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.

Hurtful Words have an Atomic Half-Life ~ Bruce Van Horn

kicking1Our words carry a lot of weight and the things we say can have an impact long past the actual event in which they were said. I read this article today and it reaffirms the power of our words.

The author of the article shares this memory from his past:

I’m now 48 years old but I still remember the words, and how they made me feel, that a coach said to me when I was 17–31 years ago!

I was not feeling well and had performed poorly at a cross-country meet. I normally placed in the top-5 for my team, but came in well below that for this race. When the coach asked me what happened, I just said “I didn’t feel good.” He must have interpreted that as “I just didn’t feel like pushing hard today.” What he said to me in front of all of my teammates was “Van Horn, you’re a loser! You’ll never amount to anything in life.”

Read the rest of the article (the link is below) and the author’s thoughts on the power of our words. It’s a good reminder to all of us.

Hurtful Words have an Atomic Half-Life ~ Bruce Van Horn.

Hunger Games…finally

hunger gamesI’ve finally got around to reading The Hunger Games. The books have been sitting on our bookshelf for several months now and have already been consumed by the two high school/junior high readers in our house. I finally got caught up on the other books I wanted to read and got started on the trilogy.

I finished the first book in about a week and found it to be both captivating and disturbing. The idea that two dozen kids were put in an arena to kill each other until only one survives is a chilling premise. Yet I was wrapped up in the story when Katniss ended up being chosen in the reaping. (In case there are those who haven’t read the book, I don’t want to reveal many details).

One of the things I took away from the story was how the author depicted life in a society very different from ours. We are concerned about the rights of the individual and doing what we can to assure things are fair. In the world of The Hunger Games that is definitely not the case. In the setting of the book, those in power have all the power. The actual Hunger Games are a flexing of their muscle to show they are in control of the citizens.

I’ve already started into the second book and curious how the story will unfold.

What is your take on The Hunger Games?

Power To Raise The Really Dead

On the way to the office today, I was listening to Louie Giglio on the Passion City Church podcast.  He was teaching out of John 11 about the resurrection of Lazarus. Louie was not only giving the background of Lazarus’ sickness and death, but also the larger story of Jesus and how He was heading toward the cross.

In talking about the burial practices of that time, especially as it pertained to the climate of that part of the world, Louie talked about how quickly decomposition set in, which lead to the use of the spices and perfume on the deceased.  If you know the story of Lazarus, you know Jesus didn’t arrive until four days after Lazarus passed.

Now, if you grew up in the church, you have heard this story numerous times.  You know how it ends.  Lazarus died, but Jesus brought him back.  For some reason, the reality of “dead for four days” really set in as I listened.

If you have seen the move The Princess Bride, you may remember when Wesley’s friends take Wesley to Miracle Max because they believe Wesley is dead.  Thus, they need a miracle.  After checking him, Miracle Max says, “He’s not dead; he’s mostly dead….mostly dead is slightly alive.”

Lazarus was really dead.  There was no mostly about it.  He had been in the tomb for four days and we have to believe that the decomposition has set in.  He was really dead.  Yet, after those four days, Jesus speaks and Lazarus walks out.

It was a good (and needed) reminder that Jesus has power to raise the really dead.  What is problematic to some about the story of Lazarus is why Jesus waited four days.  It doesn’t change Who He is and what He is able to do.  I need that reminder that Jesus has power to recompose what has started to decompose.  He can bring the dead back to life.