Exodus 9:30 (HCSB)
30 But as for you and your officials, I know that you still do not fear Yahweh our God.”
There is so much in this plague pericope. We begin to see the awesome power of God fully be shown, and the scripture tells us as much in Exodus 9:14: “I am going to send all my plagues against you.” And although this is a key aspect of the seventh plague, as it has been all along as God has displayed His supremacy via power and control, there are three other big narratives here.
- Pharaoh still exists because he is serving God’s purpose. In Exodus 9:16, God clearly states that is the situation. The only reason Pharaoh continues to draw breath is not because of his own power, status, importance, or any other self-based reason… it is because God is using him to serve God’s own purposes, to glorify Himself in all the world. What a reminder to all of us this should be: we are not so important that God can’t keep running things without us!
- God has fore-warned Pharaoh of what is to come with previous plagues. But this time there is something extra, there are specific actions to take in order to avoid the impact of the plague, at least partially. Death here can be avoided by following God. Isn’t that the narrative of scripture? If we would only place our hope and trust in Christ, then we avoid death?
- Despite point #2 above, it is interesting that in Exodus 9:20, even those that took action to protect their servants and livestock, did so because they “feared the word of the Lord.” Scripture does not say they feared the Lord. It seems maybe they only had concern about His proclamation. That would mean their actions were not out of reverence towards God, a relational beginning, but out of concern for self alone. And this idea is embodied by Pharaoh. Even though he summons Moses and declares his sin, seemingly the start of true repentance, Moses calls him, and his officials, out. They do not fear God in the sense that He is the Lord of their lives, and deserving all love, reverence, and glory, and in the end Pharaoh continues to contend with God. This is a guide for us as well: our faith should not hinge on how tough times are. If God is only on our radar when we need Him, or when He has blasted us, but when things are smooth and we are riding high He might as well not exist… we aren’t Christians, we are pharaohs. Being a Christian is faith in, and following, God in between the plagues, and during the plagues.
Lord, thank You for using the good and the bad to further Your purposes. Thank You for throwing hard and crappy times into our lives so we have the opportunities to realize where our strength comes from, and to lean hard into You. I pray that I do not become a Christian of convenience, only “knowing” You when I need something. Instead, help me to always run to You, in praise when times are good… and in praise when times are bad… but always to You. Amen.