Passage: Exodus 9:13-10:2
Speaker: Steve Hands
Series: Coming Home – A Journey Through Exodus
That Pharaoh Might Believe
What will God do about the evil that unravels His beautiful purposes for the world? Exodus raises this question as its first chapter presents Pharaoh opposing God’s purposes for his people to multiply and fill the earth. Pharaoh opposes God’s purposes to prevent this proliferation, but God does not watch from a distance as havoc is wreaked in His beautiful world. Indeed, God demonstrates his power in judgment (9:13–17) and mercy in salvation (9:18–21) to restore His creation (9:22–26) and establish His people (9:27–10:2).
God demonstrates his power in judgment (Exod 9:13–17). God unleashes “all my plagues on [Pharaoh himself]….that [he] may know that there is none like me in all the earth” (9:14). For opposing God and seeking to destroy His people, Pharaoh and his people could have been rightly destroyed (9:15); instead God raises him up “that my name may be proclaimed in all the earth” (9:16). Through judgment of Pharaoh, God demonstrates His power in judgment. But this story is not only about judgment and destruction.
God demonstrates his power in judgment and mercy in salvation (9:18–21). Remarkably God offers mercy in salvation even for the Egyptians; though the plague of hail will destroy all their livestock, he warns them to bring their livestock and animals so that they would be saved. And “whoever feared the word of the LORD among the servants of Pharaoh” saw their livestock saved (9:20). God invites even the Egyptians to trust in His Word! This looks forward to how God will bring not only the people of Israel but a “mixed multitude” (Exod 12:38). Intriguingly God is not interested in saving only one ethnic group; even Egyptians were included in the original people of God at the Exodus! From the beginning the people of God were a “multiethnic” community. God shows his mercy in salvation.
God demonstrates His power in judgment and mercy in salvation to restore his creation (9:22–26). The emphasis in this plague of hail is thorough and complete destruction: extremely heavy hail and fire come from heaven that“struck down everythingthat was in the field in allthe land of Egypt…[and] struck down everyplant of the field and brokeevery tree of the field” (9:25).Pharaoh had unleashed forces that sought to destroy all of God’s creation, but God responds by unleashing forces that destroy all of the land of Egypt. This act of de-creation is a preparation of the re-creation that God would do through the people of God.
Yet God’s purpose is not only to restore his creation but also to establish his people (9:27–10:2). Even as Pharaoh “repents” and asks Moses and Aaron to stop the hail (9:27), but this “repentance” is empty words by one who does “not yet fear the LORD God” (9:30). Indeed even after the thunder and hail cease, Pharaoh hardens his heart and refuses to let the people of Israel go. Yet even this painful turn of events is an opportunity for God to demonstrate his power once again through another plague. God does this so that his people “may tell in the of [their] son and of [their] grandson…what signs I have done among them, that [they] may know that I am the LORD” (Exod 10:2). Indeed God is establishing his people with a solid knowledge of Himself.
So what? We must not despair at the destructive purposes of evil people and systems in our world. Instead we groan and cry out to God, that He might demonstrate his power in judgment and mercy in salvation to restore His creation and establish His people. May our hope be aligned with His purposes.