40 Blogs of Lent – Day 29
A chorus of frogs
Holy Trinity Church, Huddersfield – Sunday 18 March 2018
We had a chorus of frogs in church this morning. Not singing frogs, but each seat had a piece of paper on it containing a frog silhouette.
The sermon was to be about the second of the plagues of Egypt, but as the bible does not refer to the frogs as being a plague I am using the correct collective noun, a chorus of frogs. There are a lot of collective nouns, a pride of lions, a murder of crows, a shower of meteorologists (not really, but it should be) and my favourite collective noun, a collective of nouns. Needless to say, our service was not about collective nouns.
The congregation was depleted this week. It had snowed during the night and there had been between 4 and 5 inches, but due to drifting I had to dig out through over tho feet of the white stuff, the opposite side of our street had no snow on the ground at all. Local radio was telling people not to travel unless it was necessary, this could explain the poor turn out.
The sermon was on Exodus 8:1-15, the 5th part of our sermon series on the Exodus.
Then the Lord said to Moses, “Go in to Pharaoh and say to him, ‘Thus says the Lord, “Let my people go, that they may serve me. But if you refuse to let them go, behold, I will plague all your country with frogs. The Nile shall swarm with frogs that shall come up into your house and into your bedroom and on your bed and into the houses of your servants and your people, and into your ovens and your kneading bowls. The frogs shall come up on you and on your people and on all your servants.”’” And the Lord said to Moses, “Say to Aaron, ‘Stretch out your hand with your staff over the rivers, over the canals and over the pools, and make frogs come up on the land of Egypt!’” So Aaron stretched out his hand over the waters of Egypt, and the frogs came up and covered the land of Egypt. But the magicians did the same by their secret arts and made frogs come up on the land of Egypt.
Then Pharaoh called Moses and Aaron and said, “Plead with the Lord to take away the frogs from me and from my people, and I will let the people go to sacrifice to the >Lord. Moses said to Pharaoh, “Be pleased to command me when I am to plead for you and for your servants and for your people, that the frogs be cut off from you and your houses and be left only in the Nile.” And he said, “Tomorrow.” Moses said, “Be it as you say, so that you may know that there is no one like the Lord our God. The frogs shall go away from you and your houses and your servants and your people. They shall be left only in the Nile.” So Moses and Aaron went out from Pharaoh, and Moses cried to the Lord about the frogs, as he had agreed with Pharaoh. And the Lord did according to the word of Moses. The frogs died out in the houses, the courtyards, and the fields. And they gathered them together in heaps, and the land stank. But when Pharaoh saw that there was a respite, he hardened his heart and would not listen to them, as the Lord had said.
When I heard the reading I noticed that Pharaoh’s magicians could replicate the infestation of frogs, but not the taking them away. That was where the power God was shown, the magicians, in making more frogs appear, made the infestation twice as bad. This was not in the sermon.
The sermon focussed on the word tomorrow. When Moses asked Pharaoh wen he wanted the frogs to go away, Pharaoh said, “Tomorrow.” He wanted another night of being over run by frogs. he could have said, “Now,” and the frogs would have gone. He could have been hedging his bets here, hoping that the frogs would have gone on their own. So he waited.
We are like Pharaoh, we were told, as the sermon took an unexpected twist. We tell God “Not yet,” when we could be responding to him now. God’s blessings are for today, not tomorrow. Hebrews 315, quoting Psalm 95 says, “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion.” God wants each and every one of us to listen to him today, not tomorrow. Do not put it off. We are all experts at saying tomorrow. God waits to show us his mercy today, he is always ready to forgive.
Jesus told a story about how forgiving the Father God is. We usually call it the Prodigal Son. A son who takes his inheritance early and only when he was at his lowest point with no money left, so low that he was prepared to eat pig swill, that he was prepared to go back to his father’s house. The irony of the story is that the son left it so late. The father was looking for him everyday since he left, he could have returned any time he wanted.
Back to Pharaoh. Frogs were a warning shot. Things did not need to get worse. God’s judgement always contains mercy if we heed the warning. God’s warnings to Pharoah went like this:
First there was blood,
After the blood, frogs,
After the frogs, gnats,
After the gnats, flies,
After the flies, a plague on livestock,
After the plague, boils,
After the boils, hail,
After the hail, death.
It did not need to go so far.
Do not continue to be cut off from God. A flower when cut is essentially dead. It can look good in a vase for a week, maybe two, but eventually the leaves begin to droop and the petals fall off. You can be connected or reconnected to God. I need that too, I am far from being the perfect Christian, there is no such thing as a perfect Christian, I need to be constantly reconnected to God. We can be reconnected with God anytime, does anyone wish to join me in being reconnected?
Based on a sermon by Steve Harvey.
The Holy Bible, English Standard Version Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers.