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Read Exodus 11

The Plague on the Firstborn

Now the Lord had said to Moses, “I will bring one more plague on Pharaoh and on Egypt. After that, he will let you go from here, and when he does, he will drive you out completely. Tell the people that men and women alike are to ask their neighbors for articles of silver and gold.” (The Lord made the Egyptians favorably disposed toward the people, and Moses himself was highly regarded in Egypt by Pharaoh’s officials and by the people.)

So Moses said, “This is what the Lord says: ‘About midnight I will go throughout Egypt. Every firstborn son in Egypt will die, from the firstborn son of Pharaoh, who sits on the throne, to the firstborn son of the female slave, who is at her hand mill, and all the firstborn of the cattle as well. There will be loud wailing throughout Egypt—worse than there has ever been or ever will be again. But among the Israelites not a dog will bark at any person or animal.’ Then you will know that the Lord makes a distinction between Egypt and Israel. All these officials of yours will come to me, bowing down before me and saying, ‘Go, you and all the people who follow you!’ After that I will leave.” Then Moses, hot with anger, left Pharaoh.

The Lord had said to Moses, “Pharaoh will refuse to listen to you—so that my wonders may be multiplied in Egypt.” 10 Moses and Aaron performed all these wonders before Pharaoh, but the Lord hardened Pharaoh’s heart, and he would not let the Israelites go out of his country.

Go Deeper

Over the past few days, we have seen nine different plagues come on the Egyptians. Surely by this point, Pharaoh has gotten the message, right? God tells Moses there’s one more plague to come, and this one will kill the firstborn of all the Egyptians, from Pharaoh’s own son to all the livestock in Egypt. Reading this, you can’t help but hold out hope that Pharaoh will respond to these other nine plagues, repent from his evil ways, and let the Israelites go peacefully. But sadly, God tells Moses that Pharaoh isn’t going to listen. 

Throughout Exodus so far, we have learned a lot about the character of God. Not only has He remembered His covenant with Israel, He also shows his mercy to Pharaoh, even when Pharaoh has proven to be undeserving. Scripture is clear, from the Old Testament to the New Testament, that God is full of mercy and extends it towards us, even when we don’t deserve it. Romans 2:4 talks about God’s kindness and how that very kindness is what leads us towards repentance. 

As we’ll read about tomorrow, God’s going to offer His protection and deliverance for the Israelites. He’ll save them from what’s coming to Pharaoh. In that same way, God provided deliverance to us through Jesus. Our hearts have been hardened at times. We’ve wandered from God. We’ve ignored His signs and wonders all around us at times. We, like Pharaoh, have rejected God ourselves. But God’s kindness leads us to repentance. We have received mercy and grace because God loved the world so much that He sent His Son. May it never be lost on us that we didn’t get what we deserved.

  1. Why did God have the Israelites ask the Egyptians for gold and silver? What was the response from the Egyptians?

  2. Why did God offer Pharaoh so many chances to repent?

  3. When reading this story through a gospel lens, what does it teach you about God’s character? What do you learn about yourself?

Did You Know?

At first reading, verse 6 is a little difficult to understand. What God is saying here is that the Egyptians will clearly be able to discern what’s going on all around them. The ramifications are a result of Pharaoh’s actions, not those of Moses or the Israelites. Their leader is the one to shoulder the blame, which is a political disaster for Pharaoh.

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6 thoughts on “Exodus 11”

  1. In verses 6 & 7 the contrast is shocking… the loud wailing in Egypt vs. the silence in Israelite camps, so much so that not even a dog barks. God makes it abundantly clear the distinction between the people as his wonders are multiplied. Today I want to remain in awe of his sovereignty and serve him out of a heart of deep love and gratitude for providing salvation through his Son, clearly something I did not deserve.

  2. I wonder what the sequence of events would have been if God didn’t repeatedly harden Pharaoh’s heart against the request delivered by Moses and Aaron. Undoubtedly God’s plan came to fruition as it was meant to, but it makes me realize that I need to always pray for a softened heart.

