February 02, 2009

"A Spiritual Showdown" - Bible in a Year #05

(For audio in English with Russian translation please see my audio page at this link) As we study through the book of Exodus, we come upon a famous spiritual showdown. This showdown was between Israel’s God, as represented by Moses, and Egypt’s many gods, as represented by Pharaoh and his sorcerers. The theme poses some questions, such as “Is there real magic and, if so, where is the power from?” “What are the differences between God’s miracles and the sorcerers’ magic?” And “Is there any real proof of evil and the demonic?” This lesson will address each of these questions.

Some Background

One of the greatest civilizations in history was the ancient Egyptian civilization. Egypt was founded by Mizraim, a son of Ham. The Canaanites called it Mizri, as shown by the discovered Amarna tablets. Today we’ll see how Mizri experienced misery when the Pharaoh hardened his heart and refused to let the Israelites leave Egypt. The Exodus occurred during the 15th century BC. The name “Exodus” comes from the Greek word which means “to leave.” This book is ultimately about leaving slavery and finding freedom. You can apply the truths of this book to both physical aspects of life and to spiritual. As we’ll see, the most important freedom is spiritual freedom. If you are taking notes, the first part of the book can be divided into four sections. It’s a bloody time in history and you can follow the trail of blood through each section and infer its meaning as it relates to the whole account.

A Summary of the Exodus Deliverance

1. Trials of Israel and Moses (1:1 - 2:25) blood of genocide (1.16, 22)

2. Moses Chosen (3:1- 4:31) blood just as a sign: 1st) In water, as proof of God’s help towards Israel (4.9) 2nd) in circumcision, as proof of the family’s consecration to God (4.25)

3. The Showdown - God and Moses vs. magicians and Pharaoh (5:1—11:10) blood of judgment (7.19)

4. The Passover and Exodus (12:1—13:16) blood of justification (12.22)

After Joseph and his family entered Egypt, God blessed them and they increased greatly. But there was a new Pharaoh who did not know how Joseph saved Egypt (1.8) and he was afraid because the Israelites grew larger and larger in number. It says… “Therefore they did set over them taskmasters to afflict them with their burdens. And they built for Pharaoh treasure cities, Pithom and Raamses.” (1.11) Then Pharaoh commanded the Hebrew midwives to kill the newborns if they were boys. (1.17) They decided no! (1.20) And therefore God blessed these midwives. So Pharaoh has another idea. “Ok, don’t kill them – throw them in the river!” (1.22) One of the young mothers places her baby in a basket and places it in a tributary to the Nile River. The daughter of Pharaoh finds the basket with Moses and wants to keep him (2.6). Moses’ sister asks if she needs a nursemaid. She says “yes” and so the real mother is paid to nurse it! And she called his name Moses (Mosheh)…because she drew him out of the water. Moshe means “to draw out.”

Somehow Moses knew he was a Hebrew (2.11). He defends a Hebrew and ends up killing an Egyptian. Then he buries the evidence! All this is from trying to save the Israelites his way (2.12). Word gets around and Pharaoh wants to kill Moses but he leaves for the desert (2.14,15).
Later Moses defends 7 daughters of a priest Reuel in Midian. (2.17) He gives daughter Zipporah And the shepherds came and drove them away: but Moses stood up and helped them, and watered their flock. Meanwhile, back in Egypt, the Pharaoh dies and there is a new Pharaoh’s brother, who is also harsh so the Israelites cry out to God for help (2.23). At the beginning of chapter 3 it says Moses kept a flock of sheep at “the backside of the desert.” Moses spent his first 40 years as a prince in Pharaoh’s courts, the second 40 years as a shepherd in the desert. This was a humbling experience, which he accepted from God. Numbers 12.3 says he was meek more than any man on the earth. Here Moses’ father inlaw is called, “Jethro,” but it’s not really a name it’s a title meaning “his excellence.” Judges 4.11 gives the true name of his father inlaw, which is Hobab.

