Now, let’s fast forward from Sodom and Gomorrah’s destruction to God’s promise to Abraham being fulfilled in his descendants having multiplied in the land of Egypt. We pick up in Exodus chapters 1-14 where God is commanding the king of Egypt to release Israel from bondage so they can worship him. Before all this, God heard the cries of Israel in slavery and raised up Moses as a vessel to deliver his people.
Now Egypt, at this time, is the greatest nation on earth (technologically advanced, rich in resources, and abundant in sin). This is where the king was worshiped as a god along with many other false gods; this reminds me of America before its fall.
God had a message for Pharaoh, and it was simple: “Release my people from bondage so they can serve me” (Exodus 5:1). God, once again, was giving humanity a choice to obey him or not. If Pharaoh had obeyed, he would’ve exposed to the world the fact he wasn’t a god. So of course, Pharaoh, suffering from the god complex, didn’t comply and thus the plagues of God began.
But God foreknew Pharaoh’s rebellion which is why he ultimately had a second purpose for Pharaoh: to display his glory. All throughout the account of Israel’s exodus, and the Old Testament, we see the Most High declaring, “I am the only true God. I am the Lord.” He was trying to get his creation to see is that he is the one true God, and there is no one like him (Exodus 9:14, 16, 10:2).
Pride, envy, oppression and reliance
Let’s dig into the account:
Now there arose up a new king over Egypt, which knew not Joseph. And he said unto his people, Behold, the people of the children of Israel are more and mightier than we: come on, let us deal wisely with them; lest they multiply, and it come to pass, that, when there falleth out any war, they join also unto our enemies, and fight against us, and so get them up out of the land [or, take our land] (Exodus 1:8-10)
When the blessing of God is on an individual or group (displaying itself in gifts, talents, and prosperity), the pride in onlookers can lead to envy; this is what happened on a national level in Egypt.
Israel was blessed, and this bothered the Egyptians. Up until this point, Egyptians were known as the greatest people on the earth and here’s a new nation rising to that spot.
Pride can never really be happy for a person “doing better than them,” or has the potential to be greater.
Proud people are content when you’re smaller than them, but when your greatness begins to exceed theirs, this is where enemies are born. In god complex ideology, there can only be one god in their circle.
Pride is the root of envy. Envy is a feeling of discontentment or resentful longing aroused by someone else’s possessions, or qualities. Once Egypt began to envy Israel, they wanted to suppress that greatness.
While oppressive rulers project a facade of strength, it’s really a sign of weakness, and fear. Therefore, all oppressors are fearful of those they’re subjugating. In truth, the oppressed are stronger than the oppressor.
Therefore, beware of prideful leadership and authority figures who recognize your greatness. And, as a leader, be mindful of the pride in your own heart, or you too could find yourself being a pharaoh over the people.
Parents, colleagues, pastors, supervisors and political leaders have oppressed their own citizens because of pride and envy in their hearts.
On the flip side, some people boast and brag about their greatness and wonder how they ended up being mistreated by the envious.
Remaining humble keeps a person outside the crosshairs of false gods who feel their thrones may be taken. This is not to say that we hide our greatness, but that we walk in humility.
Oppress, depress and suppress.
Once the oppression takes place, it never lets up. Oppression seeks to keep someone in subservience and hardship, in particular by the unjust exercise of authority. Synonyms for the word “oppress” include: Persecute, abuse, maltreat, ill-treat, tyrannize, crush, repress, suppress, subjugate, subdue.
Oppression always benefits the oppressor. In the case of Egypt, some of their magnificent structures that still stand today were built by the Israelites, and America was built the same way.
So what the oppressor does is extracts the talents, gifts, and abilities of the person or group, and uses it to their own advantage. While this feeds the oppressor’s god complex, this practice becomes addictive.
False gods need people.
We see how Pharaoh got so reliant on the Israelites that he couldn’t completely let them go. At first, he says, “You can go worship your God, but stay in my land” (Exodus 8:25-26). Another time he says, “Your men can go worship God, but leave the women and children behind for me” (Exodus 10:8-11). Third, he says, “All the people can go worship, but leave your cattle behind” (Ex 10:24). C’mon Pharaoh, let the people go! But false gods need people. After God had forced Pharaoh to release Israel, he chased after them like an abusive ex-boyfriend: “If I can’t have you, no one can!” (Exodus 14:5-9).
The fear of God
Moses mentioned that Pharaoh didn’t have a fear of God (Exodus 9:30). And this is something we all need to understand and practice in our own lives. Fearing God doesn’t necessarily mean to be scared or fearful of God. Fearing God is all about appreciation, respect, and honor.
