Bible Readings for February 25
In yesterday’s reading from Exodus 7, we encountered the first plague, when God turned the water of the Nile into blood. For today’s meditation, we will explore what God is doing through these plagues, which are at the heart of the theology of Exodus.
To start, we should recognize that God’s plagues all demonstrate his own superiority over the gods of Egypt. Allen Ross writes this:
The plagues all undermine the religion of Egypt. The Nile was venerated as the source of life; but it was turned to blood, the symbol of death. Frogs were considered a force of bounty, or evil spirits; and this superstition was stacked high in the land til it stunk. Lice and flies were detested by the Egyptians who loathed pestilences; and so God brought it on them in abundance.1
Pharaoh has exalted himself and the gods of Egypt against Yahweh, so as God sends plague after plague, he systematically exposes the falseness of Egypt’s religion.
But at the same time, it is interesting to note that the magicians of Egypt’s false religions were able to perform two of the plagues—turning water into blood (Ex. 7:22) and summoning frogs upon the land of Egypt (Ex. 8:7)—but from the plague of the gnats onward, the Egyptian magicians were not able to imitate the power of Yahweh by their secret arts. I find this part of the story helpfully instructive, as very often the world is able to imitate something of the gospel up to a point. So, the followers of certain religions may exhibit an incredible level of self-control or they may articulate a compelling kind of wisdom or they may show an extraordinary degree of kindness and compassion toward others.
The gospel, however, accomplishes something fundamentally different. To judge the power of the gospel, we can’t really compare ourselves to other people—instead, we need to compare ourselves to our former selves to see the progress that Jesus is making in our lives. It is only there that we can recognize “the finger of God” (Ex. 8:19) at work in our lives.
The book of Exodus exalts the wisdom and power of God above every man-made religion in this world. In Exodus, we see God covenanting himself with the lowly in the world while crushing the powerful. We see God magnify himself against the false gods who would blasphemously steal his glory.
And today, when those who are mighty in this world scoff at the message of Jesus Christ, Exodus speaks forcefully to them as they cling to an illusion of power: Regardless of the false gods you serve, the day is coming when Jesus Christ will return in glory to overturn everything you believe to be your strength.
Today, repent and believe the gospel. When he returns, Jesus will have no more mercy on our false gods than he did on Egypt’s.
Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.