Then we come to the burning bush incident. (3.2) This word “bush” here means thorn bush in Hebrew. In the Bible, thorns are a symbol of the curse. So here is a thorn bush which is burning with flames, a symbol of judgment, but it is not consumed, it is not destroyed. All in all, it’s a symbol of God’s grace. Moses sees this “great sight” of God’s grace and draws near. When he draws near God speaks to him. It is the grace of God that attracts us to Him. By His grace, God offers to use Moses greatly. He explains His desire to send Moses to set the people free from Egypt.

4.1 Moses doubts the Egyptians will believe him so God offers three signs that Moses can use to confirm God’s word. 1st, His staff would become a snake and then become a staff a gain. 2nd, His hand would become leprous and then healed (4.7) and 3rd, water would be poured out that would become blood. Moses continues his skepticism saying he doesn’t have speaking ability (4.10) And there is a debate but God finally says to take Aaron his brother as a spokesman (4.16) God tells Moses to return to Egypt because the men who wanted to kill him are dead. (4.19) Moses it totally committed to the plan and takes his wife and sons to move back to Egypt. (4.20). As a sign of consecration God required Moses and his sons to be circumcised (4.24-26) It is Moses’ wife who recognizes the seriousness of this and performs the circumcision.
5.1 Moses warns Pharaoh but Pharaoh’s response is to tell Israelites to make bricks with no straw (5.10) The two ancient cities that were built by the slave labor of the Israelites, were Pithom and Raamses. Today, the location of Raamses is known as Tell el-Dab in Egypt. In the 1990’s, a vast royal citadel was found buried with details that confirm this account.

7.10 Moses uses his his staff and the serpent to demonstrate God’s power. Why a staff and a snake? A staff is a symble of authority while a serpent is a sybol of evil as shown in Genesis 3. By God’s authority, God allows evil power to exist but at the same time God limits it. The account of the 10 plagues will show this.

7.11 “Then Pharaoh also called the wise men and the sorcerers: now the magicians of Egypt, they also did in like manner with their enchantments.” These sorcerers and magicians were Pharaoh's “big guns,” the best he had.

The Spiritual Showdown

10 plagues are used to show the superiority of the God of Israel over all the Egyptian gods. (Chuck Missler’s commentary was very helpful regarding this)

1) The first judgment was on the waters, all turned into blood as the fish died (7.17). Blood and water, which usually give life, gave death. Jesus’ first miracle was turning water into wine, celebrating marriage with joy (Jn 2.9)… The god Osiris, his wife Isis and child Horus, these main gods of the Nile were powerless to really give life or keep it (Hapimon, Tauret and Nu were also gods of the Nile). The Egyptian magicians also did the same sign but could not reverse the damage. Seven days of stench followed and they could do nothing.

2) Frogs from Nile river go everywhere, even into the homes and ovens! (8.2,3) Goddess Hekt had a frog’s head. Amphibians are worshipped because they represent 2 worlds. Magicians also made frogs. Moses intercedes and frogs die except for in river Nile (8.13). Be careful what you worship! You can get too much of anything, except for the true God!

3) Lice. (8.17). Hebrew word ken , is translated “gnat,” "lice," "sand flies" or "fleas," basically a flying insect that bites! These types of insects infest the soil and the earth. This sign confronts Geb, the god of the earth. The magicians couldn’t do it! They said “This is the finger of God!” (8.19). Today earth worship is very popular. Call it “Mother Earth,” Gaia whatever you want. Earth worshippers present nice sounding ideals but, in reality, it brings great human suffering. When you do some research, you see the population control agenda with forced sterilization and forced abortions is very inhumane.

