January 29, 2023 | Doug Sauder
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“Now the Lord had said to Moses, ‘I will bring one more plague on Pharaoh and on Egypt. After that, he will let you go from here, and when he does, he will drive you out completely.’ . . . 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 11:1–7 (NIV)
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 results.
In today’s passage, 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. 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, walk in humility and obedience, and submit our will to see His will be done in and through our lives. This lesson isn’t solely directed at unbelievers. The Israelites were in constant rebellion to God’s will and purposes and suffered consequences while God still brought about His will. The same is true for Christians.
Don’t let this be you—don’t try to control the narrative, don’t walk in fear and anxiety, 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 purposes (Romans 8:28).
Pause: What does Pharaoh’s story and his role in the exodus show us about our lives?
Practice: What areas do you struggle to relinquish the illusion of control? Spend time reflecting on why and then pray for faith, trust, and humility.
Pray: Heavenly Father, not my will but Your will be done. Help me to surrender my will, to cast off the illusion of control, and to not be filled with anxiety or fear or resentment over things I can’t control. Instead, fill me with Your peace and confidence, that I may humbly submit to Your purposes and plans. Help me to walk by faith and not by sight and to trust that You are in control! Amen.
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.