Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Exodus 9:1-7 The Plague on Livestock

"Then the LORD said to Moses,
'Go to Pharaoh and say to him,
"This is what the LORD, the God of the Hebrews, says:

'Let my people go, so that they may worship me.'
If you refuse to let them go and continue to hold them back,
the hand of the LORD will bring a terrible plague on your livestock in the field --
on your horses and donkeys and camels and on your cattle and sheep and goats.
But the LORD will make a distinction
between the livestock of Israel and that of Egypt,
so that no animal belonging to the Israelites will die.' "

The LORD set a time and said,
'Tomorrow the LORD will do this in the land.'
And the next day the LORD did it:
All the livestock of the Egyptians died,
But not one animal belonging to the Israelites died.

Pharaoh sent men to investigate
and found that not even one of the animals of the Israelites had died.
Yet his heart was unyielding and he would not let the people go." 

Exodus 9:1-7 (NIV)

In these verses, the LORD continues to assert that the Israelites are His people and that He is their God.  He warns of the terrible plague which will come upon the Egyptians if they do not let the Hebrews go to worship Him.  Egyptian horses, donkeys, camels, cattle, sheep and goats which are left out in the field will all be affected.

However, none of the animals of the Israelites would die.  This in itself would be a sign that the LORD was in control of the plague.  Also, He gave Pharaoh further proof by setting a specific time when the plague would occur.  In this way, there would be no chance that Pharaoh could think that the death of the cattle was all merely a coincidence.

Apparently Pharaoh did not obey the LORD, and the plague occurred as scheduled, for the text says next that Pharaoh sent his men to investigate the status of the animals of the Israelites.  Although all the animals of the Egyptians (which had been left out in the field) had died, not even one of the Israelite animals died.

Despite this obvious evidence of the LORD's power, Pharaoh's heart remained unyielding.  It would take some determination to close your eyes to the truth in the face of such evidence of the LORD's sovereignty, but that is just what Pharaoh did.

Anyone else getting that cringing feeling like "oh boy, are you going to be in trouble now."?  It is almost like a net is closing in upon Pharaoh and his people because of Pharaoh's stubbornness.  Not that God is trying to 'catch' the Egyptians; on the contrary, God seems to be everything possible to bring Pharaoh to repent of his stubborn willfulness.

However, Pharaoh's heart seems to be getting steadily harder.  Repeated sin will do that to you.  This reminds me of a powerful illustration I saw once in a church youth group meeting.  They took the strongest guy in the room, (an athletic and muscular person), and began to wind ordinary household thread around his arms, as if to bind him.  At first, he was able to easily snap the thread.  However, when they wound it about him a bunch of times, even that flimsy thread was able to restrain him.  The point was that although a sinful behavior may at first seem to be small or unimportant, repeated sinful practice will result in the person being bound or enslaved by that sin.  Of course, every sin is significant.  We can't say, 'I'll just do it this one time.' and expect to remain spiritually strong.  But repeated willful sin such as Pharaoh is exhibiting is leading to a place where Pharaoh will eventually be powerless to do otherwise.  Sin is very destructive, and (as often happens), Pharaoh's sin will lead to unintended consequences for others around him -- in this case the people of Egypt.

No comments:

Post a Comment