That They May Know That I Am Yahweh


That They May Know That I Am Yahweh


That They May Know That I Am Yahweh

Exodus 7:6-11:10

Main Idea: Yahweh wants everyone to know that He is God and there is no other.

  1. No Other Gods: One Dominant Theme (7:14-11:10)
  2. Four Recurring Emphases: The Preview (7:8-13)
    1. Emphasis #1: Obedience (7:8-10)
    2. Emphasis #2: God’s superior power over Egypt’s gods (7:8-12)
    3. Emphasis #3: Counterfeit signs (7:11-12)
    4. Emphasis #4: Perpetual hardening of Pharaoh’s heart (7:13)
  3. Four Recurring Emphases: The Plagues (7:14-11:10)
    1. First cycle of plagues (7:14-8:19)
    2. Second cycle of plagues (8:20-9:12)
    3. Third cycle of plagues (9:13-10:29)
    4. The tenth plague threatened (11:1-10)
  4. One Dominant Question: Who Is Your God?

Who is your God? That is the most important question you will ever answer. The book of Exodus is a story that shows us who the real God is. In this section of Exodus, we are looking at the “plagues.” Now, I suppose the modern person may look at these plagues and say, “Are you kidding me? This scene is bizarre! Is God a cosmic jerk? Is He trying to annoy the Egyptians?” Or, “This is silly and hard to believe.”

It is indeed strange and severe, but you must understand that there is something bigger going on with the ten plagues than what you see at first glance. God was judging not only the Egyptians but also the gods of Egypt. In Exodus 12:12 God said that He was going to perform the last sign, the death of the firstborn, and in so doing He was executing “judgments against all the gods of Egypt.” This was also repeated in Numbers: “The Lord had executed judgment against their gods” (33:4).

The plagues fell on all the areas of life that were supposed to have been protected by Egypt’s gods. James Boyce said,

There were about eighty major deities in Egypt, all clustered about three great natural forces of Egyptian life: the Nile51 River, the land, and the sky.... The first two plagues were against the gods of the Nile. The next four were against the land gods. The final four plagues were against the gods of the sky, culminating the death of the firstborn. (Ryken, Exodus, 216)

God put His glory on display by judging these false gods. He is the Almighty.

No Other Gods: One Dominant Theme

Exodus 7:8-13

God wants everyone to know that He is God and there is no other. This theme echoes throughout the Bible. Later in Exodus, the first commandment says, “Do not have other gods besides Me” (Exod 20:3). Luther said that there is only really one commandment, the first, because if you keep it, you’ll keep the others! This points us again to the question, “Who is your God?” It is the most important question you need to answer.

The Bible describes the God of Moses in so many ways. In Deuteronomy 4 Scripture says,

Or has a god attempted to go and take a nation as his own out of another nation, by trials, signs, wonders, and war, by a strong hand and an outstretched arm, by great terrors, as the Lord your God did for you in Egypt before your eyes? You were shown these things so that you would know that the Lord is God; there is no other besides Him. (Deut 4:34-35)

Later, in Joshua, we see that Israel also worshiped the gods of Egypt previously and were told by their leader to worship the real God: “Therefore, fear the Lord and worship Him in sincerity and truth. Get rid of the gods your fathers worshiped beyond the Euphrates River and in Egypt, and worship Yahweh” (Josh 24:14). In Isaiah God says, “I am Yahweh, that is My name; I will not give My glory to another” (Isa 42:8).

In the New Testament we find similar language. We have already mentioned that Jesus refers to Himself as “I am” (e.g., John 8:58). The second person of the triune God tells us, “This is eternal life: that they may know You, the only true God, and the One You have sent” (John 17:3). There is one God, and you need to embrace Him through Jesus Christ, very God of very God. In 1 Thessalonians 1:9-10 Paul said conversion is about turning from idols to the living God.

52In 7:5-11:10, we see this overarching message: “that they may know that I am Yahweh.” It appears throughout Exodus, especially in these five chapters. In 7:8-13 Moses and Aaron performed an initial sign, or what you might call a “preview of the plagues.” There is a pattern set forth showing some common emphases in the ten plagues. That pattern includes four parts (Ryken, Exodus, 203):

  • The Obedience of Moses and Aaron
  • God’s superior power over Egypt’s gods
  • Satan’s counterfeits
  • The perpetual hardening of Pharaoh’s heart

Let’s first take a look at this one dominant theme and then look at these other four recurring ideas that are previewed in 7:8-13.

