Nepaug Bible Church - - Pastor's Prayer Meeting Lesson Notes -

Part I: God's Deliverance Of Israel Amid Humanly Helpless Trials
Q. God's Glorifying Himself By The Plague Of Death
(Exodus 11:1-13:16)
  1. Introduction
    1. We have noted that Scripture reveals five goals for the plagues of Egypt: they came to deliver Israel from Egypt, to answer Pharaoh's question of "Who is the Lord that I should obey His voice and let Israel go?", to reveal God's power to Israel, to reveal the earth belongs to the Lord and not Egypt's gods and to judge all the gods of Egypt, R. Grigg, "The Ten Plagues of Egypt," Creation (v. 27, no. 1), Dec.-Feb. 05, p. 36.
    2. For such goals to be reached, the plagues would have to be seen as miracles by the Egyptians.
    3. Yet, naturalistic explanations for the plagues were made by Greta Hort, a scholar of medieval English literature and religion, and her views are today "widely cited" in evangelical books, Ibid., p. 34, 38.
    4. Thus, we view Scripture and scientific data to see if the tenth plague was a true miracle that glorified God:
  2. God's Glorifying Himself By The Plague Of Death, Exodus 11:1-13:16.
    1. The Biblical account of the plague is as follows: (1) God said He would slay Egypt's "first-born" of man and animal, causing Pharaoh to send Israel out of Egypt after Israel had taken the Egyptians' wealth, 11:1-10. (2) Yet, not one of Israel's "first-born" would die if each family slew a lamb and kept the Passover, and put the lamb's blood on the door of the house where its "first-born" stayed, Ex. 12:1-28. (3) After this occurred, (12:29-51), God began Israel's rite of the redemption of the "first-born", 13:1-16!
    2. Greta Hort offered a naturalistic explanation to counter the view that this plague was a miracle: she held the Bible gave a corrupted version, and that the real plague was the ruin of "first-fruits'". (Ibid., p. 34f)
    3. However, the textual data, Biblical content and archaeological evidence do not support her explanation:
      1. No Hebrew manuscript suggests "first-fruits" (becurim) as a reading anywhere in Ex. 11:1-13:16, the passage on this plague (B. D. B., Hebr. & Engl. Lex. of the O. T., p. 114; Kittel, Biblia Hebr., p. 94-97.
      2. In addition, "It is manifestly disingenuous of Hort to claim a mistranslation of one Hebrew word in the Bible account to substantiate her naturalistic theory, and then for her to disregard two-and-a-half chapters of the same source document (Exodus 11:1-13:16) that describe in great detail the death of the firstborn of the Egyptians and the saving of the firstborn of the Israelites." (Ibid., Grigg, p. 36-37)
      3. Besides, the "first-born" of animals was slain, and animals do not own or reap first-fruits of crops!
      4. Also, the ruin of "first-fruits" would be a minor plague compared to the previous nine, and would thus not supply enough of a reason for a Pharaoh hardened against the former plagues to let Israel go!
      5. Then, archaeological evidence supports the Bible's record of the Exodus plagues, especially the 10th plague: the Leiden museum "houses" an ancient papyrus by an Egyptian, Ipuwer , who wrote this apparent account of the plagues: "Plague stalks through the land . . . the river is blood. Does a man drink from it? As a human he rejects it. He thirsts for water . . . He that lays his brother in the ground is everywhere . . . Nay but the son of the high-born man is no longer to be recognized . . . The stranger people from outside are come into Egypt . . . Nay, but corn has perished everywhere. People are stripped of clothing, perfume and oil. Everyone says, "there is no more" . . . The king has been taken away by poor men.'" (Ibid., p. 35 who cites D. Down, Searching for Moses, TJ 15(1):53-57, 01 who cites Erman, A. The Ancient Egyptians: A Sourcebook of Their Writings, 1966, p. 94-101.
    4. This tenth plague "was an attack on the divinity of Pharaoh . . . believed . . . [to be] an incarnation of the sun-god and of Osiris, the giver of life. It was the Pharaoh's task to retain the favour of the gods and to uphold the laws of Ma'at, goddess of order. However, he was powerless to prevent the death of his own son, the next-in-line divine ruler', or that of anyone else's son . . ." (Ibid., p. 37)
Lesson: The Bible record, its textual data and archaeological evidence show the 10th plague was a miracle of the death of the first-born that exposed the inability of Pharaoh to be god in Egypt.

Application: (1) May we trust the Bible's account of the miraculous plague of the death of the first-born, and worship the Bible's Creator God as the One, True God of order and life in the universe! (2) May we learn from this study to "do our homework" that we not fall prey as some evangelicals have done to adopting what are clearly errant views held by those who counter the Bible's divine authority!