When the president or a general, or someone in authority is present, there’s a sign of respect because of the position, and an understanding of the consequences of dishonoring such a person. Because humanity is naturally proud, and because God’s goodness, patience, and mercy is so great, people tend not to respect God—they think he’s soft because he’s slow to wrath (Psalms 145:8), but dishonoring the Creator of all things is the worse thing you can do.
Therefore, pride is the root reason why people don’t respect God, or anyone else for that matter; because a god can’t honor another god—especially the true God.
So when you don’t feel an urgency to obey God’s commandments, or you take lightly what God says through his prophets, especially regarding some impending doom, it’s a sign you have no fear of God which is rooted in pride, and this is dangerous.
The hardening of the heart
And Moses and Aaron came in unto Pharaoh, and said unto him, Thus saith the LORD God of the Hebrews, How long wilt thou refuse to humble thyself before me? let my people go, that they may serve me. (Exodus 10:3)
Pride was Pharaoh’s problem. But 19 times I read about the hardening of Pharaoh’s heart, 4 of which Pharaoh did it himself, and the rest it mentions God was responsible (Exodus 7:2-4; 13-14, 22; 8:15, 19, 32; 9:7, 13, 34-35; 10:1, 20, 27; 11:10; 14:4,8).
Hardening of the heart means: A person refuses to bow, give up sin, repent, etc.; in the case of Pharaoh, releasing God’s people.
But which one is it? Did God harden Pharaoh’s heart or did he do it himself? We know God wanted to get the glory by showing his power over Pharaoh, but this seems to be unfair to Pharaoh.
It looks like he was being controlled or made to sin just so God could get the praise, but this wasn’t the case. Knowing God’s character, he would never do this to a humble person. God doesn’t make people sin (James 1:13, 1 Peter 1:16). And if they truly desire to humble themselves, God will see to it they do. The stubborn, wicked and unrepentant, however, are another story.
We see in scripture that God gives people over to their sin. And this is what I see happening to Pharaoh. Pharaoh was already proud, arrogant, and haughty—he was claiming to be a god. So what the Most High did was prevent Pharaoh from humbling himself until he was done showing off his mighty works.
The king of Egypt could’ve let the people go after experiencing the third or fourth plague, but God wanted to drop ten plagues on him, and then drown his best soldiers in the Red Sea.
Pharaoh was being punished for his sins against God and Israel, and this was mercy, because, as God said (and I’m paraphrasing), “I could’ve just destroyed you all, but I chose to make fools out of you so my name could be declared throughout the earth (Exodus 9:15-16 NLT).” God is not the one you want to oppose.
What we need to understand is this: God can use our pride against us to punish us. As the scripture says, “he chooses who he will he harden and who he will have mercy on” (Romans 9:18).
Just like God can give a man up to vile affections and deliver him over to a reprobate mind (Romans 1:26), or allow demons to invade a disobedient person and push them beyond their limit, so the same with pride in one’s heart, God can use it against them.
Some people don’t know why they went so far into sin destroying relationships and their lives—it was because God didn’t allow them to repent until sin worked its “perfect work” by wrecking their lives! Then, maybe then, could they see their need for salvation. God disciplines his children and punishes the wicked. God grants repentance to those he wants and withholds it from others (2 Timothy 2:25-26).
Pharaoh was the cause of his entire nation experiencing so much grief and death. Now, think about your country, your state, and your city: Has God been talking to its leaders, but they’ve been ignoring him?
God is in control. Don’t play with God.
You don’t want God to harden your heart. It’s best to humble yourself, so he doesn’t make you look like a fool, and worse, blot your name out of the book of life!
Revelation 11:22 comes to mind when it says, “He that is unjust, let him be unjust still: and he which is filthy, let him be filthy still: and he that is righteous, let him be righteous still: and he that is holy, let him be holy still.”
What this says to me is: there will come a time when God will lock the wicked in as wicked, and the righteous in as righteous. There’s coming a time where no more grace or repentance will be poured out—a person will remain in their state. That’s horrifying! This is why we ought to get rid of pride today.
But pride is a difficult sin to conquer because it’s at the core of who we are. With Pharaoh, circumstances humbled him temporarily, but as soon as things changed, his pride returned (Exodus 9:34; 10:16-17). We’ll see the same thing happen in Israel later on. This is why it’s important to understand how to handle the pride in our hearts, and how our need for God is so imperative.
This was all about Idolatry
I mentioned the three problems that pride creates in every human being, and that’s a void in the soul, rebellion, and disorder. I want to talk about the void and disorder because these two are responsible for idolatry. One of Egypt’s biggest sins was idolatry. Idolatry occurs when a person tries to fill the void in their soul with everything other than God.
The Egyptians were missing “someone;” this is why they were worshipping their king, the river, animals, the sky, the earth, the sun, food, etc. Everything that sustained them and gave them pleasure, they attached a god to it and worshiped it. They worshiped the creation, rather than the Creator as Romans 1:24-25 points out.