One Dominant Theme (7:14-11:10)

We have alluded to this theme already in the book. God told Israel that He was going to redeem them and give them a land and make them His people so that “You will know that I am Yahweh your God” (6:7); He also said He was going to lay His hand of judgment on the Egyptians for the same reason: “The Egyptians will know that I am Yahweh” (7:5). God’s judgment is always mingled with mercy. Do not forget that.

Many people may protest against God’s judgment and wrath. This should not surprise us. Whenever people protest against God’s judgment, it is a sign that they have minimized their sin and God’s blazing holiness. R. C. Sproul says, “Sin is cosmic treason” (Holiness, 115-16). These protestors are also minimizing God’s sovereignty. God is totally free to do as He pleases. In fact, Paul drew on Exodus in Romans 9 when he said, “I will show mercy to whom I will show mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion” (Rom 9:15). Remember also that Israel was not better than the Egyptians. They did not merit salvation. They were saved the same way we are saved: “by grace through faith.” They saw the signs and believed. Egypt (at least most of them it seems) did not believe.

There are a number of issues one could study when it comes to the plagues, but I do not want you to miss the forest for the trees. This chart illustrates God’s passion to be known and worshiped.



1. Nile

This is what Yahweh says: Here is how you will know that I am Yahweh. Watch. I will strike the water in the Nile with the staff in my hand, and it will turn to blood. (Exod 7:17)

2. Frogs

“Tomorrow,” he answered.

Moses replied, “As you have said, so you may know there is no one like Yahweh our God.” (Exod 8:10)

3. Gnats

Not mentioned

4. Flies

But on that day I will give special treatment to the land of Goshen, where My people are living; no flies will be there. This way you will know that I, Yahweh, am in the land. (Exod 8:22)

5. Livestock

Not mentioned

6. Boils

Not mentioned

7. Hail

Otherwise, I am going to send all My plagues against you, your officials, and your people. Then you will know there is no one like Me in all the earth. ... However, I have let you live for this purpose: to show you My power and to make My name known in all the earth.... Moses said to him, “When I have left the city, I will extend my hands to Yahweh. The thunder will cease, and there will be no more hail, so that you may know the earth belongs to Yahweh. (Exod 9:14, 16, 29)

8. Locusts

and so that you may tell your son and grandson how severely I dealt with the Egyptians and performed miraculous signs among them, and you will know that I am Yahweh. (Exod 10:2)

9. Darkness

Not mentioned

10. Final Plague Threatened

The Lord said to Moses, “Pharaoh will not listen to you, so that My wonders may be multiplied in the land of Egypt.” (Exod 11:9)

The phrase “I am Yahweh” extends beyond the plagues in Exodus, as well. The phrase recurs in 14:4, 18; 16:12; and 29:46. We see here God’s great purpose: the glory of His great name. Our greatest happiness will come when we pursue His glory, delight in His glory, and rejoice in His glory.

Four Recurring Emphases: The Preview


Exodus 7:8-13

Let me show you four recurring emphases that appear in this episode and throughout the plagues. This is sort of like a Western, in which the good guys and bad guys square off for a bit of a scuffle, only to reserve the real battle for later. This is sort of the bar scene in Tombstone, when Doc Holiday twirls his little cup, but later the shootout will happen. There will be utter domination.

Emphasis #1: Obedience (7:8-10)

First, Moses and Aaron were told to take the staff. The staff signified God as the One who was working signs and wonders. It continued throughout Israel’s journey as representative of God’s presence and power. Then notice: they “did just as the Lord had commanded” (v. 10). This statement shows us growth in Moses’ life. Before, when God commissioned him, Moses wanted to argue and make excuses. But now it says they did exactly what He told them to do. This should be everyone’s response to God’s Word—immediate, instinctive, loving obedience.

Emphasis #2: God’s Superior Power over Egypt’s Gods (7:8-12)

This initial sign has to do with a snake. The word used here signifies a large, deadly, venomous snake, which would likely have been a cobra. Again, God was taking on the gods of Egypt, not just Pharaoh. Snakes captivated the Egyptians. Pharaoh wore one on his head as a symbol of his authority. He was to be feared, like snakes were feared. The Egyptians were so awestruck by snakes that it led them to serpent worship. They reportedly built a temple in honor or the snake goddess Wadjet, who was represented by a cobra (Ryken, Exodus, 206).

