“Exposing the Exodus”
The Definite Distinction – (Chapter 9 Verses 8-12)
We will return in due course to verses six and seven. This is strike number six. There is no announcement, this is woeful and very threatening indeed. The obstinacy of Pharaoh has grown to the point of madness, his reason has gone. He is confirmed by God in his choices time after time. His people are facing decades of privation as a result of his stubbornness. This is what is called in the Bible the whirlwind effect (Hosea 8:7), he is reaping what he has sown (Galatians 6:7). Notice, “take handfuls of soot from ‘the’ kiln” (v8). A specific kiln? Now some commentators suggest that is was simply one of the brick kilns the Hebrews produced bricks in. May I suggest that Pharaoh wasn’t likely to near any such kilns. And also that there is a definite article here “the kiln” (v8). Why do I labour this? Because I think it was a particular furnace, one in which human sacrifices were offered in propitiation to their gods to avert disasters such as they are now faced with. The priests would take handfuls of the ashes and sprinkle them around the place. Now Moses is instructed to do exactly the same, sprinkling the ashes up towards to heaven. Because this where the curse, the judgment was coming from. From the true and living God who Pharaoh knows exists just as you and I do. The clear message to him is, his wicked, evil, idolatrous religion is not preventing a plague, but causing one. The produce of this furnace Pharaoh is the reason God’s wrath is burning hot against you. This is the fruit of what you say you believe. You see the link between belief and behaviour just cannot be repudiated. Show what a man believes and I’ll tell you how he will behave. If it is wrong, not only will he become immoral, but human life to him will become cheap, very cheap. This is how we have arrived at abortion and euthanasia in the West today. Hence, the whirlwind, sin has a way of catching up with us, the chickens coming home to roost. The immoral religious dogma of evolution is immoral, life is cheap. The idolatrous religion of Islam is immoral, life is cheap. The Egyptian priests are not to be seen, they cannot stand before the holy prophet of God, Moses (v11). Because they were covered in boils, they were unclean. If that be the case how can a sinner stand before a holy God? This is prophetic, of the end time judgments, where you find each one of these plagues again poured out (Revelation 16:2).
It is truly solemn yet one cannot help but be thrilled and encouraged with the obedience of Moses. Whatever is said to him he does. Simple obedience is his part. Why do we find it so difficult? The planning and the working of power belong to the Lord. The definite distinction here between the Egyptians and Israel (v6-7) is an evidence of the presence of God in all this. The Lord’s people usually suffer along with the wicked. For instance,it is the case that Christians are not immune to the common sufferings of humanity. If say there is some major disaster where many lives are lost, Christian lives are lost also. They, of course, are taken straight to heaven, there is no doubt about that. The believers sufferings are sanctified, their sufferings work for their good (Romans 8:28). Whereas with the wicked, there is no benefit at all in their sufferings. They are more hardened, embittered, and finally destroyed by them. But here there is a clear distinction the disease does not come near the Israelite livestock. Another exemption that we will see concerning the Lord’s people will be at the end of the age, the world-fire will not touch them either (2Peter 3:7). Again, this is pictured here. How utterly vain the gods of the ages. But what comfort these significations of the presence of God with his people are. The testimony of the ashes cast heavenwards? They cry for vengeance, for justice. Their cries are heard and will be answered. Notice is here served God does and will vindicate his persecuted people.
(© James R Hamilton, written Spring, 2015)