FOUNDATIONAL FRAMEWORK. PART 29 - YHWH vs the gods Part 1

Foundational Truths: The Bible is God’s self-revelation.
God is the Eternal, Sovereign Creator; all that He creates is good.
Man is a responsible agent, held to a moral standard.
Sin originates within a person, separating us from God.
God declares one righteous by faith alone, apart from works.

Spiritual Warfare is all throughout the Bible. We have seen this in Genesis 3 with the serpent and in Genesis 6 with the “sons of God” and the “daughters of men.” This subject is not just confined to the Ephesians 6:11-20. In Exodus, Moses is called to be YHWH’s spokesman before Pharaoh, a man in Egyptian culture deemed to be the personification of the gods’ rule. The “gods” are fallen celestial beings who have temporary rulership over this earth, of which “Satan” is one (Ezekiel 28:11-19).

Important: Every “god” that we encounter in Egypt fits in the category of “the continuity of being” (see “The Framework Approach” Chart), meaning that men can become gods, or that the gods are like men and women. Anytime we see a graphic depiction, it is a mixture of man and animal/reptile/insect, etc. YHWH sets Himself apart, being the sovereign, eternal, and omnipotent Creator.

Psalm 82:1-8. There is a cosmic conflict in the spiritual realm. YHWH is supreme, being the Creator, while all other “gods” are answerable to Him and accountable for how they govern the nations of the earth. A “council” is assembled (v.1). YHWH accuses the gods of ruling in an unjust way, showing partiality to the wicked. He calls on them to tend to the weak, afflicted, and fatherless. They are to have compassion! YHWH’s evaluation of the gods and their rule is that they operate in darkness. Though they are called “the sons of God,” and though they have high-accountability for governing in righteousness, they have failed, leaving YHWH no choice but condemn them (v. 7). YHWH has the right to judge, not just as the Creator, but as the One who will “possess” (“shall inherit”-NKJV, ESV) the nations (v.8).

 

Exodus 5:1-2. Moses and Aaron obey YHWH and appear before Pharaoh asking for the release of the Israelites, that they may worship YHWH at Mount Horeb. Pharaoh’s response is telling: Pharaoh was worshiped as a god, along with many other gods (as we will see). But he had never heard of YHWH. Why should he obey Him?

This “interruption” causes Pharaoh to increase the workload of the Israelite slaves, causing greater oppression. This result discourages the Israelites from listening to Moses (Ex 5:21).

Exodus 6:1-8. The NASB translators have mishandled v.3. It is not that YHWH did not make Himself known to the patriarchs, but it should be translated, “Did I not make myself known to them?” Meaning that YHWH revealed Himself to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob clearly and communicated with them clearly.

The “covenant” (Abrahamic) and the “land” are mentioned testifying to YHWH’s faithfulness (v.4-5). Between 6:6-8, there are eight “I will” statements that YHWH declares. He alone will deliver His people and He alone will bring them into the land.

Exodus 7:4-5. The judgments of God would be executed upon Egypt and the people of Israel would be set free. The “unknown YHWH” would be known in Egypt and would be revered by the nations!

 The Framework Approach Handout

The Framework Approach Handout

Exodus 7:17-25. This first act of YHWH against Egypt strikes at five of its gods, all of which are affiliated with the Nile River. This plague halted the ability to wash clothes or dishes, bathe, drink water, and to eat fish. This would also stop the transportation of goods by boat, leaving each community short on supplies. In Egypt, the Nile River was connected to everything!
Osiris was believed to be the guarantor of eternal life, who allowed for the annual flooding of the Nile. It has actually been said that the Nile served as his bloodstream.
Hapi is a water and fertility god who controlled the Nile. When it would flood, the Egyptians would set out statues of Hapi and throw offerings for him into the waters.
Khnum was the guardian of the Nile and the molder of people and gods, believed to be fashioned by clay on a potter’s wheel.

Sobek is depicted as a man with a crocodile’s head and is the one who brings order to creation and fertility to the land. He is also called “the Lord of the Waters.” Blood in the Nile would have driven the crocodiles away from the waters and into the cities of Egypt. Crocodiles were worshiped in Egypt, and much like India and their view of cows today, the people would not harm them for fear of hurting a god and incurring his wrath.
Neith is a goddess who is the creator of the world, the mother of Ra (the sun god) and Sobek, and cared for the largest fish in the Nile known as “lates.” With blood in the water, all of the lates died.

It is obvious that “spiritual forces” are at play (“secret arts,” 7:22), allowing the magicians of Pharaoh to imitate the signs of YHWH. What we are seeing is YHWH vs. the lesser gods.

We must keep in mind that for Egypt, religion, worship, idols, offerings, and “gods” were a way of life, and not just a small piece. YHWH is demonstrating His omnipotence against all that the Egyptians trusted in and held dear. He is shaking their lives!

Exodus 8:1-15. The second plague involves an infestation of frogs from the Nile. This is an attack against Heqet, the goddess of fertility and renewal. This goddess has the head of a frog and the body of a woman. While Pharaoh’s magicians imitated the plague by bringing more frogs, only Moses was able to stop them by interceding to YHWH for Pharaoh. At his request, and with the promise that the Israelites would be released (v.8), Moses called upon Pharaoh to give the time for the end of the frogs. This added greater accountability to Pharaoh. The frogs died, were gathered in piles, and began to rot. Their death shows the power of YHWH over Heqet.

Exodus 8:16-19. The third plague turned the dust of Egypt into gnats, infesting every person and animal in Egypt. This plague attacked Geb, the god of the earth, who is depicted as a man with a goose on his head. YHWH changes the dust of the earth into a drove of flesh- eating, blood-sucking insects that feast upon the Egyptians. The magicians could not imitate this plague, exclaiming to Pharaoh, “This is the finger of God” (v.19). This confession denotes the supernatural

as they have never known it, “figuratively conveying a sense such as ‘something easy enough for him to do with just a finger.’[1]

Exodus 8:20-32. The fourth plague involves swarms of flies that lays the land to waste, covering everything (v.24). YHWH attacks the god Khepri, who is the most famous of the (multiple) insect gods, depicted with a man’s body with a scarab for a head.

This time things are different: Israel is “set apart” and the flies do not touch them (v.22), Pharaoh tells Moses and Aaron to go and sacrifice to YHWH, but tries to put restrictions on their ability to worship freely (v.25-26), Pharaoh tries to dictate the distance that Israel will travel, violating the theology of sacred space (v.28b),[2] and Moses warns Pharaoh not to act in deceit by breaking his word (v.29b).

With such destruction in place, would YHWH ever have mercy on Egypt?

After the time of the Exodus, Egypt goes unmentioned again until the time of Solomon, due to their decimation. What YHWH had done to Egypt was known throughout the world (Josh 2:9-12). Would YHWH’s anger toward Egypt burn forever?

Isaiah 19:18-25. One day, YHWH will call Egypt “My People,” alongside Israel and Assyria, who at the time of Isaiah’s writing were the enemies of Israel. Notice the use of “in that day” repeatedly. There will come a day when YHWH will embrace Egypt as His own, not consigning them to destruction like Canaan, but showing kindness and mercy to them, giving them a place in the future reign of Jesus Christ, who is also their Savior and Champion (19:20).

Let us marvel at His infinite power and mercy!

 

[1] Douglas K. Stuart, Exodus, vol. 2, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2006), p. 212.

[2] This refers to worshiping only in the place that YHWH has deemed fit.