So here is the pattern: Yahweh took on the gods of Egypt. The only true and living God would perform signs that were so astonishing that there would be no doubt that He is superior. So it was not just going to be a frog or two, a few bugs, a little red water, a little hailstorm, a few people with boils, or a cloudy day. No, the plagues were horrific signs of God’s judgment and sovereign power. God was making sure people know that He was doing it and that He alone is God.

Emphasis #3: Counterfeit Signs (7:11-12)


The text mentions three groups who try to respond to this sign with their own miracle: wise men, sorcerers, and magicians. The word translated “magicians” is like the Egyptian title for a priest. They acted in the service of Egypt’s gods. There are numerous Egyptian texts that speak of extraordinary acts performed by these priests.

You may wonder what exactly “occult practices” means. There are a few options. Some think the magicians were like illusionists, who could put on a magic show. Others think they were snake charmers. There is of course a long history of snake charming along the Nile. Some report that these tricks are still done today, in which an Egyptian cobra is paralyzed and made to look like a cane. But I believe that the best way to understand their work is as a wonder performed by the power of Satan. Egypt is clearly in touch with dark power.

We too are in a spiritual war. Paul said, “For our battle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the world powers of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavens” (Eph 6:12). Therefore, we must be alert and rely on the Lord’s strength as we encounter evil influence. Exodus shows us that while the evil one may have real influence, he is no match for God; Satan is a counterfeiter. Paul said the activity of the “lawless one” is the activity of Satan, who practices “false miracles, signs, and wonders” (2 Thess 2:8-9). Jesus, however, will “destroy him with the breath of His mouth” (2 Thess 2:8).

After the countersign done by Pharaoh’s court, Aaron’s staff swallowed up their staffs. This was a clear sign that God is superior. God was not doing a magic trick; He was performing a miracle.

Let me point out one more portent in the preview to the plagues. Notice this word, “swallowed.” This same word is used later in Exodus 15:12 to describe the drowning of the Egyptians in the sea. God will swallow Israel’s enemies, and later God will swallow our great enemy, death (1 Cor 15:54).

Emphasis #4: Perpetual Hardening of Pharaoh’s Heart (7:13)

Despite the miracle, Pharaoh remained insensitive. He was not interested in listening to God. He had no feeling for God. He had a heavy, cold, hard heart. This, however, should not have been a surprise: God predicted it would happen (7:3-4).

56Pharaoh stands as a warning to everyone. Do not harden your heart to God. He saw some awesome signs and wonders and still refused to listen. Some say they would believe if they saw more miracles. But Pharaoh’s issue was not with evidence; his problem was his stubborn heart (cf. Luke 16:30-31). Jesus has given us the final sign, the empty tomb. There is plenty enough evidence for a person to believe.

The Israelites saw the same thing as Pharaoh and they believed. The passage previously mentioned in 2 Thessalonians goes on to say that those who are under the influence of the evil one will perish because “they did not accept the love of the truth in order to be saved” (2:10). That is exactly what Pharaoh did; he refused to love the truth and be saved.

Four Recurring Emphases: The Plagues

Exodus 7:14-11:10

Remember, we have seen that there are four emphases in this section: obedience, God’s superior power, counterfeits, and hardening. Let us explore each of these as they are found in the plagues. Because there appear to be three cycles of three plagues, we will look at them in three groups. Also worth noting is that plagues three, six, and nine are similar in their brevity and style.

It is also important to address the matter of God’s judgment on Egypt’s gods because He is making the critical point that He alone is God. This point has great application for us as we face the temptation to bow to our own idols. The plagues should serve as a warning not only for those who refuse to believe the gospel but for believers who are tempted to love, serve, and trust anything except the living God.

