Monday, April 17, 2017

Daily reading assignment: Exodus 9-12

We continue our study of Exodus and the hardening of Pharaoh’s heart as he continues to resist Moses’ demand that the people of Israel be set free from bondage that they might serve their God (Exodus 9:1).  Pharaoh and Egypt have suffered four of the ten plagues that will befall that nation before Pharaoh humbles his heart and sets Israel free.  Rather than a long dialog, I will list the four plagues we have noted so far.

1) Nile – water turned to blood; fish die (7:19-25)

2) Frogs and the stench of their dead carcasses (8:1-15)

3) Lice – most likely gnats or other biting insects (8:16-19)

4) Flies – Egypt is said to have biting “dog flies”

The fifth plague was among the livestock of Egypt, “cattle which is in the field, upon the horses, upon the asses, upon the camels, upon the oxen, and upon the sheep” (Exodus 9:3).  As a testimony of God’s sovereignty and His love of Israel, none of the livestock of Israel would perish (9:4-7).  Yet, Pharaoh hardened his heart against God even more.

The sixth plague was the misery and suffering that came with boils and blisters upon man and beast in Egypt (9:8-11).  Once again, Pharaoh hardened his heart (9:12).

The seventh plague was the destruction brought by hail raining down upon the crops in the fields of Egypt (9:13-35).  This time, some of Pharaoh’s servants believed the warnings of Moses and made their servants and livestock take shelter in houses (9:20).  When Pharaoh saw the plague of hail had ceased, he hardened his heart as he had in the past (9:34-35).

Egypt has suffered enough loss at the end of the seventh plague that hunger and famine were almost certain to be the lot of the people, but Pharaoh continued to harden his heart and would not heed the LORD’s command to free Israel from bondage (10:1).  For those who wonder why the LORD did not simply deliver Israel from bondage by the force of His will and power, we read:

Exodus 10:2 – “And that thou mayest tell in the ears of thy son, and of thy son’s son, what things I have wrought in Egypt, and my signs which I have done among them; that ye may know how that I am the LORD.”

More than delivering His people, the LORD wanted Israel to know and remember through successive generations all He had done in Egypt.  His dealings with Pharaoh and Egypt were to serve as a lasting testimony of God’s person, His power and His presence among His chosen people.  Though Israel was a nation of slaves, their God was the Creator and Sovereign of nature and would bring the greatest ruler and most powerful nation in the world to her knees.

The eight plague that will come upon Egypt is locusts that devoured whatever was left of the nation’s vegetation (10:3-20).  The ninth plague to befall Pharaoh and Egypt is darkness (10:21-29); while Israel enjoyed the comfort of light in their dwellings, darkness oppressed the Egyptians.  Yet, Pharaoh refused to allow Israel to depart.

Before the tenth plague befell Pharaoh and Egypt, the LORD instructed Moses to tell Israel to request gold and silver vessels and jewelry from the Egyptians (11:1-3).  Such a request might seem strange to us, but the gold and silver collected will, during Israel’s sojourn in the wilderness, be used to decorate the tabernacle and fabricate vessels used in sacrifices and worship.

Before we consider the tenth and final plague, let us ponder what the LORD has done in Moses, Israel and Egypt.  We read, “the man Moses was very great in the land of Egypt, in the sight of Pharaoh’s servants, and in the sight of the people” (Exodus 11:3).   The fears Moses entertained in returning to Egypt; whether the fear of Israel’s rejection or the fear of contending with Pharaoh, were overcome by the LORD giving His servant “favour in the sight of the Egyptians” (11:3a).

Before the LORD called him to return to Egypt, Moses served 40 years as a shepherd herding his father-in-law’s sheep in the wilderness.  Far from the man who had been the proud prince of Egypt, Moses was humble enough for God to use.

* Note – I plan to post a second devotional commentary dedicated to Exodus 12 later today. I will end this commentary with the following application.

In my opinion, the 21st century church has forgotten the principle of humility when choosing its leaders.  Moses feared returning to Egypt knowing after 40 years of shepherding he was ill prepared to speak in Pharaoh’s court (Exodus 4:10-12).  We can take a lesson from the life of Moses paralleled in Paul’s first letter to the believers in Corinth.

1 Corinthians 1:26-29 – “For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called:
27  But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty;
28  And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are:
29  That no flesh should glory in his presence.”

One rarely finds men of great talents and abilities who are humble enough to serve the LORD!  Granted, there are exceptions and that does not mean ignorance is God’s preferential choice; however, today’s Bible believing churches and institutions demonstrate a propensity to devalue godly, moral character and elevate silver-tongued teachers who have credentials the world applauds.  The church and her institutions need men humble enough for God to use and bold enough to stand and unapologetically declare the Word of the LORD!

Copyright 2017 – Travis D. Smith