by Julia Halterman
Taking a closer look at the first verse of our text today, we read in the CSB: “The Lord said to Moses, “I will bring one more plague on Pharaoh and on Egypt. After that, he will let you go from here. When he lets you go, he will drive you out of here.”
Has God ever driven you out of a circumstance that you otherwise would have clung to because of its comfort and familiarity? Likewise, has He ever asked you to stay longer in a situation that you’d otherwise flee? In the juxtaposition of this text, we see an arrogant and hardhearted Pharaoh, whose eventual release of the Israelites comes without repentance and only after devastating consequences. Likewise, we see a people chosen by the God of the universe spending years under persecution, waiting through plagues for their redemption while God patiently deals with the Egyptians.
What set the Israelites apart from this final, devastating plague? The very character of Yahweh, the great I AM, a God who is merciful and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love (Exodus 3:13-15). His character dictates both His mercy and compassion on His chosen, persecuted people, as well as His long-suffering patience with their persecutors. God is powerful enough to move Israel out of Egypt and into the Promised Land before their slavery even begins. But He waits. In the time that passes, He forms the Israelites and waits patiently on the Egyptians, giving them the opportunity to see His work and seek to know Him. He waits, and when all seems lost, He fulfills His purposes.
Working through the hardness and arrogance of Pharaoh’s heart, God fulfills his purposes. Working through an imperfect yet chosen people, God fulfills his purposes. Working through the riches of the plunder that would one day form the tabernacle in which God would dwell with His people (Exodus 25:1-7), He fulfills His purposes. Working through the blood of an unblemished lamb, God fulfills His purposes.
Our God sometimes asks us to step into the unknown, the wilderness, so that He might redeem us and bless us. He also sometimes keeps us in difficult circumstances longer than we’d prefer, seemingly indifferent to our pleads for rescue. While we might not understand now, we can rest assured that He will not forsake us. He will accomplish what He has set out to do in our lives - sometimes in spite of us - because He has called us by name, and we are His (Isaiah 43:1).
Jesus, you are the perfect, promised lamb, whose shed blood covers the doorpost of the guilt of our sin. Thank you for patiently waiting to fully redeem our broken world, even as creation itself groans, that more might know you. Help us to be good stewards of the time, as we seek to make you known to the ends of the earth. In Your name, amen.