The Final Blow
Chapter eleven is a great chapter to move us from the three cycles and nine signs and wonders unto the great and final plague or as chapter eleven calls it the final blow. Before we get to understand what this final blow is we need to remember what has happened to this date. How did we get to this place. When looking at judgements we need to understand the severity of the crime. To hear a verdict that this person got life sentence seems severer but when you understand the severity of the crime makes you see the punishment fits the crime. Israel had been in Egypt for 400 years (Gen 15:13; Acts 7:6). Now this is not merely that did not treat them well, they oppressed, afflicted, with great burdens (Ex 1:8-14, Ex2:23-25, Ex 6:6-7). They were beaten (Ex 2:11). Generation after generation was born into this bondage of slavery. 400 years, to put that in perspective that would have been about the time the Mayflower sailed across the ocean to their way to America. The people of God were treated terribly. Hard for us to imagine but two modern day examples might help us understand this terrible state; the mid-Atlantic slave trade and the holocaust combined into the same event. The slave trade of the forcing men and women, made in the image of God to be treated like animals, owned and oppressed by others. Forcing them to labor in miserable conditions with no end in sight. While also combing the holocaust of the slaughter of the sons of Israel by first seeking the midwives to kills them after them been born and when that did not work to throw small children into the Nile as they struggled to breath as their small lungs were filled with water. These past four centuries the people of God have been brutally beaten, savagely slaughtered and mercilessly mistreated. This is not a minor crime, but one of great severity. One which God will judge through this final blow.
Long before this conversation happened between Moses and Pharaoh the Lord told Abraham this in Genesis 15:13-14, “Then the LORD said to Abram, “Know for certain that your offspring will be sojourners in a land that is not theirs and will be servants there, and they will be afflicted for four hundred years. But I will bring judgment on the nation that they serve, and afterward they shall come out with great possessions.” He had also told Moses in Exodus 3:20-21, “And I will give this people favor in the sight of the Egyptians; and when you go, you shall not go empty, but each woman shall ask of her neighbor, and any woman who lives in her house, for silver and gold jewelry, and for clothing. You shall put them on your sons and on your daughters. So you shall plunder the Egyptians.” Normally during this time when a nation conquered another nation the victors would pillage and plunge the defeated nation. However, what we see in chapter 11, the Lord shows how he has defeated the people of Egypt. The Israelites knock on the door of their Egyptian neighbors and do not go in and rob them, but the Egyptian’s freely hand over all of their silver and gold. The signs and wonders have made the magicians say this is the finger of God, the advisors to Pharaoh plead with him to let them go because the signs and wonders had ruined Egypt, the people of Egypt had enough as well, they were willing to lose their gold and silver to see the people of Israel go. Through these signs and wonders the Lord showed his power to change the hearts of the neighbors of the people of Israel.
One effect of slavery is that you have nothing to your name. You are treated like a title and not a person. You are treated as an object and not a person. You have nothing that belongs to you, you belong to someone else. Restitution does not provide justice but pays back what was taken. The Lord in his plan, as he told Abraham was not only to save them from slavery but to bring them out of the land with wealth. So, to with us, Christ not only saves us from sin and clears out debt but he gives us great wealth and inheritance.
However, the constant refrain in all of the signs and wonders is that Pharaoh hardened his heart. The signs and wonders had the people of Egypt desiring for God’s people to go out of their land. However, Pharaoh, as he has been in all of this has hardened his heart. However, he will still tell the people they can go. The original request was to go three days journey into the wilderness, however we are told that Pharaoh will let the people go completely (Ex 11:2). We see the contrast in the last verse (vs 10) when we see the summary of the last nine signs and wonders, each one Pharaoh put his foot down and said the people shall not go. Yet this sign will have Pharaoh driving the people out of his land. Again, the Lord is sovereign over all things, so much that he is able to know how Pharaoh will respond to each plague. His heart was still hardened but in his sin he sends the people out, he will chase them down to try and destroy them once more. God had told us everything that was going to happen in chapter 6. Specifically, we are told that all of these signs and wonders are great acts of judgement upon the land of Egypt (Ex 6:6). This final act is the ultimate of the signs that God pours out his wrath upon Pharaoh for the great sins which he has inflicted upon God’s people.
Now we need to understand this judgement comes from God. God is not acting like a child and hitting back. True justice seeks to come in the form of retribution and not retaliation. While retaliation is motivated by personal reasons, including revenge, retribution stems from a desire to achieve justice. God judges’ man for their sin. Paul in Romans 2:5-6 shows us that God’s judgement is righteous, “But because of your hard and impenitent heart you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath when God’s righteous judgment will be revealed. He will render to each one according to his works:” We might not to be able to comprehend the judgement of God but again we must see that this final sign and wonder fits the crime. Notice in verse five that the sign and wonder will the death of the first born in all of Egypt. Again, we need to remember what Pharaoh did to the people of Israel. He sought to be able to wipe out a whole generation of their sons. He had forced generations to build his houses and his country with heavy burdens. Not only that but you see the people who had caused the Israelites to cry out (Ex 2:23-25) will now cry out (Ex 11:6).
