Introduction

At war with God — There is a form of godliness that is present in our world today that stands in opposition against the Lord.  Paul wrote in his second letter to Timothy about the perilous times of the last days.  He stated that people would become lovers of themselves, lovers of money, along with being despisers of good while having a form of godliness as well (2 Tim. 3:2-5).  Depending on the kind of godliness of someone, godliness can be a good or a bad thing.

True godliness, we would consider, is being dedicated and devoted to righteous living.  Let us understand, again, that in order for us to live righteously, we have to live by the way of Christ.  As you know, God is righteous and only He is righteous – nothing nor anybody else can be righteous except through faith in Him (2 Cor. 5:21).  Unfortunately, we are certainly living at a time where people are lovers of themselves – meaning they are overly selfish and stick to their way – rather than be lovers of the way of the Lord. In their love of self, many glorify and esteem above the Lord in their own self-righteousness.  

 So, I tell you today that there is a battle taking place in our world today between man and God.  Some of us are at war with the Lord because of our mindset and because of the manner in which many of us live.  I point this out today because I want to keep all of you from being at war with the Lord because I know what the end results are when one chooses to go to war with God.  My dad once said in a sermon many years ago – our arms are too short to box with God.  I tell you today, fighting against the Lord – being at war with Him – is a losing battle.

At Odds With God

In the book of Exodus, we are told of two men who went to war with God.  Both of those men were kings of Egypt – Pharaohs.

Pharaoh’s godliness

In the opening chapter of Exodus, we are told of the first pharaoh that stood in opposition against the Lord.  This pharaoh (believed to be Seti I), we are told, did not know Joseph.  (Joseph, you will recall, when he was sold into bondage by his brothers and he rose up to have a very prominent position under the prior pharaoh.)  The first pharaoh of Exodus did not know him and looked at the children of Israel, considered their growth, and worried that they would grow mighty and be a problem for Egypt.  So, he and the Egyptians dealt shrewdly with the children of Israel and ended up putting them in bondage (Ex. 1:9-11).  This was the first pharaoh’s opposition against the Lord.

Now, let us remember this about the Egyptians – they were, and still are, considered to have been very advanced as a civilization.  Not only did they have great advancements but they also had a mighty army.  We could consider that they were a great power at that time and the pharaohs ruled over all of it.  So, this gave the pharaohs a sense of great authority and power – godliness.

Now, time passed and we are told that he died and another pharaoh (believed to be Ramses II) reigned in Egypt over all of those that resided in the land of Egypt (Ex. 2:23).  By the time we are told of Moses’ first confrontation with this pharaoh in scripture, we get a clear sense of how this man viewed himself.  Moses and Aaron stood before him, and said, “Thus says the Lord God of Israel: ‘Let My people go.’”  To this, Pharaoh responded, “Who is the Lord, that I should obey His voice to let Israel go? I do not know the Lord, nor will I let Israel go (Ex. 5:1-2).”

Pharaoh’s lack of fear

Pharaoh, I want you to understand, did not recognize or acknowledge the Lord; he did not recognize God’s authority.  This was a man who, in his mind, had a great amount of authority and power.  So, in his mind, there was nobody that could tell him what to do, especially not the God of a people who he held in bondage!  Pharaoh was a man who was filled with his pride and was driven by his ego, power, and authority — this was his form of godliness.  

Is this your form of godliness?  Are you driven by your pride, ego, and sense of power and authority?  It certainly feels like many of us are driven by our pride, ego, and sense of power and authority to the point that we will ask, “Who is the Lord?  We have our technological advancements, wealth, houses, cars, clothes, and our “wisdom” – we are at the top of the chain in this world.

What I want you to understand today is that such pride and ego is what puts us at odds with God.  I believe this to be true for both believer and nonbeliever.  We as believers have to make sure we always check our pride and ego at the door before the Lord.  David said, “Though the Lord is on high, yet He regards the lowly; but the proud He knows from afar (Ps. 138:6).”  Put your pride and ego in check before the Lord!