4) “Swarms” (8.21) is the exact translation, including “diverse sorts of flies.” But God does not allow swarms in the Hebrew area Goshen (v.22). The swarms may indirecly refer to the scarab or “dung beetle.” Amon-Ra , a god with a beetle head, was the chief Egyptian god and was also a kind of “Lord of the flies.” These beetles were known as “dung beatles” and it was believed that the beetles actually produced the fly larvae in the dung that spawned the flies. As soon as a piece of dung hit the ground, these beetles would come out of nowhere shaping the dung into a perfect sphere and rollinig it along. The sphere was seen as a symbol of the sun. In reality, there is only one true God who is the master of all, as shown by God’s ability to direct the flies away from the Israelites as they swarm upon the Egyptians. Moses calls off these swarms and they leave.(v.31)

5) Against animals (9.3), horses, camels, cattle, etc., except for Gohen (9.4) The Egyptian gods are powerless. Apis, the bull god, Hathor, the cow-headed goddess and Bubastis, the cat goddess. The true God is is the master of the animals which we depend on.

6) Against man – Ashes are thrown up in the air, a custom of their own priests. They used the ashes of human sacrifices as a blessing. But here “boils” appear on the skin (9.8,9), translated as a burning of the skin, perhaps leprosy, incurable. This is against Thoth, the god of intelligence and medical learning, and Apis, Serapis and Imhotep Humanism is the exaltation and worship of man. There is no cure, no salvation for the one who has decided to reject the true and living God. (Heb 6.4)

7) Against the crops (9.22). A storm of thunder and hail rains down. The lightning causes fires on the ground so there is both fire and ice destroying trees and crops. This is against Shu the wind god, Nut, the sky goddess, and Horus, the hawk-headed sky god. Who is really in control of the weather? Jesus clarified this when he calmed storms with his words. His disciples were amazed, “Even the winds and sea obey him!” (Mat 8.27). Notice it says “he sinned yet more, and hardened his heart, he and his servants.” (ceased 9.33). This is the third time it says Pharaoh hardened his own heart (also 8.15, 8.32). Throughout this history, we see both God hardening his heart and he himself hardening his own heart. We see both God’s sovereignty and man’s freewill.
8) Against the crops, locusts devour what’s left (10.13). This is against the harvest gods Nepri and Ermutet, and Anubis the jackal-headed guardian of the fields. Again, Moses prays and God takes the plague away (10.18).

9) Darkness that could be felt (10.21). This is an affront to the sun god Re, but seems to imply more. Usually you cannot feel darkness, but God allowed the presence of spiritual darkness, to try to show what was really going on. This was a kind of summary of all the Egyptian gods. Anything that is not of the true God is a deception and is ultimately from the evil one. Many today say “Wicca is not evil and nature worship is not evil, that ‘white magic’ is actually good!” People who believe this are either deceived themselves or simply out to deceive others. Because of this felt darkness, the Egyptians finally begin to “see the light.” They start losing faith in their gods and start to bless the Israelites giving gifts of gold and silver jewels (11.2,3).

10) The final plague is the death of the first born. God reveals it to Moses and he reveals it to Pharaoh (11.1-5). The Egyptians were experts on death and embalming. When it came to death, the Egyptians wrote the book on it, “The Book of the Dead.” But only God really has control over death and life. The prophecy of Jesus’ resurrection is recorded in Psalms 16.10. The Messiah would not rot in the grave, He would rise up.

Ch 12. God explains his Passover plan to the Israelites. The first Passover feast is to mark a new beginning and become new calendar year to be repeated (12.2). Most of the aspects of the feast are to be repeated each year. On this first Passover, however, the lamb that is to be slain and eaten is to be perfect (12.5) It is to be killed and its blood is to be daubed on the top and two sides of the entrance door (12.7). It is to be roasted and eaten with matzo (unleavened bread). Prepare unleavened bread and with bitter herbs. They were to eat all of it in haste with shoes on and ready to leave Egypt (12.11). The meaning of word Passover is explained, the Lord will “pass over” houses where the blood is on the door posts. There will not be death in those houses. The blood was a sign. When Jesus came on the scene, the meaning of this sign became clearer. John the Baptist referred to Jesus as the “Lamb of God” (Jn 1.29, 36) before the crucifixion and John the evangelist referred to the “Lamb Slain” after (Rev. 5.6, 5.12, 13.8).

