Wednesday, October 27, 2021

2021.10.27 Hopewell @Home ▫ Exodus 8:16–19

Read Exodus 8:16–19

Questions from the Scripture text: To whom did Yahweh speak (Exodus 8:16)? To whom did He want him to speak? What was Aaron to stretch out? What was he to strike? What would happen to the dust? Where? Who does what (Exodus 8:17)? What does Aaron stretch out? What does he strike? What does it become? On whom and what? How does the second half of the verse emphasize the enormity of the plague? Who else tried this (Exodus 8:18)? With what success? And what result? To whom did they speak (Exodus 8:19)? What did they say? What happened anyway? Why? 

Justice/justness. The first application of this passage appears by way of what isn’t there: no going to Pharaoh and warning him, etc. We can see why. Pharaoh is hard. Either Exodus 8:8 was a lie, or he hasn’t kept his promise. It doesn’t offend our sense of justice that the Lord would inflict another plague upon Pharaoh. 

But would it offend our sense of justice if He did so with our nation, or our church? Or even to employ some chastening providence in our own sanctification? Though Pharaoh’s rebellion be more obstinate, there are ways in which our sins against grace have a heinousness to them that should shut our mouths under difficult providence—or, rather, open them in confession of sin and humble plea. God doesn’t owe us a warning, and He doesn’t owe us to do things the way that He has before.

Extensiveness/enormity. Though the river is a great feature of Egypt, it is not everywhere. Later, the Holy Spirit will tell us that the knowledge of God will one day cover the earth like the waters cover the sea. But one way the Bible often describes an innumerable multitude of things or people is by the phrase “the dust of the earth.” In the original, this exact phrase appears once in Exodus 8:16 and twice in Exodus 8:17

In the last of these instances, the exaggeration gets the point across: “all the dust of the earth became lice.” Of course, since there was some land left, not every particle underwent this conversion. But you get the idea: every man and animal in Egypt was covered with bugs.

Humiliation. If they weren’t functioning as God and Israel’s enemies in this passage, the reader could almost feel sorry for the royal sorcerers. They’re covered in lice, head-to-toe, and they’re expected to produce more. The Lord had permitted them to do so with the frogs (Exodus 8:7), but that hadn’t ultimately solved Pharaoh’s problem (Exodus 8:8). Now, they can neither reproduce the lice (Exodus 8:18a) nor eliminate them (verse 18b). They have to give a report to the boss, and they admit that this is beyond them, but can’t bring themselves to credit Yahweh—“This is the finger of God” (Exodus 8:19). 

Persistent hardness. At first, the conclusion to this plague looks similar to the others. “Pharaoh’s heart grew hard, and he did not heed them, just as Yahweh had said.” Pharaoh is exposed for what he is like. The LORD’s Word proves true. But there is one thing that is different. This time Pharaoh’s heart is so hard that we have no plea for relief. This means that his people miss out on the miraculous repeals that accompanied the first two plagues. Considering the extent of this plague, it was a hard judgment indeed upon the people that the lice had to die out from “natural causes” (the more ordinary providence of God).

In four, short verses this plague presents four frightful features of the judgment of God upon the wicked: the justness of it, the enormity of it, their humiliation by it, and their persistent hardness in it. God grant us grace that it shall not be so with us. How marvelous that He has given Christ to atone for all whom, by grace, He would bring to believe in Him.

Where can you see one or more of these features of God’s judgment in our nation? Upon certain parts of “the church”? What hope do you have of it not being so with you?

Sample prayer:  O Lord, how great is Your longsuffering mercy toward sinners! You owe us no warning, no call to repentance, and yet You have given us so very many of them. We plead for our nation and so much of the visible church, that You would deliver from hardness of heart. Grant that many’s eyes would be opened to the judgment that they deserve, and that their hearts would be softened to turn to Christ in faith. And grant unto us, too, to see the heinousness of our own sin, that we may hate it and lay hold of your mercy in Christ, through Whom we ask it, AMEN!

Suggested songs: ARP32AB “What Blessedness” or TPH2B “Why Do Heathen Nations Rage”

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