Monotheism - So That the World May Know

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Thursday, January 31, 2013 0 comments

Have you ever stopped to think about why it seems like every single person or thing in your life has let you down from time to time? Maybe you’ve had a long list of potential spouses that have brought pain into your life, and then you finally got married to the one person who seemed to make you happy only to find out that “the one” is flawed and hurts you like everyone else. Maybe it was someone else you trusted in a business or church that let you down when you least expected it. Perhaps the most notable examples of those that let us down unexpectedly are the public figures that we seek to emulate.

Every time I see someone famous fall from the pedestal on which society has placed him, I’m reminded of Paul’s words to the Roman church which he quoted from Psalm 14: “There is no one righteous, not even one” (Romans 3:10b). I’m old enough to have been in high school when the news broke that our nation’s then-president Bill Clinton had been involved in an adulterous relationship with employee Monica Lewinsky, then attempted to weasel his way out of it by arguing the definitions of certain words. The best of the best in the realm of sports have also fallen. The greatest professional baseball players of my generation can’t even sniff the Hall of Fame due to their use of performance-enhancing drugs. Tiger Woods lost his marriage, millions of dollars, and most of his marketing deals due to marital infidelity and lying. Recently, Lance Armstrong has been said to have let down millions who practically worshipped him due to his athletic achievements, victory over cancer, and ability to raise money to fight the dreaded disease. The scandalous list is unending and includes names like Ben Roethlisberger, Kobe Bryant, Bobby Petrino, and Mike Tyson. And yet, my feeling of shock is never due to one of these individuals messing up, but to people seeming to think it wasn’t possible!

In the ancient days of the Old Testament, the most powerful nation of that time period had a major issue with having many gods that were all false. They were absolutely convinced that their gods would not let them down. How shocked they must have been when their gods were brought down one by one! I’m talking about Egypt. They had a long list of gods that had different responsibilities, different manifestations, and different symbolic representations. Egypt was thriving as a society by worldly standards after Joseph helped bring them out of a devastating famine (read the end of Genesis for more details). They had complete dominance over the people of Israel, the so-called “chosen people of God”, and had no obvious reason to change anything about the way they operated as a society. That was until Moses and Aaron showed up. They went to Pharaoh, king of Egypt, and said, “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). Pharaoh’s answer would set the tone for the battle between the Lord God Almighty and the gods of the Egyptians. “Who is the Lord, that I should obey him and let Israel go? I do not know the Lord and I will not let Israel go” (v. 2). Well, at least he was honest in his defiance.

Pharaoh knew and worshipped many “lords”, including himself, but did not know THE Lord. And it was THE Lord who would put the gods of Egypt to shame over the course of the next group of events leading up to the actual exodus and Passover celebrations. From Exodus 7-11, the ten different plagues that God brings upon the Egyptians are described. Through these plagues, God attempted to “convince” Pharaoh to let His people go. While this post is not about God’s grace, I encourage you to read those stories and think about the number of chances that God gives Pharaoh even though He knows that his heart is completely defiant towards Him. While the story is about freeing God’s people from captivity, it’s also about God’s desire that even the evil Egyptians might fear and worship Him. All you have to do is look at what the Lord says as His reason for the plagues before He even brings them. “And the Egyptians will know that I am the Lord when I stretch out my hand against Egypt and bring the Israelites out of it” (Exodus 7:5). This wasn’t about God saying “in your face” to the Egyptians. To truly know God is to appropriately fear and worship Him as the ONE, holy and true God.

What is significant about the ten plagues that is not immediately obvious in the Exodus story is that each of them was a direct sign of God’s power over one of Egypt’s gods. This information can be found in a number of sources, but for the purpose of this writing I will use a chart from “Nelson’s Complete Book of Bible Maps and Charts”. God turned the Nile River and all of the streams that flowed from it to blood (Exodus 7:14-24). The Egyptians worshipped the river itself as sacred, along with Khnum (who was seen as the creator of mankind) and Sothis, the gods who were responsible for it. God covered the land with disgusting and croaking frogs (8:1-15). The Egyptians worshipped Heket, a goddess of fertility that was symbolized with the head of a frog. They couldn’t kill the frogs because they worshipped them, and the plague drove them insane. God turned the dust into gnats and sent swarms of flies in the next two plagues (8:16-32). The Egyptians worshipped Seth, god of the earth, and Beelzebub, the god of the air.

It continued with God sending a plague that killed all the livestock of the Egyptians (9:1-7), who had worshipped Apis, a god who ensures fertility and was symbolized by a sacred bull. God inflicted men and animals with painful boils (9:8-12), while the Egyptians worshipped Isis, a goddess of healing. God sent a plague of hail that destroyed property and crops in Egypt (9:13-35), while the Egyptians worshipped Amon, the god of wind and weather. God then covered the land and crops with swarms of locusts (10:1-20), while the Egyptians worshipped Osiris as the ruler of vegetation. God still was not done as Pharaoh ultimately continued in his defiance after each plague subsided.

God saved the two greatest gods of the Egyptians for last. He brought a plague of darkness that covered the whole nation for three days (10:21-29). The national and most-worshipped god of the Egyptians was Ra, the god of the sun. He must have been asleep for those three days of total darkness. Finally, God sent an angel that would destroy all the firstborn in Egypt, including the firstborn son of Pharaoh. Pharaoh was considered by the Egyptians to be the physical manifestation of all the other gods, and his firstborn son would be the next in line to receive his throne. God showed once and for all that He is powerful above all false gods, and this time Pharaoh finally let the Israelites leave his land.

I pray that as you have read this post, it hasn’t just been a boring lesson about the history of the Egyptian gods. I challenge you to recognize that God sometimes allows trouble in our lives as consequences that we have worshipped other gods above Him. We may not go to a pagan temple or worship at the altar of these “gods”, but we certainly look elsewhere to get our needs met when our heavenly Father knows everything we need and desire and is ultimately the Giver of everything we have. But just like with Pharaoh, God is not punishing you out of sheer anger. He desires that you might truly KNOW Him and worship Him alone. And friends, it’s not just about you. God desires that the world might know and worship Him alone as they watch His power at work in your lives. Don’t be a reason that the world misses out!