Exodus 11

 

                        THE BEGINNING OF THE END

 

vs. 1-3 – “And the LORD said unto Moses, Yet will I bring one plague more

upon Pharaoh, and upon Egypt; afterwards he will let you go hence: when he

shall let you go, he shall surely thrust you out hence altogether.  Speak now in

the ears of the people, and let every man borrow of his neighbor, and every

woman of her neighbor, jewels of silver and jewels of gold.  And the LORD gave

the people favor in the sight of the Egyptians.  Moreover the man Moses was

very great in the land of Egypt, in the sight of Pharaoh’s servants, and in the

sight of the people.”  We have here a parenthetic statement of something that had

previously happened. Before Moses was summoned to appear in the presence of

Pharaoh as related in ch. 10:24, it had been expressly revealed to him by God:

 

  • That one more plague, and one only, was impending.  This would be effectual.

      It would lead him to let the people go from Egypt. So eager would he be for

      their departure, that he would even thrust them out in haste. The nature of this  

      final stroke is described in vs. 4-7. It would be the death in one night of the first-           

      born of man and beast throughout all the land of Egypt.

 

  • That this infliction would be effectual, and be followed by the departure

            of the Israelites; and,

 

  • That instead of reluctantly allowing them to withdraw from his kingdom,

            the monarch would be eager for their departure and would actually hasten

            it. He had also been told that the time was now come when the promise

            made to him in Mount Horeb, that his people should “spoil the Egyptians”

            (ch. 3:22), would receive its accomplishment. The Israelites, before departing,  

            were to ask their Egyptian neighbors for any articles of gold and silver that

            they possessed, and would receive them (v. 2). The people were entitled to

            these gifts in repayment for past unrequited services; as compensation for

            losses and sufferings during the century of slavery.  The reasons for this

            extraordinary generosity on the part of the Egyptians are then mentioned, in       

            prolongation of the parenthesis:

 

ü      God “gave the people favour in the sight of the Egyptians”; and

 

ü      The circumstances of the time had exalted Moses, and made him be

                  looked upon as “very great” (v. 3), so that there was a general

                  inclination to carry out his wishes.  This greatness was from God and

                  was given without Moses seeking it!  God’s power rested on him –

                  (Deuteronomy 34:10-12).  The service of God is the path of true

                  greatness and leads to undying honor.  (Romans 2:7-10).

 

                                                     THE FINALE

 

vs. 4-8 – “And Moses said, Thus saith the LORD, About midnight” - (It would add

to the horror of the infliction that it should come in the depth of the night.  Probably the night

intended was not the next night, but one left purposely indefinite, that terror and suspense

might work upon the mind of Pharaoh) – “will I go out” – (The word “I” is repressed in

the original, and is emphatic.  This crowning plague Jehovah inflicts by no instrumentality,

but takes wholly upon Himself. (See 12:12-13, 23, 27, 29).  into the midst of Egypt: 

And all the firstborn in the land of Egypt shall die, from the first born of Pharaoh

that sitteth upon his throne, even unto the firstborn of the maidservant that is behind

the mill; and all the firstborn of beasts.  Not the firstborn of cattle only, but of all beasts.

The Egyptians had pet animals in most houses, dogs, apes, monkeys, perhaps cats and

ichneumons. Most temples had sacred animals, and in most districts of Egypt, some beasts

were regarded as sacred, and might not be killed, their death being viewed as a calamity. The

loss of so many animals would consequently be felt by the Egyptians as a sensible aggravation

of the infliction. It would wound them both in their domestic and in their religious sensibilities. 

And there shall be a great cry throughout all the land of Egypt, such as there was

none like it, nor shall be like it any more.  But against any of the children of Israel

shall not a dog move his tongue, against man or beast:  (So far from a sudden

destruction coming upon them, there shall not so much as a dog bark at them- They shall

incur no hurt — no danger).  that ye may know how that the LORD doth put a

difference between the Egyptians and Israel.  (Compare Malachi 3:16-18) -   And

all these thy servants shall come down unto me, and bow down themselves unto me,

saying, Get thee out, and all the people that follow thee: and after that I will go out.

