Summary: 9 chances to believe the Lord and let the people of Israel go. Continuous stubbornness on the part of Pharaoh, and eventually God passes judgment and here it finally comes in verse 4 of chapter 11…
When we look at that passage it’s hard to not to be taken a back by the apparent cruelty of God’s judgement here, but I think it reflects the original curse that came through Adam, that the consequence of disobedience – rejecting God, is death. It is also justice, and everyone likes justice don’t they? Pharaoh drowned thousands of babies, God took the firstborn sons of those who didn’t acknowledge God and drowned Pharaoh’s army.
The interesting thing here is that later on as they’re all leaving Egypt, it says a mixed multitude went with them as they left. The word suggests that these are Arab people that leave Egypt with the Israelites.
Now we can’t know for sure, but it’s possible that these were Egyptian people who also believed God and took part in the Passover, which would make them part of the covenant people, just like the Gentiles become today when they accept the sacrifice of Christ. Or perhaps they came to believe after the plagues, maybe they even lost their firstborn and then believed, but whatever the case, clearly they thought it would be better to go with the Hebrew people than to stay in Egypt which had been decimated by all these plagues.
Of course later God would sacrifice his firstborn and only son for all people, so this again should lead us to look to Jesus, as this is what the whole Passover is pointing to.
In verse 7 of Chap 11 it says that this will all happen and the people of Israel will be spared so that you may know that God makes a distinction between Egypt and Israel, between the covenant people of God and those who are not. And that all Pharaoh’s servants would come and bow down before God. Similar to what will happen at Jesus final judgment in Revelation.
Now it’s easy as we read the Old Testament to literally say that Israel the nation is God’s people by their birthright and nothing else. The word Israel means “God prevails or he will rule as God”. When you see God distinguishing Israel from other nations, it is in the Old Testament somewhat about the actual nation of Israel, but even there it’s more about the covenant people who accept God’s rule over them. Because as we will see throughout the Old Testament, God judges Israel the nation harsher than any other. And in the New Testament notice there is no longer any distinction between Jew and Gentile. It has always been about following His commands.
When you see Israel, you should also see the people who live under the covenant of God. I’m not saying that the nation of Israel isn’t special to God, but it is not the nation he will save, but the remnant of those people who believe in his saving grace through Christ. You cannot be saved ever again by your biological birthright. And what we know for sure is that every Jewish person knows about Jesus, and has either accepted or rejected Him.
I hope we all understand that that is a crucial part of the Gospel. God is the only one through Christ, who can deliver anyone from this end. Without full knowledge of the consequences of sin and the fall, the gospel of Jesus death and resurrection is quite meaningless. That’s why the Old Testament is part of the Christian Bible.
Before we look at the Passover celebration itself, look at how Pharaoh releases the Israelites. In verse 29 we see that Pharaoh is awakened around midnight after all the cries go up as people find death in their houses. He calls for Moses and Aaron and he says go and do what you want, but look at how he finishes. “Be gone, and bless me also”.
Now wouldn’t you want to be on God’s side after witnessing all this? Pharaoh may be giving in under the pressure but he hasn’t changed. He didn’t want God, he just wanted to be rid of the competition. He recognized God’s power, but wanted him to leave rather than to rule over Him.
This again is so crucial for our day. Most people will still say they believe in God or at least some kind of higher power, and most think that is enough. It doesn’t occur to them that the demons and Satan also believe this. I also fear that there are some in the Christian church who believe in God, they believe that Jesus died and rose again and forgives our sins. But we must all never forget that we are to confess that Jesus is Saviour and Lord.
Simply acknowledging his authority is not the same as putting yourself under his authority. The Bible is very clear that one day every knee will bow before him, but many of those knees will still roast in hell, because they did not make Him Lord in their life. Pharaoh gave God lip service several times and we see that even after this he will change his mind and come after them.