    1. I am wondering the same thing. To be honest, I have been confused the last several days while reading the Bible Reading Plan. It says in Exodus many times that it was the Lord who hardened Pharoah’s heart. However, in the “Go Deeper“ and Listening section of the reading plan, the comments indicate that Pharoah was choosing through his own actions not to let the Israelites go because of his pride and arrogance and that we need to apply this to our own life so that our pride does not bring about our own destruction and prevent us from repentance. I only see in Exodus 8:15 where it actually says that Pharoah hardens his own heart. The rest of the verses say that it was the Lord who harden Pharoah’s heart in order to perform miraculous signs to show His power and that He may be proclaimed in all the earth. So, has The Lord given Pharoah a chance to repent and turn from his ways? Did Pharoah have this opportunity to repent against evil if it was the Lord who hardened his heart? I wonder if the Bible Reading plan leaders could shed more light on this to help me better understand.

      1. One thing that came to my mind, was that the Israelites initially did not believe Moses when he told them that God was going to free them (Ex 6:9). So God was revealing his presence and provisions to the Israelites by sparing them during the plagues at the same time was showing himself to Pharoah.
        Notice how every time Pharoah repents or asks Moses to remove a plague he says, “your Lord” or “your God”. So even though God may have hardened Pharoah’s heart, Pharoah never truly believed in God as the one true King. He never accepted him as his Lord, before God hardened his heart to refuse to free the Israelites.

  3. I am so glad you all are reading along and studying with us!! We love your comments and questions. These are all really great questions that a lot of theologians and other really smart people have been trying to answer and figure out for a long time.
    As we read through Exodus, the progression is that Pharaoh hardened his heart, and then in later chapters, it says that Lord hardened Pharaoh’s heart. It seems that God didn’t harden Pharaoh’s heart until Pharaoh first hardened it as he repeatedly refused to listen. In a sense, God eventually says, “have it your own way because you refuse to listen and obey Me.” BUT, the text also reads that the Lord knew and said it would happen all along.
    I find so much comfort in Proverbs 21:1- “The King’s heart is in the hand of the Lord…” I may not understand God’s ways sometimes, but I rest and trust in His power.

    These kinds of weighty questions take prayer, study, and consideration of the whole counsel of scripture. I’m linking two articles that are helpful with deeper (better) insights:

  4. 1 – Pharaoh was still not quite convinced, but the people of Egypt were willing to see the people of Israel immediately leave. They were more than willing to give them gifts of silver and gold to persuade them to leave. This was how they received their past wages from their time of slavery. And how they later would build up the temple and give glory to god.

    2 – because he needed it!! Egypt needed it!! and we needed it!! and God is so loving, caring and forgiving that he gives him and us that chance to a certain point, even if he already knows the outcome. We are indulged with come home calls, warnings and instruction to repent and come to him compared to Pharaoh back then, and still so many ignore it. But God knows how his children are and will be; but he still gives everyone a fair chance and uses everyone’s own decisions for his greater good. Like how it says Romans 9:17 “For Scripture says to Pharaoh: ‘I raised you up for this very purpose, that I might display my power in you and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.'”

    3 – I think I already touchst a bit on that with question 2, but God’s power just shines out for me. And then not just the power of the wonders and plagues which are on themselves something to be scared and amazed of. But for me right now it’s the power of control God had and has, just the way he presented himself again and again (through Moses) how he speaks and how he is angry but forgiving, strong but delicate, and just overall how he doesn’t become frustrated or unfair amaze me. What I have learned is that I still have so many dark and blind spots in my life, and it’s scary or saddening that I can most of the time find myself more in the bad responses than in the good ones. I have learned that I still have a long way to go, but I also know that I have already grown so much in God and the body of Christ since I started. I know God will open my eyes every time in a new way, I hope and pray my ego will not keep me from you like it kept Pharaoh.

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