Wednesday, November 24, 2021

2021.11.24 Hopewell @Home ▫ Exodus 9:8–12

Read Exodus 9:8–12 

Questions from the Scripture text: To whom does Yahweh speak in Exodus 9:8? What does He tell them to take? From where? Who is to scatter it? Toward where? In the sight of whom? What will the ashes become (Exodus 9:9)? Where? What did it cause? One whom and what? Where? What did they take (Exodus 9:10)? From where? Before whom? Who scattered them? Toward where? And what did the ashes cause? On whom and what? In Exodus 9:11, who were now unable to do what? On what men, specifically, were the boils? But what did Yahweh do (Exodus 9:12)? And what didn’t Pharaoh do? Just as what? 

We sinners justly deserve God’s wrath, which makes it so glorious when instead we receive His mercy! 

This justness is on display when (as with the third plague, cf. Exodus 8:16) the LORD skips the ordinary command (“let My people go that they may serve Me”) and warning (“but if you do not let them go, I will…”). Indeed the Lord could immediately cast Pharaoh and all Egypt (and all Israel!) into Hell, and He would have been righteous and just to do so. And the Lord would have been righteous and just to cast you, dear reader, immediately into Hell. But He has not done so, for here you sit, reading His Word and this little exposition of that Word. 

This brief account proclaims the justness of what the LORD is doing in at least two more ways. One is the source of the ashes that Moses is commanded to throw (Exodus 9:8Exodus 9:10). The furnaces in Egypt were brick kilns and represented the Israelites’ slavery and subjugation. 

The bricks had also featured prominently in Pharaoh’s initial, rebellious response to Yahweh’s identification of Israel as His servants rather than Pharaoh’s (cf. Exodus 6:6–19). A third display of Yahweh’s justness in this brief plague account is what comes upon the magicians of Egypt. They, too, had figured prominently in Egypt’s resistance to the signs and punishments by which the LORD had exerted His glory (cf. Exodus 7:11, Exodus 7:22, Exodus 8:7, Exodus 8:18–19). We have not seen or heard from them in the past couple plagues; their entire role in this episode is being unable even to stand before Moses now (Exodus 9:11). 

Under every pain, we would do well to identify ways in which that chastening would have been just the beginning of a perfectly just penalty from the Lord for our sin. Often, there is some providential detail—some specific thing in the situation—by which the Lord highlights His justness to us. But this much emphasizes to us His mercy. 

It is marvelous that the Lord is merciful even to Pharaoh here. He specifically commands that Pharaoh should witness this with his own eyes (end of Exodus 9:8), and Moses obeys (Exodus 9:10). God gives Pharaoh the opportunity to see his own wickedness against the backdrop of God’s power and justness. But this mercy heaps coals of fire upon Pharaoh’s head (cf. Proverbs 25:21–22, Romans 12:20) because apart from restraining or regenerating grace, when the Lord causes Pharaoh’s heart to set in its current condition (Exodus 9:12a), he rejects even this mercy of God (verse 12b). 

How about you, dear reader? Seek from the Lord the twin mercies of an opportunity to see your sin in light of Him and the mercy of a softened heart that is not justly set in its sinful condition! 

There is also great mercy here to Moses and to Israel. This hardening of Pharaoh’s heart was an integral part of the LORD’s promise to redeem His people (cf. Exodus 4:21). The fact that this is going “according to plan” strengthens assurance of their redemption and inflames adoration of their Redeemer. 

But the greatest mercy is to us who have come to know that Jesus is both Yahweh and Christ. For, the deliverance from Egypt (to which Pharaoh’s hardening was vital) was itself an integral part of the Lord coming into the world as the Christ, so that He might bear for us the Hell that we justly deserved and might redeem us by His precious blood! 

What current circumstances make you cry out for (and thankful to be sure of) God’s just wrath? How are you responding the calls of His Word and work for your own repentance? Where can you get the mercy of a softened heart in order to respond better? 

Sample prayer: Glorious, Triune God—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—we praise You for the perfect justice in which You vindicate Yourself upon all the wicked. And how greatly we have deserved the condemnation ourselves. But we adore You all the more that You have shown us mercy instead. In that very mercy, grant Your Spirit’s blessed work upon our hearts that we might be softened unto repentance and might rejoice in Your redeeming us through Christ, through Whom also we pray this, AMEN! 

Suggested songs: ARP32AB “What Blessedness” or TPH340“There Is a Fountain Filled with Blood

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