Book of Exodus Chapter Eleven Commentary by
Pastor Ron Beckham
Don't Give Up
Years of experience within grief support groups have shown that for many, the heaviest blow is the loss of a child. Losing born children, the unborn, younger, older...it's often unexpected and always very hard. The feeling is that we are supposed to go before they do, and when they go first, the grief is terrible. The final judgment of God on Egypt is in that category and is mentioned in Verse 1, but revealed in Verse 5. Here's Verse 1: "Now the Lord said to Moses, 'One more plague I will bring on Pharaoh and on Egypt; after that he will let you go from here. When he lets you go, he will surely drive you out from here completely." God knows your breaking point and mine, which is infinitely important because, as the Lord reveals in 2 Corinthians 12:9—"My (God's) strength is made perfect in weakness." And in Isaiah 55:9, we find His observation that, "as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts." Human efforts, dreams and hopes are less effective than God's will, and our weakness allows His love, mercy, forgiveness and salvation to be expressed in and through us.
Verse 2 has been troublesome for many because the Lord said to Moses, "Speak now in the hearing of the people that each man ask from his neighbor and each woman from her neighbor for articles of silver and articles of gold.'" Note that the Lord's viewpoint differs greatly from ours in just about everything. He is just and we are comparatively—unjust. The Egyptians had taken everything from the people of Israel, and now it was time for Israel's inheritance to be restored. Every bit of property in the universe belongs to the Lord, and each person is His as well. As He remarked in Psalm 50:12—"the world is Mine and all its fullness." He can give anything to anyone at any time, for it is all His to give. For us to steal is wrong—For Him to give as He chooses is right. Those of Israel were not stealing—they were obeying God.
God's judgments experienced in the land at that time were known to all because they affected all the Egyptians. When we lose as much as the Egyptians did, the human tendency is to clutch at and keep what you have left. But God works in the hearts of people and we do what we otherwise would not do. Verse 3 states, "The Lord gave the people favor in the sight of the Egyptians. Furthermore, the man Moses himself was greatly esteemed in the land of Egypt, both in the sight of Pharaoh’s servants and in the sight of the people." Israel had favor with God and the Egyptians of that time did not have that favor. Moses was the obvious human leader of Israel and ordinarily the Egyptians would have disliked him, except that the Lord works inside of people, causing him to be "greatly esteemed" by those who would have hated him.
This man, Moses, had recently experienced forty years of feeling that he had let God and Israel's people down. At forty, he thought of himself as the human deliverer of Israel, but then came four decades of believing he had utterly failed. Note that when you feel like a failure, when you feel you are too young or too old, and if you have made too many mistakes and your reputation is ruined...look to the Lord and trust in Him...God loves and will use the unqualified, even when we don't believe in ourselves.
Notice the assurance of this man as he spoke the words in Verses 4-6: "Moses said, 'Thus says the Lord, 'About midnight I am going out into the midst of Egypt, 5 and all the firstborn in the land of Egypt shall die, from the firstborn of the Pharaoh who sits on his throne, even to the firstborn of the slave girl who is behind the millstones; all the firstborn of the cattle as well. 6 Moreover, there shall be a great cry in all the land of Egypt, such as there has not been before and such as shall never be again." Compare the Moses of these verses with his responses in Exodus Chapter 3, when the Lord spoke and Moses resisted Him and His will. If the Lord now said it, he believed it, and when appropriate, he was willing to tell the world about the Lord and His intentions to anyone, even to those not willing to listen.
Many Israelites who heard his words at the moment may have recoiled away from him out of fear for their children, but he continued in Verse 7—"'But against any of the sons of Israel a dog will not even bark, whether against man or beast, that you may understand how the Lord makes a distinction between Egypt and Israel.’" Every person on earth is a close relative to everybody else on earth. There are no races except the human race. But the strange truth about us is that it is easier to hear about the death of someone else's child than it is about our own. The stranger's child is the child of us all and we should weep at their loss as though it was our own. But we are merely human and the words of Moses in Verse 7 must have been received with relief by the sons and daughters of Israel, even though what they really should have done is PRAY for the Egyptians who were about to lose so much.
The words of Verses 8-10 are very likely a continuation of the preceding chapter, because of Moses' statement to Pharaoh in Exodus 10:29, "I shall never see your face again." Verse 8 of this chapter reports Moses' angry parting words: "All these your servants will come down to me and bow themselves before me, saying, ‘Go out, you and all the people who follow you,’ and after that I will go out.' And he went out from Pharaoh in hot anger." Notice in Moses' words, an awareness of the future in relation to his encounters with the Pharaoh and his government officials, called "servants" here. They would bow before Moses, the servant of God, begging him and his people to leave the country.
In Verse 9, "Then the Lord said to Moses, 'Pharaoh will not listen to you, so that My wonders will be multiplied in the land of Egypt.'" We look for victorious lives as a sign that God is with us, but the reverse may also be true: apparent failures can be a sign that all is well in the events of our lives. Does your church lack converts and new members? Did the program you participated in or instituted fail to go as you wished?—Simply thank the Lord and worship Him. Trust in Him. He knows what He is doing and the victory is always His. Verse 10 reports that, "Moses and Aaron (had) performed all these wonders before Pharaoh; yet the Lord hardened Pharaoh’s heart, and he did not let the sons of Israel go out of his land." A lot of people would have given up at this point, convinced that NOTHING could persuade the Pharaoh to let Israel's people go.
Remember the words and events of these verses—If you are ready to give up, if you feel that nothing has worked and you can't succeed, do what Moses did: He listened to and trusted in the Lord. God is infinitely strong and His will is always done, if not in our lifetimes, sometimes centuries later...and it is not our victories that matter...it is God and His will. Trust in Him. His victory is shared with ordinary people like you and me, now and forever. Don't give up.
Father, I have been discouraged and have thought my efforts for You failed. Thank You that the work has been supported by You. You can do it when I can't. Thank You, Lord, that You are God, and the victory is always Yours. You led Moses and are with me as well. I praise Your Holy Name. In Jesus Name. Amen.