Exodus 11:1-10 ~ 20101128 ~ Pastor Rodney Zedicher ~ Ephraim Church of the Bible ~ www.ephraimbible.org
11/28 Exodus 11:1-10 Hearts Like Water
We'll start with a recap of Moses' interaction with the Pharaoh up to this point. Moses went to Pharaoh with the word of the LORD demanding the release of his people. Pharaoh responded with an insult to the Hebrew's God and an escalation of the oppression of his slaves. The people turned on Moses and Aaron and called their integrity into question. God sends them back to Pharaoh with the sign of the staff turned to serpent, which the magicians duplicate and Pharaoh's heart was hardened. The first round of blows begins. #1: God sends them to intercept Pharaoh at the banks of the Nile and turn the water to blood. The magicians duplicated this and Pharaoh's heart remained hard. #2: God sent Moses and Aaron in to the courts of Pharaoh to again demand the release of his people, and threaten with frogs. Again the magicians of Egypt duplicate the miracle. This time Pharaoh summons Moses and Aaron and implores them to pray on his behalf to remove the frogs. When the frogs all die, he again hardens his heart. #3: Moses and Aaron are then instructed to strike the dust and gnats cover the land. The magicians acknowledge this as the finger of God after their failure to produce gnats. But Pharaoh's heart was hardened and he would not listen to them, as the LORD had said. The second round of blows begins. #4: Again Moses is to intercept Pharaoh on his way to the water and threaten swarms of flies. But this time God promised a distinction between the Egyptians and his own people. Pharaoh calls for Moses and begins his bargaining, but when the swarms are removed, he again hardens his heart. #5: Then God sent Moses in to confront Pharaoh and threaten the death of Egyptian livestock, again making a distinction between them and his people. Even after this, his heart was hardened. #6: Then Moses and Aaron were instructed to throw soot in the air in the presence of Pharaoh, which would become painful boils on man and beast. The magicians could not stand because of the boils, but the Lord hardened Pharaoh's heart and he would not listen. The third round of blows begins. #7: Moses is again to confront Pharaoh early in the morning and declare his purpose against him: 'for this purpose I have raised you up, to show you my power, so that my name may be proclaimed in all the earth' (9:16). God threatens to unleash all his plagues on him, but gives warning and commands escape. Destructive hail is coming tomorrow, so send for everything in the open to be brought in. Those who feared the word of the Lord obeyed, but those who did not pay attention to the word of the Lord suffered great loss. God again exempted his own people from this destruction. Pharaoh summoned Moses and Aaron and confessed that he and his people were in the wrong, and asked them to pray for deliverance. He promised to let them go, but when he saw the rain and hail and thunder had ceased, he sinned again and hardened his heart. #8: God sends Moses in to Pharaoh, with the explanation that he had hardened Pharaoh's heart, so that he could show these signs among them, so that the Israelites could tell their sons and grandsons how God dealt harshly with the Egyptians, so that the generations to come would know that he is YHWH. Moses threatened locust that would destroy the remainder of Egypt's crops, and then left Pharaoh. Pharaoh's court officials tried to talk sense to their king, urging him to let them go, so he recalled Moses and again attempted to bargain with them over who would go. When they refused to bargain, they were driven from his presence. When the locust destroyed every living plant, Pharaoh called Moses and Aaron and confessed that he had sinned against their God and against them and asked for relief. But the Lord hardened his heart so that he did not let the people go.
#9: That brings us up to the undoing of God's creation of light, the removal of even this common grace, and the deep darkness of his displeasure. We'll read that account for context, and then look at chapter 11.
Introduction: sequence of the narrative
Before we look at this passage in detail, I think it will be helpful to see the flow of the narrative. Chapter 10 concludes with the declaration that Moses will not see the face of Pharaoh again. Then at the end of chapter 11, we have Moses leaving the presence of Pharaoh in hot anger. Apparently, chapter 11 is a continuation of the conversation between Moses and Pharaoh that began in chapter 10. the first 3 verses of chapter 11 appear to be a parenthesis introducing the final blow against Egypt and giving instruction to the Israelites. Verses 4-8 continue the dialogue between Moses and Pharaoh that left off at the end of chapter 10, and verses 9 and 10 serve as a kind of conclusion to the nine blows against Egypt.
Parenthesis: the plundering of the Egyptians
We are all familiar with the ten plagues of Egypt. But at the beginning of this sequence, Moses would have had no way of knowing how many or how long this would go on. God had said:
God said at the outset that he would 'strike Egypt with all the wonders that I will do in it'. Moses wouldn't know if there were going to be three or 123. Here, God tells him 'yet one plague more'. That must have been a huge relief after the rejection and uncertainty and escalation that we've seen so far. Back in chapter 3, God went on to say:
Here we see instructions for Israel to fulfill that promise. This, by the way, is the first time Moses is said to address the people since chapter 6. The response he received there was less than positive.
