The stories of Exodus are full of adventure. In them God chooses out, leads out and sets out a government for His people. Through Moses and Aaron, God worked miracles, proving His power and person to the people of the age. Perhaps the greatest of these are the plagues of Egypt.
Recorded for us from Exodus 7 through chapter 11, nearly every Sunday School child recalls how God turned a river red, sent frogs and bugs, commanded the weather and sky, and ultimately judged the great Pharaoh with the death of every firstborn Egyptian. But have you ever stopped to wonder why God chose such a plan? Weren’t there easier ways? Why take months to deliver the Israelites? Why such a trail of destruction?
The plagues of Egypt were designed with purpose. Through them, God would gain the full attention of the most powerful man on earth. Scripture records that God hardened Pharaoh’s heart, and that He would bring His people to Canaan through “acts of judgment” (Exo 7:4 ESV). Each plague was issued in its time to get Pharaoh’s attention, and to make him acknowledge that God was right and powerful, that he was wrong to resist God and that resisting would only end in sadness and destruction. But pride runs deep, especially for a king. Sadly, the Pharaoh of Egypt resisted until his kingdom was in ruins.
The plagues were deployed with purpose. The first three (blood-brimmed water, frogs and lice) were certainly annoying. The middle three (biting flies, cattle-death and boils) were painful. The last three before His final act of judgment (hail, locusts and darkness) showed God’s complete power over the natural world. By suppressing the nature gods of the Nile, the sky, the earth and other creature-gods, not even Pharaoh could mistake the call of the all-powerful God of heaven and earth. Finally, with personal judgment, God sent His destroyer to take the life of every firstborn son in Egypt. The impression we get is that when Moses and Aaron appeared before Pharaoh and said, “Let my people go!” God was also asking, “Where do we stand, Pharaoh? Do I have your attention yet?”
It’s not a stretch to say that God’s desire was to have Pharaoh’s full attention and for him to choose His will; it is God’s desire for each of us as well. Most of humanity have hardened their hearts to God. “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned – every one – to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all” (Isa 53:6 ESV). Our own way, not God’s way, describes our sin. It’s not just unpleasant acts that make us sinners, but it is who we are, naturally seeking our way and unwilling to hear our all-powerful creator, God.
Thankfully, God is still seeking hardened hearts today. He deserves your attention, and He’s gone to great lengths to get it. Not in judgment but by grace, God gave us the Lord Jesus to show the world His love and salvation. The Lord Jesus was crucified and punished for sin, taking our place in judgment. As noted above, “the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.” Surely this great saving act of God is worth your attention today?