The Plagues in Exodus = God’s Power and Mercy

For the past few weeks, I have been brought back several times to the Old Testament book of Exodus. Our Sunday Morning Junior High class is doing a series on the Old Testament and is currently in Exodus. Our High School class is a little over half way through a series on Exodus. Somewhere in the midst of that my Bible reading plan took me into Exodus.

If you are familiar with the book of Exodus, you know about the ten plagues that God sent to convince Pharaoh to let the Israelite people go free. At the time the Hebrews (God’s chosen people) were in slavery to the Egyptians. Pharaoh was stubborn and needed some convincing before he would part with his slave work force.

My reading plan took me to Exodus chapter 9 where God threatens to send the plague of hail if Pharaoh doesn’t agree to let them go free.

“Then the LORD said to Moses, “Get up early in the morning, confront Pharaoh and say to him, ‘This is what the LORD, the God of the Hebrews, says: Let my people go, so that they may worship me, or this time I will send the full force of my plagues against you and against your officials and your people, so you may know that there is no one like me in all the earth. For 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.”  [Exodus 9:13-15]

The plagues definitely show God’s power.  He sends hail that will destroy both livestock and the crops.  At the raising of Moses’ hands, God unleashes a plague that brings a lot of destruction.  God clearly shows His power.

As I read this chapter again, I see how the plagues also show God’s mercy.  While God was definitely going to bring destruction, He didn’t do it without warning.  He gave Pharaoh and the Egyptian people opportunities to avoid what He was going to do.

Notice was it says in Exodus 9:18-19:  “Therefore, at this time tomorrow I will send the worst hailstorm that has ever fallen on Egypt, from the day it was founded till now. Give 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 person and animal that has not been brought in and is still out in the field, and they will die.’ ” [Exodus 9:18-19]

Anyone who would listen to God’s warning would avoid the damage done by the hail.  God was flexing His muscle, but He also revealed His heart – He gave the Egyptians a chance to protect their animals and possessions from the hail.  Those who feared God listened and brought in their slaves and livestock.

God demonstrated His power and His mercy.

Later in the chapter God shows His mercy again:

“The flax and barley were destroyed, since the barley had headed and the flax was in bloom. The wheat and spelt, however, were not destroyed, because they ripen later.”  [Exodus 9:31-32]

Not all the crops were destroyed.  God spared some of the Egyptians future food supply.

As I was brought back to the book of Exodus, I was brought back to both the power of God and the mercy of God.  Yes, God brought judgement.  Yes, God brought His power down on the people of Egypt.  But He didn’t do it without warning.  He didn’t do it without giving Pharaoh and the Egyptians a chance to respond.

The good news is that God does the same thing for us.  He continues to offer His mercy and gives us a chance to respond.  That’s good news for those of us who can be stubborn like Pharaoh.

Buried By God

My YouVersion reading yesterday (Day 100) told the account of the death of Moses.  He had been faithful to God in leading the nation of Israel out of slavery in Egypt, through the Red Sea and on the edge of the Promised Land.  Israel allowed their fear of the inhabitants in the Promised Land to overcome their faith in God.  As a result of their disobedience, they were forced to wander in the wilderness.

After 40 years, the day of taking possession of the land arrived, but Moses was unable to lead them in.  He didn’t follow God’s instructions so forfeited his right to lead them in.

In Deuteronomy 34, we read of the death of Moses.  These following verses contain a pretty powerful testimony to the life he lived:

4 Then the Lord said to Moses, “This is the land I promised on oath to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob when I said, ‘I will give it to your descendants.’ I have now allowed you to see it with your own eyes, but you will not enter the land.”  5 So Moses, the servant of the Lord, died there in the land of Moab, just as the Lord had said. 6 The Lord buried him in a valley near Beth-peor in Moab, but to this day no one knows the exact place. 7 Moses was 120 years old when he died, yet his eyesight was clear, and he was as strong as ever. 8 The people of Israel mourned for Moses on the plains of Moab for thirty days, until the customary period of mourning was over.  9 Now Joshua son of Nun was full of the spirit of wisdom, for Moses had laid his hands on him. So the people of Israel obeyed him, doing just as the Lord had commanded Moses.  10 There has never been another prophet in Israel like Moses, whom the Lord knew face to face. 11 The Lord sent him to perform all the miraculous signs and wonders in the land of Egypt against Pharaoh, and all his servants, and his entire land. 12 With mighty power, Moses performed terrifying acts in the sight of all Israel.

Buried by God…imagine the Creator of all things taking on the task of burying one of His servants.  It speaks to the relationship that Moses had with God…a face to face relationship like few others had.

When it comes to the end of our lives, what will be written about us?

Envisioning the Exodus

When you think about the Exodus – when Moses lead the Israelites out of Egypt – what do you picture?  There have been several movies & videos made about the event, so that may influence what shows up in your mind.

This year I have been reading through the Bible using YouVersion.  I am in the book of Exodus and was reminded what a huge sea of humanity the Israelites were when they left Egypt.

Whenever I think of large crowds, I think of sporting events.  Football games bring out big groups.  Lucas Oil Stadium, home of the Indianapolis Colts,  holds 63,000 people and they sell out on a regular basis.  “The Horseshoe,” Ohio State’s football stadium, had a record attendance of just over 106,000 people for a game in 2009.  That’s a whole lot of people!  Both stadiums are big venues and when you are in them or see them on television, you are probably impressed.  Imagine the traffic coming in and going out before and after the game.

With that small bit of perspective, read these words from Exodus 12:37-38b:

“The Israelites journeyed from Rameses to Sukkoth. There were about six hundred thousand men on foot, besides women and children.  Many other people went up with them, and also large droves of livestock, both flocks and herds.”

600,000 men, just men, on foot.  Then you have to add in the women and children.  If you made the assumption that each family had just  2 kids, you are already at 2.4 million people…imagine if they had families for 5, 6 or more!  Than it said “many other people went up with them.”  Then you add all their livestock.  Can you even picture that mass of people making a trip out of Egypt?

I grew up hearing about Moses and the 10 Plagues and the crossing of the Red Sea, but to imagine that many people leaving Egypt, it puts those events in a whole new light.

It speaks to God’s power to not only care for that many people and lead them through the Red Sea and the desert, but also to his patience that he could put up with that large of a group.  Most of us get grumpy if we sit in a crowded car too long.

I think it’s pretty cool how the Bible still comes to life and God uses His Word to remind us of what He is able to do.