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The Plague of the First Born
by David Thompson
As a child, at times I didn't have a great relationship to my older brother. I was a middle child and he was three years older. No matter how many times I heard the Sunday school story of Moses and the plagues, I never remember wishing the 10th plague on my brother. I don't believe anyone in modern times or even New Testament times thinks about God allowing plagues to be visited on a whole group of people. Yes, some television preachers have been heard saying that this disease or those viruses are God putting a curse on a group of people. However, as much as when the "bad guys" get it, it is tempting to attribute that to God, it is not true.
In today's passage, it is said that "God hardened Pharaoh's heart." I've read this a number of times throughout my life and believed it as written, however, with further study, it became clear to me that God doesn't work that way. Pharaoh had hardened his own heart, long before the plagues. The same can be true with us today. God doesn't cause calamity to fall on us, but rather our own choices bring consequences that are oft times bad or hurtful. And look at Pharaoh's final response to Moses and to God. He simply wanted all Hebrews (Moses and God) to go and not come back. This decision instead of going to God and repenting of his sins was a bad one.
How many times do we make a similar mistake? We try to fix it ourselves or we may even blame God and harden ourselves against God. We do this instead of doing what God wants us, and Pharaoh, to do in such bad times. God wants us not to leave His presence, but instead, He wants us to come closer to Him. When bad times hit, pray. God, through Jesus Christ, will always forgive us of our sins and draw us near to Him. In so doing we can see a situation more clearly and take the steps needed to come out of the other side of the problem. And perhaps, if we cannot take care of the problem by staying in it, He will show us a way out.
Dear God, help us today to know that you don't cause our troubles, but that you are always there to help us. Bring us nearer to you and as always forgive us of those things that too often we bring on ourselves by the hardening of our hearts. Thank you. Amen.
Lectio – Read today’s passage through once. Then spend some time praying and asking God to show you what you need to pay attention to in the text. Read it again. Now ask God to help you see what this text, and the part that has stood out, may mean for you. Don’t expect to get a clear word every time but always be ready to really hear from God through His Word.