Part 3: A Pharaoh in the Church

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Pharaoh identified with only one way to expand his kingdom: brick-by-brick.
Pharaoh identified with only one way to expand his kingdom: brick-by-brick. (Flickr )

When the darkness came, we again see Pharaoh relent–to a degree.

"Then Pharaoh called to Moses and said, 'Go, serve the Lord. Only let your flocks and your herds be detained. Even let your little ones also go with you.' But Moses said, 'You must also give us sacrifices and burnt offerings, so that we may sacrifice to the Lord our God. Our livestock will go with us also. Not a hoof will be left behind, for we must take of them to serve the Lord our God. And we do not know with what we must serve the Lord, until we get there.' But the Lord hardened Pharaoh's heart, and he would not let them go" (Ex. 10:24-27).

God's call was for everyone and everything. This was not a conditional request. It's all or nothing. Churches that attempt to keep one foot in Egypt while allowing another in the wilderness will end up with a hard heart. It just can't work. We see this happen often when pastors provide a certain level of liberty for the resident intercessors to call the people to prayer—in a small room on a day, any day, other than Sunday.

It's a compromise that results in the main purpose of the church, prayer for the nations, being relegated to an extracurricular activity. The prayer rooms will remain empty until the prayer meetings become the main meetings. The church is a place of night and day prayer and ministry to God. Building the kingdom of man and the kingdom of God side by side just can't work.

"Except the LORD build the house, those who build labor in vain; except the LORD guards the city, the watchman stays awake in vain" (Psalm 127:1).

The Necessary Declaration

Now, the point of this message is before us:

"At midnight the Lord smote all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, from the firstborn of Pharaoh that sat on his throne to the firstborn of the captive who was in the dungeon and all the firstborn of livestock. Pharaoh rose up in the night, he and all his servants and all the Egyptians, and there was a great cry in Egypt, for there was not a house where there was not someone dead. Then he called for Moses and Aaron at night and said, 'Rise up, and get out from among my people, both you and the children of Israel, and go, serve the Lord, as you have said. Also take your flocks and your herds, as you have said, and be gone, and bless me also.' The Egyptians urged the people, so that they might send them out of the land in haste, for they said, 'We all will be dead'" (Ex. 12:29-33).

It happened. Pharaoh finally released them. It was his choice and he chose to agree with God's desire for his people. The risk of further loss was too great, and Pharaoh went from one who violently opposed God's plans to one who then relented to a degree, yet placed conditions on the release of the Israelites, to one who wanted them gone—and fast. God's pressure was sufficient. Throughout the entire process, the Israelites did not rebel. They stayed and submitted, and God protected them throughout. Now, as they were leaving, the freedom they were experiencing was indescribable.

After the declaration by Pharaoh, the authority transferred from him to Moses. Pharaoh would attempt to chase after the people he no longer had any authority over, but now, due to his decree to transfer leadership to Moses, God then had full governmental cause to refuse his advance. Moses was now in charge. This is why the concept of seeking blessing from pastors prior to moving from one church to another is so important. We must transfer the authority and responsibility to serve and lead those God placed in our care to another.

"Now the children of Israel did according to the word of Moses, and they requested of the Egyptians articles of silver and articles of gold, and clothing. And the Lord gave the people favor in the sight of the Egyptians, so that they gave them what they requested. Thus they plundered the Egyptians" (Ex. 12:35-36).

Their new journey had begun, and God gave them everything they would need to bring an offering into the wilderness of encounter. Can you imagine how it must have felt to leave the heavy, dusty bricks in the sand while carrying gold and silver?

As this message closes, I want to drive home the point one more time. Since the body cannot rebel against authority and improper church systems, it's up to the leaders to relent and make the governmental declaration that, yes, God's people can go. The Egyptian system of old is done and we're apostolically moving into a place of intercession, life and freedom.

This is part 3 of a three-part series; click here for part one and here for part two. This excerpt is taken from John Burton's book Pharaoh in the Church, the follow up to Covens in the Church. (Covens in the Church is a message about the body's responsibility to submit to authority and Pharaoh in the Church is a message calling leaders to stop using people to build their own kingdom).

John Burton has been developing and leading ministries for over 25 years and is a sought-out teacher, prophetic messenger and revivalist. John has authored ten books, has appeared on Christian television and radio and directed one of the primary internships at a major international prayer ministry. Additionally, he planted two churches, has initiated two city prayer movements and is currently directing an online prayer and revival focused ministry school called the School of Revival. John also produces prophetic equipping media that can be watched or listened to most every day at thefurnace.tv.

He and his beautiful wife Amy have five children and currently live in the Branson, Missouri, region. John is available to minister anywhere in the world and can be contacted via his site at johnburton.net.  

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