At midnight the death of the firstborn in every Egyptian house including Pharaoh’s (12.29). So Pharaoh immediately calls for Moses and asks them all to leave (12.31). Then after they are out in the desert, God hardens Pharaoh’s heart again and he and his armies chase down the Israelites. Then as they are approaching, God forms a pillar of cloud and light between the Egyptian army and the Israelites. God directs Moses to raise his staff towards the Red Sea (14.16). And Moses stretched out his hand and strong winds caused the Red Sea to part and a path through the sea was opened up. The Israelites pass through, and the Egyptian army follows (14.23). When they are safely through, God tells Moses to stretch out his hand again towards the sea. When he does, the waters will drown the Egyptian army. (14.27)

The Historical Proof

There are many historical sources which verify the above account. An excellent documentary film entitled “Exodus Revealed” traces each step of the way with archaeology. We have this in our library in Simferopol if you are interested. Archaeology has revealed that the pharaoh of the Exodus was Amenophis II. His son Thutmose IV was not the firstborn son. His first son died prematurely, confirming the Exodus account.

Miracles or Magic?

Cultic activity is growing today. For the believer it’s critical to know the difference between miracles and magic. Here in Ukraine, and in many places in the world, “white magic” is very popular. I know a young woman who had a serious problem with heat rashes on her face. It got so bad she needed to put snow on her face to bring the temperature down. Doctors couldn't explain it. She was a new Christian but decided to go to an older woman who practiced “white magic.” The woman basically told her that she would put her sickness inside of an egg. When she did her magic, she opened the egg and it was rotten inside and the young woman was free from her problem. This seemed to work but where was the power from? What does the Bible say about this? In the Bible, the words magic, sorcery and witchcraft are all very similar in meaning and the Bible is clear about its position:

"There shall not be found among you anyone who make his son or his daughter pass through the fire, or one who practices witchcraft, or a soothsayer, or one who interprets omens, or a sorcerer, or one who conjures spells, or a medium, or a spiritist, or one who calls up the dead. For all who do these things are an abomination to the Lord ...." (Deuteronomy 18:10)

There are no such things as “white magic” and “black magic” in the scriptures. All forms of the occult are considered evil because they deal with powers that are not of God. Galatians 5:20-21 state “Those who practice witchcraft will not inherit the kingdom of God.” Acts 16:16 shows that the occult is based on demonic power.

When Moses performed miracles at God’s command it was not magic because it was according to God’s will and God’s ways. This is what happened also in the New Testament. “And they went forth, and preached every where, the Lord working with them, and confirming the word with signs following. Amen.” (Mar 16:20) The miracles of God confirm God’s word. Mark 16.17 says “In my name they shall cast out devils.” The believer has authority over the demonic. When a believer needs healing, the Bible forbids the use of the occult but explains what to do in James 5.14: “Is anyone among you sick? Then he must call for the elders of the church and they are to pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord.”

Psalms 16.4-5 refers to pagan practices. “Their troubles multiply, they desire other gods. I will not pour out drink offerings of blood to their gods, nor will I make vows in the name of their gods. LORD, you give me stability and prosperity; you make my future secure.” (NetB) The occult brings sorrow and death. Notice how the Psalmist emphasizes his contentment in whatever God gives him. The occult, however, is based on using magic, etc. to seek your own will, independent of God. The Psalmist also mentions the drinks of blood. I recently found out a friend of mine, Ben Morrison, was into drinking blood before he became a Christian. He and his friends cut each other and practiced a kind of vampirism. Ben shared his testimony with me one day of how he became a believer. He was heavily into drugs and the occult and he ended up getting arrested and thrown in jail, but in a big way that was a blessing. It was in jail that he read I John 1.9 and within 24 hours he realized his life was completely messed up and he was ready to get right with God. He invited Jesus into his life and his life changed radically. Now he has a family and is a pastor of a church in Svitlovosk Ukraine. There’s a link to his blog here.

