4So Moses said, “This is what the Lord says: ‘About midnight I will go throughout Egypt. 5 Every firstborn son in Egypt will die, from the firstborn son of Pharaoh, who sits on the throne, to the firstborn son of the female slave, who is at her hand mill, and all the firstborn of the cattle as well. 6 There will be loud wailing throughout Egypt—worse than there has ever been or ever will be again. 7 But among the Israelites not a dog will bark at any person or animal.’ Then you will know that the Lord makes a distinction between Egypt and Israel. 8 All these officials of yours will come to me, bowing down before me and saying, ‘Go, you and all the people who follow you!’ After that I will leave.” Then Moses, hot with anger, left Pharaoh.
9 The Lord had said to Moses, “Pharaoh will refuse to listen to you—so that my wonders may be multiplied in Egypt.” 10 Moses and Aaron performed all these wonders before Pharaoh, but the Lord hardened Pharaoh’s heart, and he would not let the Israelites go out of his country.
In these verses, we immediately see God reveal the nature of His final judgment. It’s been a long time! Pharaoh has had opportunity after opportunity to repent and let the Israelites go but instead he still desiring to stand toe to toe with God. Really?
The judgment is very specific. At midnight, the Lord will pass through Egypt to kill every firstborn son of every household, from Pharaoh’s home to the slave and cattle. It is interesting that the king who slaughtered Israel’s male children will now come to know the pain and grief of his own son’s death.
The Lord has given warning after warning, opportunity after opportunity, plague after plague but Pharaoh’s pride has hardened his heart and God now honors his choice. After studying all the “I will’s” previously, it would be hard not to see the Lord’s “I will’ in verse 4. Certainly, it is by God’s hand that plagues 1-9 took place but it is as though He is saying, “I will, personally, go through Egypt. I will not be sending Moses.” I believe this gives Pharaoh one last opportunity to speak up and say, “No, Lord! You are God and I am not! Surely, Your people may go and worship You for You are worthy and I am not.”
But not so, even after the Lord goes on to describe how severe the pain will be for Pharaoh’s family and people. The loss of the firstborn is significant for in those days, the firstborn received a double portion of the father’s inheritance and were expected to keep the family whole. Pharaoh, himself, will lose the heir to his throne and kingdom.
There will be such pain and grief in Egypt that the wailing will be as never before. Even after the Lord tells him that none of this will happen in Israel, that there will be tranquil over there, not even one dog will be barking. We do not heard a word from Pharaoh, not a bow, not a prayer…just a hard heart before a holy and just God!
Moses then tells Pharaoh, “All these officials of yours will come to me, bowing down before me and saying, ‘Go, you and all the people who follow you!’ After that I will leave.” Every word that God has spoken through Moses so far has come true…this is a sign as well BUT a hard heart cannot hear. My mom used to tell us if you can’t listen, you can feel and so it will be with Pharaoh…and his officials…and his people. It is Pharaoh’s choice.
O Heavenly Father, You are great and greatly to be praised! We praise You for being the True and Living God who is compassionate, gracious, slow to anger and abounding in love. Search us and know our hearts, test us and know how anxious thoughts. See if there is any rebellion in us, convict us, and help us to turn in repentance and bow to Your will, plan, and purpose for our lives. Please help us to not think too high of ourselves and bow before you in worship, praise, and thanks! In Jesus Name, Amen!