I’m not going to lie; there are a lot of things in the Bible I don’t understand. One I’ve puzzled over for years is the story of Moses and Pharaoh and the 10 plagues in Egypt (Exodus 7-11). Why would God harden Pharaoh’s heart, an act that resulted in the slaughter of every firstborn male in all of Egypt? It seems so extreme and impossibly devastating to the families in Egypt. Surely there had to be a better way…I know they weren’t completely innocent, but that’s a lot of sorrow for one country to bear…
I recently read through that story again with those questions echoing in my brain, trying to better understand the character of God. Why would he do something that seemed (at least to me) so unloving and cruel? Where was the mercy? Where was the grace?
That’s when I came to Exodus 10:1-2, and I think I got a glimpse into the answer. And it whispers of the difference between my limited perspective and God’s view of all eternity.
From the Israelites perspective, Egypt—the only country they had ever lived in and known—was in ruins, bodies were piling up, and prior to the final plague their circumstances hadn’t changed at all—they were still in slavery. And for the average Egyptian, not privy to the conversations in Pharaoh’s palace, I’m sure the onset of every devastating plague was completely terrifying and confusing.
Haven’t we all been there at one point or another? Maybe not to such extremes, but nevertheless in a place where nothing really seems to make sense and the circumstances around us make us wonder if God knows what he’s doing—if he really has a purpose and a plan in this.
That’s where Exodus 10:1-2 comes in. I hope it encourages you as much as it encouraged me. In that passage I see three possible reasons why God allowed things to shake down the way they did in Egypt, and if you’re going through a difficult season and wondering what God could possibly be thinking or doing these verses in Exodus might bring you some comfort.
“Then the Lord said to Moses, ‘Return to Pharaoh and make your demands again. I have made him and his officials stubborn so I can display my miraculous signs among them. I’ve also done it so you can tell your children and grandchildren about how I made a mockery of the Egyptians and about the signs I displayed among them—and so you will know that I am the Lord.’”
The way I see it, God chose this path and series of events for three reasons:
1. For the Israelites and the Egyptians to see his miraculous signs
2. To give the Israelites a testimony of God’s power working on their behalf for the generations
3. And so they would know that he is the Lord
I probably would have done things differently, but I’m not God. And I’m learning that I’m far more concerned about my comfort and security than God is. He’s concerned about much bigger things—my eternal destiny and the testimony of his faithfulness for generations to come.
If you’re facing some tough circumstances today, I think God wants you to know he sees the end from the beginning and he’s speaking to you today about his plans through this passage. He is working in your situation to give you miraculous signs, a story of his faithfulness for generations, and an assurance that you KNOW he is the Lord.
Sometimes, in the midst of it, it doesn’t feel like it’s worth the pain, but I promise it is. Hang on! God will come through for you just like he did for the Israelites.
~Gut-Check and Action Steps~
1. Read Exodus 7-12. Allow the story to encourage you as you read about God’s power and his faithfulness to the Israelites.
2. Ask God to show you the ways he’s working in your situation that may not be obvious to you.
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