Friday, October 25, 2013

DOUBLE PLAGUES, PART 6

THE DOUBLE PLAGUES UPON BARACK OBAMA'S PRESIDENCY

Part 5: Preparing Moses.

Part 6: THE PURPOSES OF THE PLAGUES

In part 5 of this series we see the stunning turn of events that takes place in Moses’ life. On an ordinary day doing an ordinary task we learn of an ordinary bush that took on an extraordinary feature, a feature that not only changed Moses’ life, but the future of the Hebrews in captivity in Egypt and the course of human history.

Jehovah spoke to Moses out of a burning bush and told him of His plan to deliver His people out of captivity and bring them to the land He promised Abraham -- the land of Canaan. Though Moses was quite reluctant, he obeyed and as he began his return to Egypt he was met by his older brother Aaron, who greeted him and embraced him.

Together the two brothers met with the elders of the Hebrews and told them of Moses’ experience on Mt. Horeb.  Moses showed them the signs that Jehovah had instructed him to show (Ex. 4:30). The people believed Moses and received the signs and “bowed their heads and worshipped” (v. 31).

Now that all were informed, Moses and Aaron sought audience with Egypt’s ruler, and the assault upon Pharaoh began.

THE PHARAOH OF THE EXODUS

This king of Egypt knew not Joseph; and after him arose one that had the impudence to say, I know not the Lord . . . (1)

After the completion of the Ten Plagues, not only would Egypt lie in ruins, so would Pharaoh’s “impudence.”

There always comes a day when Jehovah says, “Enough!” It doesn’t matter whether it is in the life of an obscure individual, a well-known ruler or the course of a nation, there always comes a day when God begins to tip events into the course that is in His plan. He thwarts the ability of an individual, a ruler, or a nation to plot its own course in favor of His Will. We see that with a truly irrelevant Moses in the backside of a desert, a feared Pharaoh sitting on his opulent throne, a nation of wayward Egyptians worshipping fallen angels and their demon offspring as gods. Sometimes God’s voice is recognized, as a humble Moses did with the burning bush, and sometimes it is not, as when an arrogant Pharaoh would hear only his own pride and not Jehovah’s “Enough!” when Moses spoke.

This “tipping” of events can become especially obvious where Israel is concerned. Israel is God’s chosen people, chosen for His plans and His purposes, plans and purposes that sometimes seem obvious and other times not so much, but His plans and His purposes nonetheless. He has restated this time and time again in His Holy Word, and demonstrated His resolve time and time again outside His Holy Word and in real world events.

THE PURPOSES OF THE PLAGUES

A plan is a set of actions that have been thought of as a way to achieve something (2).

God’s plan was to bring the Israelites out of captivity, and included in the set of actions to achieve this plan were going to be some demonstrations of power and the 10 plagues.

However, the plagues would accomplish MORE than just the deliverance of the Israelites, and the proof of this is in the various aftermaths of the plagues because more than just the deliverance of the Israelites was accomplished.

I believe there were at least four purposes to the plagues.

Purpose 1:

In order to bring the Israelites out of bondage, God would need to break Pharaoh. He wanted the Israelites to see and witness for themselves that His strong arm was more powerful than any decree of Pharaoh’s, and God tells Moses this at the burning bush.

And I am sure that the king of Egypt will not let you go, no, not by a mighty hand. And I will stretch out my hand, and smite Egypt with all my wonders which I will do in the midst thereof: and after that he will let you go. --Exodus 3: 19, 20

Moses was given the heads up early on -- Pharaoh was going to be a tough nut to crack, that his heart would be “hardened,” but be patient, Pharaoh’s obstinacy would serve God’s purposes.

God needed the right Pharaoh on the throne at the right time -- one who was willful and arrogant, contemptuous, full of pride and vainglory, one who was disdainful toward the Israelites and one held the most dangerous of all self views -- one who thought he, himself, was a god. It did not help that Pharaoh was surrounded by courtiers who were quite willing to encourage him in his belief of divinity.

And in very deed for this cause have I raised thee up, for to shew in thee my power; and that my name may be declared throughout all the earth. --Exodus 9:16

The Apostle Paul reminds us of this purpose in Romans 9: 17:

For the scripture saith unto Pharaoh, Even for this same purpose have I raised thee up, that I might shew my power in thee, and that my name might be declared throughout all the earth.

In a verse that has caused no small debate among scholars is Exodus 7:3, in which God says “I will harden pharaoh’s heart.” Some have taken this to mean that God was going to deliberately cause Pharaoh to be stubborn and resistant, but others have taken this verse to mean that the Pharaoh would be offended at the request by Moses to let the people go and at the judgments inflicted at the direction of Moses and would thus “dig in his heels” in resistance. Subsequent verses in the next three chapters seem to support that argument -- for Pharaoh did “dig in his heels.”