And he went out from Pharaoh in a great anger”.  (Literally, “in heat of anger.”

The abrupt dismissal [ch.10:28], the threat against his life (ibid.) and the announcement that

no more interviews would be granted him moved the indignation of Moses, who was not

conscious to himself of having done anything to deserve such treatment. He had answered

the king calmly and temperately (ch. 10:29; 11:4-8); but knew what his feelings had been,

and here records them.  The writer returns here to his account of the last interview between

Moses and Pharaoh, repeating the introductory words of ch.10:29 — “and Moses said.”

Having accepted his dismissal, and declared that he would not see the face of Pharaoh any

more (ibid.), Moses, before quitting the presence, proceeded to announce the last plague,

prefacing the announcement, as usual (7:17; 8:2; 9:1,13; 10:3), with the solemn declaration,

which showed that he acted in the matter merely as God’s instrument“ Thus saith

Jehovah.” He makes the announcement with the utmost plainness, noting the exact

time of the visitation (v. 4) — its extent (v. 5) — the terrible “cry” that would

follow (v. 6) the complete exemption of the Israelites (v. 7) — the message which

Pharaoh would send him by his servants, to depart at once — and his own intention

of acting on it (v. 8). Then, without waiting for a reply, in hot anger at the prolonged

obstinacy of the monarch, he went out.

 

For the most part there is, or there seems to be, one event to the righteous and to the wicked

(Ecclesiastes 9:2). Death happens alike to all, and does not appear to choose his victims on

any principle of sparing good and punishing ill desert. War, famine, pestilence, sweep away

equally the good and the bad. This is the general law of God’s providence; but He makes

occasional exceptions. The issues of life and death are really His. Not a sparrow falls to the

ground without our Father. (Matthew 10:29) – If He see fit, He can “put a difference”

between His own people and others. He can strike with death whomsoever He pleases;

He can spare those whom He chooses to spare. We see Him here:

 

  • MAKING DEATH AN INSTRUMENT OF VENGEANCE, NOT ON

            THOSE WHO DIE, BUT ON THOSE WHO SURVIVE. Pharaoh is

            punished, and the Egyptians generally are punished, by the sudden death of

            the first-born. They had deserved this retribution by their cruelty to the

            Hebrews, and especially by the drowning of the Hebrew male children

            (ch. 1:22). It afflicted all, however, alike, whether they had taken part in the      

            above-mentioned cruelties or not. This was because it was a national  

            chastisement; and the case had been the same with almost all the other plagues.

 

  • STRIKING TERROR INTO A WHOLE COMMUNITY BY VISITING

      WITH DEATH A CERTAIN NUMBER. Death is the main fear of worldly

      men. Anything else may be endured, made up for, made the best of. But for

      death there is no help, no remedy. The awful phantom is, as far as possible,

      kept out of sight, unthought of, unprepared for, thrust into the background.

            (The only way that sinners can be happy is through thoughtlessness -CH           

            Spurgeon) - Men live as if they had a freehold of life, not a leasehold. When

            the gaunt specter draws near; when, in the shape of cancer or fever, he makes

            his entrance upon the scene and challenges attention, the result is, for the most   

            part, a panic. So it was in Egypt. The Egyptians wrote much of death,

            reminded each other of death (Herod. 2:78), prepared tombs for themselves

            with great care speculated largely upon the condition of souls in another world;

            but it would seem that they shrank, as much as ordinary men, from near contact            

            with the grisly phantom. It was now about to be suddenly brought home to them           

            how thin a barrier separates between the two worlds. In the presence of death

            they would wake up to the realities of life. They would be conquered,

            submissive, ready to do whatever was God’s will.

