Exodus 7:1-5 and Revelation 21:26-27
Then the LORD said to Moses, “…You are to say everything I command you…tell Pharaoh to let the Israelites go out of his country. But I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and though I multiply my signs and wonders in Egypt, he will not listen to you. Then I will lay my hand on Egypt and with mighty acts of judgment I will bring out my divisions, my people the Israelites. And the Egyptians will know that I am the LORD when I stretch out my hand against Egypt and bring the Israelites out of it.” (Exodus 7:1-5)
The glory and honour of the nations will be brought into [the City of God]. Nothing impure will ever enter it, nor will anyone who does what is shameful or deceitful, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life. (Rev 21:26-27)
Jesus said in John 5:24, “Very truly I tell you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be judged but has crossed over from death to life.”
I grew up playing cricket, but then we also started playing baseball. There I learned baseball’s “three strikes and you’re out” rule. I can still feel the stretch of muscles as the heavy timber bat missed on the first two swings, and then (sometimes) the wonderful crisp sound and sensation as the bat engaged with the ball on the third swing. It seemed a fair game to me – “three strikes and you’re out!”
In Exodus God is doubly fair with Pharaoh. God sends 3 groups of 3 plagues against the kingdom of stubborn Pharaoh. The 1st 3 (blood, frogs, lice) show God is much more powerful than Pharaoh’s ‘magicians’. The 2nd 3 (flies, cattle-sickness, boils) show God can judge Egypt and rescue Israel at the same time. The 3rd 3 (hail, locusts, darkness) show that Pharaoh is a man, not a god, and he must give way to God’s authority. But Pharaoh doesn’t respond, his heart is hard to God. The sovereignty of God and responsibility of Pharaoh are both emphasised: “I will harden Pharaoh’s heart…he will not listen to you.” The final 10th plague is both judgement (Angel of Death) and rescue (Passover Lamb). God judges Pharaoh after 3 x 3 warnings, and at the same time he rescues Israel.
The dual purpose of the 10 plagues points us to the dual purpose of Jesus’ death and resurrection. All people will be judged by the Risen Jesus (Acts 17:30-31). Yet for all who believe there is forgiveness and rescue from judgement, they have crossed over from death to life. Jesus’ death and resurrection both warns and encourages us. We are warned to not be like Pharaoh, with a heart that’s hard toward God. We are encouraged to listen and believe that Jesus’ death and resurrection are God’s power to rescue us from our rebellion and bring us home to God – to the city of God pictured in Revelation 21. Here in Jesus is the power we need to live a new life.
Head: Do I understand the dual purpose of Jesus’ death and resurrection?
Heart: How does my heart respond to the warning to not have Pharaoh’s heart that was hard toward God?
Hands: How can I help my family and friends have opportunities to listen and believe in the power of Jesus’ death and resurrection?
Prayer: I praise you Risen Jesus that you have been appointed by your Father as the Judge of all people. Yet I praise you much more that through the cross you have provided forgiveness and rescue from judgement for all who believe. Please guard my heart from becoming like Pharaoh’s heart that was hard toward you. Please show me how I can help my family and friends to have opportunities to listen and believe in the power of Jesus’ death and resurrection – that they might enter the City of God pictured in Revelation 21. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.
A song to listen to: We Have Been Healed