We Need a Better God!

by Joseph Franks

The Egyptians were arrogant. Led by their president, they took great pride in being the sovereign superpower in the world. Their economy was more prosperous than most, and those in leadership were very comfortable in overtaxing some, enslaving others, and redistributing private wealth in order to grow their government.    (Does this sound eerily familiar?)

The Egyptians were also devoutly religious. In their daily life, they worshiped dozens of deities whom they trusted to safeguarded their preferred manner of living life. Some of their favorites gods were Hapi, Osiris, Nu, Khnum, and Isis – Nile River gods. There was also Apophis – the serpent god. Amon Re was great god of the sun, and Thoth was lord of the moon. However, the deity they preferred and honored most was Pharaoh; he was the visible god; Pharaoh was the incarnate deity in human flesh.

For a while, all seemed well as the Egyptians worshiped their many deities and seemed to thrive. However, when Moses, Aaron, and Yahweh came into town, everything changed. Yahweh arrived to deliver his people, and he was very willing and able to take down anyone who got in his path. Yahweh could have quickly vanquished the Egyptians and delivered his friends, but he chose not to do so by a sudden act. Slowly, progressively, and specifically, Yahweh targeted various gods of the Egyptian community. The late James Boice wrote:

In order to understand these plagues, we need to understand that they were directed against the gods and goddesses of Egypt and were intended to show the superiority of the God of Israel to the Egyptian gods.  There were about eighty major deities in Egypt, all clustered about the three great natural forces of Egyptian life: the Nile river, the land, and the sky.  It does not surprise us, therefore, that the plagues God sent against Egypt in this historic battle follow this three-force pattern.  The first two plagues were against the God of the Nile.  The next four were against the land gods.  The final four plagues were against the gods of the sky, culminating in the death of the firstborn.

You see friends, God was in no hurry. He took his time, and one by one Yahweh loved the Egyptians by cutting out the knees of all his supposed competitors. Listen as Moses and Isaiah record the holy war of Yahweh:

Exodus 12:12     For I will pass through the land of Egypt that night, and I will strike all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and on all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgments: I am the LORD.
Exodus 18:11     Now I know that the LORD is greater than all gods, because in this affair they dealt arrogantly with the people.”
Numbers 33:3-5     They set out from Rameses in the first month, on the fifteenth day of the first month. On the day after the Passover, the people of Israel went out triumphantly in the sight of all the Egyptians, while the Egyptians were burying all their firstborn, whom the LORD had struck down among them. On their gods also the LORD executed judgments ….
Isaiah 19:1     An oracle concerning Egypt. Behold, the LORD is riding on a swift cloud and comes to Egypt; and the idols of Egypt will tremble at his presence, and the heart of the Egyptians will melt within them.

Through words and works, Yahweh preached a sermon to the Egyptian populace. He proved there were no other gods who could stand in his presence. Yahweh proved to his Egyptian congregation that they needed a better deity.

Some Egyptians, with ears to hear and hearts made tender, joined the Israelite church and marched with them towards the Mountain of God. However, most who had hardened hearts like their king, never learned their lesson. Instead, after Yahweh and Israel marched out of Egypt, they went about propping up their idols and prostrating themselves before their pathetic, humiliated, defeated, and impotent gods.

Friends, aren’t we guilty of similar folly? Don’t we find ourselves too often being polytheistic fools who are selling out to impotent deities who have failed us before.

  • Money comes and goes, but we are confident that with the next windfall profit we will find peace, security, and joy.
  • The political landscape changes every decade, but we are positive that our next political messiah will fix what ails our nation.
  • It didn’t satisfy yesterday, but one more bottle of liquor, one more shot of cocaine; just one more rush from pornography; or one new lover will make all the emptiness go away.
  • If we can just regain or maintain our youth, vigor, vitality, potency, and beauty, all our internal gnawing will vanish.
  • Some seek purpose and satisfaction from shopping, others from athletic dominance.
  • In Ecclesiastes, Solomon worshiped education, building campaigns, sex, food, notoriety, and possessions.

Yes friends, the list could go on and on, but let us recognize that we are persistent and inventive idol makers seeking our next deity who will grant us contentment. And we serve all these little gods because we hope they will serve the big god in our life – ourselves.

Stop the insanity. May those of us with ears to hear and hearts made tender, may we learn from God’s sermon to Egypt. Let us realize that God is going to systematically cut the knees out from all our substitute deities. Wealth will be taken from us and given to another. Youth is fleeting. Hedonism is temporary. Fame is short-lived, and all our relationships will be terminated on earth. Therefore, since God is going to take out the knees of all our substitute deities, why don’t we respond wisely and take out our own knees and fall before him. He is the God of gods who alone rules, reigns, and satisfies. So, why don’t we today confess aloud, “We need a better God!” Let us leave behind our little deities, let us join his holy church, and worship him well as we walk away from Egypt and towards the Mountain of God.

He is the better God. He is the God of gods. He is the only God. Is he your only God?

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