The Humanity of God
Mighty and Strong Lord, lead me to Your strength that never fails, and Your Word that ever speaks.
Read Exodus 9:1-35
Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. All rights reserved throughout the world. Used by permission of International Bible Society.
“Do you despise the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience? Do you not realize that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance” (Rom. 2:4 NRSV)?
Richard Wurmbrand, the great Romanian Christian leader, wrote how at 27, dying in a sanatorium, he prayed for the first time in his life: “God, I know that You do not exist. But if perchance You exist, which I deny—it is for You to reveal yourself to me; it is not my duty to seek You.” God responded to his desperate prayer and redirected Wurmbrand’s life.
If only Pharaoh had prayed similarly. He had twice asked Moses for pragmatic prayer on his behalf, to rid him of the discomfort of plague (8:8,28). Now some kind of turning point has been reached: for the first time since the start of the plagues we read that God “hardened Pharaoh’s heart” (12). Nevertheless God’s humility and patience continue to characterize the story. I mentioned earlier the apparent vulnerability of the whole liberation enterprise, from its dependence on the ingenuity of the midwives and of Jochabed and Miriam, the involvement of Moses, that reluctant and insecure spokesman, to engagement with Pharaoh. With nothing less than the rescue of his people at stake, why did God not intervene more “efficiently” to secure his people’s freedom? He makes clear he could have chosen to do so (15).
God’s purpose of making his true nature, the full contents of the name YHWH known, both to the Egyptians and to his people, must run its course (16,29). He will continue to be patient. The devastating hailstorm (notice God’s merciful timing, vs. 31,32) will offer a further opportunity to Pharaoh and his people to recognize this God who has chosen to befriend their despised slaves, and to act on his word (20-21). Pharaoh’s first confession of convenience (27) is perhaps his point of no return (30,34).
Ponder these words: “People want grace, it seems .… But don’t ask them to admit that it might take knowing oneself as a wretch to truly know grace for the wonder it is” (K. Norris).
Father, today I’m reminded of Your patience and grace with me. Your love never lets me go, never lets me down, always lifts me up.