Day 5

Moses and the Ten Plagues

from the The Life of Moses reading plan


Genesis 1:1, Exodus 7:1-25, Exodus 10:21-29, Psalm 105:27-36

After I took my kids to see the most recent Star Wars movie, I was the dad who wanted to make sure they understood that all those stormtroopers who fell in battle had mothers who probably loved them very much.

Don’t get me wrong; I love it when the good guys win. And I certainly don’t want to upset any rabid Star Wars fans who may want to argue that stormtroopers don’t have parents. (I happily defer to the experts on such matters.) I’m just saying that since I was boy, I have wondered about those poor stormtroopers’ moms, and how sad they must have been when they got the news that their sons caught the business end of Han Solo’s blaster.

Many of the stories in Scripture are complicated. The lines between the good guys and bad guys blur as we discover our heroes have flaws and our enemies have mothers.

When we think about the ten plagues, it is important that we do so as human beings—as people who recognize that this whole episode in the story of God’s covenant promise to redeem and restore humanity to Himself is one filled with sorrow and complication. Crops, livestock, and firstborn sons’ lives were lost. Both the Hebrew and Egyptian people suffered great uncertainty and emotional pain.

We don’t give the account of the ten plagues the weight it deserves if we turn everyone into cartoon characters, with Moses and the Hebrews as smiling “good guys” and the Egyptians as one-note evil villains. These were people—all of them.

So what do we do with the struggle? What are these plagues about?

They are about God’s right to rule over His creation. The King of Egypt had come to think of himself as a God, and he had also come to regard the Hebrew people as his property. This was as lethal an arrangement for Egypt as is was for Israel because, as Exodus 10 tells us, Egypt was ruled by a king whose heart was hard.

God’s aim in delivering the Israelites wasn’t just for their benefit. It was a grace for everyone because God had promised to make Israel a blessing to all nations. The Hebrews were to become a nation who would honor the complicated nature of humanity by offering hope instead of condemnation, kindness instead of tyranny, and freedom instead of slavery.

But as we read on, the story only gets more complicated. Israel struggles and fails to live up to their design. Their own kings’ hearts were often just as hard at Pharaoh’s. Israel didn’t just need God to prevail over the hardness of Pharaoh’s heart. God had to deal with their own kings’ hardened hearts too. In fact, every one of us needs this same remedy.

That mercy—God prevailing over our hardened hearts—goes beyond plagues, wars, and exiles. It goes all the way to a cross outside of Jerusalem, where heroes with flaws and soldiers with mothers watched the God of all creation purchase the freedom of those who would believe through the death of a firstborn son.

The gravity and complexity of stories like the ten plagues or the crucifixion of Christ remind us just how desperate we are, and how authoritatively God prevails over even the hardest of hearts—mine included.

Written By Russ Ramsey 

Post Comments (22)

22 thoughts on "Moses and the Ten Plagues"

  1. Mark McNeff says:

    The Gospel is not a clean story tied up with a pretty bow and easy for all people to accept. Because it is full of flawed heroes, relatable villains, and a savior who lives the most humble of lives we are left wondering how the is could be the plan. But passages like this remind us just how in control God is over this planet and every heart that resides in it.

  2. Mark McNeff says:

    As men we often elevate our status far beyond what it ought to be. We surround ourselves with comforts and power and our heart gardens to the fact that we are desperately in need of saving. No one is a cartoon hero or villain. We all are a mixed up entanglement of capacities for good and for evil that we exercise to varying degrees throughout our lives. Only by the abounding grace of God to we begin to have our heart transformed to desire to exercise our capacity for good much more often

  3. Mark McNeff says:

    That God uses messy and complicated situations to bring about His good and perfect plan of redeeming the world to Himself. He uses crooked sticks to make straight lines.

  4. Mark McNeff says:

    I will show more grace to those who I believe to be a “villain” against me and in those moments not just theologically remind myself that God is sovereign but that he is manipulating and allowing every single event that has unfolded to u fold for His ultimate purposes of redemption and glorification of this world and the people in it

  5. Mark McNeff says:

    I will pray for the strength and perspective to be able to love his who wrong me and love them know God has a plan for their life, and that they are just as messy and complicated as I am on the inside

  6. Rickyleemay says:

    It’s about God ruling over his creation and wanting what’s best for him, which is what’s best for us.

  7. Rickyleemay says:

    Fight to see the dual nature of people, not pigeonholing them as all good or all bad

  8. Rickyleemay says:

    It’s all about people. Well, it’s all about God, but he shows us how important people are to him

  9. Rickyleemay says:

    We’re complex creatures, typically not all good or all bad.

  10. Rickyleemay says:

    God please help me see people the way you do. Help me love people the way you do.

  11. Scott Schulman says:

    Choose to live in active submission to God as the true ruler of my life. Stop living like I can rule my life in my thoughts, words, and actions.

  12. Scott Schulman says:

    The Gospel is about God saving us not only from the slavery of sin and from Satan, but from the slavery of our own selfish hearts. The Gospel frees me to serve the one who is truly in control anyways: God.

  13. Scott Schulman says:

    We are very proud and tend to think that we have everything in our own control. However, we are fools to think this way. God alone is in control.

  14. Scott Schulman says:

    God is Ruler over all creation.

  15. Scott Schulman says:

    Lord, help me to be a submissive servant of you. I want to be humble and helpful to you. Remove pride from my heart and teach me to follow you alone.

  16. Tyler Rowe says:

    God is so powerful. He commands all creatures because he created all creatures and can soften the hardest of hearts.

  17. Tyler Rowe says:

    Man is stubborn and rebels against the Lord because sometimes it is, understandably, hard to believe the power the Lord has because it is just that great that our worldly minds cannot perceive it.

  18. Braden Condray says:

    The God who is in sovereign control of every last detail of the universe is not interested in lording His power over us, but in using it to rescue us from ourselves and invite us to experience the eternal joy of relationship with Him through Christ.

  19. Braden Condray says:

    God has exclusive authority to rule over His creation. Whatever illusion we may have of our own power over our lives, God is in sovereign control over every last detail of them.

  20. Braden Condray says:

    I will cease trusting in my own ability or thinking that I have any measure of control over the people, situations, and circumstances of my life, and trust God with all of it.

  21. Braden Condray says:

    Father, thank you for being faithful when we are not, for being powerful when we are so weak, and for loving us when we are so broken and stubborn. Thank you for saving us. Rescue us from ourselves again today Lord. We are in constant dependency on and desperate need for your grace to empower us to live for you today. We trust in you to supply it, and we thank you for who you are and all you have done in Jesus’ name, amen.

  22. Braden Condray says:

    We are quick to think of ourselves as being in control, but it is when we realize our own powerlessness and trust in God’s might that we taste His grace.

    We are also very quick to dehumanize those we (or our culture, or our country, or even our churches) view as the “bad guys”.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *