The past two weeks in our summer sermon series through Exodus we have looked at the plagues, which is not exactly the most uplifting section of the Bible. God brought the plagues on Egypt to demonstrate His power and, ultimately, to soften Pharaoh’s heart so that he would let the Israelites go. Eventually, after the tenth plague–the death of the first-born son–it worked.
It is interesting if you read the pattern of the plagues: God would smite the land with locusts or gnats or boils or hail or whatever, and then the Egyptian magicians would prove they could do the same, thus adding to the problem. Pharaoh would ask Moses to make it stop–to call off the proverbial dogs–and as the plagues went on, he started making promises of what he would do if only Moses made the plague disappear. Of course, after God removed the plague, Pharaoh would renege on his promise and refuse to let God’s people leave Egypt after all. And on and on it went until the death angel made his visit and the Egyptians could take it no longer.
As Jonathan Arnold mentioned in his message on the plagues a few Sundays ago, there is a little bit of Pharaoh in all of us. We are all prone to make promises of what we will do if God will just get us out of a mess–“foxhole commitments,” as someone has called them–only to back off and go back to our apathy when the problem goes away.
But the example in the narrative about the plagues that most reveals our tendency to act like Pharaoh came after the second plague, when God sent frogs upon the land. There were frogs everywhere; Exodus 8 describes that they were in their homes, in their bedrooms, on their beds, in their ovens, and “on them.” I suspect this was where Mrs. Pharaoh stepped in and said, “Honey”–I’m guessing that’s what she called her husband–“tell the man to get the frogs out of here, and do whatever it takes to make it happen.”
And so Pharaoh did. Exodus 8:8 says that Pharaoh summoned Moses and Aaron and said, “Pray to the LORD to take the frogs away from me and my people, and I will let your people go to offer sacrifices to the LORD.” But this is where the story takes an interesting twist and reminds me more of me than I would like to admit.
Moses said to Pharaoh, “I leave to you the honor of setting the time for me to pray for you and your officials and your people that you and your houses may be rid of the frogs…” (v. 9).
Pharaoh’s answer is one of the all-time classics in all the Bible: “Tomorrow.”
There was a famous sermon that used to circulate around, though I do not remember who wrote it or preached it. It was the title, and simple application, that was most memorable. It was called “One More Night with the Frogs.” It came from this passage where, when given the choice of ridding his palace and his people of those nasty frogs whenever he wanted, Pharaoh chose tomorrow, or “one more night with the frogs.”
Pharaoh’s answer seems pretty ridiculous, if not downright dumb. Until I look at my own life of the things I know the Lord wants me to do that will be a blessing in my life and in the life of others, and I put them off until another day. “How about tomorrow, Lord? For now, I think I’ll have another night with my slimy amphibian friends.”
I wonder what it is in your life that you need to be rid of, and a simple decision is all that awaits you moving from bondage to freedom, from shame to relief and joy. Or what decision do you need to make in your life that you have been putting off until the tomorrow that never comes? It’s time to make the call, get rid of the frogs, and move on with your life. Don’t delay; don’t spend one more night with the frogs.
I am praying for each of you, for God’s work in your lives, as I hope you are praying likewise for me. I look forward to seeing you on Sunday.