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Exodus 11 – Circumstances & Sovereignty

First Baptist Church https://fbcbartow.org

Good morning. It is exciting to come before you today in a different role than I normally serve in. I would like to thank Jen Jones for leading us in worship this morning, and what a blessing it was to be able to sing with you in the congregation for a change.
As several of you already know, Pastor has been taking us on a “Journey Through the Old Testament” by focusing on many of its major events. So far, we have studied the accounts of:
• Adam and Eve, and how they were instrumental in the entrance of sin in this world.
• Noah and flood, and how Noah was instrumental in the preservation of humanity.
• Joseph, and how he was instrumental in the continuation of God’s people the Israelites.
In each of these accounts so far, we see two major aspects at work, regardless of the account. We see humanity in its continuation of sin and disobedience to God. But we also clearly see the evidence of God’s hand at work according to His plan. In every situation, there is always this common denominator: the hand of God is at work in every circumstance regardless of human motivations.
Today we are going to continue our study through the Old Testament, but we will be focusing on a small passage in the middle of Exodus. So, if you have not already, go ahead and open your bibles, or turn them on and find your way to Exodus 11. While you find your way to our passage for today, I would like to give you a quick overview of what has happened in Exodus 1-10.
• Exposition: The people of God (Israelites) had been living and thriving in the land of Egypt for some time because of Joseph’s “placement” in Egypt.
• Conflict: Upon Joseph’s death, a new pharaoh, out of fear and intimidation enslaved the Israelites and forced them to hard labor, leading them to cry out to God for deliverance.
• Rising Action: Amidist these circumstances, Moses was raised up by the hand of God to be the instrument of Israel’s freedom. But, due to the hardness of Pharaoh’s heart, a series of plagues were unleashed upon Egypt with God’s intent being the liberation of His people.
Our passage today picks up in the middle of a heated exchange between Pharaoh and Moses, which began in the previous chapter. This exchange not only marks the end of the ninth plague to afflict Egypt, it also marks the beginning of the circumstances surrounding the final plague that would be unleashed up Pharaoh and his people. So, let’s read our passage for today, and then we will discuss some truths that are present in this passage.
(Read Exodus 11)
For those of you taking notes, you will find blank spaces in your handout as we progress through our message. So, takes notes as you see fit. With that, our first point is: 
Point I: The Sovereignty of God’s Plan (10:27-11:3)
Our passage today begins with what Bible scholars call a “parenthetical statement”, or a statement that qualifies or gives further clarity to something that has already taken place. Before we discuss the parenthetical statement, I want us to look at the conversation we came into the middle of just so we have some context about this exchange. Look with me at Exodus 10:27-29.
“27 But the Lord hardened Pharaoh’s heart, and he was unwilling to let them go.
28 Pharaoh said to him, “Leave me! Make sure you never see my face again, for on the day you see my face, you will die.”
29“As you have said,” Moses replied, “I will never see your face again.”.”
(Stop at v. 27) Before we go any further into our passage today, I want to address the bottom line of everything we are going to discuss today.
• Immediately, we see the hand of God at work, but not, as one would naturally assume, in the lives of His people (at least not in this passage). No, we see God’s hand at work in the heart of Pharaoh, who is a tyrant with his grip firmly wrapped around the lives of God’s people. That is where we first see God’s hand at work in this passage. (cont. v. 28,29)
• As humans, it’s easy for us to lose sight of what God is doing around us simply because our circumstances can be distracting. We tend to forget just how sovereign God is. However, this passage pulls back the curtain for us to see how God works despite life’s circumstances.
o Israel was enslaved to a tyrant who refused to let them go. And, even after calling out to God time and time again for relief, they were still denied their freedom, not by God but by Pharaoh, who clung so desperately to his hold on them.
o However, God was actively at work around them to the point where even the people of Egypt respected and revered Moses for the great signs and wonders that accompanied him by the hand of God, which we will see later in our passage.
o I do not know what’s happening in your lives, but I know that, no matter the circumstances, even if things look like they’re getting out of hand, nothing is out of God’s hand.
o Even when things look like they’re out of control, nothing is out of God’s control.
o Make no mistake, Israel witnessed the works of God being done in their lives and in especially the lives of people (Egyptians) who refused to follow God. However, Israel would not experience the freedom of God’s salvation until His work was complete.
