Exodus

Exodus 11

Exodus 11

The Plague on the Firstborn

11 Now the Lord had said to Moses, "I will bring one more plague on Pharaoh and on Egypt. After that, he will let you go from here, and when he does, he will drive you out completely. 2 Tell the people that men and women alike are to ask their neighbors for articles of silver and gold." 3 (The Lord made the Egyptians favorably disposed toward the people, and Moses himself was highly regarded in Egypt by Pharaoh's officials and by the people.)

4 So Moses said, "This is what the Lord says: ‘About midnight I will go throughout Egypt. 5 Every firstborn son in Egypt will die, from the firstborn son of Pharaoh, who sits on the throne, to the firstborn son of the female slave, who is at her hand mill, and all the firstborn of the cattle as well. 6 There will be loud wailing throughout Egypt—worse than there has ever been or ever will be again. 7 But among the Israelites not a dog will bark at any person or animal.' Then you will know that the Lord makes a distinction between Egypt and Israel. 8 All these officials of yours will come to me, bowing down before me and saying, ‘Go, you and all the people who follow you!' After that I will leave." Then Moses, hot with anger, left Pharaoh.

9 The Lord had said to Moses, "Pharaoh will refuse to listen to you—so that my wonders may be multiplied in Egypt." 10 Moses and Aaron performed all these wonders before Pharaoh, but the Lord hardened Pharaoh's heart, and he would not let the Israelites go out of his country.

Reflection

This is a chapter of reversals and contrasts.

Every firstborn son of the Egyptians die in this plague in contrast with chapter 1 where Pharaoh orders all the Hebrew baby boys to be drowned (1:22).

The Egyptians loud wailing in grief, just as the Hebrew slaves wailed to God (2:23).

The Hebrews move from being the possession of Pharaoh to belonging to God.

God is the God who restores, renews, re-builds and reverses wrongs.

Paul uses this event as a metaphor in Romans 6:17-20 to talk about the freedom from slavery to sin that God brings in Jesus. He can make that move, not just as literary license, but because in the Exodus we learn something about the nature of God. God is the ultimate liberator, not just from physical oppressors but from the bondage of sin and unrighteousness in which humans entangle themselves.

Our greatest bondage is not to Egyptians, literally or metaphorically. Rather, sin, guilt, and shame are the chains that enslave us most, the inability to do right and to be right, and the self-condemnation that comes with it. "But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us" (Rom. 5:8).

Sometimes, like the Hebrew slavery in Egypt our lives are shaken to the core. Circumstances beyond our control occur. Things are turned upside down. And we're left devastated.

Sometimes someone else intentionally causes us harm and we are left feeling hurt, damaged, confused.

Sometimes we ourselves make choices that we think are good but they end up being bad choices and are left with the consequences. We may feel bad. We may feel shame or embarrassment, sorrow or pain.

Sometimes we make bad choices that we know are bad choices, and we're left with a mess on our hands. We feel regret. Disappointment. Maybe even unlovable.

And invariably we're left wondering how will things will ever change? Can I get out of this situation? Will it always be this way? Can I get a fresh start?

The message we read chapter 11, is that if things are falling apart before you.

God can replenish and reverse all that has been lost. He is in the business of bringing beauty from ashes. He restores all that the locusts have taken.

Whatever reversal you are in need of, cry out to God. God's very nature is to work the reversals of injustice, of sin, of shame. He has already worked the greatest reversal in Christ. Surely God can manage yours. What's more, you will probably discover that God is already at work, bringing your reversal about.

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