The Final Plague Announced

Exodus 11:1-10

Unlike most of Exodus, sequence of events gets little topsy-turvy here. Reason is this: two distinct sequences of action going on simultaneously, can only read about one at a time. Much preparation for final plague for Hebrews had already happened before Moses’ last audience with Pharaoh. Hebrews were getting ready for Passover during plague of darkness and day of light between 9th and 10th plagues. Would mean that Moses knew in advance God’s timeline for bringing Pharaoh to point of temporary submission. If people were paying attention, they could have counted down days to departure also.

God’s purpose is fixed, our text and portion of following chapter describe lead-in to most profound demonstration of God’s character yet in relation to mankind. Different ways to identify next big event on God’s redemptive timeline: judgment of last plague on Egyptians; institution of Passover worship; deliverance of Hebrew people from slavery. YHWH not only demonstrates his power, superiority – also demonstrates grace and mercy alongside holiness and judgment.

After repeated insincerity and rejection from Pharaoh, God graciously prepares his servants for one more – this plague will be the last one. God makes clear what will occur in great detail, how Hebrews should make themselves ready for it, what to expect as result. Are reminded once again – God not simply showing off by making Pharaoh look bad. God, as always, has his own glory in view.

A. context v.1-3

preparation for Moses (1)

God knew what Pharaoh would do following end of plague of darkness; also knew how Moses, Aaron and Hebrews likely to respond

before Moses went to palace for last time, God gave him and people message of great encouragement – will look like “here we go… again”, yet… will be different

only one more decisive act of God in judgment and then Pharaoh will relent – in fact, will not simply permit Hebrews to leave, will drive them out, compel them to leave

is clear reason for Moses to remain confident before Pharaoh – God’s expectations no different, Moses must hold the line

payment for the people (2)

Egyptians probably still not quite sure which end is up – getting reoriented from 3-day blackout, not fully adjusted to devastation from hail and locusts, all that means

would seem, given clear connection between presence of Hebrews and misfortunes Egyptians experiencing, Egyptians probably not thinking happy thoughts about their neighbors

would not expect to be good time for Hebrew children to go asking for cup of sugar from Egyptians, yet is what God instructed

only not just cup of sugar – were in effect asking for wages due for all the bricks made, wages that had never been paid to them

Hebrews not asking for favors here, were expecting just compensation for years of labor taken for granted because of who they were… slaves, from despised people group

prestige for both (3)

what did YHWH do? once again, the unexpected – changed minds of Egyptians so would think and act favorably toward Hebrews

instead of more abuse, even retaliation, treated them with honor and dignity – not only showed favor, acted toward them favorably

probably case of “here, take this and this and this; anything else you see you want or could use? take it, take it all”

Pharaoh’s servants had opportunity to mobilize security forces / military against Hebrews, rounded up and slaughtered, yet God restrained that desire and replaced with respect and honor for Moses

no rational explanation for such unexpected favor being shown by Egyptians apart from hand of God powerfully at work

good reminder for us: when we faithfully do best to live pleasing to God, he gives us favor with enemies, causes them to be at peace with us… because is gracious God, loves his children

B. announcement v.4-8

who (4a)

to be no doubt in anyone’s mind who is perpetrator of this unspeakable disaster – will be YHWH himself who brings judgment

Moses here acting only as mouthpiece – repeating word of God to all who would listen, esp. Pharaoh and his attendants

is interesting: even skeptical scholars see hand of God in this plague; may try to give naturalistic explanation for other plagues, write God out of script, but not this one

this the same YHWH who encountered Moses at bush, who declared children of Israel to be his people, who intended his name be known in all the world

when (4b)

that very night – would be no reprieve, no opportunity to regroup after previous plagues, no making new plan of how to respond

in fact, would come at midnight when Egyptian people would be most vulnerable – Ra at his weakest point, opposite strength displayed at noon

YHWH making plain time of day has no significance in regard to his power, ability – the “God who Is” totally unconstrained by time… unlike his creation

where (4c)

since Pharaoh refuses to let God’s people leave Egypt, God himself will come… to Egypt – definitely not good news to enemies

even for people of God, his promise to show up “in person” a mixed blessing – on one hand, joy and excitement deliverer is coming; otoh, people know who they are, who God is, will he be friendly or frightening

God’s focus, direct attention on Egypt and Egyptians – is absolutely precise and intentional in what he will be doing

what (5-6)

all firstborn in Egypt will die… starting with Pharaoh – for brief time, Pharaoh standing by himself, abandoned by all others

Pharaoh has no backup, no stand-in, nothing to defend or protect from avenging angel of death who accompanies YHWH (12:23)

not limited to Pharaoh, extends to lowest social class represented in Egypt, and includes firstborn of livestock also

what can possibly explain God’s precise action here, requiring life of firstborn – two things, God’s relationship, God’s rule

see Ex. 4:22-23 – relationship initiated by God to give by his sovereign choice first place in his heart to his people

God decides who rules the hearts of his people, same God decides who sits on throne of Egypt… and won’t be Pharaoh’s son

is also somewhat of eye-for-eye justice – Pharaoh and Egyptians would have taken lives of God’s firstborn had he not prevented, now he requires life of their firstborn in return

difference (7)

between Egyptians and Hebrews

God warns Hebrews and Egyptians of impending disaster but with difference – information supplied in warning not the same

Hebrew children told how to prepare so firstborn in their home does not die, Egyptians told to prepare for certain death of their firstborn… w/o exception

no one, no creature would make sound against children of Israel – absolutely no harm of any kind against Hebrews that heed warning to prepare properly

between God and gods

a) Pharaoh himself – next to Ra in prestige and authority, and utterly powerless against true God

b) Min: god of reproduction – God by unerring selection of firstborn without any exceptions showed his authority

c) Ra: god who was believed to create all things – unable to prevent destruction of what he was believed to have created

d) Isis, goddess who protected children – obviously unable to protect most important children in Egypt, those responsible for carrying on heritage in next generation

e) Anubis: god of the dead and embalming; Ex 11:7 refers to no dogs barking, possibly referring to jackal(or dog)-headed Anubis having no power over Israelites during this plague.

result (8)

contrary to Pharaoh’s rebellious refusal to let people go, his advisors would show Moses honor, bring official demand they leave the country ASAP

Pharaoh had told them to leave… with conditions – Moses declares to Pharaoh they will leave according to God’s terms

Pharaoh’s hardness of heart cost him and his people dearly, by their own free choice – had they repented, would have been spared

C. summary v.9-10

for God’s glory (9)

as God performed his wonders, we call some of them plagues, to bring about deliverance of his people, he gets all the glory

as God’s reputation and word permeate the world, is still doing so today, God receives glory every time story is told, when another person is delivered from slavery in sin

every time God and his character displayed in Israel’s deliverance give hope and comfort to his people, he is glorified

for Pharaoh’s humiliation (10)

God will humble and defeat his enemies and enemies of his people – Pharaoh is God’s hand-picked poster boy to remind us

for our encouragement

through plagues / wonders God performed are brought face-to-face with real God, true God – same God has same interest in his people today, same power to provide, protect and deliver

who is your God? for real? the one who has your loyalty and your love and obedience? if is God of Bible, he will take care of you in all circumstances

 

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