 

  • SHOWING HIS FAVOUR TO HIS OWN PEOPLE BY EXEMPTING THEM

      WHOLLY FROM THE VISITATION. Against the Israelites not even a dog would

      move his tongue (v. 7). With mortality all around them, with a corpse in each Egyptian

      house, with animals lying dead on all sides, in the open country as well as in the towns

      and houses, they would be completely free from the       visitation; a special providence

      would save and protect them. Such an exemption was, of course, miraculous, and is

      well nigh unparalleled. But still   there have been cases where God’s people have

      suffered marvelously little in a time of pestilence, when it has seemed to strike almost

      none but reckless and vicious lives, when an arm has appeared to be extended over

      the righteous.  At such times what praise and gratitude are not due to God for

      putting a difference between the Egyptians and Israel!” He spares when we

      deserve punishment, and in His wrath thinks upon mercy. He gives a token of His

            approval to men of regular lives and temperate habits, by “passing them over”

            when He walks through the land dealing out destruction.  Before proceeding to

            relate the last and greatest of the plagues, the author allows himself a momentary

            pause while he casts his eye back on the whole series of miracles hitherto wrought in

            Egypt, on the circumstances under which they had been wrought, their failure to

            move the stubborn will of Pharaoh, and the cause of that failure, the hardening of

            his heart, which hardening the author once more ascribes to Jehovah.

            With this summary he terminates the second great division of his work, that which

            began with ch. 2., and which traces the history of Moses from his birth to the close

            of his direct dealings with Pharaoh.

 

vs. 9-10 – “And the LORD said unto Moses” - Rather, “had said.” God had

forewarned Moses that Pharaoh’s heart would be hardened (chps. 4:21; 7:3), and

that, in spite of all the miracles which he was empowered to perform before him,

he would not let the people go (chps. 3:19; 4:21). It was not until God took

Pharaoh’s punishment altogether into His own hands, and Himself came down and

smote all the first-born, that the king’s obstinacy was overcome, and he proceeded to

thrust the people out.”-Pharaoh shall not hearken unto you; that my wonders

may be multiplied in the land of Egypt”.  (Compare chps. 3:20; 7:3). If Pharaoh

had yielded at the first, or even after two or three miracles, God’s greatness and power

would not have been shown forth very remarkably.  Neither the Egyptians nor the

neighboring nations would have been much impressed. The circumstances would soon

have been forgotten. As it was, the hardness of Pharaoh’s heart, while it delayed the

departure of the Israelites for a year, and so added to their sufferings, was of advantage

to them in various ways:

 

Ø      It gave them time to organize themselves, and make all necessary

            preparations for a sudden departure.

 

Ø      It deeply impressed the Egyptians, and led them to abstain from all

            interference with the Israelites for above three centuries.

 

Ø      It impressed the neighbouring nations also to some extent, and either

            prevented them from offering opposition to the Israelites, or made them

            contend with less heart, and so with less success against them.

 

“And Moses and Aaron did all these wonders before Pharaoh” - Aaron’s agency

is not always mentioned, and seems to have been less marked in the later than in the earlier

miracles, Moses gradually gaining the ascendance - “and the LORD

hardened Pharaoh’s heart, so that he would not let the children of Israel go

out of his land.”

 

 

  • MAN’S ILL-DOING ONLY CAUSES GOD’S WONDERS TO BE MULTIPLIED.

      (v. 9). God’s wonders are either such as occur in the general course of his providence,

      or such as are abnormal and extraordinary. It is these last of which Moses especially

      speaks to us in the Book of Exodus. But the same law which applies to the abnormal

      wonders, applies also to those which are constant and ordinary. Men’s perverseness

      leads to their multiplication.