Now the people hear and act in response to God's instructions to them. This is in fact the fulfillment of a prophecy spoken hundreds of years earlier.
Normally, plundering is what happens after a decisive defeat of the enemy. Here, Israel is instructed, not to strip valuables from dead bodies, but to ask of their living Egyptian neighbors to freely give them their treasures, and this is before the decisive blow has fallen. God said he would execute judgment on all the gods of Egypt, and this plundering demonstrates the total conquest of the sovereign God over all of Egypt. We are told
This too is described as an act of God, a gift of God. The Lord gave the people grace or favor in the sight of the Egyptians. We have seen throughout this narrative that
God had promised to harden the heart of Pharaoh at just the right times and after this final act he will not only let you go, he will drive you out completely. Now we are told that he is also turning the hearts of all the Egyptians. In Psalm 105, speaking of the animosity of the Egyptians toward Israel, it says:
God, who turned the hearts of the Egyptians to hate his people, now gives his people favor in the sight of the Egyptians. This should be great comfort to us. Do you feel hated by someone? God is in control! God has a good purpose for you even in that. At the right time he can give you grace in their sight. You can trust God even in those situations. Not only do we trust God when things happen, we trust God who makes things happen as a part of his great redemptive plan for the benefit of his people.
It also says that Moses was highly esteemed in the sight of the people and even in the sight of Pharaoh's servants. We will see this come to play in just a few moments. Now we pick up Moses' conversation with the Pharaoh.
This is a terrifying prospect. Up to this point, God had worked through secondary causes. He worked through Moses' staff. He caused nature to do his bidding. Frogs, bugs, wind, hail, disease, darkness. Here YHWH says that he himself will go out in the midst of Egypt. The Egyptian sorcerers recognized the finger of God in his mighty acts. We saw the hand of the LORD fall. But now, God says, he will personally go out in the midst of Egypt. For someone who has been reconciled to God, the presence of God is a great delight.
But for someone who has made himself God's enemy, the presence of the Lord is a dreadful thing.
Egypt had set herself against the people of God. She had sought to destroy the future of Israel by killing their children. She had cruelly oppressed the people and subjected them to harsh slavery, and stubbornly refused to let them go. Now all this would come back on her head. This is exactly what God had threatened up front that he would do.
This is retributive justice. God demanded Israel's release. Egypt had said 'we don't acknowledge this God and we will not let the people go.' God has given multiplied fair warning. Now he will fulfill his promise.
Israel has cried out.
Now it is time for Egypt to cry out.
The dog growling was a graphic way to say that not the least bit of harm would come to Israel. This might also be a backhanded insult directed toward Anubis, the Egyptian god of the dead, who was portrayed with the canine head of a jackal. In Egyptian belief, it was Anubis who would care for the deceased, and would weigh their hearts to determine whether they were fit to enter the afterlife. God is decisively demonstrating that he alone has power over life and death. God made this distinction between Egypt, who would cry like they have never cried before, and his people who would be totally protected from all harm, for the benefit of Pharaoh. It is that you, Pharaoh, may know that the LORD makes a distinction between Egypt and Israel. In fact, Pharaoh, your own servants will come down from your royal platform to bow to me. Remember, how God turns the hearts of the people? Now God is turning the hearts of those who serve around Pharaoh's throne so that Moses is highly revered and they abandon their king and bow to Moses and plead with him to get out of Egypt with his people. And, Moses declares, I will go out. Pharaoh has up to this point denied release. He has made promises he did not keep, but this time, Moses says, I will go out. And with that, he marches out of Pharaoh's courtroom in hot anger.
In our politically correct niceness we might mistakenly imagine that anger is always sin and a violation of the golden rule. But this is not what the bible teaches. The Psalmist holds up his anger against sin as a virtue.
The proverbs encourage us to be slow to anger, not to never become angry.
Paul tell us to
Moses was rightly outraged at a puffed up Pharaoh who refused to listen to God even after God had demonstrated his power over and over and over again. I think our danger is not that we get angry too often. Our problem is we get angry about all the wrong things. We need to be more passionate. We should not be apathetic. We should care deeply about the things that matter most. We should get fired up about the fame of the name of our great God! Reflect the character of God by being angry at sin and its devastating effects. Get passionate and do something about it! Be angry, and do not sin.
God comforts Moses and reminds him that there is a purpose in all of this.
God has his good purposes. God is at work even in the hardness of Pharaoh's heart to accomplish his good purposes. He is multiplying his wonders so that truth-seekers throughout all generations might know and believe in the one supreme God over all gods, Lord of lords, king of kings, the Mighty One. God is demonstrating that no matter what kind of force stands against his people, YHWH is able to keep all his promises and rescue his people. This all points us to Jesus