First Cycle of Plagues (7:14-8:19)

Recurring Emphases

1. Nile to Blood

2. Frogs

3. Gnats





God’s Power over Egypt’s Gods







8:18 (unable to replicate)

Hardening of Heart




571. Nile River to Blood. God’s first display of superior power is appropriate: a miracle on the Nile River (7:14-25). The Nile was the lifeblood of Egypt. Essentially, there is no Egypt without the Nile. It was responsible for transportation, irrigation, drinking water, food, and the setting of the calendar. This type of catastrophe would be similar to cutting off all oil supplies, the stock market collapsing, drinking water being contaminated, and having no food in the grocery store. It would be total chaos. It is no surprise that the Egyptians worshiped the Nile as their creator and sustainer. At least three deities were associated with the Nile: Osiris, Nu, and Hapi (Ryken, Exodus, 220). God totally humiliated these gods when He turned it into blood.

Some do not think this was real blood. They claim it was red soil that washed into the Nile. But the biblical record says it is blood (Pss 78:44; 105:29). Moses struck it and it turned into blood. Further, the fish were dying. The spirit of this text is that this was no natural occurrence but a supernatural miracle. It is interesting that in Revelation 16:3-7 water is turned into blood in the great judgment.

The magicians countered the miracle, but the fact that the people were digging for water shows that while they repeated the sign, they could not cleanse the blood from the Nile. Pharaoh refuses to “even take this to heart” (7:23).

To whom are you looking to provide for your needs? While you may have never heard of these Egyptian river gods, people are still tempted to trust in other things to provide for them, instead of God alone. Many place their final hope in the stock market, economic growth, a new president, or something else. All of these will pass away.

2. Frogs. With the second plague, we find frogs are coming up into the house, bedroom, and beds, into the ovens and kneading bowls, and on all the inhabitants of Egypt (8:1-15). This was a humorous miracle when you think about it. Frogs are not that scary or creepy, but when you have them everywhere, then that is scary and creepy, not to mention annoying! Imagine mothers seeing frogs come out of their bread bowl and children having frogs leap out of their oatmeal! The frogs even came into Pharaoh’s court!

Think also about the frog deities that God was opposing. One goddess named Heqet was pictured with head and sometimes the body of a frog. Apparently, this goddess controlled the frog population58 and also assisted women in childbirth. Frogs were so sacred that the Egyptians could not kill them. The Nile and the frogs were symbols of fertility.

Today, frogs are symbols of fertility and life. Those of you who grew up around a body of water like a lake know that if you hear or see frogs, you know life is present. When I was younger, we used to go frog gigging. We would catch frogs, take them home, clean them, and eat the legs. Where there are frogs, there are other forms of life (so we had to watch for snakes when gigging!). Egypt was powerful because this Nile River had life. Now God said, “You like frogs; I’ll give you frogs.” They, however, could not gig all of these frogs! Because the deities supposedly controlled the frog population, this invasion of frogs was intended to humiliate them.

Next, we find a couple of responses. First, the magicians duplicated the act and brought more frogs, but that actually made things worse. They could do nothing to remove the frogs. Second, Pharaoh offered some false repentance (v. 8). We must remember that a false promise of faith and obedience will not bring salvation. Then Moses began this ministry of intercession. Because of Pharaoh’s false confession, another plague was set to arrive. A third response was from the land itself: “a terrible odor in the land” (v. 14). In Exodus 5:21 the foremen said the Hebrews had become odious. Now Egypt reeks.

3. Gnats. In 8:16-19 we find the next plague, which comes unannounced: gnats. Scholars have various ideas over what kind of insect this actually was. They could have been “lice” (KJV) or mosquitoes. Whatever they were, they were touching the people. They were swarming everywhere in Egypt, affecting everyone.

Which god was God striking in this plague? It is hard to pinpoint a particular god in each plague since they were not mentioned specifically. Perhaps it was the earth-god, Geb. This possibility is drawn from God’s turning the dust into bugs. God was challenging their trust in the soil and the god of the ground.

Notice that the magicians were now unable to replicate the signs (v. 18). Not only could they not replicate it, they were probably covered with them as well! These magician/priests did not touch insects and they bathed religiously. This is humiliation. The magicians were beginning to see who the real God was. Describing the plague, they said, “This is the finger of God” (v. 19). This does not mean they were converted, but it was a positive step. Still, Pharaoh would not listen.

