I'm pretty sure that growing up, I read the plagues and thought of it like a science fiction movie. Blast: you have a river of blood. Bang: you have locusts. Kaboom: boils
Last night, it came alive for me in a whole new way.
I was a little behind on my Bible Reading Plan so I had to catch up a bit. This meant I got to read Exodus 1-13 last night. At first, I thought the (unfortunate) usual, "aw man. . .how am I going to get through that much" However, it simply came alive for me last night with the words leaping off of the pages and into my heart.
If you have time, I would HIGHLY encourage you to go read this! Read Exodus 3-11 in particular (it seems like a lot but it will FLY by!).
The Journey to Freedom can be Painful ~
Exodus 2 ends with God hearing the cries of the oppressed. This rings as such an encouragement to me and a reminder that as He puts a passion in my heart for the oppressed and forgotten it is because they are on HIS heart. They may seem "forgotten" in this world, but they certainly are not. oooh, are you loving him?
The LORD raises up Moses to lead the people out of slavery and into freedom. However, as soon as Moses approaches Pharoah it seems the opposite happens. Pharoah tells the overseers to UP their work load, having them make the same amount of bricks but needing to collect their own straw now too. The people did NOT get this. They complained to Moses, "The Lord look on you and judge you for what you have done." Can you imagine Moses' pain? Can you imagine the Lord's?! And, it doesn't get any easier for a while. Next come the plagues, which don't directly affect the Israelites but certainly affected them emotionally! I'm sure they had some care for at least a few Egyptians! Besides the fact that these were their employers and if the Israelites didn't believe that true freedome was coming, life kept looking bleaker and bleaker. This path to freedom was NOT an easy road.
This is so often true in our own lives. The path to freedom of any kind is littered with pain. The path to freedom from sin, to freedom from addiction, to freedom from the lies of the enemy that we have believed. . .even advocating for freedom for others comes at a price and with its own pain. However, the freedom that the Lord has in store during these times is worth it. "You will know the truth and the truth will set you FREE" (John 8:31)
His gentle mercy and compassion~
I have always seen the plagues as random acts of punishment. I hadn't read closely enough to see just how sweet the Lord was being. The Lord says that He will have to send plagues so that the Egyptians will KNOW that He is Lord. He is making His name known. This isn't about being mean, this is about turning people's hearts to the God of the Universe. After each plague, Pharoah calls them in, confesses that the LORD is God and repents. The plagues lift. Do you see God's mercy there? He acts immediately when Pharoah confesses HIS name. However, Pharoah turns again and changes his mind. He is warned. He is asked. He denies both the LORD and the Israelites their freedom. Then, another plague is brought down. Each time, it happens the same way. This isn't some superhero God who points His finger and sends fire. He guided Moses and Aaron to give chance after chance. His mercy prevailed each time to the very point of breaking. Then, he HAD to make the choice to bring consequences so that in the end their hearts would be reached. I wonder, if this is why the Lord hardened Pharoah's heart? Was it about the thousands of Egyptian's hearts? Was HE looking to make His name great among them and it took just that many plagues to turn their hearts towards Him? I tend to think so. We never see Pharoah's heart truly turned. He kicks the Israelites out for sure. . but turns around and follows them (my reading for tomorrow!). However, the section ends with a couple of interesting comments. It says that the Egyptians were favorable towards the Israelites and that Moses and Aaron were well-respected and liked among the Egyptian officials. I wonder if their hearts had turned to know that the LORD is GOD?
What looks from the outside like a horror movie, upon closer inspection seems to be a display of God's mercy and movement. An outpouring of His heart for people, both the Egyptians and the Israelites. A tender, but extremely difficult decision of a Father. I can picture Him thinking of the Egyptians, "Oh Children, please choose the right path. I love you and do NOT want to discipline you. But, I will. My name MUST be known. For your own good." I wonder if He was also thinking, "Oh Israel, remember this. Know and believe my power and my passion for you. I know your hearts and how quickly you will turn back to your selfish ways. PLEASE see my power and my love and remember these moments. Remember how the lengths I went to for your FREEDOM"
PS: If you haven't yet, check out my post HERE about Aprons for Africa. Either GO THERE and order an apron for yourself or better yet. . .take part in our Apron Auction HERE that ends WEDNESDAY NIGHT at 10 pm. Pretty please!