April 20, 2015.
Daily Reading: Exodus 9-12.
Background: Exodus 5-8.
Concepts and Connections.
1. The fifth plague- Death of Egyptian livestock: With the fifth plague, the Lord continues His distinction between Israel and the Egyptians, causing only the livestock of the Egyptians to die an not the livestock of the Israelites who dwelt in the land of Goshen. Just as the Lord had said though Moses to Pharaoh that it would happen, so it did, and on the next day the livestock of the Egyptians died, but not an animal of the Israelites was harmed. Think about the economic stress that this would have had on the land of Egypt. We will see a bit later that the people start to reason with Pharaoh that he just let the Israelites go so that they would not be a curse to the Egyptians any more, as the plagues were affecting them severely. Before this takes place, however, Pharaoh hardens his heart on this occasion just as the Lord said he would, and would not let the children of Israel go.
2. The sixth plague- Boils: Since Pharaoh’s heart had remained hardened, a sixth plague was incited on the people of Egypt, as Moses was told to throw soot in the air that would become harsh boils on the Egyptians. These boils even came on the magicians who were in the court of Pharaoh trying to replicate the actions done by Moses and Aaron, and the boils were so bad that they could not stand before Moses. The Lord was obviously making a clear point to Pharaoh, that it was He who had power, and not the magicians. But in the midst of this clear distinction, the Lord hardened Pharaoh’s heart so that he still would not let the children of Israel go.
3. The seventh plague- Hail: Again, the Lord tells Moses to warn of the next plague, which would be hail like the Egyptians had never seen it before. He sends a message to Pharaoh that He is in control and could have already wiped the Egyptians off the face of the earth if He had wanted to, but He hadn’t. With the seventh plague, the Lord gives an opportunity to the Egyptians, that any who feared Him and believed that the plague of hail was coming as Moses and Aaron had said, would have ample preparation time to bring in their livestock and slaves so that they would not die by the hail. All those who feared the word of the Lord did so, but all those who did not paid no attention to the word of the Lord and thus left their livestock and slaves out to perish. But again the Lord made a distinction between the Egyptians and the Israelites, making it hail throughout the land of Egypt except for in Goshen where the Israelites dwelt. The storm was just as severe as the Lord had promised Pharaoh, and this time Pharaoh called in Moses and Aaron and admitted to them that he had sinned (it is interesting that he says “this time I have sinned,” which may imply he didn’t think he had sinned on the previous occasions). Moses says that he will indeed plead to the Lord to take away the hail, but that he knows that Pharaoh doesn’t actually fear the Lord yet. And as could be predicted, as soon as the hail storm ceased, Pharaoh hardened his heart and sinned against the Lord once more, not letting the children of Israel go. Soon this hardening would turn out for the glory of God throughout the nations.
1. The eighth plague- Locusts: With the eighth plague, the Lord would bring swarms of locusts on the land of Egypt that would destroy everything that was left after the plague of hail, so that the land of Egypt would be ruined. Before this plague is sent, however, Moses and Aaron have a longer discourse with Pharaoh than was the norm, which would pit Pharaoh at the heart of the accusal as to why these plagues were being brought on the land of Egypt, as he would not humble himself before the Lord and obey His voice. However, this was to be the case in the plan of God (compare with Romans 9), so that the people of Israel could tell their children of the great wonders that the Lord had worked in the land of Egypt in bringing them from Egypitian bondage. Even the servants of Pharaoh at this point beg him to listen to Moses and Aaron to send the children of Israel away, for the land was ruined because of what had happened. Reasoning with them, Pharaoh calls Moses and Aaron back into his presence and tries to bargain with them, giving them a portion of what they were asking, but not allowing the full word of God to be carried out. God was not in the bargaining business, however, and there would be no compromise made. Either all the children of Israel were allowed to leave, or the next plague would be sent. Pharaoh essential opted for the next plague, and swarms of locusts came from an east wind caused by the Lord so much so that the people couldn’t see because of their numbers. Once again, Pharaoh calls Moses and Aaron back in to say that he had sinned against the Lord and against them, asking them to plead to the Lord that He might take away the locusts, which they would do and the Lord would cause a west wind to come and drive out all the locusts from the land of Egypt. However, as in times past, the Lord hardened Pharaoh’s heart once the locusts were removed from the land.