Ben Morrison is actually a distant relative of Jim Morrison, front man for the Doors. Some people ask “Is there any proof that demons exist?” Jim Morrison, in his own words, claimed to have been possessed by spirits. The lyrics of his song Dawn’s Highway describe the whole experience in detail:

Indians scattered on dawn's highway bleeding
Ghosts crowd the young child's fragile eggshell mind.
Me and my -ah- mother and father - and a
grandmother and a grandfather - were driving through
the desert, at dawn, and a truck load of Indian
workers had either hit another car, or just - I don't
know what happened - but there were Indians scattered
all over the highway, bleeding to death.
So the car pulls up and stops. That was the first time
I tasted fear. I musta' been about four - like a child is
like a flower, his head is just floating in the breeze, man.
The reaction I get now thinking about it, looking
back - is that the souls of the ghosts of those dead
Indians...maybe one or two of 'em...were just
running around freaking out, and just leaped into my
soul. And they're still in there.

Jim Morrison’s description of his own possession reminds me of some of the words Jesus used to describe demon possession. Matthew 12.43 says "Now when the unclean spirit goes out of a man, it passes through waterless places seeking rest, and does not find it.” (NASB) I don’t want to dwell too much on the darkness of the occult but I believe the comparison of the Ben Morrison and Jim Morrison testimonies is very revealing for people who don’t believe in the reality of the demonic.

One biographer described Jim’s increasing interest in demons. He wrote: “…the adolescent Morrison had been immersing himself in every book he could get his hands on about demonology, esoteric studies, and occult sciences.” When Ray Manzarek, the Doors keyboardist, spoke of Jim, he said a spiritual force would “take him over” in concerts. He explained: “When the Siberian shaman gets ready to go into his trance, all the villagers get together... and play whatever instruments they have to send him off [into a demonic trance]….It was the same way with The Doors when we played in concert…. I think that our drug experience let us get into it... [the trance state] quicker....He said “It was like Jim [Morrison] was an electric shaman and we were the electric shaman’s band, pounding away behind him... pounding and pounding, and little by little it would take him over.” (Rockmine interview)

Ray Manzarek hit the nail on the head. His Siberian Shaman example reveals the spiritual, that is, demonic element involved. And he confirmed the Bible when he said that drugs helped them to achieve an altered spiritual state. In the New Testament, the word witchcraft is a translation from the word “pharmakia.” This is the root of our English word “pharmacy” (Gal 5.20). Drugs are a doorway to the demonic. The Doors promoted many such doors. I don’t believe all rock and roll is bad, but it can be used for demonic purposes when that is the intention. One of the Doors album covers features Jim leaning on a bust of Aleister Crowley, who was one of the main promoters of satanism in his day. There are other possible doors for the demonic, not just the occult, drugs and rock n’ roll. I Corinthians 6.16 shows that we become “one flesh” with whomever we have physical relations with, that includes a person with a demonic influence. In our reading in Proverbs 5 there were great warnings about promiscuous physical relationships which you can read if you haven’t read them already. Jim lived life in the fast lane but did have a brief marriage with a witch. The wedding ceremony included the drinking each others blood mingled with wine. (No One Here Gets Out Alive, Warner Books, 1980, Jerry Hopkins and Danny Sugerman, p. 327)

No matter what you have done in the past, you can be set free today. As you probably know already, Jim Morrison ended up dying at 27 from an overdose of heroine, at least that’s the official story. If you are involved in the occult it would be a good idea to get out of it and repent of all of it. No matter how deep you are, even if you are deep into satanism, God can set you free.

Some believers seem to have an obsession for signs and miracles but the greatest miracle of all is that we can know God and experience God. The experiences in Moses’ life helped him to know God and to make Him known. May these be our driving desires.

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