Pharaoh's Proposed Compromises

Surrounded as we are by an increasing multitude of professed Christians and preachers who seem willing to compromise on everything except their false doctrines, it seems fitting to study again the compromises Pharaoh proposed to Moses and the response of the man of God. After the plagues of flies, we find in Exodus 8:25, "Then Pharaoh called for Moses and Aaron, and said, 'Go, sacrifice to your God in the land.' Moses replied, 'It is not meet so to do; for we shall sacrifice the abomination of the Egyptians to the Lord our God.'" One cannot but wonder if some of our present preachers would have said, "That is satisfactory, for one cannot worship God in terms of laws and regulations." Or perhaps we would have heard, "Since worship is simply a matter of the spirit, the outward form is of no importance." It would therefore not have mattered that the Egyptians worshipped Jupiter with a ram, Bacchus with a goat, and Juno with a heifer. If we were really interested in a new hermeneutic, we could easily find that the only reason that Moses did not do that was not that it would have displeased God, but because "If we sacrifice the abomination of the Egyptians before their eyes, then will they not stone us?" (Exodus 8:26).

The truth is that they were the "abomination of the Egyptians" for one reason and an abomination to the Lord for another. It would be an abomination to the Egyptians for one or more reasons. It might be that to sacrifice animals the Egyptians regarded as holy would be sacrilege. The more probable reason is that the Israelites would not carry out the sacrificial rites of the Egyptians and they would consider this an insult to their gods. Whatever the case, God had decreed that they go out for three days' journey into the wilderness to sacrifice (Exodus 8:27) and any sort of compromise for any reason would have been a sin.

For us, the principles taught are very important. The Devil does not care if we make the supreme sacrifice as long as we do it on his terms. "Though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor and though I give my body to be burned" (1 Corinthians 13:3) the Devil is pleased as long as it is not done in loving obedience to God. The doctrines that "one church is good as another," "there is nothing in a name," "we all worship the same God, whether we do it your way or mine" are of the same nature. One thing that makes these false doctrines so appealing is that they are almost true. One denominational church is almost as good as another, but none even compare with the Lord's (Matthew 16:18). There is nothing particularly important in the names men attach to their inventions, but Acts 4:12 tells us that there is no other name under heaven given among men whereby we must be saved.

When I was much younger I thought that most Protestant and Catholic groups worshipped the same God that I worship, but I discovered over the years that it is not so. Many in all sorts of groups have invented their own gods, but have little or no concept of the God of the Bible. Some have a lenient God -- a sort of grandfather type who will condone almost anything. Others have a God that is arbitrary and saves whomever He chooses by His own sovereign will, without reference to our willingness to obey. Both of these types are now proclaimed by some who call themselves members of the Lord's church. Men today have done as the Greeks and Romans of past ages did. They have made gods in their own image. We must ever be impressed with the truth that whatever sacrifice, offering or worship we do, must be by the authority of God and pleasing to Him (John 4:24).

A second compromise of Pharaoh was expressed in Exodus 8:28, after the first was rejected. "I will let you go, that ye may sacrifice to the Lord your God in the wilderness; only ye shall not go very far away." I read about a child who fell out of bed one night. When her mother asked her why, she replied, "I went to sleep too close to where I got in." This is the sad condition of many Christians now. Although the whole New Testament can be read through aloud in less than 24 hours, there are many who have claimed membership in the Lord's church for decades who have never read it through once. They went to sleep too close to where they got in.

The temptations to be a half-Christian are many, and the manifestations of trying to do it are on every hand. This was the condition of the church in Laodicea. God's reaction to it is vividly suggested in Revelation 3:16, "So then because thou art lukewarm and neither cold nor hot, I will spew thee out of my mouth." It comes in many forms. "Do not get enthusiastic about Christianity, or you will be like the denominations." I knew an eldership that publicly ridiculed their preacher for going around the city day and night knocking on doors to study the Bible. They said, "We do not want to be like Jehovah's Witnesses and Mormons. If we have a nice, appropriate worship service and invite them to come, that will be sufficient." When he began to baptize three or four a week, they asked him to leave because, as they put it, he was causing problems in the church.

There are many connected with the church who are willing to learn enough to seem religious, but not enough to change their lives. That Jesus said in Matthew 6:24, "No man can serve two masters" makes no impression on them. Many Bible classes and teachers make no attempt to probe deeply into a study of God's word, but merely skim the surface. In many adult Bible classes, I have heard teachers go over workbooks with True and False questions or fill in blanks with no comment or understanding of what relationship the study had to any aspect of life, if it had any. Preachers are hired who know enough to soothe, and fired if they get deep enough to make anyone think or act.

Denominations and all teachers of false doctrine are motivated by the concept of going, but not going all the way. It is the basis of the doctrine of salvation by faith only, or worship according to the dictates of your own conscience, or being baptized any way you choose. Peter, who followed afar off (Matthew 26:58) and subsequently cursed, swore and denied his Lord should be a warning to all those who are not willing to go all the way with Christ.

The next compromise is found in Exodus 10:11. "Go now ye that are men." No doubt he felt that they would come back if they left their wives and little ones behind. There are those who claim to be Christian parents who refuse to bring their children up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord (Ephesians 6:4). They reason, "If I make my child attend the services, or study the Bible, he will grow up and resent the church and me." Or, "I think a child should make up his own mind about his religious beliefs." It is probably true that if a child sees his parents sit at home and never study the Bible nor attend Bible classes, yet the parent makes the child go, he will resent it. But any time the Devil can get a person to leave any of his relatives behind because of any sort of excuse he may have, he has accomplished his purpose. Many times I have heard someone say, "I never discuss the Bible with my relatives, for they are harder to convert than any outsider."

The compromise that possibly works as well as any in most of us is the one expressed in Exodus 10:24. "Go, serve the Lord; only let your flocks and your herds be kept back." It is a strange and remarkable fact that man will consent to any terms rather than yield his life in complete submission and total surrender to the will of God. The Devil knows this and will do all within his power to get him to compromise at any or all points along the way. God reveals that He is never satisfied without a complete surrender. The rich young ruler would gladly have followed Jesus if he could have done it on his own terms.

Only the Lord knows how many have fallen into the snare of thinking one can keep his business and his religion separate. I know the Lord said, "Lay not up for yourselves treasures on the earth" (Matthew 4:9), but He also said, "He that provides not for his own has denied the faith and is worse than an infidel" (1 Timothy 5:8). I am not covetous; I simply want the property that joins mine. We should be able to learn from the story of Pharaoh that God does not allow us to compromise with respect to His commands. We may and should compromise on many matters of expediency.

T. Pierce Brown

Published in The Old Paths Archive