Messages from Young Adults

Plagued by God’s Glory

Almost all of us are familiar with the plagues of Egypt. Even if we didn’t grow up in the Church and hear the story of the Exodus as children, it is well-enough ingrained in our culture such that most every Westerner knows about how God sent various calamities upon the Egyptians, with the result that the Pharaoh finally assented to freeing the Israelites.

But why did He send those plagues? Was it a pure sadistic act? I don’t think so. Was it merely to coerce Pharaoh to free the Israelites from slavery? A noble and worthy cause, sure enough, and probably part of the reason, but I don’t think that encompasses the whole picture. God’s compassion upon His people is clear, but I believe that God acts to promote the highest purpose of the universe: the glorification of God. For it is the glory of God which is the most beautiful thing, and it is His ultimate good for the entire universe to be in harmony through glorifying God. God’s greatest pleasure and our greatest pleasure find their apex in His greatest glory.

I was delighted, then, to see that the Bible, in Exodus, explicitly recognizes this, as God sends the terrible plagues upon Egypt. God states His reason every time and, almost without fail, every single plague was meant for His glory. Even before the entire ordeal, God makes clear His purposes:

But I will harden Pharaoh’s heart that I may multiply My signs and My wonders in the land of Egypt. — Exodus 7:3

Notice, this was just before the Nile was turned into blood, the first plague. Then, just after the second plague — a massive frog infestation — was executed, Moses lets Pharaoh know God’s purposes:

…that you may know that there is no one like the Lord our God. — Exodus 8:10b

Again, God’s glory, even as manifested in the mind of Pharaoh, is the focus. So too, just before flies invaded Egypt, God declares His reasoning:

…that you may know that I, the Lord, am in the midst of the land. — Exodus 8:22b

Again and again, God shows that His glory, through the minds and hearts of, and relationship with, both the Israelites and the Egyptians, is the focus. Thus, during the plagues upon the cattle, of boils, of hail, of locusts, of death, and in the final Exodus, God glorifies His name and, through this, redeems His people:

Let my people go, that they may serve Me. — Exodus 9:1b

I have allowed you to remain, in order to show you My power and in order to proclaim My name through all the earth. — Exodus 9:16

Then Pharaoh sent for Moses and Aaron, and said to them, “I have sinned this time; the Lord is the righteous one, and I and my people are the wicked ones.” — Exodus 9:27

…that you may know that the earth is the Lord’s. — Exodus 9:29b

Then the Lord said to Moses, “Go to Pharaoh, for I have hardened his heart and the heart of his servants, that I may perform these signs of Mine among them, and that you may tell in the hearing of your son and your grandson, how I made a mockery of the Egyptians and how I performed My signs among them, that you may know that I am the Lord.” — Exodus 10:1-2

…that you may understand how the Lord makes a distinction between Egypt and Israel. — Exodus 11:7b

Then [Pharaoh] called for Moses and Aaron at night and said, “Rise up, get out from among my people, both you and the sons of Israel; and go, worship the Lord. — Exodus 12:31

This glorious truth is not applicable to Israel’s redemption alone. The Glory of God, that His name and goodness be known throughout the entire of Creation, is the focus of our redemption as well. That God would be shown righteous, the physical, spiritual, and moral victor of the Great Controversy which divides the universe, is the sum total of Christ’s ministry for us. As Paul declares:

“…Christ Jesus, whom God displayed publicly as a propitiation in His blood through faith. This was to demonstrate His righteousness, because in the forbearance of God He passed over the sins previously committed; for the demonstration, I say, of His righteousness at the present time, so that He would be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.” — Romans 3:25-26

Since we are to “do all to the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31), I submit that the plagues of Egypt have a very real application to our lives. If you’re thinking about how you can further glorify God in your life (and when shouldn’t you be?), or if plagues are upon you, consider the lessons of Exodus 7-12. If plagues are wreaking pain and havoc on your life, or on one you love, consider the possible ways God is trying to glorify Himself, ways in which you can glorify God in that situation, or things that God is trying to teach you. Possibilities include:

1. God’s wondrous, miraculous, and transcendent power (Ex. 7:3)

2. God’s uniqueness and irreplaceability (Ex. 8:10)

3. God’s very real presence among us (Ex. 8:22)

4. The beauty and goodness of serving God, and the duty to serve as well (Ex. 9:1)

5. Proclaiming God’s name and power to all (Ex. 9:16)

6. Recognition of God’s righteousness and conviction of and repentance for sins (Ex. 9:27)

7. God’s sovereign ownership of everything (and thus our ownership of nothing) (Ex. 9:29)

8. Teaching your children and all those who learn from you, now or in the future, about His goodness and power (Ex. 10:1-2)

9. God’s justice and distinction between His people and those who rebel against Him (Ex. 11:7)

10. The duty and opportunity to worship God (Ex. 12:31)

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