Plague of the Firstborn (Advent 14, 2020)

The most grievous and powerful plague upon Egypt was also the most important Divine Intervention for the ancient Hebrews.  It’s a pattern of salvation and one set apart for remembrance through the ages: the plague against the firstborn in Egypt.  Jews and Christians alike celebrate it as Passover, even today thousands of years later, because it was a Divine Intervention of the most amazing kind.

It was catastrophic for “the Egyptians” (read not as a modern national identity, but as powerful people of that day those who worshiped other gods).  For them, it was devastating.  Tragic.  Horrific. 

“Moses said, “This is what the LORD says: ‘About midnight I will go throughout Egypt. 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. There will be loud wailing throughout Egypt– worse than there has ever been or ever will be again. 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.” (Exodus 11:4-7)

A clear and compelling case of God’s playing favorites.  The Chosen People??  How dare God choose some to save and to punish others!  Who does He think He is?  That must be how the Egyptians who lost their firstborn sons felt, never mind that their Pharaoh had demanded not just the firstborn, but all sons of the Hebrews be thrown into the Nile not that long ago.  (Exodus 1:22)

But there’s this little thing called worship and a really big deal about which god one worships: one of our making, or the One who made us. 
One can be remade, reshaped, and rejected at will.
The other—the One True God—will not be mocked. 
Moses makes it plain to the most powerful man in the world.

“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.  The LORD had said to Moses, “Pharaoh will refuse to listen to you– so that my wonders may be multiplied in Egypt.” (Exodus 11:8-9)

Questions for further thought.

  • Read about the preparations for the Passover in Exodus 12, identifying what was God’s Divine Intervention and what was man’s participation.
  • “On that same night I will pass through Egypt and strike down every firstborn of both people and animals, and I will bring judgment on all the gods of Egypt. I am the LORD.  The blood will be a sign for you on the houses where you are, and when I see the blood, I will pass over you. No destructive plague will touch you when I strike Egypt.  “This is a day you are to commemorate; for the generations to come you shall celebrate it as a festival to the LORD– a lasting ordinance (Exodus 12:12-14).
  • In what ways does God incorporate human responses into His Divine Intervention?  Why does God honor human will and freedom?
  • How were God’s wonders multiplied in Egypt? 
  • What types of situations merit God’s intervention?
  • This was a big Divine Intervention.  Does God always do big, global events, or can He also do micro-interventions that are just as miraculous and purposeful?
  • In the modern world, people will resort to murder over cartoons of their prophet.  What about making fun of Christians and the Christ, cartoons and defacing churches, even burning them, and engaging in antisemitism to no consequence?  Would you say that is mocking God? 
  • What about God’s understanding and use of time is informative here?

Let’s pray, Thank You, Lord, for the deliverance that You gave the Israelites on that terrible night when You killed the firstborn of Egypt, yet spared the Israelites who had obediently painted blood upon the doorposts of their homes. Lord, You establish ways of living, ways of doing things… You outline them in Your word, You lay them upon our hearts as a function of conscience, and You codify them through– not just the 10 Commandments—but also through the laws of many God-fearing nations. We thank You that You are a God who will not be mocked because You are the One True God.  We humbly accept and welcome that vengeance is Yours, and in Your timing, You make everything right.  So during these days when things are so confusing, when there are assertions and challenges, and caution statements from social media warning about disputed ideas someone doesn’t want us to hear, we thank You that Your word is true, Your word is solid, Your word is reliable, and that You are the One True God who will never be mocked, who will execute wrath in Your timing and to exquisite perfection. Thank You, Father, for Jesus, Your Son and our Savior and it’s in His mighty Name that we pray, humbly offering ourselves as His servants to follow Him until His return. Amen.

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Advent 2020 began Sunday, November 29th and continues to Thursday, December 24th as we celebrate the first coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and look forward to His Second Coming.  “Divine Intervention” is this year’s devotional study. By signing up on the sidebar of my Home Page you can receive these daily devotionals. Or they will be reposted on SeminaryGal’s Facebook page as well.

Together we will see how God has been actively involved all along as Divine Intervention for a hurting world and nations in tumult– Intervention for you and for me when our status as sinners required nothing short of a miracle.

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Acknowledging inquiries about an entire season’s devotionals for your study group’s planning purposes, Seminary Gal’s prior seasons’ Advent devotionals can be accessed via the archives to the right and are as follows: 

  • Last year’s Advent Devotional Series God’s Christmas list explored what might be on God’s Christmas list, learning what He wants from us. It began December 1, 2019.
  • Storyteller began December 2, 2018 and entered into the Christmas story through its telling.
  • The 2017 series Still Christmas, began December 3, 2017 and was the Advent complement to the Lenten series, Be Still and Know that I AM God.
  • The 2016 season devotionals were called Timeless: The Message of Christmas for All Ages” and explored how the message of Christmas is timeless truth, for all ages of people, and for all ages at all times.  Timeless hope, encouragement, grace, peace, and love as we looked into the Word, saw the face of our Lord Jesus, and experienced restoration in His presence.  His goodness and His Gospel are truly Timeless. The 2016 devotionals began November 27, 2016.
  • The 2015 season devotionals were titled Incarnation and involved digging deep–and yes, I mean deep– in this important mystery of Christian theology.  They began November 29, 2015.
  • Carol Me, Christmas! remains one of my most popular offerings and tells the Christmas story through our most beloved Christmas hymns and carols.  You can access all of the numbered devotionals from 2014 via the archives.  They began November 30, 2014.
  • The 2013 series was Emmanuel: When LOVE Showed Up in Person and examined the Prologue to the Gospel of John.  It began December 1, 2013.
  • The 2012 series focused on Expecting the Unexpected…the unexpected, unlikely, and uniquely divine qualities of God’s perfect plan outlined in Luke’s account of the Christmas story.  It began December 1, 2012.

Categories Articles and Devotionals, Devotionals | Tags: | Posted on December 12, 2020

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