Read Exodus 11
The Plague on the Firstborn
1 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. 2 Tell the people that men and women alike are to ask their neighbors for articles of silver and gold.” 3 (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.)
4 So Moses said, “This is what the Lord says: ‘About midnight I will go throughout Egypt. 5 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. 6 There will be loud wailing throughout Egypt—worse than there has ever been or ever will be again. 7 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. 8 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.
9 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.
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.
Why did God have the Israelites ask the Egyptians for gold and silver? What was the response from the Egyptians?
Why did God offer Pharaoh so many chances to repent?
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.