Second Cycle of Plagues (8:20-9:12)


Recurring Emphases

4. Flies

5. Death of Livestock

6. Boils


8:20-24a (implied)

9:1-6a (implied)


God’s Power over Egypt’s Gods







None (affected personally)

Hardening of Heart




4. Flies. We are not told when the gnat problem ended, or if it remained. But here we have more little creatures doing God’s bidding: flies (8:20-32). Again, we do not know what kind of flies these were, but they were everywhere (v. 24). Most of us hate flies, gnats, and mosquitoes. But can you imagine this?

For the first time a distinction was made between the effects of the plagues on Egypt and on Israel. This is a picture of salvation and judgment. God’s people were protected from His wrath. Theologically, we know when we are in Christ we will not face God’s wrath; we are hidden with Christ.

These plagues are what some call “de-creation,” a reversal of the created order. Instead of order being created out of chaos there is disorder produced from order. The Egyptians believed Pharaoh had the power to maintain order in the cosmos, what they called the ma’at. But we know as believers only One can create and sustain the cosmos, and that is our great God. Paul said in Colossians that Jesus holds our lives and the cosmos together. He is our sustainer. Some who want to protest this section, saying that these plagues are impossible, really have one question: “Is there a God or not?” If God created the world, surely He could do a “de-creation” as well. Despite the ruin and disorder, Pharaoh acted the same way: hardening his heart. Notice there is a new pattern: no counterfeits are produced.

What god was being targeted here? We cannot know for sure, but it could be “the god of the resurrection”—Kepher—who was depicted as a beetle. Some argue that these flies were flying beetles, known as scarabs. Scarabs are found on monuments in Egypt.

60To whom are you looking for eternal life? Kepher cannot raise the dead. A denomination cannot raise the dead. A political party cannot raise the dead. Only God can raise the dead. People are fascinated with eternal life in culture. We see traces in Peter Pan, the Fountain of Youth, and more. But Jesus said that if you believe in Him, though you die, you will live (John 11:25-26). Another question related to de-creation is, In whom are you trusting for sustaining power? Look to the One who brings order out of chaos.

5. Death of Livestock. In the fifth plague, the livestock died (9:1-7). Can you imagine all these huge creatures lying everywhere? (I once hit a cow on the interstate in what was one of the scariest moments of my life! They are huge creatures!) The stench would be horrendous and the cleanup would be exhausting. Again there was a distinction made between God’s people and the Egyptians: nothing that belonged to Israel died (v. 4).

The Egyptians had all kinds of sacred cows. Many of their gods were depicted as livestock. Many worshiped a bull (prompting the golden calf worship later?), which they viewed as a fertility figure. At the temple in Memphis there was a sacred place that featured a live bull said to be the incarnation of the god Apis. There were also goddesses that were symbols of love and beauty and motherhood: Hathor and Isis.

6. Boils. The plague of the boils (9:8-12) was initiated in the face of the magicians who apparently performed their miracles through this sort of act. It was customary for these “priests” to throw these ashes into the air as a sign of blessing (Ryken, Exodus, 273). It might have also been a display of justice since the soot might have come from the brickmaking furnace.

As the plagues continue, you may notice an increase in intensity. This sign was directly impacting the inhabitants. In a time when the magicians needed to be able to counter the plague, they could not. Instead, they were affected personally (v. 11). The Egyptians also looked to their false gods for healing. This included Amon Re, Thoth, Imhotep, and Sekhmet. The plague was an attack on all the false gods the Egyptians trusted for healing. In our day, medicine is a wonderful tool, but it is not God.

Third Cycle of Plagues (9:13-10:29)


Recurring Emphases

7. Hail

8. Locusts

9. Darkness





God’s Power over Egypt’s Gods


10:4-6, 14-15






Hardening of Heart


10:1, 20


7. Hail. The seventh plague provides us a record of the worst hailstorm in history (9:13-35). This plague was intense. In verses 14-17 the Lord explained His purposes. They included (1) to display His uniqueness (“no one like Me,” 14); (2) to show His power (v. 16a); and (3) for His name to be proclaimed in all the earth (v. 16b).

Have you ever been afraid in a storm? Think of being in the worst storm in history! The severity of the plague caused some of the people of Egypt to respond to God’s word. While it is unclear if they were converted, we know some responded to God’s gracious word by faith and others did not. All the while, the Israelites were safe from the storm.

