Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Exodus 10:21-29 Deep Darkness

"Then the LORD said to Moses,
'Stretch out your hand toward the sky
so that darkness will spread over Egypt --
darkness that can be felt.'

So Moses stretched out his hand toward the sky,
and total darkness covered all Egypt for three days.
No one could see anyone else or leave his place for three days.

Yet all the Israelites had light in the places where they lived.

Then Pharaoh summoned Moses and said,
'Go, worship the LORD.
Even your women and children may go with you;
only leave your flocks and herds behind.'

But Moses said,
'You must allow us to have sacrifices and burnt offerings
to present to the LORD our God.
Our livestock too must go with us; not a hoof is to be left behind.
We have to use some of them in worshiping the LORD our God,
and until we get there we will not know what we are to use to worship the LORD.'

But the LORD hardened Pharaoh's heart,
and he was not willing to let them go.
Pharaoh said to Moses, 'Get out of my sight!
Make sure you do not appear before me again!
The day you see my face you will die.'

'Just as you say,' Moses replied,
'I will never appear before you again.'

Exodus 10:21-29 (NIV)

When Pharaoh refused to let the Israelites go, even after the plague of locusts, the LORD sent darkness over Egypt for three days.  This darkness was so thick that one person could not see another, and no one left home for three days.

However, in the homes of the Hebrews there was light.  That is an amazing thing.  Can you imagine what was going on in the minds of the Egyptians?  Aside from the darkness giving them a chance to think about the power of this God of the Israelites, they could see clearly that God was making a distinction between His people and the Egyptians.

Again, it is not that the Israelites were any more holy or superior than any other people, but their relationship with God made all the difference.  God was in a covenant relationship with the Israelites, and He was preparing to make good on His promise to bring them back to the land which He had given them, a land which they had not yet seen, although their ancestors Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob had lived there.  At the same time, God was revealing Himself to the Egyptians, so that they might come to know Him as well.

Pharaoh, however, was being the epitome of stubbornness.  Despite all the evidence of the superiority of the God of Israel over the 'gods' of Egypt, he remained resistant.  Even now, in the midst of the three-day darkness, he was still acting as if he was the one calling the shots.  He declared that the Hebrews could all go to worship the LORD, but that they must leave their flocks and herds behind.  Perhaps Pharaoh was becoming resigned to the fact that the people were going to leave, but he hoped to at least retain their wealth -- their animals.

Moses quickly makes it very clear that it was the LORD who was the sovereign here, and that the Israelites were waiting on His commands, not upon Pharaoh's.  The Israelites intended to worship the LORD, and needed to have all their resources with them so that they could respond to the LORD's leading regarding what type of worship would be pleasing to Him.  In reality, Pharaoh's power had been proved nonexistent.  His desires in this case were not even an issue.

Pharaoh responds with all the rage of a spoiled child who cannot have his own way.  He orders Moses out of his presence and warns him that if he appears before him again, he will have him put to death.

Moses replies courteously, with perhaps a twist of irony.  He agrees that he will never appear before Pharaoh again.  However, he says this because God has already revealed to him what will happen next. 

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