Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Choices, Choices

"For now I could have sent my hand and stricken you and your people with the pestilence and you would have been obliterated from the earth. However, for this I have let you endure, in order to show you My strength and so that My name may be declared throughout the world"
Ex. 9:15-16 Tanach.

"And now send, gather in your livestock and everything you have in the field; all the people and animals that are found in the field that are not gathered into the house - the hail shall descend upon them and they shall die"
Ex. 9:19 Tanach.

The landscape looked like the aftermath of a cataclysmic holocaust. All of Egypt was in ruins devastated by hail and falling fire (Jewish scholars consider that a miracle in itself; fire ascends not descends). Anything living, man or beast, caught outside died. Trees, plants and grasses were gone. Momentarily Pharaoh came to his senses. "This time I have sinned" Ex. 9:27 Tanach.

Nowhere does the Bible record celebrations in Goshen. Their location made the Israelites immune to the misfortunes that fell on the Egyptians. No fists pumping in the air and high fives. Also noteworthy was God's attitude toward His adversaries.

The plague before the hail and fire was lethal, wiping out Egyptian livestock. God told Pharaoh that this same plague could have been extended to him personally and to all the Egyptians. Why did God spare them? He wanted them to have another opportunity to get to know Him. Eliminating them completely wouldn't have enhanced recognition of Him throughout the world...just the opposite would have occurred.

Now another plague was bearing down on Egypt. God warned Pharaoh to take preventive measures to minimize the damage. Some of Pharaoh's own servants got the memo, took God's advice and were spared the hail and fire's destructive power. Those who didn't lost everything-again.

Opposed to being ready, willing and eager to crush His enemies, God took extraordinary measures to spare the Egyptians the consequences of their actions against His people. His desire to see men saved is greater than His need to see them punished. Don't misunderstand, the plagues still came. Their impact was horrible, but a way of escape had been extended.

Today, just like then, it is all about choice. God's more eager to populate Heaven than Hell but He leaves the disposition of that matter in the hands of each individual. He'll do everything short of making the decision for us. Choose wisely. He doesn't remove the consequences if we get it wrong.

How about you? How, if at all, do these passages of Scripture change your understanding of God's interest in His enemy's welfare? What situation and/or people oppose you and how can you extend mercy to them? When you see your enemies receive the reward of their actions, what should your response be?

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