Warnings seem to always elicit feelings of fear and helplessness. Being warned puts you on your toes and brings you to attention. Your senses are raised and you become acutely aware of the impending danger. That is, if you pay attention.
One of the biggest differences between living in Tupelo and living in London, KY is the increase in the threat of tornadoes. We are still in winter months, but there have been at least three different tornado warnings in our time in northeast Mississippi. Tornado warnings are frightening. Tornado warnings are issued when a tornado has been spotted. When a tornado warning is given, we all run to our “safe place.”
Ignoring tornado warnings can be dangerous and even deadly. Some of the only people who died in a tornado that hit my hometown in Kentucky a few years ago were people who ignored the warning. One couple died because they decided to drive to the store to get something to eat. They tried to outrun the tornado, but it caught up with them and destroyed them. They were warned by the weatherman. They were warned by their families. But they ignored the warnings and sadly it cost them their lives.
The Bible is filled with warnings because the God of the Bible is a merciful and patient God. His love and grace lead him to warn those who are in danger of judgment. When God warns, he warns people about the danger of sin. Sin is dangerous and deadly. If we ignore the warnings God sends, our sin will destroy us like a tornado. And much like the couple I mentioned, there is no outrunning sin. God promised his people he would rescue them from Pharaoh through judgment. He said he would strike Egypt with acts of judgment (Ex. 7:4-5). Before the Lord begins to smite Egypt with his mighty hand, he warns Pharaoh with two miracles, or signs.
Pharaoh saw Moses as a weak shepherd. How could he demand things from the most powerful man on earth? God tells Moses to prove himself to Pharaoh by telling Aaron to throw his staff on the ground, so it will become a snake (7:8-10). When Pharaoh saw this miracle, he commanded his magicians to do the same thing. And they did! But just like any magician, this was only the trick of a snake charmer (7:11-12). The supreme might of the Lord is seen in the fact that Aaron’s “staff swallowed up their staffs.” The Lord is the one true God.
In this first miracle, the Lord showed Pharaoh that he meant business, but Pharaoh ignored the warning. In the second miracle, the Lord commands Moses to command Aaron to place his staff in the Nile River as Pharaoh passed by. When he did, the river turned to blood (7:14-19). The message is clear: judgment is coming. Unless Pharaoh turns from his disobedience and let the people of Israel go, the Lord will judge him. Even though Pharaoh witnessed another warning and miracle, his heart remained hardened and he ignored them (7:22).
Pharaoh made excuses for his lack of obedience. We do the same thing. We convince ourselves that sin is better for us than obedience. It’s the oldest trick in the Book (Gen. 3). Turning from our sin and trusting Jesus is a total change of heart. Hearts that have been softened by God are hearts that seek to actively obey and rejoice in God. Don’t ignore God’s warnings against the imminent danger of sin. Instead, see them, listen to them, and run from the tornado of sin into the safe place of the cross.
Mathew Gilbert (B.A. Boyce College) is Associate Pastor for Children and Preschool at The Church at Trace Crossing in Tupelo, MS. He is a M.Div student at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Mathew is married to his high school sweetheart, Erica. Mathew and Erica live in Tupelo with their son, Jude. You can follow him on Twitter @mat_gilbert.