The Second Sunday after the Epiphany

  1. A Miracle of Terrible Judgment
  2. A Miracle Intended to Turn Hard Hearts
SERMON TEXT:  Exodus 7:14-24

Then the LORD said to Moses, “Pharaoh’s heart is unyielding. He refuses to let the people go. Go to Pharaoh in the morning. When he goes out by the water, stand on the bank of the Nile to meet him. Take in your hand the staff that was turned into a snake. “You are to tell him: ‘The LORD, the God of the Hebrews, has sent me to you. He says, “Let my people go so that they may serve me in the wilderness.” But look, until now you have not listened. So this is what the LORD says: “In this way, you will know that I am the LORD.” Look! With the staff that is in my hand, I will strike the water in the Nile, and it will be turned to blood. The fish that are in the Nile will die, and the Nile will stink. The Egyptians will not be able to drink water from the Nile.’” The LORD said to Moses, “Tell Aaron, ‘Take your staff, and stretch out your hand over the waters of Egypt—over its rivers, its streams, its ponds, and all the reservoirs—and they will become blood. There will be blood in the entire land of Egypt, even in containers made of wood and stone.’” Moses and Aaron did just as the LORD had commanded. In the sight of Pharaoh and his officials, Aaron lifted up the staff and struck the water that was in the Nile. All the water in the Nile was turned to blood. The fish that were in the river died, and the river smelled so bad that the Egyptians were not able to drink water from the Nile. There was blood in the entire land of Egypt. But the magicians of Egypt did the same thing by their occult practices. So Pharaoh’s heart was hard, and he did not listen to them, just as the LORD had told them. Pharaoh turned and went to his palace. He did not take to heart even this. All the Egyptians dug around the Nile for water to drink, because they were not able to drink the water from the Nile.

I’m sure that even people who haven’t been to church but once or twice in their lives, know John 3:16…
God loved the world so much he sent his only begotten son that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have everlasting life.
Whoever believes in him, whoever trusts in this man from Nazareth, knows not only a good man but a mighty God. A God who gave his life on the cross. Who was able to do that because of the joining of his God nature with his man nature. He was able to shed his blood as man and God that pays the price of your sin.

Sermon Audio & Transcript

The Lord Turns The Nile River To Blood

Word of God for our meditation this morning is the Old Testament lesson for the day, for second Sunday after the Epiphany from Exodus 7:14-24, where the Lord turns the Nile River into blood.

Grace mercy and peace to all of you from God our father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Doesn’t it seem harsh? Isn’t that a rather, I mean that’s a rather outlandish punishment to bring on a nation. Isn’t it? A nation that had a wicked Pharaoh, a king as a ruler who refuse to let God’s people go. I mean who deserves having their entire river their entire water supply turned in the blood? For a whole week! God wouldn’t reverse that until eight days later. There was a water turned into blood incident. It shows the judgment of God and shows just how serious he is about sin. See God’s people had begun their time in Egypt as honored guests. God raised up Joseph and allowed Joseph to be sold into slavery in Egypt, but he worked his way up from a slave to a house manager. And then from being a house manager he became a prisoner, but then after being a prisoner he became second in command of all of Egypt. Because of the divine wisdom and insight that he was given, the Lord saved the Egyptian people and the neighboring communities and countries through Joseph’s leadership, but by 430 years later the Egyptian people had forgotten about what Joseph had done. Rather than treating the Israelites with respect, they treated the Israelites as slaves. The Israelites labored building their cities, building their farms, and tending their crops and animals. The Israelites were becoming too numerous even with all of that, and so the king of Egypt, the Pharaoh ordered that all of their children, boy children should be drowned in the Nile River. Throw them into the Nile was the command.

