Page 5 - September 2020 - Truth & Tidings
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I am the Lord” (7:17); “to the end thou   abundant life. Now, in Egypt, the order
        mayest know that I am the Lord in the   was being reversed, creation was being
        midst of the earth” (8:22); “that my name   unpicked, and Pharaoh was learning that
        may be declared throughout all the earth”   the Lord of the Hebrews is also the God
        (9:16). A detailed consideration of the   of the universe.
        plagues will underscore these messages   God’s power is unequaled. As the night
        in many ways, but in the scope of this   of the Passover drew near, God promised:
        article, we will consider three important   “I will pass through the land of Egypt this
        lessons about the omnipotence of Israel’s   night, and will smite all the firstborn in
        God – and ours.                       the land of Egypt, both man and beast;
                                              and against all the gods of Egypt I will
        Divine Omnipotence is                 execute judgment: I am the Lord” (12:12).
        Unlimited                             This promise of judgement on the gods

          To say that divine omnipotence is   of Egypt has led some commentators
        unlimited  is,  of  course,  to  indulge   to suggest that the plagues were aimed
        in tautology. Omnipotent means all    particularly against some of the gods of
        powerful: the infinite scale and scope of   the Egyptians and served to manifest the
        what God can do are baked into the word.   supremacy of Jehovah over the Egyptian
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        But knowing what omnipotence means is   pantheon.  While there is no consensus on
        quite a different thing to grasping what   this, it remains an interesting possibility
        it looks like. As we watch the hammer   and, if true, emphasizes the unique and
        blows of divine judgement falling upon   unequalled power of the living God.
        Egypt, something of the full significance   God’s omnipotence could not be
        of omnipotence becomes apparent.      emulated. To be sure, Pharaoh’s sorcerers
          As we consider the scope of the plagues,   managed to produce a simulacrum of
        we learn that divine omnipotence cannot   the transformation of Aaron’s rod into
        be evaded. This is emphasized by the   a serpent. They were able to imitate the
        repetition of the word “all,” which occurs   first two plagues. But whatever comfort
        59 times in Exodus 7-12. While God spared   Pharaoh took from that fact was short-
        Israel from the worst of the plagues, the   lived in the extreme, for the magicians
                                              soon had to confess their impotence and
        destruction that fell on the Egyptians was   acknowledge that “this is the finger of
        universal. Plague after plague fell on all
        the water, all the land, all the homes, all   God” (8:19).
        the cattle, on every herb and every tree, on   Divine power could not be explained
        all the fruit, and, climactically and awfully,   away. It is telling that even the Egyptian
        on all the firstborn. God’s power touched   sorcerers, who had a strong vested
        every aspect of creation. Commentators   interest in dismissing the miracles and
        have pointed out that there is a correlation   an  extensive  knowledge  of  Egyptian
        between the seven days of creation and   geography, never offered a naturalistic
        the ten plagues of Egypt.  In creation,   explanation for the plagues. Where they
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        divine omnipotence had worked from    ³ John D. Currid, Ancient Egypt and the Old
        chaos to order and from barren dearth to   Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books,
                                              1997), 104-120. For a critique of Currid’s view,
        ² Ziony Zevit, “Three Ways to Look at the Ten   see Duane Garrett, A Commentary on Exodus
        Plagues,” Bible Review 6:3 (1990), 16-23.  (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel, 2013), 291-301.
                                                                -Continued on p. 283
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