Friday, December 03, 2021

2021.12.03 Hopewell @Home ▫ Exodus 9:13–35

Read Exodus 9:13–35

Questions from the Scripture text: What does Yahweh tell Moses to do a fifth time (Exodus 9:13)? What does He say will be different this time (Exodus 9:14a)? Why (verse 14b)? What could (easily) have happened by now (Exodus 9:15)? But why is the LORD doing it specifically this way (Exodus 9:16)? What is Pharaoh doing (Exodus 9:17)? What will happen when (Exodus 9:18)? What should Pharaoh do, or else what (Exodus 9:19)? Which group did what in Exodus 9:20-21? What does Yahweh tell Moses to do, and what does Yahweh Himself do (Exodus 9:22-23)? What was the hail like (Exodus 9:24), and what did it do (Exodus 9:25)? Where wasn’t it (Exodus 9:26)? What did Pharaoh do (Exodus 9:27)? What did he say he had done? What did he say about Yahweh? And about himself and his people? What does he ask for (Exodus 9:28a) and promise (verse 28b)? What does Moses say he will do, and Yahweh will do, for what purpose (Exodus 9:29)? But what does he know (Exodus 9:30)? What was lost (Exodus 9:31) and what not lost (Exodus 9:32)? What did Moses do, with what result (Exodus 9:33)? What did Pharaoh see (Exodus 9:34a), and how did he respond to that (verse 34b)? How does Exodus 9:35 summarize the state of things at this point?

This is the fifth time in seven plagues that Yahweh sends Moses to tell Pharaoh “Yahweh says, ‘let My people go that they may serve Me’” (Exodus 9:13).  “That you may know that the earth is Yahweh’s” (Exodus 9:29). 

But Pharaoh is still hardening his heart, and will do so again this time (Exodus 9:30Exodus 9:34Exodus 9:35), just as Yahweh has said. The LORD could have wiped Pharaoh and Egypt out so much more easily (Exodus 9:15), but instead He is turning the screws slowly—progressively increasing the intensity of the judgment (Exodus 9:14a). Why?

“That you may know that there is none like Me in all the earth” (verse 14b). “That I may show My power in you” (Exodus 9:16a). “That My Name may be declared in all the earth” (verse 16b). 

And it’s having an effect—not just upon Israelites but even upon Egyptians. There are now those “who feared the word of Yahweh among the servants of Pharaoh” (Exodus 9:20)! Not only is the LORD taking His own people to go serve Him, but He is also taking away some Egyptians who serve Pharaoh to go serve the LORD. 

The softening of some Egyptians highlights the hardening of Pharaoh by contrast. This plague is devastating—wiping out both crop farming and livestock farming in one fell swoop, and even killing many Egyptians (Exodus 9:25). It will be several weeks before the wheat and spelt are ready (Exodus 9:32). 

Pharaoh sure sounds softened in Exodus 9:27, but here is a cautionary example that those who sound sincere, or even feel sincere, can be quite spiritually dead at heart. You can catch a little bit of it in the “this time” language that he uses; he implies that he really hasn’t been so bad before. It almost implies that it’s quite the magnanimous concession on his part. Let us, too, beware of how we tend to feel that we have gone the extra mile spiritually when we recognize and show remorse over one or another sin. How little we have known and felt our sin, even in our most intense moments of repentance!

How can it be that Pharaoh’s heart is not genuinely softened even now, after all of these plagues? The answer is that even with repeatedly being addressed by the Word of God, and repeatedly being chastened in the providence of God, it still requires the miraculous action of the grace of God upon a sinner’s heart to bring him to true repentance and faith.

So as we attend upon God’s means, let us never do so mechanistically. And as we interact with God’s work, let us never do so in mere sentimentalism, as if it can do us good simply by how it makes us feel. Rather, let us look to Him to do the gracious work in our hearts, looking to Him by means of His Word, and interacting with Him in our responses to His work.

What are the great ways that God has displayed Himself in the Scriptures? How has He shown Scriptural truths about Himself in world events, or even in your life events, during your lifetime?

Sample prayer:  O glorious and gracious God, we rejoice to see displays of Your power and justice—and mercy and patience—throughout the course of our lives, and especially in Your Word, most of all in Christ! Forgive us for when we mistrust Your longsuffering by fretting over the prolonged wait for Your justice. Forgive us for when our own repentance is superficial. Grant that You would keep saving surprising sinners, and that You would save us to the uttermost through Jesus Christ, Who always lives to intercede for us, and in Whose Name we ask it, AMEN!

Suggested songs: ARP2 “Why Do Gentile Nations Rage” or TPH2B “Why Do Heathen Nations Rage”

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