One of my favorite movies ever, despite the horrific acting is the original Ten Commandments. Maybe it's seeing a minor translation of God working on the screen that attracts me to it, or maybe it's my love for old movies. Either way, this is one of the best. And today's reading led me to Exodus, chapter 10. Moses is smack dab in the middle of trying to bargain the Israelites out of Egypt. The Egyptians have already seen the plagues of frogs, gnats, livestock, boils, and hail. We join in here with Moses pleading with Pharoah one more time to release his people. Of course, Pharoah refuses, and God sends the plague of locusts. The locusts ate every speck of green in Egypt. Every fruit, seed, plant, and vine was eaten by a locust. And when Pharoah saw what happened, he feared for himself and pleaded with Moses:
"I confess my sin against the Lord your God and against you, " he said to them. "Forgive my sin only this once, and plead with the Lord your God to take away this terrible plague." vs. 16-17
(Can't you just see Yul Brenner saying that!) Yet when Moses spoke with God and the locust were driven away, Pharoah hardened his heart again and refused to let the people go. It was like that every time. A plague would be upon them, and Pharoah would begin to be afraid and ask Moses to intervene with God on his behalf.
Sometimes sin is like that. Sometimes bad things happen to us that help us come to our senses and realize that we need God. And often we are at the end of our rope with a situation, and we will pray and earnestly repent our sins and thank God for delivering us from evil. Yet sometimes, we can become like Pharoah, and repent in the moment. We can get caught up in the fear of the moment and repent our sins and turn to God, and as soon as the bad is over, we go back to our worldly ways. Why is that? Well, sometimes, it may actually be a challenge from God. Repeatedly in the trial between Moses and Pharoah, it was God who hardened Pharoah's heart against him.
Pharoah was given many opportunities to deal with his sin and repent. All he had to do was acknowledge the Lord and imagine the possibilities for the Pharoah of Egypt if he knew the Lord! Yet Pharoah hardened his heart repeatedly, and eventually, God had enough, took over, and hardened it for him. God himself has warned us that his Spirit will not always "put up with" us as people. If we resist his Spirit over and over, and continue to do what is wrong, and not recognize our sin and our God, there may come a time for us when it is too late.
So is trouble troubling you? If God has allowed trouble to trouble you, perhaps it is because you need to take a minute and let the Spirit do some work in your life. Maybe it's time to reflect on God and seek his guidance. I know when we encounter trouble sometimes we don't turn to God right away. Sometimes we try and fix it ourselves. One if the biggest area there for us is our finances. It's easy to sin with our money, to treat it like gold and spend without a care in the world. And then we hit a bumpy patch and remember that God wants us to be smart with our finances and take care of our tithing and our debts before anything else. Trouble troubles us when we need it. Even though it sounds scary, it's something to be thankful for. I am thankful that God sometimes gives us a second (sometimes even a third) chance.