spare-tire-theology

Exodus 8, Job 25-26, Psalm 56

Today we’re scheduled to read Exodus 8, Job 25-26, and Psalm 56.

This devotional is about Exodus 8.

In Exodus 7, we read yesterday that Pharaoh’s heart was hardened after Moses did two incredible miracles. Part of his hardening, it would seem, was related to the fact that his sorcerers were able to turn their staffs into snakes and were able to turn water into blood. Although Moses’s snake ate theirs and Moses was able to generate a whole lot more blood, in Pharaoh’s mind, perhaps, he had access to as much supernatural power as Moses did.

Today, however, as we read Exodus 8, Pharaoh’s sorcerers were able to make frogs just as Moses and Aaron did (v. 7). Still, there was something about the plague of frogs that affected Pharaoh in a different way than the previous plagues because even though “the magicians did the same things by their secret arts” (v. 7), “Pharaoh summoned Moses and Aaron and said, ‘Pray to the Lord to take the frogs away....’” (v. 8). Maybe the plagues were having a cumulative affect but, for the first time, Pharaoh looked to the Lord for relief.

He received that relief, too, but to emphasize to Pharaoh that this really was an act of God and not a mere coincidence, Moses allowed Pharaoh to choose the time when the frogs would go away (v. 10b). I don’t know why he said, “tomorrow” (v. 10a); I would have said, “Immediately! ASAP!” Just as he asked, however, the frogs all... um... croaked the next day (v. 13). Before the sun went down, however, Pharaoh “hardened his heart” (v. 15b) and would not let God’s people go.

Why exactly did he harden his heart? Verse 15 says it happened, “when Pharaoh saw that there was relief.” We do this sometimes, too. We suffer because of our sin or just because of foolish choices we make, so we get really serious about our faith. We cry out to God for help earnestly, with tears even, maybe. As soon as there is relief, however, we return to our unbelieving ways. I’ve seen this too many times to count in the lives of people I’ve tried to help. They come to me in pain and in fear, admitting that they’ve neglected the Lord and sinned against him. I pray with them and for them and try to encourage them but as soon as the pressure is off, they return to their routines and show no more interest in walking with God than they did before.

This is a symptom of unbelief. Pharaoh was an unbeliever which is why he responded to God’s work as he did. Unbelievers around us respond to God this way, too. We believers, however, are capable of nearly every sin that unbelievers do, including this one. We treat God like a spare tire, riding unseen and unthought about in the trunk of our lives until we find ourselves in an emergency. We turn to God when we need him, then return him to the trunk when life is back on track again.

Does that describe your walk with God? If so, learn from Pharaoh the difference between true repentance, which makes you want to know and glorify God, and the kind that only looks to God in emergencies. Ask God to give you true repentance and faith and learn to cultivate your faith in bad times and good times.

1 Kings 14, Colossians 1, Ezekiel 44, Psalms 97–98

If you’re following the schedule, you should read these chapters today: 1 Kings 14, Colossians 1, Ezekiel 44, Psalms 97–98. Click on any of those references to see all the passages in one long page on BibleGateway. If you can’t do all the readings today, read 1 Kings 14.

Isn’t it surprising how utilitarian Jeroboam was about matters of faith and worship? When he was being anointed king, he was willing to to believe the Lord (11:26-39, 12:2-3, 12-15). But after the Lord’s word was completely fulfilled and he was made king, he made two golden calves and said, “‘It is too much for you to go up to Jerusalem. Here are your gods, Israel, who brought you up out of Egypt.’ One he set up in Bethel, and the other in Dan” (12:28b-29). Now that his son—his heir—is sick here in chapter 14, Jeroboam wanted to know the Lord’s will again. He sent his wife to the very prophet who anointed him, whose word was fulfilled completely, when he wanted to know if his son would be OK (vv. 2-5). Comically, he even told his wife to disguise herself (v. 2b) as if the Lord would not reveal who she was but would reveal what would happen to his son. He was all about knowing God’s will when it had to do with his life and prosperity. When the Lord’s word was against him, however, he wanted to seize the Lord’s prophet (13:4), presumably to harm him. God’s word, his truth, was important in key moments of his life; the rest of the time, however, his golden calves were more than good enough. The true God was like a spare tire to him. You never think about your spare tire until one of your regular tires goes flat; then you hope the spare tire will bail you out of being stuck and stranded. This is how Jeroboam treated the God of his people Israel.

I take it back; maybe it isn’t surprising that Jeroboam treated God this way because it is tempting for us to treat God this way, too. When our future is at stake, we want to know what God’s word says. When everything is good for us, we are tempted to give God as much consideration as we give our spare tires in normal driving conditions. Do your prayer habits shrivel and dry up until the next crisis hits? Do you neglect God’s word until you are afraid, then you crave knowing what God’s will is? Because we are fallen, the spare tire theology that Jeroboam had is easy for us to slouch into. May God give us a heart like David who, though sinful himself, longed to know and love God.

Now for your thoughts: What stood out in your Bible reading for today? What questions do you have about what you read? What are your thoughts about what I wrote above? Post them in the comments below or on our Facebook page. And, feel free to answer and interact with the questions and comments of others. Have a great day; we’ll talk scripture again tomorrow.