Journey through the Bible during the 40 days of Lent
Click here to download the readings for all 40 days. See below for study notes.
Wednesday Exodus 11 – in the last of the plagues God strikes down the first-born sons of Egypt
So Moses obeys God and returns to Egypt where the harsh treatment of the Hebrews is getting even worse. Now they are required to make bricks without even giving them the raw materials they need. Pharaoh is a forerunner of the exploitative employers who still expect far too much of their workers and are not prepared to pay them properly.
Moses goes to Pharaoh. He tells him what God commands and performs signs and wonders to back up his demand that they let the Hebrews go. But Pharaoh does not listen. So God sends a succession of plagues: water turned to blood, frogs, gnats, flies, cattle disease, boils, thunder and hail, locusts, and darkness. But in spite of all the terrible harm that is being inflicted on his people, Pharaoh is too proud to let the people go, he won’t give in. Like the rulers who don’t care about the suffering of their people he carries on regardless. Pharaoh is warned that there will be one final plague. God will strike down the first-born sons of Egypt. In a proud male-dominated culture, to strike down the first born son is the worst thing that can happen.
And so the scene is set for the first great Passover feast. The people of Israel are told to prepare to leave Egypt, to take a final meal together and to smear the blood of the lamb they have eaten on their doorposts so that the angel of the Lord can pass over their houses and spare their sons whilst killing the first born sons of Egypt. It is a harsh and brutal story and although we might applaud God saving his people, we are perhaps troubled by the indiscriminate killing of so many innocent lives. This is something that needs more discussion than these notes can allow but maybe it is enough to say for now, that in our telling of God’s deeds in the bible, we are perhaps sometimes too quick to attribute human cruelty to God.
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