• Consider this church: just as Israel would not know freedom until God’s work was accomplished in Egypt, so also, we must be patient in waiting for God’s work to be done in our lives.

Now that we know what is taking place, let us read this parenthetical statement that further clarifies what we already know is taking place. So, look with me at Exodus 11:1-3.
“1 The Lord said to Moses, “I will bring one more plague on Pharaoh and on Egypt. After that, he will let you go from here. When he lets you go, he will drive you out of here. 2 Now announce to the people that both men and women should ask their neighbors for silver and gold items.” 3 The Lord gave the people favor with the Egyptians. In addition, Moses himself was very highly regarded in the land of Egypt by Pharaoh’s officials and the people.”
As I mentioned earlier, Bible scholars explain this passage as being a revelation that Moses received prior to his meeting with Pharaoh. If that is indeed the case, we see that Moses, by the hand of God already knew the outcome of this exchange with Pharaoh because God already knew the outcome of this exchange before it happened. This is further evidence that God is indeed in control of the situation. To further emphasize this, look back at Exodus 3:19-22.
“19 However, I know that the king of Egypt will not allow you to go, even under force from a strong hand. 20 But when I stretch out my hand and strike Egypt with all my miracles that I will perform in it, after that, he will let you go. 21 And I will give these people such favor with the Egyptians that when you go, you will not go empty-handed. 22 Each woman will ask her neighbor and any woman staying in her house for silver and gold jewelry, and clothing, and you will put them on your sons and daughters. So you will plunder the Egyptians.”
God had every detail worked out for this situation long before it even took place, even down to the small details like providing material needs (and then some) for his people. God is faithful to provide, and He is Sovereign despite circumstances.
• Sovereign (adj): having supreme power or authority.
• God is sovereign over our current circumstances.
• God was sovereign over past circumstances, which resulted in our current circumstances.
• And God will continue to be sovereign over current circumstances, which will lead us to different circumstances down the road. GOD IS SOVEREIGN.
If it were not enough that God show favor to His people, He goes one step further to cause their captors to show them favor. What an incredible God we serve that He would not only work in the lives of His people, but also cause their enemies to show them favor! That is the goodness of our God; that is the sovereignty of our God. This leads us to our second point.
Point II: The Distinction of God’s People (v. 4-10)
In just a minute, we will read the conclusion of the exchange between Pharaoh and Moses. But before we finish this conversation, it is important to recognize two realities from these next few verses. The first reality is: not a single person in all creation is exempt from God’s sovereignty.
• Nothing is exempt from God’s sovereignty. Take a look with me at Exodus 11:4-6.
“4 So Moses said, “This is what the Lord says: About midnight I will go throughout Egypt, 5 and every firstborn male in the land of Egypt will die, from the firstborn of Pharaoh who sits on his throne to the firstborn of the servant girl who is at the grindstones, as well as every firstborn of the livestock. 6 Then there will be a great cry of anguish through all the land of Egypt such as never was before or ever will be again.”
These three verses emphasize the fact that no matter who we are, God will have His way in our lives. It does not matter if we are royalty or impoverished; it does not matter if we are followers of God, or enemies of God; no one is exempt from God’s sovereignty. However, do not misunderstand the meaning of this. Although we are all subject to God’s sovereignty, experiencing the favor of being a faithful follower of God is an entirely different matter. Look with me at Exodus 11:7-8 and we will see the distinction of being a faithful follower of God.
“7 But against all the Israelites, whether people or animals, not even a dog will snarl, so that you may know that the Lord makes a distinction between Egypt and Israel. 8 All these officials of yours will come down to me and bow before me, saying: Get out, you and all the people who follow you. After that, I will get out.” And he went out from Pharaoh’s presence fiercely angry.”
This is the conclusion of the conversation between Pharaoh and Moses. Throughout these five verses, we see that nothing is exempt from God’s sovereignty. However, we also see that God makes a clear distinction between those who follow Him and those who reject Him. That is the second reality we see in this passage.
• God favors those who follow Him over those who reject Him.