 

  • PARDON OF SIN IS MULTIPLIED THROUGH HUMAN

      TRANSGRESSION. NOTHING IS A GREATER MARVEL THAN

      GOD’S PARDON OF SIN!  How “the High and Holy One who inhabiteth         

      eternity (Isaiah 57:15) -  He who “is of purer eyes than to behold iniquity” –

       (Habakkuk 1:13) can pardon sin, is one of those mysteries which must ever     

      remain — in this life, at any rate — unfathomable. Man pardons his fellow-

      sinner without much difficulty, because he is his fellow-sinner — because he

      feels that he is himself so much in need of forgiveness. But for a perfect Being

      to pardon what isutterly alien to his own nature, what he must despise and

      abhor, what in His eyes is vile, base, mean, wicked, despicable, detestable

      is a truth which faith may accept, but which reason is quite incompetent to     

      understand. Yet God does pardon. Paul must have been pardoned his           

      persecution of the saints, before he was called to be “a chosen vessel.”

      God bids us ask for pardon, and He would not bid us ask for that which

      He could not or would not give. And the marvel of pardon is being daily

      augmented, heaped up, multiplied, by the ever-increasing sum of human            

      transgression.

 

  • GOD THE SPIRIT’S CONDESCENSION GROWS AND INCREASES

      THROUGH THE SAME. God the Father declared once upon a time, “My

      Spirit shall not always strive with man” (Genesis 6:3). Yet near five

      thousand years have elapsed, and his Spirit strives still.  Man turns away

      from His Spirit, grieves Him, vexes Him, is deaf to His pleadings, sets

      at nought His counsel, wills none of His reproof (Proverbs 1:25) — yet He

      does not withdraw himself. - He “gives us the comfort of his help again”

      (Psalm 86:17) He “will not leave us, nor forsake us.” (Hebrews 13:5) –

      We may, no doubt, if we persist in evil courses, and set to work

      determinedly to drive Him from us, in course of time cause Him to

      withdraw (“not knowing that the goodness of God that leadeth thee

      to repentance” – Romans 2:4),  alienate Him wholly, “quench” Him

      (II Thessalonians 5:19). But, short of such alienation, our sins do but

      cause Him to multiply the wonders of His love and His long-suffering, to

      be ever more gracious and more merciful, to plead with us more

      persuasively, more constantly, and save us, as it were, in spite of ourselves.

          (One more thing Dear Reader:  Jesus said “No man can come to me,

            except the Father which hath sent me draw him” (John 6:44) – It is my      

            persuasion that rejecting the Holy Spirit’s witness of Jesus Christ as God’s

            Only Begotten Son is very close to “blasphemy” which is the unpardonable

            sin.  CY – 2010)

 

In this age of Secular Humanism, Materialism, Rationalism, Hedonism,

Existentialism, the Drug Culture, Atheism, Agnosticism, and thousands

of other modern exhibits of unbelief and perversion and in open immorality

league themselves  in opposition to God, these actions will  only will provoke Him

to arise and show forth His might, to confound and scatter His foes. So men may

be led at last to know that He, whose name is Jehovah, is truly “the Most High

over all the earth” (Psalm 83:18).  Why do the heathen rage, and the people

imagine a vain thing?  The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers

take counsel together, against the LORD, and against His anointed, saying,

Let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us.  He that

sitteth in the heavens shall laugh: the LORD shall have them in derision.

Then shall He speak unto them in His wrath, and vex them in His sore

displeasure.  Yet have I set my king upon my holy hill of Zion.  I will declare

the decree: the LORD hath said unto me, Thou art my Son; this day have I

begotten thee.”  In the book of Ezekiel it says that in the last days the Lord God

will work and in sixty-two (62) places it says “they shall know that I am the Lord”

And no doubt of our generation the Lord God will say “These things thou hast

done and I kept silence; thou thoughtest that I was altogether such an one

as thyself:  but I will reprove thee, and set them in order before thine eyes.

Now consider this, ye that forget God, lest I tear you in pieces, and there

be none to deliver.  Whoso offereth praise glorifieth me:  and to him that

ordereth his conversation aright will I shew the salvation of God”

(Psalm 51:21-23)

 

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