MACHINE GUN OR MEGAPHONE
Father God, I come to You now as Your loving child, to hear Your will and wisdom for me.
Read EXODUS 9:1–26
The Plague on Livestock
9 Then the Lord said to Moses, “Go to Pharaoh and say to him, ‘This is what the Lord, the God of the Hebrews, says: “Let my people go, so that they may worship me.” 2 If you refuse to let them go and continue to hold them back, 3 the hand of the Lord will bring a terrible plague on your livestock in the field—on your horses, donkeys and camels and on your cattle, sheep and goats. 4 But the Lord will make a distinction between the livestock of Israel and that of Egypt, so that no animal belonging to the Israelites will die.’”
5 The Lord set a time and said, “Tomorrow the Lord will do this in the land.” 6 And the next day the Lord did it: All the livestock of the Egyptians died, but not one animal belonging to the Israelites died. 7 Pharaoh investigated and found that not even one of the animals of the Israelites had died. Yet his heart was unyielding and he would not let the people go.
The Plague of Boils
8 Then the Lord said to Moses and Aaron, “Take handfuls of soot from a furnace and have Moses toss it into the air in the presence of Pharaoh. 9 It will become fine dust over the whole land of Egypt, and festering boils will break out on people and animals throughout the land.”
10 So they took soot from a furnace and stood before Pharaoh. Moses tossed it into the air, and festering boils broke out on people and animals. 11 The magicians could not stand before Moses because of the boils that were on them and on all the Egyptians. 12 But the Lord hardened Pharaoh’s heart and he would not listen to Moses and Aaron, just as the Lord had said to Moses.
The Plague of Hail
13 Then the Lord said to Moses, “Get up early in the morning, confront Pharaoh and say to him, ‘This is what the Lord, the God of the Hebrews, says: Let my people go, so that they may worship me, 14 or this time I will send the full force of my plagues against you and against your officials and your people, so you may know that there is no one like me in all the earth. 15 For by now I could have stretched out my hand and struck you and your people with a plague that would have wiped you off the earth. 16 But I have raised you up[a] for this very purpose, that I might show you my power and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth. 17 You still set yourself against my people and will not let them go. 18 Therefore, at this time tomorrow I will send the worst hailstorm that has ever fallen on Egypt, from the day it was founded till now. 19 Give an order now to bring your livestock and everything you have in the field to a place of shelter, because the hail will fall on every person and animal that has not been brought in and is still out in the field, and they will die.’”
20 Those officials of Pharaoh who feared the word of the Lord hurried to bring their slaves and their livestock inside. 21 But those who ignored the word of the Lord left their slaves and livestock in the field.
22 Then the Lord said to Moses, “Stretch out your hand toward the sky so that hail will fall all over Egypt—on people and animals and on everything growing in the fields of Egypt.” 23 When Moses stretched out his staff toward the sky, the Lord sent thunder and hail, and lightning flashed down to the ground. So the Lord rained hail on the land of Egypt; 24 hail fell and lightning flashed back and forth. It was the worst storm in all the land of Egypt since it had become a nation. 25 Throughout Egypt hail struck everything in the fields—both people and animals; it beat down everything growing in the fields and stripped every tree. 26 The only place it did not hail was the land of Goshen, where the Israelites were.
- Exodus 9:16 Or have spared you
New International Version (NIV)Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
Lord, help me to grieve deeply over those who turn their backs on you; let my lips and my life sound a wake-up call to a sleeping world.
C.S. Lewis writes: ‘Pain insists upon being attended to. God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our consciences, but shouts in our pains. It is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world.’1 Polite pleas to Pharaoh have fallen on deaf ears,2 powerful signs have been stubbornly resisted (vs 7,17), repeated warnings ignored, and promises broken.3 The plagues become increasingly loathsome, painful, destructive, and damaging to Egypt’s economy: a ‘terrible plague’ on livestock (v 3), ‘festering boils’ (v 9) and the ‘worst hailstorm’ Egypt has ever known (v 18). Nevertheless, the plagues were not machine guns with which to gun down the Egyptians (v 15), but God’s megaphone to sound increasingly urgent warnings (v 19).
Pronouncing judgment sounds a note of finality, but a warning holds out the possibility of escape. Indeed, Pharaoh’s officials who heeded God’s warning were able to save their slaves and livestock (v 20). This mirrors what happens when the gospel is proclaimed: some embrace it and enjoy salvation; others scornfully reject it – and do so at their peril.
Pharaoh can no longer plead ignorance. He has ‘investigated’ and knows the warnings to be true, yet still remains ‘unyielding’ (v 7). Although the plagues are God’s megaphone to rouse a deaf world – not annihilate it – repeated refusals to heed God’s warnings result in spiritual deafness that leads to spiritual deadness, to hearts so hardened that they are no longer able to respond. ‘Sinners can by their own free choice reject God decisively and thereby confirm their characters in sin so thoroughly that they would never want to repent.’4 Verse 12 confirms that Pharaoh has reached this terrifying point of no return.
Consider: do spiritual alarm bells send you scrabbling for the snooze button or springing urgently into action?
Dear Lord, the desire of my heart is to trust You completely in all the ups and downs of life.
1 The Problem of Pain, 1940, p92 2 Exod 5:1–3 3 Exod 8:15,19,32 4 Marty and Taliaferro, eds, Dictionary of Philosophy of Religion, 2010, p107