Bible Readings for March 1st
By the time Pharaoh lets Israel go out of Egypt, his country has come to great ruin. As a result of Yahweh’s terrible plagues, fish from the Nile have died (Ex. 7:21); a legion of frogs has come, died, and stank (Ex. 8:14); the livestock has died (Ex. 9:4); all Egypt has been afflicted with boils and sores (Ex. 9:10); and all the crops have been decimated through hail (Ex. 9:25) and locusts (Ex. 10:12).
And in the tenth and final plague, Yahweh leaves all Egypt mourning the deaths of all their firstborn sons, from the firstborn of Pharaoh himself all the way down to the firstborn of those in prisons and the firstborn of the livestock (Ex. 12:29).
Pharaoh, who had hardened his heart at every turn against letting Israel go from his country, is so broken that he tells the Israelites to leave his country immediately along with their flocks and their herds and he pleads with Moses, “and bless me also!” (Ex. 12:32). It isn’t only Pharaoh who is terrified of the God of the Hebrews, though. When Israel asks the rest of Egypt for silver, gold, and clothing, the Egyptians are eager to give the Israelites whatever they want: “Thus they plundered the Egyptians” (Ex. 12:36).
But we shouldn’t imagine that Yahweh’s only purpose through this was to devastate the Egyptians while rescuing his people. Justice certainly required that Yahweh pour out judgment on the Egyptians, but Yahweh also had a gracious purpose in mind—even for the Egyptians themselves.
In fact, there are strong suggestions that some Egyptians went out of Egypt along with Israel. First, we read that “a mixed multitude also went up with them” in Exodus 12:38, meaning that some Egyptians themselves departed Egypt with Israel. And even the instructions given at the end of Exodus 12 concerning Passover have explicit provisions for who may partake of it—foreigners and hired servants were not allowed to eat Passover, unless they circumcised all the males in their midst (Ex. 12:48).
Yahweh’s judgment does not exclude mercy. As Yahweh dismantled Egypt, he did so in part to call some individuals out of Egypt to become sojourners (and therefore no longer foreigners; Ex. 12:45, 48) in Israel. Just as Yahweh had promised hundreds of years before, Yahweh here begins to bless the whole world through the offspring of Abraham, even in the midst of bringing judgment.
And what Yahweh begins in Egypt, he continues to do even more so today through the ultimate offspring of Abraham, the Lord Jesus Christ. In Christ, all the nations of the earth are blessed along with Abraham, even as the church warns the world about the coming judgment when Jesus returns to redeem his people from the oppression of this world in order to bring them into their promised inheritance.
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.