Reading: Exodus 5—9
Pharaoh's question at the beginning of chapter 5 is being answered throughout this section (and beyond). “Who is the Lord, that I should obey him and let Israel go? I do not know the Lord and I will not let Israel go.” (Exodus 5:2) Pharaoh was about to find out who the Lord is!
Pharaoh was familiar with his Egyptian gods, rooted, as pagan religions are, in created things rather than the Creator. So the Creator, Yahweh, would now reveal His power over all the gods of Egypt through each of these plagues. There are a number of good resources that show how each plague corresponds to an Egyptian god. The point is clear: The God you don't know, and therefore claim you don't have to obey, is going to show you His power over everything you trust in!
But God's promise was followed by a delay. Pharaoh refused to listen, but he also retaliated against the Israelites. Now they would have to gather their own straw, and maintain production of bricks. The foremen were being beaten. Their suffering increased. It appears that Pharaoh may have the power he thinks and God may not be so powerful. God's promises are always going to require that we walk by faith.
As we read through these plagues there is an occasional reference that Pharaoh's magicians could do the same. So what! What good is that. Moses turns the Nile to blood. The magicians could turn water to blood also. They didn't need more blood. If his magicians had any power over Moses they would have turned blood into water. Then with the plague of frogs, with frogs everywhere, the magicians conjured up more frogs. I think Pharaoh should have fired them. What takes the cake for me was when Moses said, “I leave to you the honor of setting the time for me to pray for you... that you and your houses may be rid of the frogs, except for those that remain in the Nile.” “Tomorrow.” (Exodus 8:9-10) Really? Can you imagine the conversation with the queen that night? “Sure, why didn't you say Tuesday of next week? I'm getting used to having frogs in everything!”
When we get to the plague of hail, the seventh plague, something significant happens that is instructive for us.
15For by now I could have stretched out my hand and struck you and your people with a plague that would have wiped you off the earth.… 17You still set yourself against my people and will not let them go. 18Therefore, at this time tomorrow I will send the worst hailstorm that has ever fallen on Egypt, from the day it was founded till now. 19Give an order now to bring your livestock and everything you have in the field to a place of shelter, because the hail will fall on every man and animal that has not been brought in and is still out in the field, and they will die.'"
20Those officials of Pharaoh who feared the word of the LORD hurried to bring their slaves and their livestock inside. 21 But those who ignored the word of the LORD left their slaves and livestock in the field. (Exodus 9:15-21)
Two things are important here. First, the plagues are a demonstration of God's patience. He could have wiped the Egyptians out completely (as we see from time to time in the Old Testament), but gave Pharaoh repeated opportunities to turn from his rebellion. Secondly, some of Pharaoh's officials were beginning to know the Lord. They were beginning to fear the word of the Lord, and that fear of the Lord led to quick obedience. Others ignored the word of the Lord. Which are you? Does your knowledge of the Lord motivate you to quick obedience, or does your lack of knowing Him lead you to ignoring Him?
The picture of these officials responding to God's word might give a good backdrop to some of the Gospel's commands such as those in Colossians 3:5-8. Note the phrase in 3:6, “because of these the wrath of God is coming.” (See also Ephesians 5:6.) In response to this word do we in haste rid ourselves of these things? Or, do we ignore these warnings and continue on? Knowing God should cause you to trust Him more and more. And that should always make us faster... faster to obey His call.
In order to escape the coming wrath, there is only one place we can flee to... Jesus Christ. He rescues us from the coming wrath. (1 Thessalonians 1:10; 5:9) But flee to Him we must!
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