Today's Manna

February 12, 2017
Mercifully Plagued
by Scotty McCurdy
Scripture Reading: Exodus 7

Exodus 7 begins the account of the plagues that fell upon Egypt for their abuse of God’s people and their disobedience to His clear commands. Some have used this narrative as grounds to question God’s goodness, placing Him on trial for these devastating “signs and wonders.” But is that the right way to see them? Could they actually be acts of mercy on God’s part, thus reinforcing His goodness instead of detracting from it?

God states in verse 5 that after the plagues have ended and the Israelites are free, “the Egyptians shall know that I am the LORD.” It was only a few chapters ago that God revealed this Name (LORD, Yahweh), which speaks to His eternal and unchangeable nature. It sets Him apart from all other so-called gods and reveals that there is none like Him, to the extent that we cannot fully comprehend Him. If we borrow from the language used in Exodus 3:14, we can see that what God is revealing to the Egyptians is very similar to what He revealed to Moses and Israel: Moses was told by God “I AM WHO I AM” (3:14), and God states He is showing the Egyptians “that I am the I AM” (7:5).

No doubt about it – the plagues were laid on Egypt as judgment for their sin. But another of God’s purposes for the plagues was that the Egyptians might see that the LORD alone was God, and He alone should be feared and followed, not the worthless Egyptian gods that proved themselves nonexistent during the Exodus. This God had been in their midst for hundreds of years and they took little notice of Him, yet He was now revealing Himself in such a way that He would never be forgotten.

Don’t forget that God could have simply struck the entire nation of Egypt dead at any moment. Instead, He gave them opportunities to repent and obey. They rejected these offerings and hardened their hearts against Him (an act they initiated and God sealed). Though the plagues were devastating and many Egyptians lost their lives, the majority were spared. More than spared – they gained firsthand knowledge that there is no God like the LORD.

God is good all the time, even in the plagues. He uses this situation to present Himself in a magnificent way – just and righteous in punishing sin, faithful in remembering Israel, and merciful in revealing Himself to a pagan nation.

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