The distinctions made in this passage are staggering. The cost of Pharaoh’s stubbornness would be the life of every firstborn son in Egypt including his own (v. 4-6). However, the Israelites would not experience any of God’s judgment that would fall on Egypt (v. 7-9).
On the one hand, it is encouraging to know that, in the middle of devastating circumstances, God was at work distinguishing His people and all the while keeping them safe. However, this should also be sobering for us to know that God would willingly bring such devastation onto those who would enslave His people. To put it another way, it is a hard truth for us to realize that the favor shown toward God’s people came at great cost to someone else. (Gospel alert)
For those of us who might be tempted to doubt that God is merciful and compassionate in this situation, we need to carefully consider this one truth:
• God is patient, and He desires to be known. In Exodus 7:14, Moses is tasked by God to relay a message to Pharaoh, and that message was short and to the point.
“14 For this time I am about to send all my plagues against you, your officials, and your people. Then you will know there is no one like me on the whole earth.”
God desires to be known among His creation, and He will be known whether we are willing participants or not. However, we need to consider the nature of the human heart in comparison to the nature of God’s heart. Nine plagues have occurred so far in Egypt, all of them accompanied by this nagging common denominator: the hardness of Pharaoh’s heart. Everyone has witnessed God’s wonders being done in Egypt, and every time they are accompanied by Pharaoh’s stubbornness. In fact, between Exodus 7-10 the hardness of Pharaoh’s heart is mentioned thirteen times.
• That is nine separate occasions and thirteen references of Pharaoh’s hardheartedness towards God and His plan. Yet, the cost of his stubbornness was minor inconvenience, momentary pain and frustration, and material loss only. (Momentary)
• Egypt was yet to suffer the permanence of loss of human life. For those of us who are still tempted to question God’s compassion, consider how long-suffering God is with those who stand in opposition to Him.
• Never once do the scriptures show God inflicting plagues upon Egypt without warning or choice of action. Pharaoh and his people were always given the choice to either accept or reject God’s plan before consequences took place, consequences they were informed of beforehand. This goes to show the length and breadth of God’s patience when dealing with people. 2 Peter 3:9 echoes this statement.
“9 The Lord does not delay his promise, as some understand delay, but is patient with you, not wanting any to perish but all to come to repentance.”
• Let it never be said of God that He is impatient with his creation. If anything, God is exceptionally more patient with us than we could ever be with one another. The evidence we see throughout all scripture is that God is not only patient with us, but that He desires a relationship with us.
As we continue in Exodus 11, we see Pharaoh continue to reject God, which only serves to further exemplify God’s sovereignty. So, look with me at Exodus 11:9-10, which will conclude our passage but not our message for today.
“9 The Lord said to Moses, “Pharaoh will not listen to you, so that my wonders may be multiplied in the land of Egypt.” 10 Moses and Aaron did all these wonders before Pharaoh, but the Lord hardened Pharaoh’s heart, and he would not let the Israelites go out of his land.”
Of all nine plagues that have previously afflicted Egypt, this tenth plague would undoubtedly be the most devastating. It is difficult not to think that, if Pharaoh had accepted the warning given him from Moses, taken the opportunity to repent of his actions, and released Israel from their captivity, he and all of Egypt might have avoided the devastating circumstance that were promised to occur should they continue to reject God. However, not even the threat of the loss of his son’s life would sway him to submit to God’s authority despite the overwhelming evidence of God’s power, which Pharaoh experienced firsthand.
This is a sobering thought and a dire warning, not just to Pharaoh, but also to us. To continue hardening our hearts against God leads to only one result: devastating consequences. Pharaoh had been hardened to the point where he remained stubborn and immovable toward God. This passage serves as a warning to us all that it is indeed possible to be hardened to the point where even miracles done in our midst are not enough to sway us to follow God.
• Are we stubborn and unwilling to submit to God’s plan for our lives?
• This passage makes it clear; there are consequences when it comes to rejecting God.
However, even though the consequences of rejecting God are great, the favor that comes through faithfully following God is much greater. And that brings us to our final point.
Point III: The Foreshadowing of the Gospel. (Exodus 12:21-23)
Throughout our passage, and several cross references today, we have most likely seen several correlations between the truths in this passage and the truth of the Gospel. But, before we make these connections, let us first clearly define what we mean by “the Gospel”.
