FROM BONDAGE TO FREEDOM
Hail, Locusts, and Darkness over the Land: Humiliation by Judgment
Exodus 9:13-11:10 SCC 8/19/12
The Bible consistently reveals that God will confront unbelief—the idea that we have a better idea of what is in our best interests. Sometimes He does so immediately, sometimes delayed, sometimes over time, and of course, in eternity. But count on it—unbelief and the sin associated with it will face the wrath of God.
HAIL 7TH BLOW
GOD CONFRONTS UNBELIEF AS A MEANS OF DISPLAYING HIS SOVERIEGN POWER
God declares He put Pharaoh in power based on the absolute sovereignty of God 13-17.
He declares that he had raised up Pharaoh v 13-17. Daniel (chapter 2) also declares that God sets up and removes kings from the Earth. Pharaoh is on the throne only because the LORD God of Israel put him there. The purpose of raising him up in this manner is “to show my strength "that my name be declared". God, in short, put Pharaoh in power so that he could reveal his own strength by destroying this powerful king, and give his people cause for praise and trust for generations to come. The nation of Israel, which was about to be formed, would need such a powerful display to instill trust and adoration that would sustain them through the centuries. Indeed, when you read the praises of Israel it is clear that they never forgot the deliverance from Egypt.
God extends His grace in judgment 18-26
Because of Pharaohs’ refusal v 17 God will now bring the hail through a massive thunderstorm v 18, 24-25. This plague is unique in that an invitation of grace is extended v 19-21. They were to send and bring their cattle into shelter. The text says that those who feared the LORD obeyed, and those who disregarded his word suffered the consequences.
The aftermath of the plague brings a surface confession 27-35.
Pharaoh now confesses, “I have sinned this time.” He also confesses that the LORD is “righteous” and he and the people are “guilty.” What he actually meant by these is not certain. Time will show that his confession was forced by the plague, and that he had not changed. The LORD is absolutely sovereign over all creation. But Moses also knows that Pharaoh will not “fear” the LORD had told him that he would not submit v 30. The idea of the plague of hail itself could be stated as follows: God demonstrates his power over the forces of nature to show his sovereignty–the earth is the Lord’s. He can destroy it. He can preserve it. If any wickedly sin by ignoring his word, he can bring destruction on them. If any fear in righteousness, he can preserve them in safety.
LOCUSTS 8TH BLOW
GOD’S POWERFUL DISPLAYS ARE USEFUL AS TESTIMONY TO EXTENDED FAMILY
The previous plague of the thunderstorm had destroyed the flax and barley crops, but the wheat and spelt crops were not destroyed, because they matured later on (9:31). The locusts would wipe out the wheat and the spelt crops.
The plagues will be a teaching tool 1-2
Here too the LORD declares that he has done this so that he might show his power v 2 but additionally that they might declare his name from generation to generation, and that they might know that he is the LORD v 2. This theme seems to be presented enough times to ensure that the point of the mighty signs be not missed. It was not a game with the LORD; it was a laying of the foundation of their faith.
Report the words of Moses to Pharaoh 3-6
His question, “How long will you refuse to humble yourself?” v 3 is a question he could have answered himself. God was not yet through humbling him, and so he would not humble himself before the total destruction had come. The economy of the nation would certainly collapse with this.
The response of the Egyptians is reported in verses 7-11.
The servant’s question, “How long will this man be a snare to us?” v 7 mirrors the wording Moses used. Now the servants of Pharaoh are demanding what Moses demanded had. They know that the land is already destroyed. So Moses and Aaron are brought back. But Pharaoh wants to know who is actually going. His words, however, camouflage another attempted compromise.
Pharaoh offered Moses three compromises, which the world still offers Christians. First, he suggested that the Israelites stay in Egypt (8:25). He said, in effect, you can be who you are, but live as a part of your larger culture; do not be distinctive. Second, he permitted them to leave Egypt but not to go far from it (8:28). He allowed them to separate from their culture but not drastically. Third, he gave permission for the males to leave, but their children had to remain in Egypt (10:8-11). Even godly parents are sometimes inclined to desire prosperity and worldly position for their children.
