The plagues show us the ultimate reason for living. When God first spoke to Moses at the burning bush, he said in Exodus 3:12, “…I will be with you…When you have brought the people out of Egypt, you will worship God on this mountain.” Then again, in Egypt God commanded Moses in Exodus 8:1, “Go to Pharaoh and say to him, ‘This is what the Lord says: Let my people go, so that they may worship me.'” God wanted his people free from bondage so they could worship him.
The Hebrew word for worship is abad, and it can also mean to serve or work. In the Old Testament, abad is used 289 times. We find it in the creation account in Genesis 2:15 when God put man in the garden to tend (abad) and keep it.
Worship is more than sitting in a pew and dropping a twenty in the bucket or handing a tract out during the week. Worship happens when we present all of our life as an offering to God. I love The Message version of Romans 12:1, “So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering.”
As the plagues progressed in intensity, Pharaoh attempted three times to get Moses to compromise. In plague 4, he dangled the proposition of sacrificing in the confines of Egypt. No inconvenient travel required. In plague 8, he promised safe passage if they just left the women and children behind. And, in plague 9, tricky Pharaoh promised to comply if they only left their livestock behind. He knew if they left the animals, they would return after worship to their life of slavery. Pharaoh wasn’t going to let go.
This is how Satan works. He knows his doom is sure, but he will claw, bite, scratch, and kick to keep us in his grasp. If he can’t get everything, he’ll try and get us to compromise. “Just sleep with her once a month. No one has to know.” “Just a little bit of porn. It won’t hurt.” “Just smoke dope on your summer vacation. You got this under control.” “You don’t really need to forgive him. He doesn’t deserve it.”
Whatever we accommodate, we grow accustomed to. To train a mighty elephant to obey, all the circus master has to do is tie their sturdy legs for 6 months. Their minds grow accustomed to the chains, and when they are removed they no longer try to run. Their natural, adventurous spirits are broken. No longer aware of their incredible power, they follow their master wherever he leads. Sin doesn’t want to be our buddy. Genesis 4:7 says, “…sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you…”
I like how Moses responded in Exodus 10:26, “Our livestock too must go with us; not a hoof is to be left behind…” Moses would not concede a hoof. In the same way, we’re not to give the devil one foothold (Eph. 4:27).
We need that same heart. “Devil you’re not getting my cell phone. You’re not getting my computer or remote. You’re not getting my kids, or my marriage. We’ve come too far, and been through too much to turn back now. You’re not getting my emotions, or my sex life. You’re sure not getting my attention. No, not one single hoof. God has done too much for us. I’m not letting you tie me up in any area. I’ve been redeemed and called to a life of joyful worship. I have a new master now and he has great plans for my life.”
As Moses resisted Pharaoh, the Bible gives us this promise in James 4:7, “Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.”