- Exodus 7:25-9:35
The miraculous plagues become too much for Egypt’s magicians to even attempt to emulate. Magi of Pharaoh’s court are baffled and stymied.
The sorcerers of Egypt could use their secret arts to cause frogs to come out of the river, to give the appearance of their rods turning into serpents, and water into what looked like blood, but now their art of imitation fails. The Lord instructs Moses to strike the dust of the earth with his rod and the dust will become lice that will plague Egypt. The magicians attempted to replicate the sign but failed. Nor could they do anything similar to having flies swarm Pharaoh’s palace and all the Egyptian homes. Nor could they make the land of Goshen, where the Israelites dwelled, into a ‘no fly zone’!
And so, it was with the plague on the livestock, the boils on the men and animals. What we see as a more localized plague in Exodus 8 of a hailstorm with thunder and lightning more terrible than anything known in their history, will take place on a far larger scale affecting 1/3 of the earth, in the end-time judgments described in the Book of Revelation (The first trumpet judgment of Revelation 8:7- hail and fire, mixed with blood). The people of God who dwelt in Goshen did not experience anything of this judgement that terrified Pharaoh and the Egyptians. Moses gives further proof that the God of the Hebrews is sovereign over all of nature, by lifting his hands to the Lord and having the storm instantly cease. This sign alone should have been sufficient evidence of God’s authority and Pharaoh’s need to humble his heart and concede to Yahweh’s demand to receive worship from His people. Instead Pharaoh stubbornly refuses to let the Israelites go.
How were the magicians able to apparently duplicate the first signs? They were skilled in trickery and illusion. They were also involved in the occult, worshiping gods of the underworld, so they probably were invoking the activity of Satan and demonic powers.
The apostle Paul writes about this in 2 Thessalonians 2:9 when he refers to the Antichrist manifesting ‘the activity of Satan with all power and false signs and wonders’. In the end the Lord will blow him away. The Lord Jesus at His second coming, ‘will kill him with the breath of His mouth’ (2 Thessalonians 2:8).
It is worthy to note that Pharaoh’s magicians only made the matters worse and brought further judgment upon themselves because their so-called miracles only increased the harmful effect of the plagues rather than reversed them!
TODAY’S READING IN THE NEW TESTAMENT- Matthew 19:13-30
WHAT DO YOU MEAN “OH MY GOODNESS”?
Each of the Synoptic Gospels (Matthew, Mark and Luke) give the account of the rich young ruler who professed a desire to follow Jesus. He represents all that most people would love to be: RICH, YOUNG, and one who had influence with others, a RULER.
But there was something lacking. He knew he needed eternal life. But how to obtain it?
“What good thing shall I do that I may obtain eternal life?” he asks.
Jesus answers the question with another question that will reveal the faulty presuppositions of the questioner.
“Why are you asking Me about what is good?”
This is often the method of the Lord. He knows that we have certain presuppositions, some true and some false. It is important to have these presuppositions examined.
Someone asked Ravi Zacharias the question whether a certain sexual practice was right or wrong.
He responded, “Do you believe there is a difference?”
Here Jesus exposes the false assumption of the rich, young ruler. It is one that many hold today- that mankind is basically good, and that good behavior is the result of good decisions based upon good thinking from a good heart. We are basically all good guys.
Jesus contradicts this assumption, saying, “There is only One who is good.”
Jesus attacks a basic presupposition of the Enlightenment philosophers (particularly Rousseau’s belief that man is naturally good). He also challenges the assumption that eternal life can be earned.
Instead Jesus affirms the fact that man was made in God’s image, to be a mirror of God’s nature. A mirror is not the origin of the image. It is not the source of the beauty it reflects. The quality of the mirror is quite different from the quality found in the origin of the image it reflects. The origin of the image which humankind is designed to reflect is God Himself, the only One who is good. The goodness of the mirror is determined by its ability to reflect an image clearly. If a beautiful or handsome face is reflected in a mirror we don’t compliment the mirror as being beautiful or handsome. A good mirror is one that is in good condition and in a right position in relationship with the source it is to reflect. It is clean and unbroken. And if it is so, no inherent goodness will be noticed in the mirror, only the source image which it reflects. Mirrors that bring attention to themselves are those that are dirty, cracked or distorted.
Then Jesus rephrases his original question to reflect what he perceives as being the real question behind the question. Jesus says it is not a matter of “obtaining life” but “entering into life”.
