A Plague on You! (Part 3)
The LORD was teaching Pharaoh a lesson. However, Pharaoh refused to truly listen. His House refused to listen even though subsequent Pharaohs were taught the lesson over and over. But the LORD was also teaching Abram a lesson. Abram needed to learn to trust in God and God alone. “You shall have no other goods before Me.” Exodus 20:3.
There was to come a time in the future when Abram would become mature in the faith. There would come a time when he would say to his son, (whom the LORD told him to sacrifice), “The LORD will provide!” a time when he would say to his future son, Isaac, “My son, God will provide for Himself the lamb for a burnt offering.”
Pharaoh learned nothing from his encounters with the living God. But Abram learned to trust God for all things. He learned not to trust in his own plan but rather to trust in God’s plan, even the eternal plan of salvation, i.e., the Gospel of Jesus Christ! Abram had heard the words of prophecy from the LORD Himself. We see by Abram’s actions that he hadn’t fully understood the words of prophecy. God was patient with Abram. However, His patience ran out with Pharaoh. Pharaoh has another plan. Pharaoh’s plan was devised by “the great dragon, that serpent of old, called the Devil and Satan; who deceives the whole world” Revelation 12:9a.
Jesus says Satan has been a liar from the beginning. He is the one who cast doubt into the mind of Adam’s wife Eve. “Has God indeed said?” Genesis 3:1. “Did God really say this? And did God really say that?” The devil is still saying the same thing today. “Has God indeed said all of this? i.e., all that is written in the Bible?”
Abram had to learn to trust the promises of God. He had to learn to take God at His Word. And so do we more than ever! We have to stop flirting around with Pharaoh. We have to stop running down to Egypt whenever there’s a famine in the church! Oh Pharaoh will give you people if that’s what you’re after. He gave Abram male and female slaves. What has Pharaoh given the church today? What has he given to the church that has gone down to Egypt in a famine? For example, he’s given us blatantly unrepentant practicing homosexual ministers, hasn’t he? He’s given us blatantly unrepentant practicing lesbian preachers in the pulpit, hasn’t he? Of course, if a person is Biblically repentant, then that’s different, we can handle that! Also, the practice of homosexuality is not the unpardonable sin! According to the Bible all human beings are sinners in need of salvation regardless of what our particular sinful actions are, be it homosexual acts or whatever. However, to twist and distort Scripture to make it say that something it isn’t is to speak the same language as the devil who is the father of lies! “God didn’t really say this and He didn’t really say that!”
Some people would take away from God’s Word and add to it as it suits them! They don’t believe in the supreme authority of Scripture and/or they put their “spin” on it! Oh God can save even the vilest of sinners. He saved me! He saves all believers! However, those who are flirting with the things of the world, those who are happy in the courts of Pharaoh, those who are ignoring the promises of God, need to beware! As John the Apostle wrote in Revelation 22:18ff., “For I testify to everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book [i.e., the Bible, the completed Word of God]: If anyone adds to these things, God will add to him the plagues that are written in this book; and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part from the Book of Life, from the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.”
“The LORD plagued Pharaoh and his house with great plagues because of Sarai, Abrams wife.” Now, you may think that plagues are just a natural part of this fallen world. If you think that then you’re only half right. There are no plagues in the kingdom of God. Plagues belong only to the kingdom of Satan. However, when the Kingdom of God advances on earth so too does medical science, for example. Read the Book of Leviticus, for instance, if you don’t believe what I’m saying! It was Christianity that brought doctors, hospitals and medical science, not paganism! Christianity, true Christianity brings healing to the nations (Revelation 22:2).
Look at those countries where the gospel has never flourished and you’ll see squalor and disease. You’ll see AIDS in epidemic proportion, pandemic. Pharaoh and his whole house, even his kingdom is cursed by God. Even all of creation groans under this curse! But those who listen to Word of God, those who believe the promises of God, are set free! Now, this isn’t to say that Christians will be free from all disease in this life, but rather where the Kingdom of God makes inroads there is better quality of life.
Where people are obedient to the Gospel venereal disease disappears, for instance. It’s no longer an epidemic. AIDS virtually vanishes! Where the Gospel advances marriages produce obedient children making for a safer society. A safer society means fewer murders which means a lower mortality rate. All I’m trying to tell you about is a principle seen throughout Scripture, i.e., the ‘Good News’ principle. When Israel was obedient to God, then God blessed them. When they turned their backs on His promises He cursed them. He sent plagues in among His own people so that they would know it was Him. He sent the plagues so that they would turn to Him in repentance for help!
Abram needed to learn to turn to God first and foremost for help and not to conform to the world. There were blessings in abundance awaiting Abram from the hand of God. But first he had to see the fallen world for what it really was, a desert-mirage. There is nothing of any substance in the Kingdom of this world. The kingdom of this world is just a sand castle in the sky! The storm cloud of God’s wrath is going to wash it all away on the Last Day, it will be dissolved! It’s the Kingdom of God and His righteousness we need to seek, for that remains forever. However, you won’t find it hanging around in Pharaoh’s court.
Abram went down to Egypt for help during a famine. The LORD gives this warning through His prophet Isaiah, “Woe to those who go down to Egypt for help, and rely on horses, who trust in chariots because they are many, and in horsemen because they are very strong, but who do not look to the Holy One of Israel, nor seek the LORD!” Isaiah 31:1.
Let’s consider Pharaoh for a moment. Pharaoh figured out the connection between the plagues and Sarai. Pharaoh had had adulterous intentions towards Abram’s wife. Whatever he had planned for Sarai had been unsuccessful. He knew there was something different about this woman to all the rest. And we gather that at some point Sarai must have told him she was Abram’s wife (Genesis 12:18). The LORD (back in Genesis 12:3b) had already said to Abram, “I will bless those who bless you. And I will curse him who curses you.” Pharaoh had unwittingly come between a man and his wife – a man of God and his wife! He had separated a man from his wife because of his antics – marriage wrecker! So God cursed him with great plagues for his trouble! Genesis 12:3, “I will curse him who curses you” - even him who curses you unwittingly. (“What, therefore, God had joined together, let not man put asunder!”)
If non-Christians could only think more like Pharaoh, they would see the connections between plagues and famines, and the people of God, the children of our father Abraham. Perhaps this is too much to ask since even many Christians fail to see the connections! But all it means is that we’ll never be short of material for a lesson on trusting in God and not Pharaoh!
There will be more and more famines and plagues until people learn to trust in God in thankful obedience. But if the world ever wants to spare itself then it needs to learn to, “Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding!” We need to learn to walk in grateful obedience to the promises of God.
Should Abram have gone down into Egypt with Sarai? No. Why not? Because by substituting his own plan he was putting God’s plan of redemption in jeopardy. Paul the Apostle illuminates it all for us, Galatians 3:16, “Now to Abraham and his Seed were the promises made. He does not say, ‘And to seeds,’ as of many, but as one, ‘And to your Seed,’ who is Christ.”
As to His humanity, God’s Son, Jesus Christ was to descend from Abram and Sarah, not Pharaoh and Sarah! So the LORD intervened by sending great plagues into Pharaoh’s house. So Pharaoh got the message and sent Abram packing, “Here is your wife, take her and go your way.” I don’t think it is a misapplication of Scripture to quote at this point the verse where God says, “Out of Egypt I called my Son” (Matthew 2:15b).
Pharaoh was only too glad to see the backs of Abram and Sarai – to escape the plagues of God! However, the only sure way to escape God’s plague on you is to seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness. This is found of course only in the One who came through the loins of Abram and the womb of his barren wife Sarai – his Seed Jesus Christ.