Exodus 9:1-7: The Fifth Plague: Livestock
This is the first plague where God specifically distinguishes between the Israelites and the Egyptians.
Exodus 9:8-12: The Sixth Plague: Boils
In the last couple of years, there was an outbreak of boils in the U.S. associated with staph infection. I don’t know if the outbreak was big enough to make the news, but I do know that medical personnel in our area of Tennessee—and in North Carolina, where my sister lives—both said the boils were pretty widespread.
I managed to avoid getting one, but I knew many people who did, including members of my family.
Boils are remarkably painful, and they can be frightening once they begin swelling and filling with pus.
Exodus 9:13-35: The Seventh Plague: Hail
Exodus 9:16 is quoted by the apostle Paul in Romans 9 as part of his argument that God the Creator is free to do whatever pleases him without complaint from the creation, his handiwork.
Some people use that to argue that God saves people at random based on his own choice and having nothing to do with any action or belief on the person’s part. That is not Paul’s argument, though. Paul is arguing that God is free to transfer the kingdom of God and the new covenant from the Jews to the Gentiles.
On the matter of Pharaoh, though, God takes full credit for this being his plan. Pharaoh may have been evil in and of himself, but God also hardened him for the sake of delivering the Israelites and plundering the Egyptians.
If, therefore, in the present time also, God, knowing the number of those who will not believe—since he foreknows everything—has given them over to unbelief and turned his face away from men of this kind, leaving them in the darkness which they have themselves chosen for themselves, then why would it be amazing if he also, in that time, gave Pharaoh—who would never have believed—along with those who were with him, over to their unbelief? As the Word said to Moses from the bush, “I am sure that the king of Egypt will not let you go except by a mighty hand" [Ex. ]. (Irenaeus, Against Heresies IV:29:2, c. A.D. 185)
Exodus 10:1: God Hardens Pharaoh
Here’s another verse where God takes full credit for hardening Pharaoh. I’m sure Pharaoh was already evil, but the goal of Pharaoh’s life on this earth was that God would be glorified through the destruction of Egypt, not that Pharaoh would be saved from his own corruption.
The same is true of Judas.
I am convinced that because God is a good Judge, and not an evil one, that God chose men whom he foreknew would be evil and unrepentant, not people who would potentially repent (Rom. 8:29; 1 Pet. 1:2).
To those whose heart he saw would become pure and obedient to him, he gave power to repent with the whole heart. But to those whose deceit and wickedness he perceived, and saw that they intended to repent hypocritically, he did not grant repentance, lest they should again profane His name. (Shepherd of Hermas III:8:6, c. A.D. 160)
Exodus 10:1-20: The Eighth Plague: Locusts
The desert locust is notorious. Found in Africa, the Middle East, and Asia, they inhabit some 60 countries and can cover one-fifth of Earth’s land surface. Desert locust plagues may threaten the economic livelihood of one-tenth of the world’s humans.
A desert locust swarm can be 460 square miles (1,200 square kilometers) in size and pack between 40 and 80 million locusts into less than half a square mile (one square kilometer).
Each locust can eat its weight in plants each day, so a swarm of such size would eat 423 million pounds (192 million kilograms) of plants every day. (National Geographic)
The locusts were frightening enough for the Egyptian officials to ask Pharaoh to give in. In their eyes Egypt was "ruined" (v. 7).
Pharaoh relented momentarily, but he didn’t like Moses’ terms, so he got angry and left. God was not negotiating terms, he was making demands, so the plague came.
Exodus 10:21-29: The Ninth Plague: Darkness
Pharaoh makes more demands here, but God is still not negotiating terms. The next plague will end all the negotiations.
Exodus 11:1-12:32: The Tenth Plague: The Death of the Firstborn
Exodus 11:7 tells us that God is making a distinction between the Israelites and the Egyptians. This is the first time, however, that the Israelites had to do something in order to be benefited.
This is the institution of the Passover, the most important feast of the Israelites, and for good reason. This is the birth of Israel as a nation.
They had come to Egypt as a family of 70 people. As we began the book of Exodus, they were living in Egypt as a gigantic, enslaved family. Now, they would leave Egypt as a free nation.
Exodus 12:1-22: The Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread
When we get to the feasts as we go through the rest of the Torah, I’m going to try to get you as excited about them as I am. The feasts tell us a lot about God, and they are not anything like the somber religious festivals you might expect them to be.
Even the Passover, the most somber of them all, is a joyous feast celebrating the deliverance from Egypt and reminding them of what it was like to live in slavery.
1 Corinthians 5:7 tells us that Christ is the true Passover.
I’m not going to interpret the symbolism in the Passover for you. You can research that on the internet and find people who’ve devoted their lives to that. The first thing, though, is for you to get the obvious symbolism on your own.
- The lamb symbolizes Jesus, our new covenant sacrifice. Because of him, our past sins are forgiven, and the judgment of God passes over us.
- The lamb had to be an unblemished male, which of course represents Jesus.
- The blood on the doorposts and lintels makes the shape of a cross. That’s not an accident on God’s part.
- The Passover meal is eaten in haste, with staff in hand and shoes on foot. Our Passover is delivering us from spiritual Egypt and bringing us into God’s promised land.
- Our new covenant life is to be lived without the leaven of malice and wickedness (1 Cor. 5:8).
Notice that the lamb lived in the house of those who would kill it from the tenth of the month to the fourteenth! I’m sure you can come up with ways this symbolizes our Lord.
Jesus, by the way, was put to death on the day of Passover (Mark 14).
Exodus 12:33-40: The Israelites Plunder the Egyptians
It is amazing to me that the Egyptians did not only give their riches to the Israelites out of fear. God had actually given them, and Moses himself (11:3), favor with the Egyptians (12:36).
Of course, I suspect that cruel kings like this Pharaoh are not all that popular with their own people, either.
Exodus 12:41: Four Hundred Thirty Years (Advanced)
God told Abraham that the Israelites would be in Egypt for 400 years. Here, we are told that it was 430 years. In Acts 7:6, Stephen quotes the 400 years that were prophesied to Abraham. In Galatians 3:17, Paul says that the Law came 430 years after the promises to Abraham.
What do we do with this? Perhaps God’s prophecy to Abraham, being so far in advance, was rounded off. That sounds awful, but only because I’m using terminology like "rounded off." The Israelites were in Egypt 400 years … and 30 more on top of that.
In Acts 7:6, Stephen’s telling the story from Genesis. He uses 400 because that’s what Genesis says.
Paul’s numbers in Galatians aren’t exact either way. He’s measuring from the promises made to Abraham until the giving of the Law at Mt. Sinai, which comes up in our reading on Friday. That’s more than 430 years.
Exodus 12:43-49: The Passover Is Just for the Circumcised
God gives some rules about who can eat the Passover meal. It’s not just for anyone.
Rules like these always make me think of the parable of the wedding feast in Matthew 22:1-14. God calls many, but there are qualifications for whom he chooses.