The term “Gospel” means “the good news/message”. It is what we call the first four books of the New Testament (Matt/Mark/Luke/John), and it specifically refers to the teachings and revelation of Jesus, and specifically His sacrifice for the sins of the whole world. Naturally, this word does not occur anywhere in the Old Testament, but because of God’s sovereignty, the Gospel of Jesus is constantly foreshadowed throughout the Old Testament. So, with that understanding, what are some ways that our message today foreshadows the Gospel?

Gospel Alert I: the favor shown toward God’s people came at great cost to someone else.
• Back in Exodus 11:5,8 Moses clarified to Pharaoh the cost that Egypt would pay for the liberation of Israel: the life of every firstborn male in Egypt. However, just as the price of Israel’s liberation was the death of the firstborn, so also the cost that God would pay for the liberation of the world from their sins would be the life of His firstborn son, Jesus.
• John 3:16-17 tell us:
“16 For God loved the world in this way: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.”
• Romans 8:5 also tells us:
“5 But God proves his own love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
Gospel Alert II: the blood of an unblemished lamb would be a sign among God’s people.
• Further in Exodus, Moses relayed God’s instructions for the Israelites before the tenth plague took place. Take a look with me at Exodus 12:21-23.
“21 Then Moses summoned all the elders of Israel and said to them, “Go, select an animal (unblemished) from the flock according to your families, and slaughter the Passover animal. 22 Take a cluster of hyssop, dip it in the blood that is in the basin, and brush the lintel and the two doorposts with some of the blood in the basin. None of you may go out the door of his house until morning. 23 When the Lord passes through to strike Egypt and sees the blood on the lintel and the two doorposts, he will pass over the door and not let the destroyer enter your houses to strike you.”
• This is a graphic depiction of the actions each Israelite was required to take before the tenth plague (Passover). However, just as the blood on the Israelite’s doorposts would be the sign among God’s people in Egypt, so also the blood of Jesus Christ would be a sign among God’s people now. Take a look at 1 John 1:7.
“7 If we walk in the light as he himself is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.”
All of the parallels we draw from these passages lead us to one, unmistakable conclusion: just as God had a plan from the very beginning to liberate His people from slavery in Egypt, so also God has a plan to liberate His creation from the slavery of sin. This leads us to our bottom line.

Bottom Line: Regardless of circumstances, God remains sovereign.
God is sovereign in all circumstances, in all times, and in every way. Circumstances do not and will never define God’s sovereignty. In fact, God tells us in Jerimiah 29:11:
“11 For I know the plans I have for you” — this is the Lord’s declaration — “plans for your well-being, not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.”
This passage contains a unique promise to God’s people because it came to them during a different time of slavery to a different nation for different reasons. And yet, despite their circumstances, which in this case were self-inflicted, God remained sovereign and faithful to His people. In spite their own shortcomings that directly their slavery, God continued to be merciful and compassionate, not wanting His people to experience death and suffering, but instead experience the life He gives in abundance. Additionally, Jesus tells us in John 10:10 that:
“10 A thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I have come so that they may have life and have it in abundance.”
Throughout all the passages we discussed today, we clearly God’s sovereignty displayed in the lives of His people and in the world around them. However, let us not forget that God is a merciful and compassionate God who has a unique passion for His people’s devotion. Not only did he deliver His people through powerful displays of His sovereignty, but He brought about deliverance from sin through the blood of His Jesus, that we might be called children of God. And in that sacrifice, God has made a distinction between those who follow Him and those who reject Him.
Weekly Challenge:

  1. Welcome God’s purposes for your life.
    a. God has specific plans for each of us.
    b. He wants us to know them and be willingly involved in them.
  2. Encourage God’s purposes for others.
    a. Remember that God is sovereign over all things. We should take care not to be a hinderance to the plans of God as Pharaoh was but to be active in the plans that affect others.
    b. If we do not know how to share the Gospel, ask God to show you how/when to share the Gospel with those around us remembering that God is sovereign over all.
  3. Praise God for His grace.
    a. We need to take into consideration that God, who is sovereign over all things is actively invested in each one of us on an individual basis.
    b. The plans He has for us not only glorify Himself, but also benefit us beyond our wildest imagination.