A woman by the name of Jochebed gave birth to a boy and she hid this boy. She preserved his life until she could no longer keep him quiet. Rather than having him be slaughtered by the soldiers, she hid this little baby in a basket and threw her baby into the Nile River. See! She obeyed the Kings order. She threw her baby into the Nile River. She just happened to prepare a basket, and she made sure that it was coated with pitch, or tar so that it would float. God provided that this basket would float near the Princess of Egypt, the Pharaoh’s daughter, as she was swimming or bathing with her friends, and when she saw this little baby delivered to her in a basket she fell in love immediately. She took this baby home to be her own. She raised in this baby she named it drawn out, which is the Hebrew word Moshe or in English we say Moses. Moses was raised in the palace he had the best education. He had all that money could buy, but he knew in his heart that he didn’t belong, he was an Israelite. And so as time went on, Moses began to feel more and more sympathy for the Israelite people and their slavery.

He actually took action against one of the overseers of the Egyptians murdering him, causing Moses to flee into the desert, and that’s where Moses encountered the burning bush. You’ve heard about it. He saw up on a mountainside a bush that was on fire, and as he looked at it, he saw that the Bush did not get smaller. The fire did not go out, it just continued to burn. So he went to investigate. When he got close to that Bush, the Bush talked to him. You see t wasn’t actually a Bush, not alone, it was the Lord. The Lord told him to take off his shoes, because the place where he was standing was holy ground. God announced his name to him. He said I am the Lord the God of your fathers. God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. I have heard the voice of my people as they cry out in their slavery, and I’m sending you to deliver them. Moses objected at first. He said I’m not very good at speaking, I’m not very brave. I’m not good looking and not well-connected. All of these objections God gave an answer to them. And when Moses finally said I’d really be more comfortable if you just find somebody else to do this job, God said go. I am sending you. You are the one Moses. So Moses went reluctantly, but he went. And went and stood before stood before Pharaoh and God allowed him to give miraculous signs, like turning a turning a staff into a snake, turning his hand leprous by putting it into his cloak. When he pulled it out it, was rotten and white. When he put back in, his hand was cured. Then God told him that because Pharaoh would not listen, and would not let the people go, that an even more terrible sign was going to follow. God said to Moses, raise up your staff over the Nile River in front of Pharaoh, and you’re going to turn that entire river to blood. When Moses lifted up his staff, that’s exactly what happened. The river turned to blood. Not only did it look like blood but it smelled like blood. If you’ve ever smelled blood you know that’s awful. You know that the fish would die and you know that nobody could drink that water. Terrible punishment for the people of Egypt who were enslaving God’s people. Terrible punishment for the entire people who allowed a wicked king to rule over them and to mock and blasphemed the name of the Lord. That water to blood miracle was an act of judgment and punishment, but it was also meant for a gracious purpose.

God sent that water to blood miracle in order to turn the heart of Pharaoh to repent of his sins and to turn in faith to the Lord, who could save him. God also sent that miracle not just in the privacy of Pharaoh’s own home, but to the entire land of Egypt, because God wanted the Egyptian people in whole, all of them, to repent of their sins and to find their salvation in God alone. See God has a gracious purpose when he allows or when he brings an event that brings pain or grief. God is serious about sin and God threatens to punish sin. Sins against an eternal God deserved punishments that are also eternal, and so every punishment, every chastisement for a Christian is a warning from God. Repent or worse things may happen to you. But God is not a God who seeks to punish. Yes, God does punish but God’s main impulse is to save. Through the punishment that God brought upon the Egyptians God was saving his people Israel. Through the punishment that God brought upon Satan, God was working salvation for all of the descendants of Eve. When God punished his son he was bringing salvation to everyone who believes in him. So when that savior went to a wedding banquet–seems like were thinking a lot about weddings in our house these days just had a wedding last year and where you have a wedding this year too–when Jesus and his mother and his disciples were invited to that wedding at Cana, Jesus was aware that they had run out of wine. See they didn’t drink water in those days because water was often contaminated and it was safer to boil the water and then also to mix a little bit of an alcoholic beverage with it. So they would drink wine mixed with the water. That was the normal course of events for children and adults. So running out of wine meant that there was a health hazard. It also meant that the enjoyment of the wedding would be somewhat diminished. Mary came to Jesus and said they run out of wine, and Jesus said something that sounds a little bit disrespectful. We know it’s not, because Jesus was not disrespectful. He did not commit any sins so what he said was simply a direct statement; woman why do you involve me my time has not yet come? I don’t know how Mary got a message from that, but she got a message that Jesus would probably help. So she went to the servants and said do whatever he tells you to do. Jesus went up to them later on in the he saw that there were six big water jars that were used for ceremonial washing. When the guests at a banquet would arrive, they would wash their feet. That this was not drinking water. This was foot washing water and he said fill those stone jars to the top and they filled him up to the top. And this is, can you do the math? This was about 20 to 30 gallons in each of these pitchers. There’s six of them. If you did the math real quick it’s between 120 and 180 gallons of wine. Jesus said draw the water out and show it to the wine steward the master of the banquet, and when they did master of the banquet was so impressed he said this is the best wine of the day. This is the best wine of the entire banquet. Most people bring out the best wine and then when everybody’s had too much to drink, they bring out the cheap stuff but you saved the best for last. The servants knew where the wine had come from. They knew that it was Jesus of Nazareth who’d produced that wine miraculously.