Today, in modern civilization, we practice idolatry. People think idolatry is some primitive act of bowing down to a physical statue made by man (like Mother Mary, or a dead caucasian on a cross in Catholicism). Or it’s carrying around one’s very own god figurine and praying to it for blessings. No, these are simply expressions of idolatry.
Idolatry is anything we do to fill that void in our souls—that special place God should occupy to fulfill our needs. We often use food. If we feel depressed and gobble down ice cream to “lift our spirits,” we might as well be worshipping at the altar of Ben & Jerry’s. Ben & Jerry’s must be the god of happiness. Just worship him, and he’ll take away your sadness—at least temporarily. But that’s God’s place, you see? We should go to God when we feel sad, not ice cream.
America is full of restaurants where people go to fill their stomachs when they’re really trying to fill that empty spot in their souls. If not food, it’s video games, TV shows, movies, Youtube, and Facebook, all attempts to occupy a space where the Holy Spirit should live. All these things are insufficient in bringing lasting satisfaction or fulfillment.
Gaming, entertainment, sex, performing, family, arts, crafts, exploration, knowledge, religion, business, ministry, drugs, making money, or working too much can all be idols to replace God.
God is the real source of joy, peace, love, purpose, contentment, satisfaction and provision, not these false gods. But people look to these vain alternatives because the pride in their heart has severed them from God, leaving them rebellious and disorderly, worshipping everything but God.
Therefore, each plague the Creator dropped on Egypt was a punch in the face of the false gods they worshiped. Keep in mind that 3 out of the 10 fell on Israel while in Egypt too; this goes to show that God knew what was in his people’s hearts too.
Behind each god Egypt created was actually a demon or a fallen angel that was taking the praise and worship, and ultimately Satan was being glorified. God had to show these ignorant people who the real god was and who deserved all the glory.
Through each plague, God was saying, “Your gods yield to me and me only! I’m the creator of those things that supply your needs. I created the Nile river, your food, your cattle, the sun and its light; I am God, there is none like me!”
10 False gods exposed
Here’s a list of false gods the Creator exposed through each plague:
- Blood water = Hapi: god of the Nile River
- Frog infestation = Heqet: goddess of childbirth, fruitfulness and new life depicted as a frog or a woman with frog head.
- Lice/gnats = Geb: god of the Earth. The dust of the ground (earth) became gnats. Geb was also the father of the snakes. Husband to Nut (sky god).
- Flies (dung beetles) = Khepri: god of the movement of the morning sun, representing creation and rebirth, often depicted as a dung beetle.
- The death of all cattle = Apis: god of strength, represented as a bull.
- Boils = Isis: goddess of health, marriage, and wisdom.
- Hail-fire = Nut: god of the sky. Depicted as a nude star covered woman arching over the earth.
- Locust = Neper: god of grain (specifically barley and wheat), depicted as a child dotted to represent grains of corn. Also called “Lord of the Mouth” representing sustenance.
- Darkness = Ra: god of the sun and light and originator of creation. Depicted as a man with an eagle head and a sun-disk resting on top. Major god of the Egyptians.
- The death of first-born sons = Pharaoh: god of Egypt. Payback for drowning Israel’s first-born sons in the Nile river.
It’s a shame that many nations today, including the Israelites, are still worshipping the false gods of Egypt albeit under different names.
There is no one like God
We also find in scripture that Pharaoh’s magicians were able to duplicate some of the plagues of God. Why did God allow this? Surely this would make God look comparable to men. Wouldn’t this counter God’s message of “None like me”? No.
What God was acknowledging was that there were, and still exist today, real powers out there. As we seen with Satan and his fallen angels, the knowledge of good and evil continues to be what they sell. The Egyptians were practicing what they were taught and, up until this point, regarded it as the highest power.
Occult knowledge leads to legitimate power for anyone who’s willing to sacrifice and dedicate their time, but God’s power is greater. After the third plague, the sorcerers were unsuccessful at mimicking the plagues of God. It’s amazing what they proclaimed, “This is the finger of God!” (Ex 8:15); they became instant believers.
For these reasons, I can see how some of the citizens of Egypt were converted. Before hail and fire began dropping out of the sky, it’s written that some of Pharaoh’s people began to heed the warnings of God and shield their servants and livestock (Exodus 9:20). Later, others were pleading with Pharaoh to let the people go (Exodus 10:7). And finally, we see as Israel made their grand exit, there was a “mixed multitude” who joined them (Exodus 12:38).
In conclusion, we see pride’s devastating effects leading to envy, the murder of children, 400 years of oppression, idolatry, the hardening of hearts, death, and ultimately, a nation brought to its knees. As we can see, pride is definitely the problem.
Let’s continue with Israel.