When We Go to War With God

So, in his pride and ego, Pharaoh had no fear of disobeying a command that came directly from God.  He was open in his disregard of the Lord, which is certainly not good, and we’ll see that this caused him and all of Egypt to be at war with God.  Let’s look at what it’s like to be at war with God.

Combating God

We are shown that God struck him and all of Egypt with plague after plague.  Water was turned to blood; there were then plagues of frogs, lice, flies, and against the livestock, and a plague of boils – there was much suffering.  Pharaoh, his magicians, and all their great advancements were unable to withstand the Lord nor were they able to combat Him (Ex. 7:14 – 9:12).  Which is interesting because our advancements are what we believe actually makes us great.

Yet, after each plague, we are told that Pharaoh could only harden his heart in anger and frustration.  You see, I believe this was his only response because he had begun to realize he was fighting a war that it was impossible for him to win!  Yet, his pride and ego – his sense of power and authority that he had grown used to – could not let him do what was obvious.  He could not humble himself because he had raised himself above the Lord and his pride and ego would not let him cede his ‘power’.

Now, the purpose of the plagues was to get this man who believed he was a god, to acknowledge the Lord, His power, and His authority.  This would mean that Pharaoh would need to let go of his pride and ego, and then humble himself before the Lord.  I tell you, it was hard for him and it is hard for us to let go of our pride, our ego, our sense of power, authority, and control — it’s hard for many of us to humble ourselves.  

I truly do believe humbling ourselves is one of the most difficult things it is for us to do because having power means so much to us.  Yet, I tell you today, God is the one who is in control – He has all the power and authority.  Trying to combat the Lord’s power and authority is futile and this was a lesson the Pharaoh would have to learn, and also a lesson that many of us, believer and nonbeliever, have to learn as well.

By the time we get to the text of my key verse for today’s message, the seventh plague, we see that God is increasing the might of the plagues because Pharaoh has not relented in his heart.  You see, this is where the battle actually lies – within the heart of man.  God seeks for us, mankind, to acknowledge Him in our heart.  As you have heard me say before, our confession must be made in our heart and not just by our mouth.  Paul stated, “if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved (Rom. 10:9).”

The Lord declares His power and authority

16 But indeed for this purpose I have raised you up, that I may show My power in you, and that My name may be declared in all the earth.

KEY VERSE – EXODUS 9:16 NKJV

The Lord, through Moses, said to Pharaoh, “for this purpose I have raised you up, that I may show My power in you, and that My name may be declared in all the earth.”  So, again, the Lord was seeking for Pharaoh to acknowledge Him, but not only was the Lord seeking this from Pharaoh, but we see that He was also seeking for the world to recognize that He, and He alone, is the one true authority and power.  God was putting mankind on notice!

All those centuries ago, the Lord was putting mankind in its place – we are not God!  Yet, here we are in 2021 and mankind still moves about in this world with few of us acknowledging the Lord in our hearts.  Many of us openly mock the Lord and have absolutely no fear of what the Lord can do to us for our trespasses against Him.  

I believe that there are many times in our lives when the Lord has reached out to us to either get our attention or to put us on notice. Yet, many of us will harden our hearts and pay little to no attention to the Lord.  Why?  Because some of us, just like Pharaoh, put ourselves above the Lord and feel we have little need to acknowledge the Lord or pay Him any attention.  Some of us truly have no fear of the Lord.

Heeding God’s warning and fearing the Lord

We are then told in scripture that prior to the plague of hail, God gave a warning to Pharaoh about the upcoming plague.  The Lord warned, “Send now and gather your livestock and all that you have in the field, for the hail shall come down on every man and every animal which is found in the field and is not brought home; and they shall die (Ex. 9:19).”  

Let’s notice that even though Pharaoh was standing in opposition against God and was combating the Lord in his heart, God was still giving Him an opportunity to get out of the war.  Even though many of us stand in opposition against the Lord today, He has still given us an opportunity to not only leave the battle against Him, but stand on His side.  Will your pride and ego allow you to stop combating the Lord in your heart and stand on His side?

Looking back at our scripture, what would Pharaoh choose to do?  Would he heed the warning or continue to combat the Lord in His heart?