God is a God who wants to save us. He is not a God wants to punish us and he wants to save us in the way that his word prescribes, and that is through faith in Jesus Christ. You all know John 3:16. I’m sure that even people who haven’t been to church but once or twice in their lives, know John 3:16. It says God loved the world so much he sent his only begotten son that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have everlasting life. Whoever believes in him, whoever trusts in this man from Nazareth, knows not only a good man but a mighty God. A God who gave his life on the cross. Who was able to do that because of the joining of his God nature with his man nature. He was able to shed his blood as man and God that pays the price of your sin. See that’s another thing that the Nile River turned to blood reminds us of, the blood of our Savior Jesus shed on the cross. The very blood that he offers us together with wine in the Lord’s supper. The body and blood of Christ together with the bread and wine offers us not judgment, unless we eat and drink in unbelief and in penitence, but it offers us life forgiveness by the strengthening of our faith in Jesus as our Savior and by increasing in us the grace, the ability to live a God pleasing life. All of these blessings are yours because we have a God who is powerful enough to turn a great and mighty river of the world and the blood, and to change it back to water when the people repented. We have a God who is powerful enough to become a human being shown in the person of Jesus. Was gracious enough to give us wine. Was gracious enough to give us his blood of covenant, his blood of forgiveness and who is powerful enough to be with us today and sacrament and in word. And present with us because there are more than two or three gathered in his name.

He promises that he is with us today and always.


Bible Readings

FIRST LESSON:  Exodus 7:14-24

See Sermon Text

SECOND LESSON:  Ephesians 3:14-21

For this reason I kneel before the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, from whom the entire family in heaven and on earth receives its name. I pray that, according to the riches of his glory, he would strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner self, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. Then, being rooted and grounded in love, I pray that you would be able to comprehend, along with all the saints, how wide and long and high and deep his love is, and that you would be able to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, so that you may be filled to all the fullness of God. Now to him, who is able, according to the power that is at work within us, to do infinitely more than we can ask or imagine, to him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever! Amen.

VERSE OF THE DAY:  Isaiah 49:3 (NIV)

“You are my servant in whom I will display my splendor.”

GOSPEL: John 2:1-11

Three days later, there was a wedding in Cana of Galilee. Jesus’ mother was there. Jesus and his disciples were also invited to the wedding. When the wine was gone, Jesus’ mother said to him, “They have no wine.” Jesus said to her, “Woman, what does that have to do with you and me? My time has not come yet.” His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.” Six stone water jars, which the Jews used for ceremonial cleansing, were standing there, each holding twenty or thirty gallons. Jesus told them, “Fill the jars with water.” So they filled them to the brim. Then he said to them, “Now draw some out and take it to the master of the banquet.” And they did. When the master of the banquet tasted the water that had now become wine, he did not know where it came from (though the servants who had drawn the water knew). The master of the banquet called the bridegroom and said to him, “Everyone serves the good wine first, and when the guests have had plenty to drink, then the cheaper wine. You saved the good wine until now!” This, the beginning of his miraculous signs, Jesus performed in Cana of Galilee. He revealed his glory, and his disciples believed in him.