What does that require?
Keeping the commandments.
The rich young ruler asks, “Which ones?”
Jesus quotes a few of the commandments that the rich, young ruler would be familiar with. He carefully omits one of the Ten Commandments that proves that he has been, and continues to be, a law breaker. For all have sinned (Romans 3:23).
The rich, young ruler’s self-justification blinds him. He sincerely sees himself as a keeper of the law.
“What am I lacking?” he asks.
His question reminds me of the self-deluded and self-absorbed prince in the film, “Enchanted” when he is asked the question, “Do you like yourself?”
“What’s not to like?” he glibly explains.
Jesus responds to the young man with a little ‘reality check’. The commandments are given to show that we are broken mirrors. Of the ten commandments, Jesus must have deliberately withheld ‘thou shall not covet’ in order to zero in on what truly gripped the ruler’s affections.
Matthew 19:21-22 (NASB) 21 Jesus said to him, “If you wish to be complete, go and sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.” 22 But when the young man heard this statement, he went away grieving; for he was one who owned much property.
Jesus clarifies in this episode that entrance “into the kingdom of heaven” or, “entering into eternal life” is impossible for those who are looking to anyone other than the One who is good for their justification.
Matthew 19:25-26 (NASB) 25 When the disciples heard this, they were very astonished and said, “Then who can be saved?” 26 And looking at them Jesus said to them, “With people this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”
With people, entrance into life is IMPOSSIBLE. Salvation is casting all hope and trust upon God. He is the source of all goodness and only through His Son’s perfect living as the “express image of God” and His atoning death on the cross, can he be both JUST and the JUSTIFIER of the ungodly.
What is impossible with men is made possible with God. The apostle Paul clarifies in his Epistle to the Romans:
Romans 3:20-26 (NASB) 20 …by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified in His sight; for through the Law comes the knowledge of sin. 21 But now apart from the Law the righteousness of God has been manifested, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, 22 even the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all those who believe; for there is no distinction; 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus; 25 whom God displayed publicly as a propitiation in His blood through faith. This was to demonstrate His righteousness, because in the forbearance of God He passed over the sins previously committed; 26 for the demonstration, I say, of His righteousness at the present time, so that He would be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.
TODAY’S READING IN THE BOOK OF PSALMS- PSALM 24:1-10
Psalm 22 pictures Jesus in the past as our Suffering Savior. Psalm 23 pictures Jesus in our present moment as the Supplying Shepherd. Psalm 24 pictures Jesus in the future as Supreme Sovereign. Who is this King of Glory? The God of Jacob- the God of all grace. Grace takes care of our past securing our pardon, our present securing our peace, and our future securing our position as He has victoriously won the battle for us that heaven’s gates be opened to us.
TODAY’S READING IN THE BOOK OF PROVERBS: PROVERBS 6:1-5
Proverbs 6:1-5 1 My son, if you have become surety for your neighbor, Have given a pledge for a stranger, 2 If you have been snared with the words of your mouth, Have been caught with the words of your mouth, 3 Do this then, my son, and deliver yourself; Since you have come into the hand of your neighbor, Go, humble yourself, and importune your neighbor. 4 Give no sleep to your eyes, nor slumber to your eyelids; 5 Deliver yourself like a gazelle from the hunter’s hand and like a bird from the hand of the fowler.
This is a good reminder to be careful about what bargains we make with our neighbors, strangers, and even friends. Be careful with your words, your pledges and your promises to others. If you promise more than you can deliver, you may need to seek deliverance from the foolish agreement that snared you.
PRAYER: Lord, it is good to recognize that we are at best, broken mirrors. We need Your salvaging. We need to be made new. We need the perfect mirror of your holy Son, Jesus, to represent us as flawless in Your presence. We thank You for Your Word, and the constant reminder of our need for all that You have done, all that You are, and all that You have provided through Christ Jesus, in Whom we are hid, and with Whom we are identified. Through the shed blood of our Passover Lamb we have deliverance from the wrathful judgment of death. Through His intercession and intervention on the cross, we have deliverance from the pharaoh of this age, Satan, and the hard task masters of sin. His death on our behalf has opened up the way for our escape from our old life in Adam. Now, by the power and guidance of the Holy Spirit, our cloud by day and fire by night, we can walk through the wilderness of this world and experience the promised victory and the inheritance that has been one for us. We claim it and live it by faith in Jesus’ Name. Amen