Wednesday, May 01, 2013

God Tells Moses How To Prepare For The Exodus -- Exodus 11:1-3

Now the Lord said to Moses, “One more plague I will bring on Pharaoh and on Egypt; after that he will let you go from here.  When he lets you go, he will surely drive you out from here completely.   Speak now in the hearing of the people that each man ask from his neighbor and each woman from here neighbor for articles of silver and articles of gold.”  And the Lord gave the people favor in the sight of the Egyptians.  Furthermore, the man Moses himself was greatly esteemed in the land of Egypt, both in the sight of Pharaoh’s servants and in the sight of the people.
Please remember that these verses are an account of what God was telling Moses.  The words he is told to say to Pharaoh are not actually delivered until later in the chapter.  This is important to try and understand the timing of these verses and beyond.
I do not know how one would describe the feelings and the thoughts that must have been going through Moses’ heart and head respectively as God uttered those words to him, “One more plague . . . and . . . he will let you go from here.”  The end was in sight.  All would not have been in vain.  It would have been easy for Moses to say or think, “Yeah, right.  I’ll believe it when I see it, Lord.”  But he knew God could be trusted fully.  He knew there was not going to be a way out for Pharaoh or a further change of mind in God.
I do not know about you, but I also find a special “Bible gem” in the simple phrase at the end of that first statement of God’s in these verses – “from here.”   God did not say to Moses “from there” or “from Egypt” – He said, “from here” implying “from where I too am”.  That is the gift in that gem.  In the midst of our lives, in the midst of our predicaments, in our bondage and difficulties, God is “from here” – He’s right here with us.  He is not calling out to us from His ivory palaces, but as He stands right beside us.  That’s our God.
In fact, God says, “Moses, Pharaoh will be so ticked at you, that he’ll actually drive you out for good, never to have you return.  I’ll see to that.”  What a feeling of great anticipation that must have brought to Moses – the fact that this master-slave relationship for his people was about to end.  I can only compare it perhaps to the tearing down of the Berlin Wall, or the destruction of the Iron Curtain, or the signing of peace treaties of WWI and WWII.  And what a relief it is for anyone who has been in the bondage of sin (any sin), held tightly by the Devil, to know that release and salvation is around the corner – God will save “from here”!
God then tells Moses exactly how he and the people are to prepare for this great day.  He wants them involved, for they too have a role to play in this.  They were to ask their neighbors and other Egyptian friends for articles of jewelry – gold and silver items of adornment or perhaps even small idols, we do not know.  Clearly God had a purpose for that even though it is not revealed to the reader of Exodus at this point in the account.  (Later, for those of us who know the story of the children of Israel and their disobedience in the wilderness, we may well wonder how different things might have been, had God not asked this of them.)  Nevertheless, for now, God would see to it that the people found “favor in the eyes of the Egyptians” and they would get all they asked for.  While some translations may refer to what the Israelites did was to “borrow” things from the Egyptians, a better translation is “to ask for” with no indication of this being a request for a temporary use of the items.   These people had served the Egyptians for so long as slaves that this request was well received and people were glad to oblige.  Some commentators also suggest that the Egyptians did this because they were eager to see them leave Egypt for they wanted no more plagues on their land and their families.
And interestingly enough, God allowed Moses himself to be greatly “esteemed” in Egypt, like Joseph many years before him.  And the text says not only was he thought greatly of by the people but also by Pharaoh’s servants or fellow ruling subordinates, his governmental ministers.  The word “people” here may refer to both the Israelites who were now starting to look up to him as they sensed the crescendo that was building up with the various plagues would indeed lead to their release from Egyptian slavery, but also to the common Egyptians.
As we close our examination of this portion of scripture, let us not miss the fact as Matthew Henry pointed out in his commentary on this text, that even though people suffered as much as they had under all the plagues to date, God was about to apply “one more plague”.   And Henry makes the point that it is so for all mankind – that though evil man has suffered so much, because he has ignored his opportunities to come to a loving God and Savior – thus, one more “plague” must come upon him – one final act of judgment by the Almighty.  There would be one more act of God that would totally and completely humble the world before Him.  Have you bent your knee to the Lord?  Have you sincerely in your heart humbled yourself before Him?  Have you avoided that last “one more plague” that will befall you

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