Exodus 12-13: God will Never Pour Out His Wrath on His People

Too many of us live awaiting the other shoe to drop.  There are times when we may imagine God as one sitting enthroned in heaven and waiting for the most opportune time to strike us down.  When things happen to be going very well, a pessimistic impulse sometimes may fill our guilty consciences and cause us to believe that we must be especially ready in those moments for God’s retaliation.

 

With a quick reading of these two chapters, these suspicions can very easily be confirmed.  We begin in this text with God preparing his people for the final great plague. Like many ancient cultures, the Egyptians considered their Pharaoh a god.  He was revered and worshipped.  Not only was Pharaoh a god but so was his successor, his firstborn son.  The significance of this must not be lost on the reader of Exodus. It was within this context that God would deliver his final blow to this nation that oppressed the Hebrew people for four hundred years.  For centuries the blood of Hebrew people was spilled in service to their Egyptian slave masters.  Consecutive generations of Men, women and children in great numbers lived their lives and died in obscurity without ever tasting a day of the kind of freedom we experience on a daily basis in the free nations of the world today.  They suffered the sting of the whip tearing their body into strips and the witnessed the heartbreak of watching their little baby boys in huge numbers thrown into the Nile because of the Pharaoh’s lust for oppression and power.  The Hebrew people had only known injustice and in the deepest possible pain cried out to the Lord their God for freedom. 

 

God raised up Moses to bring to the Hebrew people the liberty they so deeply craved, but this liberty would come at a great cost to those who had once exploited them.  Following the departure of the Hebrews, their economy would be crushed as their cheap labor would be gone, their possessions would be plundered and their firstborn sons would be lost.  After centuries of stealing wages, forced poverty and the destruction of Hebrew baby boys, the Egyptians would themselves get a taste of their own medicine.

 

While the Hebrews had experienced many generations of exploitation from the Egyptians and had suffered their wrath, God had a perfectly planned deliverance for the people in mind.  After four hundred years in slavery, the nation had grown vast, as God had promised Abraham it would.   For this people of great promise, it must have seemed like God would never fulfill the promise to make them into a great nation.  The time the Hebrew people spent in slavery was similar in duration to the time that hs elapsed since the pilgrims sailed to Plymouth Rock, Massachusetts.  As far as the memory could bear, all these people knew was slavery and this slavery which presumably created a lack of confidence in the God of the Bible among many of the Hebrew people.  This is because Ancient people groups gauged the greatness of their god’s power on how well the god’s servants did in life.  From Pharaoh’s perspective, the God of the Hebrews was not even remotely significant to him as he did not feel any need to allow them to go and worship him.  This refusal was nothing less than a slap in the face and a way of stating that their God must have been pretty weak if the enslaved Hebrews were his special people.

 

There is truth to the old saying that he who laughs last, laughs loudest.  Pharaoh presumed because the Egyptians had dominated the Hebrews that it was an indication of their god’s superiority.  It is within this milieu that we begin to get a clear understanding of the significance of the last and most terrible plague.  God was about to show Pharaoh which God was the true God and which one was the pretender.  Unfortunately, for pharaoh, he was shown to be the fraud.

 

Before the night of the Passover, God instructed the Hebrew people to prepare for something big that was about to happen.  The time of freedom was about to come and we learn how quickly when God gave instructions to Moses on how the Passover should be eaten.

 

“This is how you are to eat it.  With your cloak tucked into your belt, our sandals on your feet and your staff in your hand.  Eat it in haste; it is the LORD’s Passover.  “On that same night I will pass through Egypt and strike down every firstborn—both men and animals – and I will bring judgment on al the gods of Egypt.  I am the LORD.  The blood will be a sign for you on the houses where you are, and when I see the blood, I will pass over you. No destructive plague will touch you when I strike Egypt” (Exodus 12:11-13).

 

Throughout the narrative we have learned over and over again that while God would strike Egypt with darkness or hail, etc., he would not strike Goshen with these plagues.  Finally, in the tenth plague, we once again notice that God will not pour his wrath upon his people.  It isn’t that his people were without sin and did not exploit others in any way (though they certainly did not in proportion to the Egyptians) that God spared them. The reason why God spared the Israelites was because they were his children by faith and because they believed him, he was gracious to them.

 

Dr. Tony Evans has a great illustration about what it must have been like for the Hebrew people on that fateful Passover night when the firstborn of all Egypt were struck down.  Can you imagine what this must have been like for these families on that evening when they knew what was going to come?  All through the night the land of Egypt was filled with the awful sorrow of families who awoke only to find the firstborn of their households no longer with them.  Can you imagine even more what it must have been like for those firstborn Hebrew children locked down in their homes and waiting for this terrible evening to pass.  As she sobs and the wailing spread throughout the land, they must have wondered if they too would have to face death that evening.  Perhaps as a firstborn began to be gripped with fear and jump into his mother’s arms and crying out, “mommy, what is going to happen to me?”  And in the midst of that horror, the little boy’s dad would lean over and say, “son, don’t worry, look at the blood on the doorpost.  Because of the blood of the lamb, you will be spared.  Son keep looking at the blood and know that you will live.”  This illustration is a great reminder for us as Christians. 

 

Sometimes we worry if God will really accept us on that day, and the reality is that our relationship with him is something that we ought to think long and hard about.  But if you have begun a relationship with Jesus Christ; if you have repented (i.e., turned away) from your sin; if you have asked him to wash away your sin through a genuine trust of his death on your behalf; if you believe that he has been raised from the dead and if you have asked him to be your Lord and Master and you really meant every word of it – you are His child and you have no reason to fear because God will never pour out his wrath on his people.  This is the most important decision that any person could ever make.  This is where a relationship with God starts and this is a commitment that Pharaoh, sadly, wasn’t willing to make.  Trust him today and experience true freedom.

 

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