Now scripture shows us that some of his own servants heard the word of God, feared the word, and heeded the Lord’s warning (Ex. 9:20).  You see, after the opening plagues, those servants had come to a place in their heart where they knew what the Lord was capable of doing.  This meant that they recognized His power and authority!  We are told in the book of Proverbs, “the fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, yet fools despise wisdom and knowledge (Prov. 1:7).”

We are told that while some heeded the warning of the Lord while others were foolish and disregarded the Lord’s warning – they did not fear the Lord.  What do you suppose became of those that did not fear the Lord and heed His warning?  We are told that the heavy hail came and that it was mingled with first, and it struck the land and all of the people and beast in the land (Ex. 9:22-25).

This plague was so terrifying that we even see Pharaoh, for a brief moment, relent and acknowledge his sin and that the Lord is righteous (Ex. 9:27).  Now, let us note that while he relented in this brief moment, it did not last because he did not relent nor humble himself in his heart.  Pharaoh hardened his heart again after Moses entreated the Lord and the hail stopped (Ex. 9:28-35).  

He would go on to suffer greatly in his war with God as his son died in the plague of the first born along with many other Egyptians.  The ‘war’ was over before it even started because who can stand against the Lord?  Had Pharaoh simply acknowledged the Lord the first time around and freed the children of Israel, no suffering would have occurred.

Turn From Your War With God

I speak to you today of Pharaoh and a lesson that we can learn from him because I believe there are a great many pharaoh’s living nowadays.  Now, I don’t say that as a compliment to say that there are many kings or queens living in the world today.  I suppose all of us like to think of ourselves in a manner where we are all kings and queens, but again, there comes a point where we need to check ourselves.  That point is when we are challenging the Lord’s power and authority.

I speak of Pharaoh today because there are so many of us who have absolutely no fear of the Lord.  Many of us live our lives with no concern for how the Lord looks at us or what His response will be to the way in which we have lived our lives.  

Oddly enough, some of us fear other people more than we fear the Lord – just as the two pharaoh’s in this sermon.  Some are more afraid of others because of the color of their skin!  Some are more afraid of a woman that can choose to make decisions for herself!  There are so many people who fear others because of the absolute nonsense that they have come up with in their own head or have heard from others who are just as foolish as them!

Yet, I tell you today we ought to fear the Lord and His judgment!  As the Lord has warned, every knee will bow to the Lord and every tongue will confess to Him.  One day we shall all give account of ourselves to the Lord – there is no escaping this (Rom. 14:11-12).  The Lord is going to judge us for all of our actions in this life we live.  So, I say to you today that it will be better if you lived your life in a manner in which you feared the end results of God’s judgment of who you are rather than mock His judgment by living in opposition to Him.

A God fearing people 

A God fearing person is one who, again, shows acknowledgment of the Lord, but I also want to point out that he or she shows devotion to wanting to please the Lord.  Do you fear the Lord to the point that you want to please Him?  

Scripture proclaims to us that “without faith it is impossible to please Him (God), for he who comes to God must believe that He is (acknowledge Him), and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him (Heb. 11:6).”  The Lord is a rewarder of those who cast away their pride and ego to humble themselves, fear Him, and are devoted to pleasing Him.

Who are we to not let go of our pride and ego and humble ourselves before our Creator?  Who are we to not be humble before Him who gave the world His only begotten Son who died so that we may have salvation over sin, the world, and the devil?  There is nothing wrong with being a God fearing believer.  There is absolutely everything wrong with one who has no fear of God.

There is nobody who is beyond the Lord.  Every man, woman, boy, and girl is in need of Him.  Satan once thought he was beyond needing God and he was thrown out of heaven.  So, I tell you today that we should fear the Lord, His final judgment of who we are as a being, and live our lives in a manner that is pleasing to Him.  If you feel yourself becoming overly prideful, resist your pride and humble yourself under the mighty hand of God and He will exalt you in due time (1 Pet. 5:6).

Thought: At War With God

By Rev. Leo H. McCrary II – September 12, 2021
Responsive Reading – Exodus 9:13-28
Key Verse – Exodus 9:16