Opening Prayer: Almighty and gracious Father, we are your servants, and we bow before you now. We are gathered here to be instructed by you; give us your marching orders. Direct our paths and gives us the strength and courage to obey, through Jesus Christ.
Declaration of Final Plague to Pharaoh
At the end of chapter 10 we had what sounded like parting words between Moses and Pharaoh, but evidently there were a few more or else what follows in 11:1-8 came before that. 11:8 gives us the actual exit of Moses from the court of Pharaoh for the very last time. Thus Moses warns Pharaoh of the tenth and final plague (1:1, 4-8). Notice that as God announces this final plague he instructs his people to prepare to ask their friends for silver and gold (11:2, cf. 3:22). The text emphasizes that women are asking for these riches. Several things should be noted here: These are Egyptian “friends/neighbors” that the Israelites are asking treasure from. Later, this will be described as Israel “plundering/spoiling” the Egyptians (12:36). This is of course a very unique sort of “plundering”: the Israelites are given favor/grace in the eyes of the Egyptians and Moses is considered a very great man (11:3). But remember that this is not the first time this sort of thing has happened in Scripture (Gen. 12:14-13:2, ch. 20, ch. 26). God has set a pattern deep in the narrative of Scripture of enslavement then freedom, death and then resurrection, oppression then blessing. But resurrection always comes with blessings. God doesn’t merely deliver his people; he delivers them with blessings besides. The justice of this “plundering” must be seen in the Biblical principle of the “bride price” (Ex. 22:16-17). We also see this principle at work in Gen. 24:22, 53 and in Gen. 31:14-15. The justice of God demands the protection and provision for women. And this pattern is likely explicitly referenced in 11:1. The word “completely/altogether” in 11:1 should probably actually be translated “daughter-in-law/virgin-bride” (cf. Lev. 18:15, 20:12). Pharaoh will dismiss/send out his bride like Abraham dismissed Hagar (Gen. 21). Finally, Moses then foretells the last plague on the firstborn and predicts that all of Pharoah’s servants will come and bow before him and ask him and all his people to leave (11:8). Notice too that Moses leaves in anger. Moses of course knows what God’s intentions are, but this does not conflict at all with his commitment to his part. God also reiterates his intention to harden Pharaoh’s heart in order to display his wonders (11:9-10).
Institution of the Passover
At the beginning of chapter 12, the instruction for Passover and Feast of Unleavened Bread are given. This deliverance is going to be so big that God says it will change their calendar. This deliverance and the feast they are going to hold will be the beginning of their year from now on (12:2). The instructions are to take a lamb per household and if the household is too small, two households should share a lamb “according to the number of souls” and “according to the number of mouths that will eat” (12:4). This means incidentally that children were expected to take part in this memorial meal. On the tenth day of the month the lamb was selected (12:3-5). Then, on the fourteenth day it was slaughtered in the evening, its blood was put on the door posts, and the flesh was to be eaten (12:6-10). They were to be dressed for travel during this 14th day activity (12:11). This fourteenth day begins in the evening (12:6: “between the evenings”, cf. Gen. 1). This fourteenth of the month was also considered the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread (12:15, 18-20). This week long feast is to begin and end with a “holy convocation” which consists of eating and resting (12:16). Of course this first day holy convocation is to be a memorial feast commemorating the fact that Yahweh is passing through the land, striking down all the first born, and executing judgment on the gods of Egypt (12:12). Given the “bride” language and the reoccurring “feast” language, this feast is Yahweh’s marriage feast, his wedding feast, and no wonder Pharaoh does not want for this to happen.
Conclusions & Applications
Greatness is a Gift – There is just one passing reference to Moses being highly esteemed in the eyes of the Egyptians, but we need recognize that many Egyptians probably put blood on their doors (12:38). The entire story goes from Moses seen as an outcast and rebel to a great man in the eyes of all. This kind of “favor/grace” is a gift of God. This is just the way the world works. And this is why we can be so ready to lay our lives down. The flesh wants to grasp for greatness, but faith serves and obeys and waits for it to be given.
Husbands – We see here that the Exodus is in some ways the deliverance of Yahweh’s bride from an oppressive suitor or exploiter. Yahweh comes and fights for his bride, and delivers her with gifts and the bride-price, money for her security and protection. We have noted before that the Scriptures are not Gnostic when it comes to how husbands are to love their wives. This includes food, clothing, and sex (Ex. 21:10). When Israel was whoring after other gods, Yahweh came for her again and again. When we were still in our sins and enemies of God, Christ died for us. The pattern over and over again is that we are called love in order to bring about blessing. Therefore husbands love your wives so that they may be lovelier. Wives, respect your husbands so that God may bless them and make them great in the land. All of you, love your neighbors, your friends, and your enemies. This is the gospel.
In the Name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit, Amen!
Closing Prayer: Merciful God, we thank you that you did not leave us in our sin, you did not wait for us to become lovely or respectable, but in your infinite mercy you became man and suffered and died for us in order to make us your lovely and noble bride. We praise and thank you for this inestimable gift, and we ask that you would enable us to live by this same grace in our families and homes, in our work place, and in all of life.