2. The ninth plague- Darkness: The ninth plague was one of darkness, a darkness that is said could be felt, on all the land of Egypt apart from the land of Goshen where the Israelites dwelt, so dark that the people didn’t leave their homes for three days, likely hindering the economic status of Egypt even more than it had already been burdened. At this, Pharaoh calls in Moses and Aaron and tells them to go with all their people, men, women and children, but he still tries to keep some collateral to be sure that the people would come back, saying that they had to leave their flocks in the land while they went to sacrifice. Still, God was not in the bargaining business, and Moses would not accept this offer, but rather would only accept a full release of the people, livestock and all. We can see Pharaoh’s mounting frustration here as he bursts out in anger, yelling at Moses and Aaron to leave his presence and never see his face any more. Moses seems to be frustrated at this point as well, as he basically says “Good! So be it!” Pharaoh would, however, see them once more with the coming of the final plague that would be the breaking point for Egypt.
Preparation of the final plague- Death of the firstborn: The final plague would become a crucial point in the history and theology of the Israelites after they were brought out of the land of Egypt, as it would be this final plague that would break the bow of Pharaoh and cause him to send the children of Israel away for good. Not only would this be the case, but there would be much symbolism from this plague that would be passed down from generation to generation, becoming a core element in Judaism. It is only fitting, then, that there is a chapter here that is dedicated to preparation before the plague (though it probably wouldn’t have been split into chapters when it was originally written). With this preparation, it is made known that the final plague would be the death of the firstborn in every household throughout all the land of Egypt in a single night, both man and cattle. The Lord would give the Israelites favor in the eyes of the Egyptians, that when they were allowed to leave, they would plunder the Egyptians, taking much gold and jewelry. With this threat, Moses and Aaron were driven out of the presence of Pharaoh in hot anger, which could have been because Pharaoh knew that what they said would happen, but he was too stubborn to act accordingly. Regardless of the immediate reason, the ultimate reason that Pharaoh’s heart was hardened was in order that God’s mighty works could be seen and proclaimed throughout the land (see Romans 9). The passover was about to come.
1. The Passover: As the tenth plague was scheduled, the Lord gives the people specific instructions of what they must do in order for the death angel not to come into their homes on the night of the final plague, but rather have the Lord pass over their home when He executes His judgment on Egypt. This was a moment that would live on through memorial as it would mark the first month for the Israelites. On the tenth day of this month every year, each household (or in combination with their neighbors if they were too small of a family to take a full lamb) would take a lamb and keep it until the fourteenth day, which they would celebrate the Lord’s passover. They were to take some of the blood of the passover lamb and put it on the doorposts and the lintel of the houses, so that the Lord would not allow the death angel in to their house. They were to eat the passover lamb with unleavened bread (for they would be in haste when they were driven out of Egypt due to the tenth plague), and not leave any of it until the morning, but rather burn anything that remained. They were to eat in a manner in which they were ready to depart from the land as soon as they were signaled too, having their belts fastened, sandals on their feet and staff in their hand. Further instructions for the passover memorial meal are then given here and at the end of this chapter, so that these actions would be repeated every year, giving the children of Israel an opportunity to teach their children the wonders of God and their heritage. It was very important to God that the people have a physical reminder of what He had done for them, so that He would not be forgotten amongst the people (as He would not always choose to work wondrous signs when the people disbelieved). Christ would later be compared to our passover Lamb in the context of cleansing out the leaven (one who was living in a lifestyle of sin in the congregation), sacrificed for the sake of our salvation (see I Corinthians 5:7).
2. The Exodus: The Lord had a reason for the children of Israel to prepare the passover and eat it in haste, with unleavened bread (which could be prepared in haste), and that was because once the tenth plague took place, the Egyptians would send the Israelites out in haste, not giving them much time to pack up their things. Thus, they needed to be prepared for when it happened. As they were leaving, the Lord gave them favor in the eyes of the Egyptians in that they gave them much gold and jewelry, probably trying to appease the God of Israel, for they were very afraid. About 600,000 men composed Israel as they began the Exodus from Egypt, and that is not including women and children. Thus, there was likely well over a million people in the congregation of Israel who left that night on foot. The children of Israel had lived in the land of Egypt 430 years to the day; with the passover, the next chapter in Israeli history began. Both the passover and the exodus would go on to play very crucial roles in the spiritual lives of the children of Israel, often being referred back to or called upon when they needed to be reminded of the great power of God and what He had done for His people.
Tomorrow’s Reading: I Samuel 26-31.
Trust in the Lord.