The salvation of all peoples was on the mind of God. Ryken says, “Even when [God] was judging Pharaoh for his sins, God had a plan for Egypt’s salvation” (Ryken, Exodus, 283). Of course, God’s saving plan for Egypt is sprinkled throughout the Old Testament (Jer 46:26; Isa 19), and we read about how Egyptians were there on the day the church was born on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2:5-11). God loves the nations, despite Pharaoh’s and most of the Egyptians’ refusal to heed His word. But this incident shows that perhaps some of them believed. Again, the problem was not with the “nation” but with their idolatry and their refusal to heed God’s word.

Once again, Pharaoh practiced false repentance in 9:27-35. Just mouthing off religious words is not sufficient for salvation. We have noted that God hears the genuine prayer of repentance and the cry for the Lord’s mercy, but He can see through false repentance. What was wrong with Pharaoh’s confession? He did not confess his sin to God. Even when he did confess, he minimized his sin by saying “this time,” as if his sins before were minor or had been forgiven. Pharaoh did not turn away from his sin. There is a difference in remorse and repentance. Repentance is a turning away from sin. Beware of practicing false repentance.

62In regard to the Egyptian gods, we are unsure which god was being confronted here. They had plenty to choose from. They had gods over all the elements—atmosphere god, sky goddess, goddess of moisture, and gods present in the earth and wind. However we know, as the psalmist said, “lightning and hail, snow and cloud, powerful wind ... executes His command” (Ps 148:8). There are not a number of gods over different parts of creation; there is one God, who is our Creator and Redeemer.

Where do you go for refuge, shelter, and peace? Go only to God.

8. Locusts. The scene is getting darker and darker and the music is changing to something akin to the music in the film Gladiator (10:1-20). This scene starts off by announcing the Lord’s hardening of Pharaoh’s heart. Hereafter in the plagues it is usually the Lord who is referred to as the hardener of Pharaoh’s heart.

God told Moses that the plagues were not just for Egypt but also for Israel, and they were to tell their sons about their God. The Exodus was the story of Israel. It was the story that shaped them as a people, and it was to be retold. We are part of that grand story that continued to the New Testament with the coming of Jesus. We are to keep telling this story.

This scene is horrific. This intense episode points forward to the ultimate sign of judgment in the final plague. Nothing like this was ever known in Egypt. It had become so bad that Pharaoh’s servants said, “Let [them] go” (v. 7). It seems like Pharaoh was going to listen, but it was not the case. He responded with qualified obedience (v. 10). He only was willing to send the men away, not the women and children. But that was not the plan of God. Moses told him everyone would be going (v. 9). In his anger and pride, Pharaoh threw Moses out (v. 11).

As a result, the locusts came over the land and not a green thing remained—neither tree nor field plant (v. 15). But Pharaoh still minimized his sin. He basically said, “Forgive me this one time.” He was not practicing biblical repentance. He failed to see the nature of his sinful actions and the gravity of these plagues.

God was continuing to humiliate the Egyptian gods. This time it was an assault on the gods of the fields. Many Egyptians depended on Min, the patron god of crops; Isis, the goddess of life (who prepared flax for clothes); Nepri, the god of grain; Anubis, the guardian of the fields; and Senehem, the protector against pests. These gods failed miserably.

639. Darkness. Nothing says judgment like darkness (10:21-29) and death (11:1-10). That is what signs nine and ten were about. The darkness was to be “felt” (10:21). God intended for this warning to immobilize the Egyptians, to stun them. Few of us have probably ever been in true darkness. In complete darkness, you cannot even see someone standing in front of you. Travel in the ancient world was done in the day. It was not like the modern day in which we travel at night because we have lights. And this was pure darkness all day long. Three days of darkness! Imagine this! This prefigured the death to come. Darkness was the realm of the dead, and the final plague would come at midnight.

Once again, Pharaoh offered a qualification to what the Lord asked. This time he said, “only your flocks and herds must stay behind” (v. 24). When Moses rejected his offer, Pharaoh was so angered that he no longer wanted to see Moses’ face (v. 28). Soon, he would not see it ever again.

Darkness would have been terrifying to the Egyptians because they also worshiped the sun. “Every morning the rising of the sun in the east reaffirmed the life-giving power of Amon-Re” (Ryken, Exodus, 304). The sunset represented death, but the sunrise offered them the hope of the resurrection. Moreover, the Pharaoh was known as the son of Re, the incarnation of Amon-Re. Amon-Re for most was the king of all Egypt’s gods. But Amon-Re, the biggest of all of Egypt’s gods, could not help them!

