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Wednesday in the Word

Second Baptist Church

May 17, 2017

Exodus  9:1-21

  1. Verses 1-7. I want to thank Pastor J. Duncan of Mississippi for his notes on the plagues. God is turning up the pressure on Pharaoh. This time God tells Moses to let Pharaoh know that if he doesn’t release the people to go worship he will afflict only the livestock of the Egyptians. Once again God now decides to show pharaoh that he is Lord by only afflicting the livestock of the Egyptians and sparing the livestock of the Hebrews. God tells Moses to remind Pharaoh who it is speaking to Him, the Lord, the God of the Hebrews. This is the first time since the first plague that God has used that title, “God of the Hebrews.” “Since you didn’t know who I was, since you didn’t know My name, had never heard of Me, let me tell you one more time, I am the Lord, the God of the Hebrews.” God knows that Pharaoh and his people would not be able to mimic this plague because animals in the same fields would get sick and die while others remained well and lived. This type of plague could not be dismissed or duplicated. One can’t spread a disease that affected one cow in a field but spared the others. Of course Pharaoh didn’t let the people go and the plague killed only the animals of the Egyptians. This plague may well have been another attack on the religion and superstition of Egypt. We know, for instance, that bull cults were especially popular in Egypt throughout most of its ancient period. They viewed the bull as a fertility figure, and bulls and other animals were sometimes the embodiment of certain Egyptian gods. So this may once again be a challenge to the religious system of Egypt, showing that God, the Lord, the God of the Hebrews is the true God, and that the gods that they serve are false gods who is able to dominate and conquer and rule over. Pharaoh even investigated to see if even one of the animals of the Hebrews died and found all to be living. Even with this overwhelming proof, and distinction between the Egyptians and Hebrews, Pharaoh didn’t budge. How stubborn one must be to overlook this type of evidence. Pharaoh is operating from his pride, and God has turned him over to his pride. His pride will not let him say he is wrong. Pharaoh is so caught up in his image of being a god that he cannot even budge a bit when he has been proven wrong. Your pride will always cause you to go further than the point of no return. Pride, in this context, is an attitude that makes it impossible for you to say you are wrong. This is what normally afflicts your teenagers between 12-30...LOL

  2. Notice a number of patterns developing in the plagues. For instance, in the first two plagues, and in that initial encounter between Moses and Aaron and the magicians with regard to the staff and the snakes, the magicians managed to reproduce the signs which Moses and Aaron displayed. But in the third plague, the magicians admit that they are unable to reproduce the sign and acknowledge that what Moses and Aaron have done is indeed the result of God’s power. You remember they said this is the “finger of God.” Now that’s significant because there are three cycles of three plagues. The first three plagues, the second three 4 through 6, and then the third, 7 through 9. And it’s interesting that in the last of the second cycle of plagues, we see again the magicians of Pharaoh’s court facing defeat, just like we did in the last of the first three plagues. At any rate, in the first three plagues in each case, Aaron’s staff is used. But his staff does not appear in the second set of three plagues, and yet in the third set of three plagues it will reappear again and be used. Pharaoh’s heart is hardened in the first five plagues. It’s either said that his heart was hardened, it’s just been announced that it was hardened, or it is said that he hardened his own heart. That’s going to change when we look at the sixth plague. The sixth and the seventh plagues form the end of the second cycle of three plagues, and the beginning of the third and last cycle of three plagues. We see a growing intensification of judgment by the sovereign God of Israel against Egypt. There will be a pause, and then a horrendous break when the tenth plague comes. But through these cycles of plagues, we see God’s judgment increasing.

