The Egyptians take great pride in believing themselves to be the sovereign superpower of the world. Their empire is vast, their military is dominant, their economy is prosperous, and oh how they love their castles, houses, tombs, and walls. Most of those who rule and live in Egypt are pretty pleased with their current state. However, Pharaoh and his court are currently in the process of being re-educated, and in the process they are discovering they have over-estimated their state sovereignty. They are at war with a King and Kingdom with whom they cannot compete.
Not only are the Egyptians over-estimating their state sovereignty, they are also over-estimating the power and sovereignty of their gods. The Egyptians are a devoutly religious people. In their daily lives, they worship dozens of deities — some whom they fear and others whom they trust. They worship Hapi, Osiris, Nu, Khnum, and Isis; these are the Nile River gods. Then there is Apophis – the serpent-god, Amon Re — the deity of the sun, and Thoth who is lord of the moon. However, the deity they prefer, honor, and herald most is the one who walks before them constantly — Pharaoh. He is their visible god. He is the incarnate deity dwelling in human flesh.
For several centuries, their gods have seemed to be dominant. However, as of late, upon the arrival of Moses, Aaron, and Yahweh, all has been turned upside-down. This God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob has arrived to deliver his people, and in the process, he has proven to have the might to easily take down any man or god getting in his way. And here is the point, Yahweh has been killing Egypt’s gods slowly, systematically, progressively, and personally. It is like an idol-hunting expedition; he is targeting Egypt’s deities and picking them off one by one. James Boice adds some interesting information:
In order to understand these plagues, we need to understand that they were directed against the gods and goddesses of Egypt and were intended to show the superiority of the God of Israel to the Egyptian gods. There were about eighty major deities in Egypt, all clustered about the three great natural forces of Egyptian life: the Nile river, the land, and the sky. It does not surprise us, therefore, that the plagues God sent against Egypt in this historic battle follow this three-force pattern. The first two plagues were against the God of the Nile. The next four were against the land gods. The final four plagues were against the gods of the sky, culminating in the death of the firstborn.
You see, it was Pharaoh who arrogantly asked the question:
… “Who is the Lord, that I should obey his voice and let Israel go? I do not know the Lord, and moreover, I will not let Israel go.” (Exodus 5:2)
Ever since Pharaoh’s mocking question, God has been answering Pharaoh’s question and proving his point:
… “I will pass through the land of Egypt that night, and I will strike all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and on all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgments: I am the LORD.” (Exodus 12:12)
And this was clearly understood by all. The inspired prophet records:
They set out from Rameses in the first month, on the fifteenth day of the first month. On the day after the Passover, the people of Israel went out triumphantly in the sight of all the Egyptians, while the Egyptians were burying all their firstborn, whom the LORD had struck down among them. On their gods also the LORD executed judgments …. (Numbers 33:3-5)
What we see here is a holy war. There are many worshipers and many idols, but there is only one, true God, and he is leaving no doubt in anyone’s mind. He is taking names and cutting out knees. He will be the last God standing, and in the process of removing his “competition,” he is doing a favor to all with eyes to see and ears to hear. Clearly, he is proclaiming to the teachable, “You need a better god!”
Friends, as we are led by the devil, our world, and our wicked flesh, we are all idol-makers and idol-swappers. We choose to trust in false-gods, and when they fail to deliver we trade them in on something else. Some of these gods are of the religious variety; they include the false gods of:
- Orthodox Jews
- Jehovah’s Witnesses
- Bahai Worshipers
- Christian Scientists
- Etc …
Even we who proclaim their trust in the Trinitarian God can find themselves trusting too much in Mother Mary, saints, rituals, sacraments, documents, traditions, ceremonies, and ministers.
Then, all who are reading this blog are persistently guilty of taking God’s good gifts and turning them into idols. Consistently, we place our trust in our:
- Nation, political party, and politicians
- Personal skills
- Accumulated wealth or savings
- Personal relationships – actual or potential
- Youth and/or health
- Pleasures, toys, games, and hobbies
- Ecstatic feelings
However, there is good news for all who are God’s friends and all who are teachable. God is the idol-smashing Deity who always takes down his “competitors.” He is the one who does us a favor by taking out the knees of our false-gods and screaming in love, “You need to worship Me; you need a better god!”
Friends, I know it hurts when our idols fail us. It is brutal when those people, institutions, or things in which we have trusted prove to be lacking. However, after the tears, or in the midst of the tears, let us repent and rejoice in God’s hard-goodness towards us. God is helping us. He is loving us. He is humbling us and calling us back to him. He is compelling us to realize, “We need a better god,” and he is ready and present to love, live, die, watch, protect, preserve you, and satisfy you. He is Jesus. He is the King of kings. He is the God of gods. Jesus is the better God; the only God. He is the one who sacrificed himself so that you would not have to pay for your horrid idolatry. Therefore, the primary questions for today are:
- Is he your God?
- Is he your only God?
I believe it is time for God to clean house again. It is time for us to repent and turn away from our lesser, pathetic deities. It is time for us to enjoy and glorify God alone. He will never leave us. He will never forsake us. And he will never allow us — his bride — to be satisfied in the arms of other gods, for he is our Jealous God who will have us find bliss in his arms alone.