Who is your Savior? Do you look to Jesus every day and find your identity, salvation, and hope in Him? He alone is incarnate God. He crushed our greatest enemy, and to use the language of the preview to the plagues, He swallowed up death, conquering sin and death, giving us eternal life. Paul said, “Death has been swallowed up in victory. Death, where is your victory? Death, where is your sting?” (1 Cor 15:54-55).

The Tenth Plague Threatened (11:1-10)

Recurring Emphases

10. Final Plague Threatened



God’s Power Over Egypt’s gods




Hardening of Heart


64As the final plague approached, the Lord prepared Israel to go out of Egypt. Israel was told to ask for silver and gold. This is the fulfillment of the account in Exodus 3:21-22. They were simply to ask for it. There were no gimmicks here. The Lord was fighting their battle for them. Moreover, “Moses was highly regarded in the land of Egypt” (11:3). This too was a fulfillment of his call. God promised to be “with him,” and that is what made him effective.

In verses 4-8 Pharaoh was warned of the final plague. In this plague there was no word about asking Pharaoh to “let them go,” there was only a statement of what was coming. This is showing us the finality of the plagues. Moses foretold that the “firstborn” of both man and animals would be killed. This language is not new to us, for previously God had referred to Israel as His firstborn (4:22) and indicated that Pharaoh would pay with his firstborn (4:22-23). It was too late for Pharaoh now. There was no further request for his cooperation.

Moses was furious for some reason (v. 8). We do not know why, but one can guess that Pharaoh’s pride was angering him. But he understood, as he had been speaking for God, that God was going to make Himself known. The worst of all the ten plagues was coming next: the death of the firstborn. Pharaoh would experience this firsthand.

One Dominant Question: Who Is Your God?

In this section of Scripture we meet the real God. This God is Almighty. He rules over creation alone. He is sovereign. He is the jealous God. He will not share His glory with another. He will punish people according to their sins. He is merciful. He will save all who cry out to Him in humility and genuine repentance.

As we said, mercy and justice are always mingled, and the most important, glorious act of mercy and justice happened when God put forth His Son on the cross. God passed over us and punished Jesus in our place. Jesus Christ, the Righteous One, was punished in place of us. He was crucified instead of us. He took God’s wrath on behalf of us. Everyone will be judged. Either Jesus took your judgment at the cross, or something worse than the plagues is coming your way as you face the judgment. For believers, we rejoice because through Christ there is no condemnation. Jesus took our curse. He experienced darkness—the darkness that happened at the cross and the darkness of the tomb. By His death and resurrection, we who deserve death have nothing but mercy forever.

65Know Christ as your Savior, or fear Him as your Judge. Do not harden your heart against Him.

Reflect and Discuss

  1. How is the first commandment, “Do not have other gods besides Me,” related to what Jesus called the greatest command (Matt 22:37-38)?
  2. How does it change your understanding of the plagues to know that they were not directed primarily at the people of Egypt but at their gods?
  3. How does God’s purpose in the plagues—that people would know that He is Yahweh—represent the opportunity for Egypt to experience mercy? Why did most of Egypt experience judgment instead?
  4. Do you find it frightening that the Egyptian magicians were able to do miracles similar to the plagues? How was their magic inferior to God’s miracles? How does God’s display of superiority in Exodus encourage you when you engage in spiritual warfare?
  5. What serves some people as gods of provision and prosperity today? As gods of agricultural success? As gods of security and peace?
  6. How can something harmless, such as frogs or flies, become a horrifying plague? How have such things been portrayed in movies?
  7. How was Pharaoh’s false repentance, prompted by the horror of the plagues, different from genuine repentance? What are some characteristics of false conversion to Christianity?
  8. How would you respond to someone who points out that some aspects of the plagues could have arisen naturally? Which aspects of the plagues show undeniable evidence of supernatural origins?
  9. Why is the story of the exodus out of Egypt important for Christians to tell to their children? How is our telling of the story different from Israel’s?
  10. How do we sometimes qualify our repentance and submission to God? Which of these reservations persist for many years after our conversion? How do we move toward complete submission?