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The key that unlocks the scriptures, 1

August 19, 2009

Usually I get suspicious whenever I see titles that purport to give the key(s) to something.  It almost always involves an overstatement or a simplification gone too far.  But in this case, I’ll make the claim and try to back it up.

The key that unlocks the meaning of the Bible’s message is the glory of God.  Even that, however, is rather generic.  What do I mean by saying “the glory of God” is the key to everything in the Bible?  I mean (and believe that the Bible teaches) that everything that God does, He does to reveal something of His glory (which is the outward expression of His inner nature) to us.  Hence, everything that happens is designed by God to point us to Him.

Moses learned this in 2 very powerful episodes in his life.

The first involved his confrontation with the Pharaoh of Egypt.  It is sometimes known simply as “The Ten Plagues” or in modern language, “The Ten Catastrophes.”  This refers to the method that YHWH, the God of Israel, used to force the Pharaoh of Egypt to submit his will to the divine will and command to “Let my people, Israel, go!”  And in this monumental story, I believe that some of us are going to struggle with the portrait of God that He Himself paints for us here.  One point will be easy to accept; the other most likely will not.The point that will be easy to accept is that God is a merciful Savior for all who will trust in Him and receive Him as Lord.  The point that may be hard to accept is that God is the absolute Sovereign of the universe so that all people do only that which He wants them to do and all events ultimately occur only by the hand of God.

This is the God of the Bible:  Sovereign and Savior.  And he will be known throughout all the earth and its peoples:  “For by now I could have stretched out my hand and struck you and your people with a plague that would have wiped you off the earth. But I have raised you up for this very purpose, that I might show you my power and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth” (Exodus 9:15-16).

Why didn’t God just wipe out Pharaoh in one crushing blow?  It certainly wasn’t because Pharaoh was demonstrating his own power in resisting God’s command.  It wasn’t because Pharaoh was showing that he was something of a match for the God of Israel because he was able to withstand nine of God’s devastating blows against him.  It wasn’t due to a lack of strength and might on God’s part for as Isaiah the prophet notes, “It is He . . .  who brings princes to nothing, and makes the rulers of the earth as emptiness.  Scarcely are they planted, scarcely sown, scarcely has their stem taken root in the earth, when he blows on them, and they wither, and the tempest carries them off like stubble” (Isa. 40:23-24).

No, God chose to slowly crush the Pharaoh with multiple blows so that the cumulative effect would conclusively display before him and all generations afterward the Lord’s fathomless power which in turn is one way God proclaims His name to all peoples:  I have raised you up for this very purpose, that I might show you my power and that my name my be proclaimed in all the earth.  Notice the linkage in that little word “and”.  In the case of Pharaoh, God’s dealings with him revealed God’s power and in this God’s glory (= “proclaiming God’s name) was shown in all its awful majesty.

Some stumble over what happened to Pharaoh with their human questions and reasonings.  I once did.  But when I came to realize that the Exodus and the 10 catastrophes were ultimately to reveal the true nature of God to us (and not to explain something about Pharaoh), my questions were no longer.  I began to see the glory of His name instead.  And now I am so thankful that this key to understanding the Bible has been given me.

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