Tuesday, September 29, 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. 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 kept the Israelites immune from the misfortunes that fell on the Egyptians. No fist pumping in the air and high fives. Also noteworthy is God's attitude toward His adversaries.

The plague before the hail and fire was a lethal epidemic that wiped out Egyptian livestock. God told Pharaoh that this same scourge 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. Wiping them out completely wouldn't have enhanced recognition of Him as a loving God throughout the world...just the opposite would have happened. Think about this, do you know any other god which went to such extraordinary measures to warn enemies of impending calamity?

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 the 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 one gets it wrong.

How about you? How, if at all, does this passage of Scripture change your understanding of God's interest in the welfare of those against Him? What situation and/or people oppose you and how can you extend mercy to them? When you see your enemies receive the harvest of their actions, what should your response be?

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