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February 12, Day 43 – What Is That to Us?

Each of today’s readings is important and applicable to us today. In Exodus 9-10, we see how foolish Pharaoh behaves - the stubborn hardening of a leader's heart to the detriment and entire ruin of his own kingdom! Sound vaguely familiar? We have already seen the plagues of blood, frogs, gnats, and flies. Each of these plagues targets a false god within the Egyptian pantheon of worship. Here in chapters 9-10, we now see the plagues of boils, hail, locusts, and darkness. This Pharoah really must have been a piece of work; when Moses allowed the Pharaoh “the honor of setting the time to rid the nation of frogs,” his response was, “Tomorrow” (cf., Exodus 8:9-10). Why would he delay and endure the frogs for even one more moment? In Exodus 10:8, we see two other curious remarks of this Pharaoh. He says, “just who will be going?” Who did he expect would be going, and why would he care or even need to know this? Then later, in 10:24, this Pharaoh says, “only leave your flocks and herds behind.” This knowledge and these animals can never help the Egyptian people recover the ruin that their own leader - Pharaoh - has inflicted on them or their land. Pharaoh simply doesn’t get it! His actions and behavior typify the nature of all human pride and greed which counteract man’s ability to think rationally. Pharaoh has no intention of letting the people go. He knows that, if he lets them all go, they will never come back, which means - there goes his work force (i.e., the Israelite slaves).

Psalm 20 – a Psalm of David - informs us of God’s incredible goodness poured out on us, His children. He wants to “answer us when we are in distress” (verse 1), and He wants to bless us with good things - “protection; support: and the desires of our hearts” (verses 1-4). In fact, this text reveals that “God wants to grant us all our requests” (verse 5). The LORD saves “with the saving power of His right hand” (verse 6). We cannot imagine the power of God unto salvation. David says that “some trust in chariots and horses,” but we trust in the name of the LORD our God” (verse 7). In Acts 4:12, Peter said, “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.” If we are to receive salvation, it will be by God’s power and God’s method alone – faith in Jesus Christ.

In Matthew 26-27, we see how God wants us to respond to Him when we fail. In yesterday’s readings, we saw the dastardly betrayal of our Lord at the hands and kiss of Judas Iscariot. In today’s readings, we see an equally horrible event in Peter’s blatant, three-time denial of Jesus. Both Peter and Judas committed atrocious acts, but their different actions of remorse are an instructive contrast to us - where our sorrow is genuine and godly, God freely pardons our sin. We know that Peter’s regret was forgiven, and he was restored. What about Judas? “He was seized with remorse” (27:3), but instead of turning to God to confess his sin and seek the forgiveness that only God can give, Judas “returned the thirty silver coins to the chief priests and the elders” (verse 3). Judas ran directly to the hands of organized religion and its leaders - rather than to the Lord. Interestingly, he confessed his sin to the priests; was his confession efficacious? We see that organized religion and its priests could not help Judas - nor did they want to - notice their response: “What is that to us? That’s your responsibility!” (verse 4). We must understand that religion is unable to help us. Before God, human religion is nothing more than a few fig leaves to cover up Adam and Eve’s nakedness. Fig leaves are scratchy and uncomfortable; they also don’t conceal much. And the betrayal money? Used to buy a field for burying dead foreigners. A classic illustration of “the dead burying their own dead” (cf., Luke 9:60).

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