Friday, December 31, 2021

2021.12.31 Hopewell @Home ▫ Exodus 11

Read Exodus 11

Questions from the Scripture text: Who speaks to whom in Exodus 11:1? What will He bring? How many? On whom? Then what? In what manner? Whom must Moses now command to do what (Exodus 11:2, cf. Exodus 3:22)? Why were these requests successful (Exodus 11:3a)? And what had the Lord done to Moses (verse 3b)? In what two different groups’ sight (verse 3c)? Whose Word does Moses now speak to the people (Exodus 11:4a)? When will this thing happen (verse 4b)? Who will go where (verse 4c)? With what effect (Exodus 11:5a)? Whose firstborn, very specifically, shall die (verse 5b)? Who else’s (verse 5c–d)? What will there be (Exodus 11:6a)? Where? Of what kind? Who will be exempted (Exodus 11:7a)? From what (verse 7b)? Why (verse 7c)? Into what will God have made Pharaoh himself, and all Egypt (Exodus 11:8a)? And what will they do unto Moses (verse 8b)? Then what will Moses do? And where does he go (verse 8c)? In what manner? Where has he been since Exodus 10:24? Who speaks to whom in Exodus 11:9? What does He remind him must happen until this is complete? How does Exodus 11:10 summarize the entire history since Exodus 7:6?

When the plagues narrative was about to begin in Exodus 7:6, the Lord announced (as He does many times throughout it) its great purpose: “and the Egyptians shall know that I am Yahweh, when I stretch out My hand on Egypt and bring out the children of Israel from among them (Exodus 7:5). In the previous chapter, He had announced this purpose with reference to Israel: “Therefore say to the children of Israel: I am Yahweh; I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians; I will rescue you from their bondage, and I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with great judgments. I will take you as My people, and I will be your God. Then you shall know that I am Yahweh your God who brings you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians” (Exodus 6:6–7).

That’s what this has been all about: the LORD displaying Himself so that His people and all people will know what kind of God He is Who saves His people. What kind of God He is Who has made promises to Abraham (Exodus 6:8; note well that His promises to Abraham include promises for all the families of the earth!). What kind of God He is Who keeps all His promises. And what kind of God He is Who commands us in how we shall live (cf. the preface to the commandments in Exodus 20:1–2).

So, what kind of God is He?

A generous God. When the Lord first called Moses in chapter three, He made a very generous promise. How would a nation of slaves make it across the desert? How would a nation of slaves be able to possess and settle the promised land? In Exodus 3:21–22, the Lord had promised that they would plunder Egypt. For centuries, the world’s treasures had flowed into Egypt so that the people of God could leave with them in the Exodus. Now He commands that very plundering in that very manner in Exodus 11:2, and brings it to pass in Exodus 11:3

With this in the history of His redeeming Israel, the Lord teaches a similar idea about His true Israel (the people of Christ, the great Servant King, from all ages and nations) in Isaiah 60:1–7, Isaiah 61:6. Indeed, all the treasure that unbelievers labor to accumulate can only serve Christ and His people. Theirs will be gone forever in an instant, but believers will inherit a new heavens and a new earth whose treasures shall never vanish. This generous God of Exodus 11 is our Lord Who has given Himself for us, Who has given Himself to us, and adds to that infinite gift all other things as an additional gift.

An honoring God. To our God belongs all honor and praise and glory. Had we crowns, we would cast them down at His feet. But He is also the God who is pleased to reflect His own honor upon us by raising us up. Exodus 11:3 describes how greatly He had exalted Moses. Your God, dear Christian, is pleased to raise up His servants in honor. Your Lord Jesus tells you to take the lower place, and He will raise you to the higher (cf. Luke 14:7–11). By His Spirit, He commands us through the apostle to humble ourselves with one another, in confidence that He is pleased to exalt us (1 Peter 5:5–6). Our God is One Who is pleased to exalt the lowly ones that He redeems. Those whom He justified, He also glorified (Romans 8:30). 

A personal God. In these plagues, we have seen the Lord send frogs upon the people, and flies, gnats, and locusts. We commonly call the tenth plague the plague of death. But looking at Exodus 11:4, we might also call it “the plague of God.” He will now send Himself into the midst of Egypt. God, of course, is everywhere. But there are times and places where He makes Himself more intensely known to us. Nowhere will this be more true than in eternity, when the redeemed will know His favorable presence fully and immediately forever (cf. Revelation 21:3), and the wicked will know His furious presence fully and immediately forever (cf. 2 Thessalonians 1:8–9). The great danger in the tenth plague is the more immediately communicated presence of God Himself. Just as you who are in Christ are to remember that the Lord is always with you, so also remember that your persecutors are always before Him, and He will one day make this presence fully known.

A dreadful God. How great is His justice! How great is His wrath! How great is His power! We needed that the man who would bear the penalty for our sin be One Who took that His human nature upon Himself as a divine Person. For how infinite is the wrath that He had to endure! Exodus 11:6 places a special emphasis in this chapter upon the greatness of the wailing and crying of the Egyptians. A wailing that anticipates how Christ describes the Hell into which the wicked are cast forever (cf. Matthew 13:42, etc.).

A difference-making God. The Lord displayed Himself as a distinction-making God in the creation. Heavens distinct from earth. Light distinct from darkness. Land distinct from sea. But His great work in making a distinction is the one reflected in Exodus 11:7: Yahweh who makes a difference in salvation. The difference was not in Israel. They (and we!) were wicked and deserved this dreadful wrath of God. But He makes the difference. Election and predestination are not merely finer theological points by which nerds bore others and boors pummel others. Election and predestination are wonderful doctrines that display our redeeming God as the One who makes the difference.

A powerful God. How determined Pharaoh has been that Israel shall not leave! But when they do go, how determined he will be that they do leave! “When he lets you go, he will surely drive you out of here altogether” (Exodus 11:1, emphasis mine). And then Exodus 11:8 tells us that Pharaoh will bow down to Moses (still in darkness from the ninth plague, since he will never see Moses’s face again) and plead with him that they would leave, and that their leaving would complete. 

This was the point of the wonders. They weren’t just wonders in the abstract. They were Yahweh’s own wonders. “My wonders” (Exodus 11:9b). His wonders by which He would make Himself known to Israel and make Himself known to Egypt. Up to this point He had hardened Pharaoh’s heart (Exodus 11:10b), so that the wonders would not just be one or a few but multiplied (Exodus 11:9b). And He used His servants to do every last one of these wonders (verse 10a) and make Himself known.

Of what aspect of God’s display of His character in the plagues did you most need reminding just now? How will you respond in your heart to this part of His character? How will you respond in your behavior?

Sample prayer:  Our God and our Lord, our Creator and our Redeemer, Your greatest gift to us has been to give us to know You. And we rejoice that this has been Your great purpose in our redemption. Forgive us for when we are forgetful of Who You are and what You are like—or, even worse, when we are unaffected by these glorious of Yours. Grant us hearts that adore You with great pleasure and rest in You with sweet confidence, for we ask it in that Name by which You have made Yourself known to us, even Jesus, AMEN!

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