Let that sink in. It is terrifying to realize that God allowed Pharaoh to come to power because this Pharaoh had the right amount of arrogance and pride and yes, impudence, that would best demonstrate God’s strong arm of power on the behalf of His people. This Pharaoh wasn’t on the throne because he deserved it -- he was on the throne because God willed it. What a lesson to some leaders today --- he, or she, may believe they have defied all odds to achieve the place they have attained, yet will come to find out that he, or she, was brought to power to serve solely as an object lesson of God’s sovereignty.

Purpose 2:

This purpose seems to fascinate scholars and researchers quite a bit as it is one often discussed among commentators, and that was to bring judgment upon the Egyptian gods. God would show the Israelites that the gods of Egypt had no power that could compare to His.

. . . upon their gods also the Lord executed judgments. --Numbers 33: 4

Judgment, not in the sense of their “final destination,” but judgments in the sense of intense occurrences of nature to show who really ruled the laws of nature. The Egyptians paid homage to multiple gods that they believed controlled the Nile, the sun, the moon, the stars, light, dark, animals, childbirth, life, death and placement in the afterlife. God was about to show the proud Pharaoh, the paganistic Egyptians, the manipulative fallen angels and dark demons in the shadows as well as the beleaguered Israelites who the True Creator of all things in heaven and earth is, and though most Egyptians did not accept the Truth, many throughout the world did, and still do today.

As it is quite an interesting study to see which gods and goddesses the researchers believe God was executing judgment upon, I have set aside the discussion of this in its own future post.

Purpose 3:

The third purpose is that what would happen in Egypt would NEVER be forgotten and would be spoken of throughout the ages; the whole world would know the power of God.

The tenth plague, the death of the firstborn, would cause Moses to instruct the Israelites in a new memorial to forever commemorate this night in particular and the plagues in general -- The Passover.

The Passover is unique to the Jewish people, and because they remember in this particular observance how Jehovah delivered them from the last plague that finally broke the hold of the Pharaoh over them, the world is aware of what the Passover means and its relevance to the Jewish people. Through their observance of Passover, the world at large is reminded yearly of what occurred in Egypt. If we ignore the meaning of the Passover and its attendant reminder of the powerful plagues, the powerful judgments, that crushed Egypt’s Pharaoh, Egypt’s gods and ultimately Egypt’s people and why they occurred, we do so to our peril.

And the Egyptians shall know that I am the Lord, when I stretch forth mine hand upon Egypt, and bring out the children of Israel from among them. --Exodus 7: 5

For I will pass through the land of Egypt this night, and will smite all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and against all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgment: I am the Lord.

And the blood shall be to you for a token upon the houses where ye are: and when I see the blood, I will pass over you, and the plague shall not be upon you to destroy you, when I smite the land of Egypt.

And this day shall be unto you for a memorial; and ye shall keep it a feast to the Lord throughout your generations; ye shall keep it a feast by an ordinance for ever. --Exodus 12: 12-14

Purpose 4:

And fourth, that future generations of both Israelis and non-Israelis would understand that God made two promises to Abraham, and He intends to keep them both.

Both promises are found in the first verses of Genesis 12.

Now the Lord had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father's house, unto a land that I will shew thee:

And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing:

And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.

So Abram departed, as the Lord had spoken unto him; and Lot went with him: and Abram was seventy and five years old when he departed out of Haran.

And Abram took Sarai his wife, and Lot his brother's son, and all their substance that they had gathered, and the souls that they had gotten in Haran; and they went forth to go into the land of Canaan; and into the land of Canaan they came.

And Abram passed through the land unto the place of Sichem, unto the plain of Moreh. And the Canaanite was then in the land.

And the Lord appeared unto Abram, and said, Unto thy seed will I give this land: and there builded he an altar unto the Lord, who appeared unto him. --Genesis 12: 1-7

The first promise was that Abraham was to leave his family and his home town in Ur and head east to a land that God was going to show him because God had (has) every intention of giving it to the descendants of Abraham.

The second promise follows on the heels of the first -- God intended (intends) to “bless those who bless you and curse those who curse you.”

For those who have eyes to see and ears to hear, the first promise has been under repeated assault by men, particularly American presidents since 1991, and the second promise has been upheld repeatedly, not just since Israel became a nation in 1948, but repeatedly throughout the centuries. And the strong arm of God upholding His promise was quite on display in the plagues that befell and ultimately brought Egypt to her knees.

Like Purpose # 2 (judgment upon the gods and goddesses of Egypt), further discussion of how the Plagues and Genesis 12: 3 fit together will be in a future post.

Now, to Part 7 -- the demonstrations of power by Moses and the Ten Plagues.

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NOTES:

1. Comment on Exodus 5:2, A Commentary on the Whole Bible, Volume 1, Matthew Henry, undated copy, pg. 272

2. Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary