The Judgment of God | Exodus 7-10
Brian Hedges | October 2, 2022
Let me invite you to turn this morning to the book of Exodus. We’re going to be looking at several passages from Exodus 7-10. It’s a big chunk of Scripture that we’re taking this morning, and of course I’m not going to read it all. I’m really just going to read a few verses that are kind of scattered throughout these chapters, and you should be able to see those on the screen. But if you want to keep your finger in those chapters and follow along as we go, that would be great as well.
How many of you remember the disaster movies that came out during the ’90s? Do you remember those? There were a lot of disaster movies; it was kind of its own genre of movie. You don’t get quite as many of those now. But in the ’90s this was really a thing; there were lots of disaster movies. There was always kind of a familiar plot, right?
In the first 15 minutes or so you are being introduced to the protagonists of the film, and usually there are several characters. There may be a young family or a young person, someone they want you to build an emotional connection with early in the movie so that you’re rooting for them. There’s usually some kind of a scoundrel also in the film, and then something’s going to happen, right? So they’re preparing for it. Maybe a meteor is going to hit the earth or maybe there’s going to be a volcano—I mean, there are all different kinds of plots. Maybe you remember Deep Impact; I think a comet was going to hit the earth and it was going to cause ecological disaster on the whole planet.
Again, it’s a predictable plot. By the end of the film you’ve been rooting for the heroes, and somebody is self-sacrificial and kind of gives himself up, and some of the people you love get saved, and usually the scoundrel, the bad guy, has a terrible death. That’s how these movies go.
Of course, this is a genre of film that attracted a lot of attention, and it kind of taps into deep-seated fears that we all have; fears of disaster, fears of calamity. Those fears maybe even feel more real to us in recent years as we’ve lived through a global pandemic, and it seems like every other day we’re hearing fresh stories of hurricanes or forest fires or other kinds of natural disasters, happening either in our own country or in other parts of the world.
As you know, even today insurance companies still call these natural disasters “acts of God.” Certainly in the course of history and in Scripture these kinds of natural disasters and calamities have been seen as acts of God—things that were under the hand of God, and in Scripture often means that God used for judgment.
That’s certainly not to suggest that every time a hurricane hits Florida it’s because God is trying to judge Florida, or that there’s particular judgment for particular people. The fact is, we all live in a fallen world. We live in a world in which the world is under the sentence of death. It’s under the sentence of judgment, and we all—good and evil, righteous and unrighteous, saved and unsaved—we all face these kinds of things in our lives.
It does connect to a theme that you find in Scripture of these natural disasters and calamities, which are seen in Scripture to be acts of God and acts of judgment. So this morning, as we take a new turn into the Exodus narrative, we’re looking at the plagues of Egypt. The theme of the message this morning is judgment, the judgment of God. Aren’t you glad you came to church this morning? Yet, while this is something that we may want to avoid, and it may make us uncomfortable to think about judgment, it is something the Scriptures very clearly teach, and I think by the end of the message you will be able to see that there’s also hope for us, even when we consider judgment.
I want us to look at three things in these narratives in Exodus. We’re going to see first, the problem of judgment; number two, the reason for judgment; and number three, the rescue from judgment. That's where the hope, the gospel, will come in.
1. The Problem of Judgment
I want to begin by reading in Exodus 7:1-5. This really does introduce everything that will follow in the next five or six chapters. Exodus 7:1-5; we looked at this a little bit last week, but I want to read it again so that you can see the language that’s being used. It says,
And the Lord said to Moses, “See, I have made you like God to Pharaoh, and your brother Aaron shall be your prophet. You shall speak all that I command you, and your brother Aaron shall tell Pharaoh to let the people of Israel go out of his land. But I will harden Pharaoh's heart, and though I multiply my signs and wonders in the land of Egypt, Pharaoh will not listen to you. Then I will lay my hand on Egypt and bring my hosts, my people the children of Israel, out of the land of Egypt by great acts of judgment. The Egyptians shall know that I am the Lord, when I stretch out my hand against Egypt and bring out the people of Israel from among them.”
This is God’s word.
You can see in that passage that these plagues, as we know them—more often called signs and wonders, though the word plague is also used in the unfolding narrative—these signs and wonders are acts of God; it is the mighty hand of God being stretched out against Egypt; and they are great acts of judgment. These signs will follow in the next several chapters. There’s kind of the prelude, when Aaron’s staff is turned into a serpent; it’s really the first sign. Then there are three cycles of plagues that will follow in chapters 7-10, with the climax of the plagues coming in the final one, the death of the firstborn, in chapters 11-12.
Today we’re really just looking at chapters 7-10 and these cycles of plagues. I’m not going to go through them one by one, but I want to point out some themes that emerge from these different stories—these signs, these wonders, these plagues—that teach us about the judgment of God. The first thing, as I said, is the problem of judgment. It’s really a problem in a couple of different ways.
First of all, there’s just the problem of the plagues themselves on a historical level, and I don’t want to spend a lot of time on this, but this is a question that gets raised fairly often in the literature as people try to explain and sometimes even explain away these plagues by looking for naturalistic explanations of them. This isn’t hard to find. If you ever take a Bible class in college you’re going to read a textbook that’s going to teach something like this, at least if it’s in a secular university.
The idea is that the first of these plagues, the Nile River turning into blood, was caused by silt and maybe some kind of bacteria infecting the Nile so that it turned the color red, and the bacteria level was really high and the oxygen level was really low and it killed the fish, and that’s why the frogs crawled out of the Nile and there was an infestation of frogs in Egypt. Then when the frogs die you have an infestation of lice or of gnats. One thing that just kind of leads to another so that you have a series of ecological disasters, natural disasters, that all have a naturalistic explanation.
What would be our response to that? I think, of course, on one level we can say that even in our own world we can see with our own eyes that there are these kinds of ecological things that happen. There are natural disasters that happen that are similar to what happened in the plagues of Egypt. Here’s a news headline that’s not very old: “Billions of locusts are moving across North Africa in the worst plague since 1954, blotting out the sun and settling on the land like a black, ravenous carpet, to strip it clean of vegetation.” That sounds like biblical proportions, but that’s actually from the Chicago Tribune in March of 1988.
So certainly we could say that it’s plausible that there were, at least to some degree, some natural explanations for any one of the given plagues. We can see that. Certainly what we see when we witness these plagues is an unraveling of the created order. Many scholars have pointed out that what you have in the Exodus plagues is something like the reversal of Genesis 1-2; God’s good creation is systematically being undone. It’s being unraveled. It’s disintegrating in Egypt as God brings his judgments against Egypt.
On the other hand, it would be wrongheaded to attempt to explain away these signs in any way that would mitigate God’s direct hand in them. What’s very clear when you read these stories is that God is the one who is acting. Over and over again the Lord does it. Just read through this, okay? Read through Exodus 7-10 this week. If you haven’t read it before, if you haven’t read it recently, read it through this week and underline every time you have the Lord doing something. What you will see pervasively is that God is the one at work. Whatever the explanation for exactly what happened is, God controlled the timing of it, God initiated it, God controlled the intensity of it, and God was the only one who could make it stop. So we have to acknowledge that as we take the text at face value, as we read it as it is given to us, the text is telling us that God was acting in judgment against Egypt.
That’s the historical issue, the historical problem, but it really ties into an even bigger problem, and that’s the theological problem of judgment. A lot of people (and maybe this is even some of you here in the room) would say, “You know, I don’t really believe in a God like that. I don’t believe in a God that would judge people. I don’t believe in a God that would do that. I don’t believe in a God of judgment. I don’t really like the God of the Old Testament; just give me Jesus. I just want Jesus.”
That’s actually a very current and common approach, to pit this difference between the God of the Old Testament and Jesus of the New. Let me give you an illustration.
There’s a recent book by a man named Brian Zahnd—he wrote this a few years ago—called Sinners in the Hands of a Loving God. Obviously, the title is a spin on Jonathan Edwards’s sermon “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God.” Zahnd’s approach is to bring up troubling Old Testament texts, to raise questions about the morality of God, to redefine God’s wrath as a metaphor, and then essentially to say, “But no, Jesus gives us a different picture of God.” Now, Brian Zahnd may say other things that are helpful; I’m just critiquing this book. But that is the approach that he takes, and many, many people want to take that approach today.
What I want you to see is that even the New Testament will not let you do that. The New Testament itself teaches the judgment of God. Read Romans 2. In fact, Jesus himself speaks more about judgment and about hell than any other person in Scripture.
Even the Exodus events, the Exodus language is reappropriated in the New Testament to speak about the final judgment of God. You have this in the book of Revelation. For example, Revelation 16:1-4. Let’s read these verses, and as I read them just notice how this echoes some of the plagues in Egypt. John says,
Then I heard a loud voice from the temple telling the seven angels, “Go and pour out on the earth the seven bowls of the wrath of God.” So the first angel went and poured out his bowl on the earth, and harmful and painful sores came upon the people who bore the mark of the beast and worshiped its image. [Remember the plague of boils in the Exodus narrative.] The second angel poured out his bowl into the sea, and it became like the blood of a corpse, and every living thing died that was in the sea. The third angel poured out his bowl into the rivers and the springs of water, and they became blood.
Again, water turning to blood; it’s the unraveling of creation. Here’s the main source of life, water, and it’s becoming blood; it’s unable to sustain life.
I’m just giving you this to show you that you can’t pit the New Testament against the Old Testament. The theological problem of judgment isn’t an Old Testament problem, it’s a Bible problem, okay? This is just the Bible. It teaches a God who is a God who judges.
Here’s another false step that some people take that I think we should avoid, and that’s to essentially say that the judgment of God and the wrath of God is a metaphor and that it’s not personal. It is the inevitable result of sin, but it has nothing to do with God’s personal response to sin.
Again, I think Exodus will not let us do that, because over and over again the Lord is acting. He’s speaking and he’s acting, and he’s doing so personally.
I think C.S. Lewis’s response to this was especially helpful. I’ve already quoted him a few times in this series. Here’s a quotation from his book Letters to Malcolm: Chiefly on Prayer. They’re fictional letters, but letters that are teaching a lot about prayer, Christian life, and various theological topics. He says,
"You suggest that what is traditionally regarded as our experience of God’s anger would be more helpfully regarded as what inevitably happens to us if we behave inappropriately towards a reality of immense power. As you say, the live wire doesn’t feel angry with us [think about wired electricity], but if we blunder against it we get a shock. My dear Malcolm, what do you suppose you have gained by substituting the image of a live wire for that of an angered majesty? You have shut us all up in despair, for the angry majesty can forgive, and electricity can’t."
Here’s the deal: the God of the Bible, the God who is a God of grace and of mercy and of redemption, the God who forgives sin, is the same God who judges sin. If you depersonalize God’s judgment of sin you cut your legs out from under you; you also have to depersonalize this same God who is the God who forgives sin. So the problem of judgment is a theological problem.
It’s also a personal problem, as we’re going to see in a minute, but I want you to see that the judgment of God, while it makes us uncomfortable, it’s actually a good doctrine, and it’s one that we need.
2. The Reason for Judgment
We’ll see that as we consider the reason for judgment, point number two. What I want to do here is just show you quickly four reasons for the plagues in Egypt. These are reasons, I think, that come right out of the text.
(1) The first one is this: it was God’s judgment for Egypt’s oppression of Israel. Remember the story. Egypt is the mightiest nation on the earth at this point in history, and Israel has been there 400 years and they have become slaves. They have been oppressed. Pharaoh has attempted a partial genocide by killing all of the male children in order to control the population. Pharaoh is building his empire on the backs of slaves. These are an oppressed people under a tyrant king, and the plagues are God’s response of judgment to that oppression and to that tyranny.
Ross Blackburn, in a wonderful book The God Who Makes Himself Known, points this out. He says,
"The plagues make clear God’s intolerance of oppression. The situation from which Israel was delivered was severe physical oppression and the murder of their infant boys. Both the first and last disasters call to mind Pharaoh’s murderous decree; the Nile turning to blood, having claimed the lives of infants thrown in; and the death of the firstborn sons of Egypt."
God was very clearly executing judgment on Egypt for their specific wickedness, their injustice, their oppression.
Brothers and sisters, this is actually good news for us. This is hopeful for us, because it means that God is not indifferent to the problem of suffering and evil in the world. He’s not indifferent! If you take away the judgment of God you’re left with an even bigger problem; you’re left with a God who doesn’t deal with injustice, you’re left with a God who is bereft of justice. But the doctrine of the judgment of God means that God will tally the score, he will kick the bullies out of the playground of this world, he will overturn all the tyrants, he will right all wrongs. He will do that. There’s coming a day when he will do that. We actually sing it every Christmas; do you remember these words from “O Holy Night”?
Truly he taught us to love one another;
His law is love and his gospel is peace.
Yes, but remember the next line.
Chains shall he break, for the slave is our brother,
And in his name all oppression shall cease.
God cares about justice, God cares about oppression, and he will right all wrongs, either in this world or in the next. There comes a point when the teacher has to come to the playground, blow the whistle, and say, “Enough!” and make the bullies stop beating up on the kids. That’s what God does. There will come a point when Jesus returns and he says, “Enough; there will be no more of this,” and he will deal with sin and wickedness and evil once and for all. That’s good news for us.
That’s the first reason for judgment.
(2) Here’s the second: it’s God’s judgment for Pharaoh’s hardness of heart. I’ve already mentioned this in the series, and we already saw it in Exodus 7, which I read a few minutes ago, where the Lord says he’s going to harden Pharaoh’s heart.
Now, there’s kind of a mystery here as we read the narrative. I think it’s about 14 times in Exodus that it is said in some way or another that Pharaoh’s heart is hardened. Sometimes it says the Lord hardened his heart, sometimes it says Pharaoh hardened his own heart, sometimes it just says his heart was hardened, using two different Hebrew words for this. There’s a mystery here between God’s sovereignty and his control over Pharaoh on one hand and Pharaoh’s own culpability and responsibility on the other hand.
I’ll just say that I don’t think the text fully resolves the mystery, but when you read the story it becomes really clear that Pharaoh is not just a puppet on a string; he is willfully rebelling against God. Over and over again he clearly acts with willful intent, even though God is fully in control.
I think what the text does do that can be very helpful for us is it shows us what hardness of heart looks like in Pharaoh. There’s kind of a progression. There’s a number of different ways in which Pharaoh expresses the hardness of heart, and it becomes something of a cautionary tale for all of us. As we see the character development of Pharaoh, it should function as something like a warning to us so that we don’t harden our hearts. In fact, Israel, later in the wilderness, would do this. They would harden their hearts. Read Psalm 95 and then read Hebrews 3 that takes the words applied to Israel and applies it to us and says that we are to exhort one another every day lest our hearts be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin. We need to beware of that.
Here are some of the ways that you see hardness of heart in Pharaoh. Take this to heart.
First of all, there’s complete indifference and refusal to listen. You see this again and again in chapter 7, again in chapter 8, and in chapter 9, where Pharaoh will not listen when the command of God comes, when the Word of God comes. There is pride and arrogance. It’s seen when he is exalting himself in chapter 9:17 and his refusal to humble himself (chapter 10:3).
Not only that, but there are false promises. In chapter 8 Pharaoh relents temporarily, and he says, “Okay, I’ll let Israel go. Just make the plagues go away.” It’s the first time Pharaoh actually speaks since chapter 5, but it’s a false promise. As soon as the calamity is lifted, Pharaoh goes right back to his stubborn ways.
Then you have in chapters 8-10 a series of suggested compromises. He starts to say, “Okay, Moses, you can go and make your sacrifices to your God, but stay in the land. Don’t leave Egypt.” Moses refuses; he says, “No, we have to leave.” That’s in chapter 8.
Then he says, “You can go into the wilderness, just don’t go very far.” Then he says, “You can go, but you can’t take your children; only the men can go.” That’s in chapter 10:8-11.
Then he says, “You can go, but leave all your flocks and your herds behind. You can’t take the animals; you can’t take the livestock.” I love Moses’ response in 10:26; he says, “Our livestock must go with us; not a hoof shall be left behind.”
But you see what Pharaoh’s doing? First of all it’s complete disobedience, indifference to God; then it is a promise of obedience that he doesn’t follow through on; then it’s attempted compromises, half-hearted obedience, not going all the way. All of these are illustrations of hardness of heart.
We have to remember that we are also warned not to harden our hearts, and we should take the warning seriously, and when we read the story of Pharaoh we should check ourselves, examine ourselves that we are not being indifferent to God’s Word. “Don’t tell me what the Bible says!” Beware of that; that’s hardness of heart. We should beware of pretended obedience, intentions for obedience that we do not follow through one; and we should beware of half-hearted obedience, compromises—all of those things. Hear the warning given in Proverbs 28:14. It says, “Blessed is the one who fears the Lord always, but whoever hardens his heart will fall into calamity.” Don’t harden your heart. It brings God’s judgment.
Really quickly, two others reasons for God’s judgment that are seen here in Exodus.
(3) The third thing is it is God’s triumph over the gods of Egypt. We could spend a lot more time on this than I’m going to, but let me just make a couple of comments. I think this is implicit in the narrative, where these plagues come, and many of the plagues are aimed at the religious culture of Egypt. Remember that Egypt was a very polytheistic culture; they worshiped many gods; they were pantheistic. They worshiped elements of creation. They worshiped the Nile River and gods associated with the Nile, so the Nile was struck. God strikes the Nile and it turns to blood.
They worshiped other elements that were associated with the Nile. Especially they worshiped the sun god, Ra. Every morning the Egyptians would celebrate the resurrection of Ra. “Here he is; he’s rising again.” When these three days of darkness come in Exodus 10, it is God showing that he has absolute control and sway over the elements of creation and over these elements of creation that the Egyptians have divinized, and their idols, their false gods.
This becomes really clear in Exodus 12:2, in connection with the final plague, the death of the firstborn. Exodus 12:2 says, “For I will pass through the land of Egypt that night and I will strike all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both man and beast, and on all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgments. I am the Lord.”
When you read these narratives, what you see is this contest between Yahweh, the God of Israel, with his prophet Moses and with Aaron, against the gods of Egypt, represented supremely in Pharaoh and in Pharaoh’s magicians. Especially when you’re reading chapter 7 . . . remember how initially the magicians are actually able to imitate some of Aaron’s signs? Aaron’s rod, his staff, turns into a serpent, and then the Egyptians turn their staves into serpents. Aaron’s swallows theirs up. They’re able to turn some water into blood, they’re able to produce frogs.
They’re able to do some of these things, and whether they were doing that through Satanic, demonically-inspired dark magic or whether they were tricks—maybe it was just sleight-of-hand—whichever way you explain it, the point of the narrative is that the magicians of Egypt can’t keep up with Yahweh. So by the third plague, the last plague in the first cycle, they’re not able to produce the gnats or flies or mosquitoes or whatever those were. They’re not able to produce them. They come to Pharaoh and they’re completely spent, they’re done. They say, “Pharaoh, this is the finger of God.” Throughout, what you’re seeing is God is more powerful. The true God is more powerful than all the gods of Egypt.
(4) In fact (this leads to the fourth thing), it is a reason for the judgment; it is God’s revelation of himself as the one true God. Again, this is a refrain that just runs through the narrative again and again and again. God is doing this so that they will know that “I am the Lord.” You see it in chapter 7:5. “The Egyptians shall know that I am the Lord when I stretch out my hand against Egypt.” Exodus 7:17: “By this you shall know that I am the Lord.” Exodus 8:10: “. . . so that you may know that there is no one like the Lord our God.” On and on it goes.
It’s stated nowhere more clearly than in Exodus 9:13-16, a passage part of which the apostle Paul quotes in Romans 9. This is what it says. “Then the Lord said to Moses, ‘Rise up early in the morning and present yourself before Pharaoh, and say to him, “Thus says the Lord, the God of the Hebrews, ‘Let my people go, that they may serve me, for this time I will send all my plagues on you yourself and on your servants and your people, so that you may know that there is none like me in all the earth. For by now I could have put out my hand and struck you and your people with pestilence, and you would have been cut off from the earth. But for those purpose I have raised you up, to show you my power, so that my name may be proclaimed in the earth.’”’”
God is a God who judges, and that’s a good thing, because it means that he will deal with injustice and wickedness and sin. It is one of the ways that he reveals that he is the true God, and he reveals his character.
But of course, the real problem for us—we’re back to the problem of judgment—the real problem for us is that we ourselves have sinned. So what about us? I mean, this is why this is uncomfortable! What about us? What about my sin? If God is a God who judges sin, what hope is there for me? Because I’ve sinned. That’s why we need the rescue from judgment.
3. The Rescue from Judgment
Brothers and sisters, this is so deeply encouraging, to see that there is gospel just embedded in this text, and then when you trace the connections through other parts of Scripture the gospel story is here. The hot links are here that take us to other places in Scripture where we see the fullness of God’s promise of deliverance, his rescue from judgment.
I want you to see it in three ways: first of all for Israel, his protection and rescue of Israel; then (maybe surprisingly) even for Egypt, opportunity for Egypt and reversal of their fortunes in the future; and then, of course, hope and mercy for us.
(1) First of all, protection and rescue for Israel. Here’s another theme that you see in these sign and wonder narratives; it’s the theme of God setting Israel apart. He makes a distinction; he sets them apart. He protects them. It’s perhaps implicit in the first plagues, it’s not really stated clearly; but in the second cycle of plagues—you see this in Exodus 8:22-24—it says, “But on that day [this is God speaking] I will set apart the land of Goshen.” This is a place in Egypt, this is not Indiana.
“'I will set apart the land of Goshen where my people dwell, so that no swarms of flies shall be there, that you may know that I am the Lord in the midst of the earth. Thus I will put a division between my people and your people. Tomorrow this sign shall happen.' And the Lord did so. There came great swarms of flies into the house of Pharaoh and into his servants’ houses throughout all the land of Egypt. The land was ruined by the swarms of flies. But the swarms of flies were not in the Hebrew houses."
What was God doing? He was protecting his people from the judgment.
You see the same thing in chapter 9:4-7.
“‘But the Lord will make a distinction between the livestock of Israel and the livestock of Egypt, so that nothing of all that belongs to the people of Israel shall die.’ And the Lord set a time, saying, “Tomorrow the Lord will do this thing in the land.” And the next day the Lord did this thing. [You see how God is acting here?] All the livestock of the Egyptians died, but not one of the livestock of the people of Israel died. And Pharaoh sent, and behold, not one of the livestock of Israel was dead. But the heart of Pharaoh was hardened, and he did not let the people go."
Once again, God is protecting the people of Israel, he’s protecting their assets. Then in chapter 9 when the hail comes, there are no storms, there’s no hail in Goshen, and then in chapter 10, even in the three days of darkness, we read that the Egyptians could not see one another, but all the people of Israel had light in the places where they lived.
You see what God is doing? He is protecting his people, he is shielding his people from the judgment all around them. You might ask, “How in the world could he do that?” The answer is, come back next and you’re going to see. The short answer is it’s through a substitutionary sacrifice. God delivered his people Israel.
Listen, it is a full and complete redemption. You remember that verse I read a minute ago, Exodus 10:26, when Moses says, “Not a hoof shall be left behind”? Did you know that Charles Spurgeon preached an entire sermon on that? He did! You wonder, “How in the world do you get a whole sermon out of that?” It was a whole sermon; it was called “Full Redemption.” Spurgeon taught that Christ will get all that he died to redeem. He said, “Christ will have the whole man [that means every part of us], he will have the whole church, he will have the whole of the lost inheritance of the church [everything that Adam lost, Christ gets back], and he will eventually have the whole world.” It’s a full redemption.
We sing it:
Guilty, vile, and helpless we,
Spotless Lamb of God was he;
Full atonement! Can it be?
Hallelujah! What a Savior!
He redeems his people; he rescues his people from judgment.
(2) There’s more, and I know I’m running out of time, but you have to see this, that there’s also something for Egypt. You might hear this and you might think, This isn’t fair! God’s not fair! He puts a distinction between and Egypt; it’s not fair to Egypt! But what you see when you read the story is that over and over again there is opportunity given to Egypt for repentance, to Pharaoh and even to the Egyptians. Moses is sent as a prophet to them; he declares the word of the Lord. Over and over again, if Pharaoh will just relent and will obey and let the people go, the judgments will stop. There’s opportunity for Pharaoh to respond.
Not only that, but Moses becomes an intercessor for Egypt. Four times you have Moses going to the Lord in prayer, praying for Pharaoh and praying for God to relent in his judgments. And God does what Moses asks.
There’s some evidence that at least some of the Egpytians begin to fear the Lord, the word of the Lord. You have it in chapter 10, and the Egyptians eventually are begging Pharaoh to let Israel go, because they see everything that’s happening. When you get into chapter 12 and the actual event of the exodus, we read in Exodus 12:28 that “a mixed multitude also went up with them, and very much livestock, both flocks and herds.” A mixed multitude, which means that there probably were some Egyptians with the children of Israel who were rescued from the judgment and who left Egypt with them.
But get this; this will blow your socks off. There’s a prophecy in Isaiah 19:19-25 that is absolutely astounding when you consider that Egypt is the ancient enemy of Israel and then you read the words of this prophecy. This is just too good not to share with you. It says,
"In that day there will be an altar to the Lord in the midst of the land of Egypt, and a pillar to the Lord at its border. It will be a sign and a witness to the Lord of hosts in the land of Egypt. When they cry to the Lord because of oppressors, he will send them a savior and defender, and deliver them. And the Lord will make himself known to the Egyptians, and the Egyptians will know the Lord in that day and worship with sacrifice and offering, and they will make vows to the Lord and perform them. And the Lord will strike Egypt, striking and healing, and they will return to the Lord, and he will listen to their pleas for mercy and heal them. In that day there will be a highway from Egypt to Assyria, and Assyria will come into Egypt, and Egypt into Assyria, and the Egyptians will worship with the Assyrians. [These are the two great superpowers, enemies of Israel. They’re going to worship the Lord.] In that day Israel will be the third with Egypt and Assyria, a blessing in the midst of the earth, whom the Lord of hosts has blessed, saying, 'Blessed be Egypt my people, and Assyria the work of my hands, and Israel my inheritance.'"
You know what that means? It means that this God, the God of the Bible, is not a tribal deity, he is not a God only for Israel; he is the Lord of the nations.
(3) That means it’s good news for us. That means there’s hope and there’s mercy for us, we who deserve the judgment of God. How do we get it? How do we get rescued from judgment?
Of course, the answer is the cross of Jesus Christ, because when Jesus hung on the cross God’s fiery judgment was unleashed on him. Just as there were three days of darkness that covered the land of Egypt because of the judgment of God, do you remember that Jesus faced three hours of darkness as he hung on the cross? He cried out, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” What was happening? Here’s what was happening: the judge of all the earth was being judged in our place so that we could be rescued from judgment.
Was it for sins that I had done
He groaned upon the tree?
Amazing pity, grace unknown,
And love beyond degree!
Well might the sun in darkness hide
And shut its glories in
When God, the mighty Maker, died
For man the creature’s sin.
Brothers and sisters, God is a just God. He does not wink at sin, he will not tolerate wickedness, evil, and oppression; he will judge the world. But he is also a God of mercy and a God of grace who loves us so much that he takes the judgment onto his own shoulders so that we can be rescued from that judgment.
The question for each one of us this morning is this: have you hardened your heart to the Lord, or have you fled to Christ for refuge from the judgment that will come? Let’s pray together.
Father, we thank you this morning for your word. Even though it confronts us with doctrines that are difficult for us, we humbly submit ourselves to the Scriptures and we take great heart in the good news that there is salvation from judgment for sinners such as we are—salvation through the blood of the Lamb, the blood of your Son, Jesus Christ. So we renew in these moments our trust in him. Lord, I pray for anyone in this room this morning who has never trusted in Christ for salvation, for rescue from judgment, that they would do so this morning.
Lord, as we come to the Lord’s table, may we come this morning remembering what this table signifies, that Christ was slain for us, that his blood was shed for us, that his body was broken for us, that he took the judgment and paid the debt, completed the work of redemption on our behalf. I ask you, Lord, to help us this morning to take refuge in his work, to trust in what he has done with all of our hearts, and to respond to this gospel with faith, love, wonder, and praise. We pray that you would do it that Jesus might be glorified. In Jesus’ name we pray, amen.