Asbury United Methodist Church
Love - Share - Tell - Serve

March 13, 2018

And, we’re so deep into the season of Lent that I can almost see the Easter Bunny at a distance!

          So, I think today may be a good day to ask that question: What’s it gonna take?

          Yes indeed, we do need a frame of reference to understand this question, so here we go.  Have you ever noticed how easy it is to live within a situation so long that we no longer see it?

           And, the question becomes very relevant: What’s it gonna take for us to make some changes?

          Have you ever considered that tough times are merely some bumps in the road and surely, before too long, things will straighten out, but yet conditions do not seem to improve?

          Have you ever told yourself that things are not all that bad and surely, they will get better?  But, what we really mean is I am sure that things cannot possibly get any worse!

          So again, maybe today is a good day to ask that question: What’s it gonna take?

          I am most certain that after nine plagues, Moses must have asked Aaron, “What’s it going to take for this hard-headed Pharaoh to let the Israelites go?”

          In the very beginning, the Lord sent Moses and Aaron to speak with Pharaoh.  “This is what the Lord, the God of Israel says, ‘Let my people go, so that they may hold a festival to me in the desert (Exodus 5:1b NIV).’”

          Moses literally introduced Yahweh to Pharaoh and Pharaoh’s response was “Yah-who (Exodus 5:2)?”

          Pharaoh said, “I do not know the Lord and I will not let Israel go (Exodus 5:2b NIV).”

          This conversation would become the impetus for the greatest extraction of humanity from a nation that the world had ever seen.  No wonder they call it The Exodus!

          An epic David and Goliath story was beginning to unfold.

          Moses is standing toe to toe with the most powerful human being on the planet. It was suicidal!  Even so, we clearly see the Lord at work in this conversation.

          Pharaoh could have easily ordered the execution of Moses and Aaron.  But, this is not what happened. 

          Instead, Pharaoh ordered them back to their business, but at the same time he also ordered the brick-making to become more severe.

          Under Pharaoh’s new order, in addition to making bricks, the Israelites would also be required to go and gather their own straw!  Furthermore, their quota of bricks would still remain the same.

In modern parlance, it was the same as downsizing.  With workers now being required to forage for straw, fewer workers would be available to make bricks. 

On the surface, it appears that Moses and Aaron had only made things worse!  But, this chapter of the story is only the beginning.  The Lord would begin wearing Pharaoh down.

          Ten plagues would be coming Pharaoh’s way (See Exodus 7-11).  Plague #9, the last one before the hammer would come down was darkness.  Darkness would spread all over the land for three days.

          “No one could see anyone else or leave his place for three days.  Yet, all the Israelites had light in the places where they lived (Exodus 10:23 NIV).”

           (Note the significance of darkness for three days.  Christ was in the tomb for three days and spiritual darkness was palpable during the time he was entombed.)

          What was Pharaoh’s response?  “Pharaoh said to Moses, ‘Get out of my sight! Make sure you do not appear before me again! The day you see my face you will die (Exodus 10:28 NIV)?’”

          What’s it gonna take?  What is it going to take for Pharaoh to get the message that he must release the Israelites from slavery?  Unfortunately, we already know the answer.

          “This is what the Lord says: ‘About midnight I will go throughout Egypt.  Every firstborn son in Egypt will die, from the firstborn son of Pharaoh, who sits on the throne, to the firstborn son of the female slave, who is at her hand mill, and all the firstborn of the cattle as well (Exodus 11:4-5 NIV).’”

          Yes, I know.  This is extreme.  This is severe.

          The wording in this block of Scripture is disturbing, unsettling and seemingly out of character for the Lord.  It has left countless Bible scholars muttering, sputtering and pondering for millennia. 

          When we boil it down, Pharaoh had gone one bridge too far!  Nine times he had refused the Lord!  Finally, the 10th plague was the last straw; and, Pharaoh let the Israelites go.

          What’s it gonna take?

          Do we wait until things cannot possibly get any worse before we seek adjustment to our lives?  Do we keep putting off those difficult decisions until the plagues come?

          How far does a thing have to go?  What’s it gonna take to ask for God’s help?

          What’s it gonna take before that marriage falls completely apart before we begin our repairs?  What’s it gonna take to mend that relational riff?

          What’s it gonna take to end this family feud?  What’s it gonna take to seek help for that substance problem?

          What’s it gonna take to return to love, wholeness, restoration and recovery?

          Moses answered, “What if they do not believe me or listen to me and say, ‘The Lord did not appear to you’?”  Then the Lord said to him, “What is that in your hand?”  “A staff,” he replied (Exodus 4:1-2 NIV).”

          Look around.  See what’s in your hand?  Whatever it is, the Lord can use it to turn things around. 

          Use whatever we have!  The Lord will handle the rest.



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