  3. Verses 8-12. This is the last plague in the second triad. It is unannounced, there is no prior warning given for it, just like we saw in the third plague. So in the end of the first three plagues, we see a plague that comes unannounced. At the end of the second three plagues we see a plague that comes unannounced. This plague impacts and impels human life. The last plague, the fifth plague, had been against the livestock. This plague, however, explicitly is against man and beast. Why is kiln soot thrown into the air? To indicate the coming of this plague. Well, there are a number of different speculations as to the reason for that. It may well have indicated the rapid spread of this disease by throwing this very light dust into the air. The slightest wind would have spread it quickly, and it may have indicated that this plague is going to spread like wild fire. It may have indicated what the plague itself would look like on the skin of Egyptians, and the animals as they were affected, perhaps lot of black splotches resembling this black soot from the furnace manifested itself on the Egyptians. Or, this may be God’s ironic rejoinder to the oppression of Pharaoh. You see the people of Israel knew a little bit about brick soot and furnace. They had been forced into hard labor to produce bricks. Now, the soot from those kilns symbolizes God’s judgment against Pharaoh. And so we see God here again showing His sovereignty in responding to Pharaoh’s own methods of oppressing the children of Israel. We’re told explicitly, if you look at the end of verse 8, that this is to be done in Pharaoh’s sight. Why? So that once again he will know for certain that this is a miracle. This is not just a natural occurrence, it’s not just a natural sequence of events that flows from some particular natural phenomenon in Egypt, it is something, which God had brought about. And as this judgment touches man and beast, we see God intensifying the trials and judgments against Egypt. In verse 11, we find that the magicians are utterly defeated. Just as in the third plague they had admitted, we can’t do this, this is the finger of God. Now, they are unable to stand before Moses. They are themselves victims. Verse 10 tells us that Moses stands before Pharaoh. God causes him to stand before Pharaoh. But now the magicians cannot stand before Moses. And indeed, this is the final mention of the magicians until II Timothy 3:8. They were so defeated that they did not surface again in the Old Testament. God had utterly defeated them, and now the next time you will hear of a plague like this after Deuteronomy will be in Revelation 16. Pharaoh once again refuses to listen Moses and Aaron. This is the practical manifestation of a hard heart. He won’t listen. He won’t listen to reason, he won’t listen to their appeals. And once again we’re told that all happened just like the lord told Moss it would happen.

  4. Verses 13-21. God reveals His twin purposes for the plagues. God tells us His purposes in redemption. Look again at the phrase. “Let My people go that they may serve Me.” Here we see the ground of the redemption of Exodus; it’s God’s people. This is God’s people. And here we see the goal of the Exodus. Their purpose is to serve the Lord. Let my people go, so that they may serve the Lord.” Notice again that the plague is visited on Pharaoh’s heart. This time verse in 14, “I will send all My plagues on your heart and your servants and your people.” This is a direct assault on the sovereignty of Pharaoh, and it indicates an intensification of the confrontation. We also see at the end of verse l4, the doxological purpose of the Exodus, “that you may know that there is no one like Me in all the earth.” God tells us in verse 15 that He is in total control. And He reiterates His purpose in the Exodus in verse l6. In order to show you My power and to proclaim My Name in all the earth. God’s providence often has dual purposes. He is often doing several things at once. For instance, in this passage, notice how God’s mercy is shown in two ways. God’s mercy is shown in that God does not cut off Pharaoh immediately. God could have started the judgment of Egypt by simply wiping Pharaoh out at the very beginning; but He doesn’t do that. And thus we see the grace of God’s patience, granting to Pharaoh the opportunity to repent. And then we see God’s grace in the forewarning of this plague. This God of judgment is not merely a God of justice and holiness, He is a God of compassion and mercy and love. And He even has compassion on the animals of the Egyptians, if they will but harken to His warnings. And indeed those who harken to the word of the Lord, their servants and their animals are spared and those who do not, their servants and their animals are lost.

  5. And so on the one hand, in the Exodus judgments we see God’s grace and His mercy and His compassion and His long suffering displayed, and on the other hand, He displays His sovereignty, and there is no one like Him in heaven and earth. On the one hand, He’s bringing His people out of bondage; on the other hand He is raining judgment on His enemies. God can do many things with the same action. It’s a display of His sovereignty. We are usually unable to kill two birds with one stone. God does it all the time. And we learn here about the dual purposes of His providence. And it’s a sign of His sovereignty.

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