Relent or Repent
Exodus 8:1-15 from the daily reading in the One Year Bible
Then the Lord said to Moses, “Go to Pharaoh and say to him, ‘Thus says the Lord, “Let My people go, that they may serve Me. 2 But if you refuse to let them go, behold, I will smite your whole territory with frogs. 3 The Nile will swarm with frogs, which will come up and go into your house and into your bedroom and on your bed, and into the houses of your servants and on your people, and into your ovens and into your kneading bowls. 4 So the frogs will come up on you and your people and all your servants.”’” 5 Then the Lord said to Moses, “Say to Aaron, ‘Stretch out your hand with your staff over the rivers, over the streams and over the pools, and make frogs come up on the land of Egypt.’” 6 So Aaron stretched out his hand over the waters of Egypt, and the frogs came up and covered the land of Egypt. 7 The magicians did the same with their secret arts, making frogs come up on the land of Egypt.
8 Then Pharaoh called for Moses and Aaron and said, “Entreat the Lord that He remove the frogs from me and from my people; and I will let the people go, that they may sacrifice to the Lord.” 9 Moses said to Pharaoh, “The honor is yours to tell me: when shall I entreat for you and your servants and your people, that the frogs be destroyed from you and your houses, that they may be left only in the Nile?”
10 Then he said, “Tomorrow.” So he said, “May it be according to your word, that you may know that there is no one like the Lord our God. 11 The frogs will depart from you and your houses and your servants and your people; they will be left only in the Nile.” 12 Then Moses and Aaron went out from Pharaoh, and Moses cried to the Lord concerning the frogs which He had inflicted upon Pharaoh. 13 The Lord did according to the word of Moses, and the frogs died out of the houses, the courts, and the fields. 14 So they piled them in heaps, and the land became foul. 15 But when Pharaoh saw that there was relief, he hardened his heart and did not listen to them, as the Lord had said.
In today’s text, the account of the plague of frogs against Pharaoh and Egypt there are two things which stood out to me as I meditated on the text. First is what it says in verses 6-7: So Aaron stretched out his hand over the waters of Egypt, and the frogs came up and covered the land of Egypt. The magicians did the same with their secret arts, making frogs come up on the land of Egypt. I am not sure why the magicians would want to do that and add to the misery of Egypt. I suppose they were trying to discredit or delegitimize the power of God by copying what He was doing. That really is what the devil does. He deceives by copying what God has done and what He offers to people. The devil tries to offer another way, an alternative to what God has already done. When we look at the temptation of Adam and Eve, the devil told them eating the fruit would make them like God. The truth is God had already created them in His image and likeness. John 1:1-4 says: “ In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being. In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men.” Colossians 1:16 says: For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities-- all things have been created through Him and for Him. Only God can create and only God through Jesus and the finished work of the cross can redeem, reconcile and restore what the deception of sin has caused. The devil may try to deceive by duplicating God’s work, but he is powerless to create or to restore. Jesus says: “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.” (John 10:10)
The second thing from today’s text is in verses 9-10: Moses said to Pharaoh, “The honor is yours to tell me: when shall I entreat for you and your servants and your people, that the frogs be destroyed from you and your houses, that they may be left only in the Nile?” Then he said, “Tomorrow…” It seems ludicrous that Pharaoh would delay the relief from the plague. Why would anyone suffering in the negative consequences of their behavior put off, even for a moment, the way out of their troubles? Yet sadly we see and hear people do it all the time. Many people will acknowledge that they need God, that they need the relief that comes from the cross of Christ, but will say they are not ready yet. They choose either, in pride, to try on their own or they choose to remain in their troubles because they find comfort in them. John 3:19 says: “And the judgment is based on this fact: God's light came into the world, but people loved the darkness more than the light, for their actions were evil.” The truth is some people choose to remain in their troubles because they choose darkness and evil over light and righteousness.
In the case of Pharaoh, I believe what we really see, is that he simply was not repentant. The text says: The Lord did according to the word of Moses, and the frogs died out of the houses, the courts, and the fields. So they piled them in heaps, and the land became foul. but when Pharaoh saw that there was relief, he hardened his heart and did not listen to them, as the Lord had said. Pharaoh was not sorry for his sin. He did not repent. He was sorry only about his circumstance. Sadly we also see this often with people today as well. People will turn to God, asking or having others ask God to change their circumstance. They acknowledge that God is able to help, but they relent rather than repent. As soon as the circumstance changes and improves they return to being who and what they were previously. In the story of the prodigal, we see the difference of what true repentance looks like and what its result is. Luke 15:17-24 says: But when he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired men have more than enough bread, but I am dying here with hunger! I will get up and go to my father, and will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in your sight; I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me as one of your hired men.”’ So he got up and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion for him, and ran and embraced him and kissed him. And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight; I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ But the father said to his slaves, ‘Quickly bring out the best robe and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand and sandals on his feet; and bring the fattened calf, kill it, and let us eat and celebrate; for this son of mine was dead and has come to life again; he was lost and has been found.’ And they began to celebrate. The prodigal humbly acknowledged that he sinned and that he was not worthy to be a son. Even after the father had embraced and kissed him, the son was still repentant. The son had changed. He was no longer self centered and arrogant. He was willing to be a servant. But the Father, because of His great love and mercy restored him. The son was not the same old son. The old son had died this new son was alive and he was restored through repentance.
When we find ourselves suffering in the circumstances of life’s decisions and choices, we should not ask God only to change the situation. Instead we should ask that He first change us. God says: If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land. (2 Chronicles 7:14) He will heal our land. He will heal our hearts. We will be redeemed, reconciled and restored. As we are changed, so too will our circumstances be changed. As we seek and align ourselves with the kingdom of heaven, it will be for us, on earth as it is in heaven.
Thank You heavenly Father, Lord Jesus Christ and precious Holy Spirit although I was not worthy You have redeemed, reconciled and restored me to all that I was meant to be. I am willing to be Your servant but You have made me Your child. Amen.