The plague is brought and confrontation follows 12-20
Here too the king confesses that he has sinned but adds a request for forgiveness for this sin this time v 16-17. Pharaoh's confession does not quite match genuine confession. He still refers to the LORD as “your” God. The fact that he humbles himself before Moses is not sufficient for forgiveness. He will eventually humble himself before God. Since his heart was not yet submissive, his confession was vain. Nations and kings would be forced to recognize that their God was Lord of all the earth. God will humble those who persistently refuse to submit to his will. That humbling will inevitably lead to death.
DARKNESS 9TH BLOW
CONFRONTING UNBELIEF MAY HARDEN ONE FURTHER
The ninth plague is that of darkness in all the land of Egypt 21-23.
It is comparable to the silence in heaven in Revelation just prior to the last and terrible plague. Here the Lord is destroying Egypt's main religious beliefs as well as portraying what lay before them in his judgment. Throughout the Bible the image of darkness is a form of judgment. Blindness is often the way that God inflicts this judgment. The men of Sodom were blinded in their wicked pursuit. The great host that came to take Elisha was smitten with blindness. Moses reminds Israel of the punishments that God brought on Egypt in his warning to them: “The LORD shall smite you with blindness and you shall grope at noonday as the blind grope in the darkness” (Deut. 28:27-29).
Pharaoh compromises one last time 24-29
The ninth plague was that of darkness so intense that it produced a dread in the hearts of the Egyptians. For three days the Egyptians and the Israelites were confined to their homes. The ninth plague, like the third and the sixth plagues, came upon the Egyptians without warning, which would have given them no opportunity to prepare for the disaster, either physically or psychologically. Pharaoh’s response to the plague was to offer to allow all the Israelites to leave Egypt to worship God, but that the cattle must remain behind (10:24). When this offer was rejected, Pharaoh hotly warned Moses that he must leave his presence, and to return would be his death. Moses agreed, but he had yet one more plague to proclaim before his final exit from Pharaoh’s presence. This tenth plague, he threatened, would bring about the release of the Israelites.
The Point of the Plagues:
(1) The plagues were an indictment and judgment of the gods of Egypt.
(2) The plagues were a demonstration of God’s existence and power.
(3) The plagues were a judgment on Pharaoh and the Egyptians for their cruelty and harshness Ge 15:14.
(4) The plagues were God’s means of forcing Pharaoh to release Israel from Egypt.
(5) The plagues were a prototype, a sample of God’s future judgment. The plagues which came upon the Egyptians for their sin were like those which Israel would experience, if this nation disobeyed the Law which God was soon to give them: “The Lord will afflict you with the boils of Egypt and with tumors, festering sores and the itch, from which you cannot be cured” (Deut. 28:27). There is also much similarity between the plagues of Egypt and the plagues described in the Book of Revelation, which are poured out upon the earth in the last days, just preceding the return of our Lord. Thus, in the Book of Revelation we find the victorious tribulation saints singing the “song of Moses” (Rev. 15:3).
The plagues of our passage were the judgment of God upon the Egyptians, but notice that God clearly identified them as such. The Egyptians may not have chosen to believe it, but God was clearly judging the gods of Egypt and those who would worship them. When God’s judgment comes upon men, He will let them know what is happening and why. When God is disciplining one of His saints, He will be sure to let that saint know what is going on. We need not agonize, searching for hidden sin, at the onslaught of every adversity and affliction. When God chastens us for sin, we’ll know about it. When God is punishing men for sin, He is not silent about it. When He is silent at the time of the suffering of a saint, this is a test of our faith, not an evidence of God’s judgment.
This text reminds us of the seriousness of sin. God takes man’s sin very seriously. The severity of the plagues is the measure of how seriously God took the sin of the Egyptians. It is not just the sin of the Egyptians, which God abhors; He hates our sin just as much as that of the pagans. Christians sometimes minimize the sin in their lives, and when they do so they fail to take our text seriously. Sin is serious.
The Book of Revelation speaks a great deal about this future judgment, and the descriptions we find of it make the plagues of the Book of Exodus almost pale. There is coming upon the earth of time of judgment that will be unlike that of any age. It surely is a time, which should be avoided. The solution is that of faith in the provision, which God has given—His own Son, Jesus Christ, who died in our place, who suffered our judgment, so that we might be forgiven