Exodus 8:23 (HCSB)
23 I will make a distinction between My people and your people. This sign will take place tomorrow.”
This pericope relays the fourth plague, one of flies, upon Egypt. There is a return to the form of God issues instructions to Moses initially. But this plague differs in a few key ways as well:
- This is the first plague that occurs without any human agent “kicking it off”. Aaron does not strike his staff on, or wave it over, anything. Is this God “flexing” His muscle a bit? Perhaps God is showing Pharaoh, and everyone else, that these miracles are not the work of man, and Aaron, Moses, or anyone else is not the key to God’s power, but just the opposite.
- God clearly sets His people apart, and restrains the plague from effecting them. Goshen, the area where the Israelites lived, was spared from the plague. For the first time there is an explicit separation, by God, between His people and everyone else. There is no more ambiguity.
Exodus 8:23 is such a powerful verse in my mind. The idea of God, the ultimate power in the universe, the Creator of all existence, makes a thoughtful, purposeful, distinction between those who belong to Him and those who don’t, or are opposed to Him. There are a couple things specifically that this speaks:
- The distinction is made by God. Praise God that it is not up to us to decide who is “in” and who is “out”. What a mess that would be in our sin-soaked world. We can, and should, be reassured that the righteous God of everything is drawing the line.
- Also, this speaks against the relativism so prevalent in our world. The idea that I am good compared to him or her, so I will be rewarded, flies out the window. God doesn’t grade on a scale. We are either His, or we are Pharaoh’s, or the world’s. It’s a clarity that draws believers closer to God, and either turns the unbeliever, or solidifies him in his rebellion.
And check this out: God gives Pharaoh time to get straight! God tells Pharaoh, He has told him all along, what needs to happen. All the plagues, including this one, are the result of Pharaoh’s choice to rebel! This all speaks to the grace and mercy of God, as well as His continued pursuit of us, in the middle of His justice.
Lord, thank You for drawing the line, for telling us the choice, and drawing us always closer to You. I pray that those who stand opposed to You would turn and come near, and those who already are Yours move closer and closer. Amen.