Exodus: Week Seven Study Guide

In part seven of the Book of Exodus, we’ll unpack Exodus 10:21–11:10 as we arrive at the final two plagues: the plagues of darkness and death.   



Below, you’ll find some key discussion points to consider, questions to personally reflect on and/or discuss in your small group, with your family, or in your circle of friends, and some action points for the week. 

Memory Verse of the Week: Isaiah 50:10–11 (NLT)

“If you are walking in darkness, without a ray of light, trust in the Lord and rely on your God. But watch out, you who live in your own light and warm yourselves by your own fires. This is the reward you will receive from me: You will soon fall down in great torment.”

Darkness Defined

READ: Exodus 10:21–26

As the battle of wills between God and Pharaoh rages on, the conflict goes to a deeper, and literally, darker level. After pronouncing eight separate plagues upon Pharaoh’s Egypt, the Lord brings yet another plague that’s totally new in character—a supernatural darkness so uniquely ominous the Bible describes it as a darkness that “may even be felt.”

If you ever take a tour of the Mammoth Cave system in Kentucky (the largest cave system in the world), you’ll reach a point where the guide tells everyone to brace themselves because they’re going to switch off the lights and expose everyone to total darkness. Light can’t penetrate a cave of that depth and, for many, it’s their first true encounter with total darkness. And when it happens, you get a sense of how powerful, palpable, pervasive, and consuming darkness can be. It starts to close in on you and, although it doesn’t seem scientifically possible, you start to feel like it’s physically smothering you. Just as your freak-out needle starts moving, the guide throws the switch and all is well again. The whole experience lasts perhaps thirty seconds. 

Now imagine something like that lasting not thirty seconds, thirty minutes, or even thirty hours, but three whole days! That’s the depth and duration of this darkness! All of Egypt was submerged into this utter absence of light. Nobody saw anyone or ventured outside their homes. Every social norm was disrupted by this darkness. It’s as if everyone lost all sight!

During those three days, there was only one exception to this absolute darkness. It’s one of those passing statements in Scripture we wish we had more detail on, but it simply says, “all the children of Israel had light in their dwellings.” What does that mean exactly? It probably doesn’t refer to lamps, torches, or any other light source via fire, because the Egyptians would have had the same access to such things. It seems much more likely to be a supernatural light that God specifically gave to His people as darkness enveloped everything around them. Whatever it was, it did more than light Hebrew homes, it represented a powerful truth that applies to us, as well: God shows up in our darkest moments.

No matter how dark the world around us is, we have the personal presence of God’s Spirit to guide, protect, and comfort us. Have you seen the news lately? Do you realize how bad it is out there? But have you considered the indwelling person of the Holy Spirit, who is perfect in all His ways and is always with you no matter where you go? The world is a dark place, but God’s inextinguishable light is in all who are His. This means we can not only survive in this darkened environment, but we can be a beacon of light and life for others because God, the only One who can make a dark heart light again, has “made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ” (2 Corinthians 4:6 NIV).

Don’t allow the darkness to define you. Instead, be identified by the incandescence of the Holy Spirit who seeks to shine in and through your life.

Discussion Question 1: What is the parallel between the plague of darkness and the world we now live in? 

Discussion Question 2: What does it mean for you to shine? Be specific!



The Boiling Point and the Illusion of Control

READ: Exodus 11:1–7

Did you know that water’s boiling point is 212 degrees Fahrenheit? So, if you want to boil water to make pasta, or something else, you have to get the water to 212 degrees first. Otherwise, you won’t experience the desired result.

In Exodus 11:1–7, we discover Pharaoh’s boiling point—the point where his hard-heartedness became vapor and he finally agreed to let the Israelites go. While Moses was speaking with Pharaoh (who had just told Moses to get out of his sight, that he would not let the Hebrews go, and that he’d kill Moses if he ever saw him again), Moses reveals something the Lord previously shared with him: that He would bring one final plague upon Egypt—the plague of the firstborn son.

Note: Verses 1–3 of this chapter are meant to be read parenthetically, like a flashback in a movie or TV show, as if Moses wanted to recall for the reader a previous event in order to reveal something important in the story.

Remember in Exodus 4:21–23, the Lord reveals He will plague Egypt with the death of all firstborn sons because they refused to let go of His firstborn son, Israel. But after this final plague, Pharaoh would not only allow Israel to leave, he would actually drive them out (Exodus 12:31–32). 

What does this show us? Well, if you remember in Exodus 5:2 (NIV), Pharaoh denies God, saying “Who is the Lord, that I should obey him and let Israel go?” Essentially, he tells Moses the people weren’t going anywhere. He believed he was in control and that his will would come to pass. But he was wrong.

What eventually happens? Pharaoh hits his boiling point and commands the Israelites to leave! This shows us that God’s will, His plans, and His purposes for the world will not be stopped by our stubbornness to submit to Him. He will do what He wills and bring about what He has purposed. However, our unwillingness to submit always brings consequences. 

So, instead of holding on pridefully to the illusion of control, instead of walking in rebellion and trying to impose our own will, may we surrender control and look to the Lord always, because when we step into the light God is always there to meet us! So, walk in humility and obedience and submit your will to see His will be done in and through your life.

Stop trying to control the narrative, don’t walk in fear and anxiety, and don’t grow hard-hearted. As James instructs, “Humble yourselves before the Lord” (James 4:10 NIV) and walk in faith knowing that He is who He says He is, that He is in control, that He is faithful, and that He works all things for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28).

Discussion Question 3: What does Pharaoh’s story and his role in the exodus show us about our lives? 

Discussion Question 4: What areas do you struggle to relinquish the illusion of control?


This Week

Spend time reflecting on the areas where you may be walking in darkness or areas you haven’t surrendered control and then pray for faith, trust, and humility in those areas.


In our next study, we’ll look at Exodus 12:1–30 and the Passover. Together, we’ll unpack one of the most beautiful and clearest parallels to the gospel of Jesus found in the Old Testament as we remember and celebrate God’s provision for His people and meditate on God’s goodness.

Additional Resources

About the Author

Danny Saavedra

Danny Saavedra is a licensed minister who has served on staff at Calvary since 2012, managing the Calvary Devotional and digital discipleship resources. He has a Master of Arts in Pastoral Counseling and Master of Divinity in Pastoral Ministry from Liberty Theological Seminary. His wife Stephanie, son Jude, and daughter Zoe share a love of Star Wars, good food, having friends over for dinner, and studying the Word together as a family.