May 25, 2010

Examining The Scripture XIV: Ten Plagues and The Destroyer

After the first seven plagues we see that the main effect on Pharaoh was that they hardened his heart towards Moses and by proxy, the Lord. This is exactly as the Lord had stated. On the eighth and ninth we see a change in wordage but it is generally understood that God is working behind the scenes the whole time hardening Pharaoh’s will. As we reach the later plagues it is not Pharaoh hardening his own heart, the Bible specifically states that God is helping him out exactly as the Lord said would happen. I’m guessing this is an example of God giving people over to their sin as mentioned in the expositional unit in Romans

“...since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done” ~Romans 1:28 (paraphrase)

Anger builds on itself like a fire burning you over and over until the area being burned eventually becomes desensitized to pain or like habitual sin being committed. The sinner continues the sin until it appears completely normal and commonplace to them, all the while it is killing them faster and faster. God allows this to happen so that He could lay his “hand” on Egypt and bring His people out by a great “act of judgment”. This is so...not only would the Hebrews know that He was the Lord but the Egyptians also. The Egyptians are also subjected to the plagues with equal intensity that Pharaoh was. Towards the end of the plagues you see that the common Egyptian citizens relate to the plight of the Hebrews.

The Egyptians in Pharaohs entourage/court used sorcery/illusion to counteract the effect of God’s miracles. This is true in the case of the serpents, the water turned to blood, frogs. This begins to change with the plague of gnats. The sorcerers cannot emulate this miracle and they indirectly warn Pharaoh that this is “the hand of God”. You can sense a gradual "war of attrition" taking place between Pharaoh and Moses/God that Pharaoh is losing slowly but surely. You can sense as the plagues unfold, ever so slowly Pharaoh is being worn down and his will to resist fluctuates and I believe this is why the Lord steps in in the eighth and ninth plagues and helps Pharaoh’s heart-hardening along. He vacillates between releasing them and holding them back as if he is competing with some inner demon. Either that or he is purposely tormenting Moses and the Hebrews which is rather sadistic. Every time he has a chance to end the torment he opts to harden his heart and stubbornly hold them back. Towards the end he appears to plead with Moses to mediate with God to relieve him of the plagues but it is as if they are token gestures to buy time and relief.

The thing that surprised me is it appears there were indeed certain plagues that affected the Hebrews also because there is no statement of them being passed over such as the hailstones and infestation of locust, it looks like they (hail and bugs) struck everywhere destroying anything in their path including areas around Israelites. In other cases there are instances where it is explicitly stated that the plagues did not affect them such as the darkness, livestock death. It is kind of like the way mercy & grace is applied in certain measures in some people’s lives and not in others by God. Though we are all deserving of punishment in some form and measure, God meters it out as He sees fit. It’s as if God was saying, “Yeah, I’m punishing the Egyptian pagans now but if you don’t keep your ducks in a row and learn vicariously, you’re next!”

We then come to the tenth plague [obligatory pause] and the Destroyer.

"For the Lord will pass through to strike the Egyptians, and when he sees the blood on the lintel and on the two doorposts, the Lord will pass over the door and will not allow the destroyer to enter your houses to strike you." Exodus 12:23

"At midnight the Lord struck down all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, from the firstborn of Pharaoh who sat on his throne to the firstborn of the captive who was in the dungeon, and all the firstborn of the livestock." ~Exodus 12:29

The word translated as “The Destroyer” in Exodus 12:23 is the Hebrew word [Ha mashchiyth]. Ha (represented by the Hebrew letter Heh) is the definite article. mashchiyth (Strong's H4889) is derived from the verb shachath (Strong's H7843), which means “to decay, spoil, ruin, or destroy.” When the Ha prefixes a verb it signifies, “one who does something”. He decays/causes decay, he [is the] waster, he spoils, he ruins, he destroys. Utterly. Completely. If you're on the wrong side of this one (without blood), you're doomed there is no escape. It is a judgment of God. The Blood.

For I will pass through the land of Egypt that night, and I will strike all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and on all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgments: I am the Lord. The blood shall be a sign for you, on the houses where you are. And when I see the blood, I will pass over you, and no plague will befall you to destroy you, when I strike the land of Egypt. ~ Exodus 12:12-13

...the death of the firstborn and the climax of God’s hand working to the in benefit of the Hebrews in terms of plagues. The reason the tenth was most effective in releasing the slaves is because of what is said by the Lord Himself...

”Afterward he will let you go from here. When he lets you go, he will drive you away completely.” ~Exodus 11:1

It was because God said it would be so. Towards the end God was hardening Pharaoh’s heart for him. God was either making or allowing these things to happen either through selfish human motivations or by direct intervention. If God says something is going to happen, it’s going to happen. God will not be denied by man! He that creates life can take it away. Blessed be the name of the Lord!

Additionally, the plagues had now taken a direct attack on human life where the other plagues could’ve been attributed to nature like a man getting bonked on the head with a 10 inch hailstone, the tenth plague could not it was obviously selective, very deliberate and deadly in its outcome. There was intelligence behind this occurrence and the Egyptians knew it and feared for their lives. Lastly, we see the most eloquent example or foreshadowing of the Lamb Jesus Christ in the Old Testament here (McGee 235)

McGee, J. Vernon. "Exodus." Thru the Bible, Vol. 1: Genesis-Deuteronomy. Waco, TX: Thomas Nelson, 1983. 235. Print.

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