Now we might start to raise our hands and think this is not fair, why should the children suffer because of their parents or the citizens suffer at the stubbornness of kings. Without going into great philosophical reasonings we can see both of these are true biblically. The truth is that parents’ actions effect their children. The Biblical principle is worked out through Adam as Paul expresses in Romans chapter 5, “Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned” (Romans 5:12). We are all sons of Adam and live with his sin effecting our lives. As we will see this is a great benefit to us. But also, when we think of God’s mercy and justice, we are told that the Lord, “keeps his steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, but who will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children and the children’s children, to the third and the fourth generation” (Exodus 34:7). He shows his faithfulness to thousands of generations but only visits the iniquity upon three or four generations.
We also need to be able to notice that kings, queens and rulers all effect how we live in our daily lives. Their decisions effect us, in major ways like going to war with a country or in minor ways like raising or lowing taxes by even .01%. Pharaoh’s choices have placed Egypt into economical ruin and the land is in devastation. Now again this is true for good and bad. In Adam’s case it is bad, but under Christ it is good. This is called federal headship and the principle is very important when we think about our sin we inherent from Adam that Adam’s sin becomes our sinful nature. But this is the basis for our salvation as well, Christ’s righteousness becomes our righteousness. You cry out the citizens of Egypt do not deserve to pay for Pharaoh’s stubbornness, but then we would need to get what we deserve. We would only get what we deserve and not be under our federal head of Jesus. King- Federal head
Judgment is coming, God has announced the final plague to Pharaoh, in Chapter 11, but he had done so from the very beginning. In Chapter 4 when Moses was told by the Lord, “Then you shall say to Pharaoh, ‘Thus says the Lord, Israel is my firstborn son, and I say to you, “Let my son go that he may serve me.” If you refuse to let him go, behold, I will kill your firstborn son.” (Exodus 4:22–23). Pharaoh had been warned and told. He might of at one point said he was ignorant of who the Lord is but he cannot longer argue that. He has seen the power of God pronounced and shown across the whole land, nine times. Previously the Lord would warn Pharaoh that this plague would come tomorrow (as Pharaoh had first requested). There is no such warning. The Final plague will come at midnight, in the middle of night. The Lord defeated the sun God Ra in the penultimate plague of Darkness and now in the still night there will be the final plague, of the death of the first born. John Currid explains that, “Night-time was an especially fearful time for the Egyptians. In the ‘Hymn to the Aton’, the author describes the dread of night because the sun-god has departed to the underworld and is no longer protecting the Egyptians. For the Hebrews, on the other hand, there is no fear, for ‘He who keeps Israel will neither slumber nor sleep’ (Ps. 121:4). Yahweh is awake, working, sustaining, and protecting his people.”
The Lord will show a distinction between Pharaoh’s people and his people. This will be the sign that Pharaoh will let God’s people go to be able to worship him. Now how he does this is very important through the act of the Passover, particularly that he saves those who fear him and listen to his instructions. Some of the Egyptians will be saved not because they are subjects to Pharaoh but they fear the Lord and place blood on their doorposts. The Lord makes a distinction between His people and Pharaoh’s people. In Egypt the cry will go up in the dark night, but in the land of Goshen which God has already set apart (Ex 8:22, 9:4), there dogs will be silent. We must not think that God is merely doing this because the Israelites are better people, we will see or you will notice if you continue to read through Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy. Israel is similar to Pharaoh. Israel is filled with sinners. What makes the difference? Two things we will think about to help us answer this question.
The first is God’s promises. God had told Abraham this would happen. He had told the people of God he was going to save them and redeem them.
“Say therefore to the people of Israel, ‘I am the Lord, and I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians, and I will deliver you from slavery to them, and I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with great acts of judgment. I will take you to be my people, and I will be your God, and you shall know that I am the Lord your God, who has brought you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians” (Exodus 6:6–7).
The second aspect is God’s character. When we consider the judgement of God, we all deserve judgment. The same question is the one Paul addresses in Romans nine which we have mentioned several times through our study in Exodus. Paul explains that the potter makes two type of vessels, ones for honor and others for dishonor.
“What if God, desiring to show his wrath and to make known his power, has endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, in order to make known the riches of his glory for vessels of mercy, which he has prepared beforehand for glory” (Romans 9:22–23).
God shows his wrath and power, again with much patience (this is true to Pharaoh) for the purposes of making his riches of his glory for the other vessels which are to be filled with mercy. The difference is not that some people are just better than others, but God has shown his mercy to those whom he has chosen, all for his glory. He shows his wrath for his glory and his mercy for his glory. God shows his mercy, as Moses writes in Exodus 11:7 that they may know that the Lord makes a distinction. God is about to redeem his people, by saving them through the blood of the Passover lamb.
In the awe-inspiring conclusion of this narrative, we stand on the cliff of divine judgment and redemption. The profound events unfolding in Egypt underscore our universal need for salvation. Just as the citizens of Egypt faced consequences beyond their control due to Pharaoh’s choices, we too find ourselves in a state of sin, born into a broken world. The Israelites, though far from deserving, experience redemption through the blood of the Passover lamb. This powerful image points us to the ultimate Lamb, Jesus Christ, who, in His sacrificial death, provides a way for us to escape the judgment we rightfully deserve. It’s a stark reminder that our birthplace or circumstances cannot save us; it’s Christ alone who offers salvation to all who heed His call. As we contemplate the distinction God made in Egypt, let it echo in our hearts—an invitation to find refuge in the Lamb who takes away the sins of the world.