“That We Might have Hope” (Rom. 15:4)
Exodus Chapters Five Through Fifteen
THE TEN PLAGUES
When was the first time you remember hearing the Bible story of the Ten Plagues? Perhaps you were a youngster sitting around the dinner table for a family devotion or listening in amazement with fellow classmates in Sunday school. Do you remember trying to picture in your mind what it would have been like to be living in Egypt at that time? Perhaps you squirmed at the thought of all those frogs, and flies, and locusts, and lice.
As you grew older and heard the story repeated, perhaps you wondered how Pharaoh’s magicians could perform some of the same feats as Moses, or how it was possible for it to be totally dark in Egypt and light as normal where the Israelites lived. You probably wondered how Pharaoh could be so stupid as to stubbornly refuse to let the Israelites go while his empire was being destroyed.
Hopefully, with each retelling of the story you were newly amazed and full of more questions. However, sometimes familiarity with a story can be dangerous, as we lose that fresh perspective we had upon first hearing it. Let us, then, take a fresh look at the biblical account of the Ten Plagues and explore the lessons God would have us learn from it.
God’s Power And Faithfulness
One lesson from this account which was impressed upon us as children was the power of our God. Sometimes man denies God’s almighty power by attempting to explain the miracles of the Bible as some rare natural phenomenon. Perhaps you have seen television shows devoted to explaining the Bible in this way. By faith, we know our creator God can accomplish anything, including the miracles involved in the Ten Plagues. Let us not become trapped into thinking that the only miracles to be believed in the Bible are those which can be “scientifically” explained.
What about the power of the devil in the world? Was it not through the power of the devil that Pharaoh’s magicians were able to perform some of the same feats as Moses? Let us not underestimate the “prince of the world.” He seeks to imitate the power of God today just as he did in the time of Moses. Because of Jesus’ victory we have the power to fight the devil. “Resist the devil and he will depart from you” (Jms. 4:7).
Another important lesson for us to learn is that God is faithful — He fulfills His promises. God fulfilled His promise to deliver the Israelites out of the hand of the Egyptians. He kept His promise to return them to the Promised Land. He kept His promise to have a Savior born in Bethlehem. He kept His promise to “crush the head of the serpent” on Calvary. Likewise, He is faithful to the promises He has made to us.
Our faithful God in this Old Testament account provides us with a wonderful picture of our Savior. The tenth and final plague was the plague of death. In order to escape this plague a spotless lamb had to be sacrificed and its blood spread on the doorposts of each house. The Lord passed over these houses; but in the houses of those who did not have blood on their doorposts, death came to every firstborn. This spotless lamb served as a picture of the Lamb of God who was to come. It is through Jesus’ blood that we are spared from eternal death. “Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” (Jn. 1:29).
The Justice Of God
This account also provides us with an important lesson about the justice of God. Those who reject the Word of God will be damned. In our “feel good” world of today many would have us believe that it does not matter what the object of your faith is, we will all end up on the same place when we die anyway. Pharaoh, believing himself to be God, boasted to Moses, “Who is the Lord, that I should obey His voice?” Do we not hear these words echoed in our society today? The secular humanist, like Pharaoh, places himself above God. In his pride man believes that through his own efforts he can live a life worthy of salvation. In society’s effort to offend no one for their religion, or lack thereof, they put all beliefs on an equal plane. But our holy God is a just God. He requires payment for sins committed. There is no salvation apart from Jesus, for He said, “No on can come to the Father but by me.” Those who die in unbelief today face the same condemnation.
We should also learn from the example of Pharaoh the dangers of resisting the Holy Spirit. During the first several plagues the Scripture speaks of Pharaoh “hardening his heart” and refusing to let the Israelites go. But starting with the sixth plague the Bible says that “the Lord hardened the heart of Pharaoh.” This should serve to alert us to listen to God’s Word when it is spoken. A heart that continuously resists the Holy Spirit cannot be saved, for the Holy Spirit working through the Word is the means by which faith is created and preserved in us.
Just as we were amazed when we were children at hearing the story of the Ten Plagues, let us pray that we continue to grow in a knowledge of our powerful, faithful, and just God.
Paschal Lamb, by God appointed,
All our sins on Thee were laid;
By almighty love anointed
Thou hast full atonement made.
Every sin may be forgiven
Thro’ the virtue of Thy blood;
Open is the gate of heaven,
Peace is made ‘twixt man and God. (TLH 367:2)
— Prof. Joseph Lau