Working my way through Exodus. Reading of the escalating signs performed by the LORD through Moses to try and convince a hard-hearted Pharaoh to let His people go. And, as perhaps expected, my focus has been on Moses and Pharaoh . . . and, to be honest, probably more on Pharaoh. He’s in a game of chicken that he can’t win. He has set his “car” on a collision course with the God of the universe and refuses to take his foot off the gas. Don’t know exactly what he’s thinking, but despite the indisputable signs and wonders performed in the land, Pharaoh’s determined not to swerve. And I know that God has hardened his heart . . . and that he has hardened his heart . . . but it’s just jaw-dropping to read of his arrogance and stubbornness even as Egypt is literally torn down around him.
But this morning, a sentence jumped off the page that reminded me that, beyond Moses and the collective obstinacy of the Egyptians, there’s a third group of people who are part of this drama playing out, the people of Israel.
Remember them? Having grown into a great multitude they had been forced into hard labor by the Egyptians as a preventive measure against any inclination toward insurrection. It was with their elders that Moses met with and told of the LORD’s plan to deliver them. And they liked what they heard, “and the people believed” (Ex. 4:31). But that belief was short-lived when, after Moses’ first meeting with Egypt’s king, Pharaoh turns up the heat on his Israelite workforce requiring them to hit their production numbers amidst impossible demands. Then, these once believing elders track down Moses and curse him, “The LORD look on you and judge, because you have made us stink in the sight of Pharaoh and his servants, and have put a sword in their hand to kill us” (Ex. 5:21)
So that’s Moses’ starting point . . . angry, hard-hearted Pharaoh . . . angry, disheartened people. Great! The LORD has everybody exactly where He wants them.
Fast forward a few plagues and Moses is telling these same people about God’s Passover plan. Quite an incredible story of God’s plan to send an angel of death to strike the firstborn of all Egypt. And that, to avoid the disaster, they were to take a lamb, . . . a lamb without blemish, and kill it. They were then to apply its blood to the door frames of their houses so that, when the LORD passed through to strike the Egyptians, He would see the the blood on house and would pass over that door, not allowing the destroyer to strike that house. That was the plan. That’s it. Angel of death coming . . . kill a lamb and put some blood on the doorframe . . . all will be well. So, how do the Israelites respond?
And the people bowed their heads and worshiped. Then the people of Israel went and did so; as the LORD had commanded Moses and Aaron, so they did.
(Exodus 12:27b-28 ESV)
So they did. With heads bowed in awe . . . and hearts lifted in worship . . . the people heard the plan, believed the plan, and so they did the plan. And while I know this motley group would not be the most consistent testimony of faith, for right now, they believed and so they did.
So, while the drama of the plagues was primarily a showdown between a stubborn king and a sent deliverer, it also played out in the hearts of a desperate people to produce, quite literally, a saving faith. They believed God was able to do what He said He would do that night, and so they obeyed. They believed that if God said to apply the blood then all they needed to do was to apply the blood. While there had been much collateral damage in Egypt throughout the showdown, there had also been a lot of collateral faith building throughout God’s people.
That’s how our God works. And that’s why His people respond the way they do.
Because of His grace . . . and for His glory.