Saturday, April 2, 2016

Saturday - Exodus 9 - Anthrax, Ulcers and a Nationwide Thunderstorm

In the AV terrors # 5, 6 & 7 were called "murrain, boils with blains and hail mixed with fire." Regardless, by any description (archaic or modern), it was indescribably dreadful.  Yet, Pharaoh stood his ground.

The murrain (plague # 5) was evidently a fatal bacterial infection (comparable to anthrax). Whatever it was, it affected the horses, camels, cows and sheep. Except for the beasts in Goshen, all the herds in Egypt were wiped out. And, clearly Pharaoh was thinking critically because he sent to find out if the Hebrew's animals had been affected too. They hadn't (Exodus 9:6). So, perhaps Pharaoh took those living beasts from the Jews, else how could the beasts of the Egyptians been affected by the next disease (Exodus 9:10) or have pulled chariots later (Exodus 14:23).

The boils and blains (plague # 6) were open sores. It must have been severely debilitating since the magicians ceased their activities as a result of the outbreak (Exodus 9:11). God was pushing Pharaoh into a corner all by himself. God had a very specific program for Pharaoh. In sovereign righteousness God released the king to his own evil desires (Exodus 9:12) because (according to the words of Moses) "for this cause God raised him up, to show in him His power; and so that His name would be declared throughout all the earth" (Exodus 9:16).

See, all 10 curses could have been skipped. God could have superseded the wishes of the Pharaoh in an instant.  His nation could have walked right out of the land without an incident (II Kings 6:18-19).  But,  He "sent all His plagues upon Pharaoh's heart... so that that he would know that there was none like Jehovah in all the earth" (Exodus 9:14). God was determined to destroy that wicked land and its inhabitants... after giving them ample opportunities to prove their lack of worth. God was through with them (Exodus 9:15).

The hail stones, thunder, lightning, rain and fire of plague # 7 must have turned the remaining decency of Egypt into a war zone. Even the plants and trees were torn by this disaster (Exodus 9:25). Notice though that God was still willing to show some mercy even to the condemned ... if they would but show   a smidgen of fear and faith (Habakkuk 3:2). He offered them respite by telling them to take cover to avoid death (Exodus 9:19).  This demonstrates a balancing of God’s tolerance, patience, grace and compassion (Exodus 9:32) with His perfection, righteousness, jealousy and immutability. Surely as the lightening "ran along ground" (Exodus 9:23) there were folks who were mighty thankful that they had respected the warning of Israel's God. Even Pharaoh was temporarily repentant (Exodus 9:27; II Corinthians 7:10) and vowed that there would be no more delays (Exodus 9:28). Of course, the prophet was justifiably cynical (Exodus 9:30).

Stories like this in the Bible should verify to us that eternal damnation is not an illusion. God is holy and just. He is well willing and able to punish, torment, destroy, curse and condemn unbelievers in merciless fury (II Corinthians 5:11).

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