While slaves in the United States worked and hoped for freedom, they knew it might not happen in their lifetime. So they encouraged themselves with the hope of heaven. In the words of a traditional African American spiritual, “Some of these mornings, bright and fair, I thank God I’m free at last, Goin’ meet King Jesus in the air, I thank God I’m free at last.”
Four centuries of bondage. Nine plagues. Now Israel stood on the brink of being “free at last.” Moses had grown as a leader with each confrontation with Pharaoh and with each miraculous demonstration of God’s faithfulness and power. He was “highly regarded” even among the Egyptians (v. 3), to the point where some were urging Pharaoh to let the Israelites go before Egypt was ruined (10:7). In the end, the Egyptians would “pay” their former slaves to leave (11:2; see Ex. 3:21–22)!
Today’s reading includes the end of Moses’ next-to-last audience with Pharaoh. (Pharaoh thought it was the last one, but it wasn’t.) What could possibly break the ruler’s will at this point? What would God’s response be to Pharaoh’s death threat against Moses? As He’d previously told Moses, these confrontations would climax with the death of all firstborn sons in Egypt, from the king down to the lowest peasant, even including cattle, but excluding the Israelites (11:4–8). This would be an all-encompassing judgment that represented disaster for every Egyptian family, every community, and the nation as a whole.
God had been in control the entire time (vv. 9–10). He sovereignly ruled and Pharaoh made choices— both are true. The Lord’s victory would be absolute. Egypt would be so thoroughly broken that hundreds of years later this story would still be remembered as proof of the greatness of Israel’s God (1 Sam. 4:5–8).
>> Godly stubbornness stands firm or holds fast to faith and obedience. Sinful stubbornness, on the other hand, hardens our hearts against God. Choose today the former and not the latter.
Lord, do not harden our hearts as You hardened Pharaoh’s. Rather, strengthen us to stand firm in faith and obedience. We reject lies about Your character and choose to believe Your Word.