6 Important Things We Can Learn from the 10 Plagues

Moses, Israelites, Pharoah, Egyptians, and ten plagues that ultimately ended up with the Israelites being set free and delivered from Egypt--this is an epic story that showcases God's power and love.

For today I want to put the attention on what can we learn from the 10 plagues. These plagues are critical to this story because without them Pharoah would not have let the Israelites go. Let me share with you 6 things we can learn from the 10 plagues, in no particular order.

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1. There Were Two Purposes for the Judgment

1. There Were Two Purposes for the Judgment

And the Egyptians will know that I am the Lord when I stretch out my hand against Egypt and bring the Israelites out of it.” – Exodus 7:5

…Moses replied, “It will be as you say, so that you may know there is no one like the Lord our God. – Exodus 8:10

When you read the story of the Exodus from Egypt there really were two objectives. The big objective which we focus on the most is the deliverance of the Israelites. God used these plagues to soften Pharoah’s heart eventually leading to him letting them go. However, there was another objective that was just as important. God needed to show the Egyptians who he really was.

It was in these plagues that God was making known to the Egyptians that he is the one, true and living God. The plagues were God’s way of getting the attention of the Egyptians. We know the fate of Pharoah and the Egyptian army but what we don’t know is how many of the remaining Egyptians may have turned their hearts towards God after seeing this display of his power.

2. Remorse and Relief from Suffering Does Not Automatically Lead to Repentance 

But when Pharaoh saw that there was relief, he hardened his heart and would not listen to Moses and Aaron, just as the Lord had said. – Exodus 8:15

Pharaoh quickly summoned Moses and Aaron and said, “I have sinned against the Lord your God and against you. Now forgive my sin once more and pray to the Lord your God to take this deadly plague away from me.” – Exodus 10:16

There is a pattern that we see in Pharoah’s life. This is not much different then the same type of pattern that happens in many people’s lives. When we experience the consequence of our sinful actions, we may experience remorse and seek relief from suffering.

What we learn from the 10 plagues is that each of them brought suffering with it that was progressively more intense. As the consequences increased so did the need for Pharoah and the Egyptians to seek relief. However, what you notice is once the circumstance was alleviated, everything went back to normal and there was no real repentance.

This is an important lesson to understand for our own lives; relief and remorse don’t always produce repentance. One of the ways you can measure true repentance is what happens when the consequence is finally removed. If you go back to what you were doing before, then there has been no true repentance.

We often see this in our society when great tragedies strike, whether it is on a national scale like 9/11 or in an individual’s personal life. The pain of the moment causes a person to seek relief however once the pain is alleviated and the sting is not as great, they return to business as usual with no real repentance. This was Pharoah’s lot, and this is the lot of many people as well.

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3. Satan Is Not God’s Equal; God Can Keep Raising the Bar

3. Satan Is Not God’s Equal; God Can Keep Raising the Bar

But when the magicians tried to produce gnats by their secret arts, they could not. Since the gnats were on people and animals everywhere, the magicians said to Pharaoh, “This is the finger of God.” But Pharaoh’s heart was hard and he would not listen, just as the Lord had said. – Exodus 8:18-19

One truth we learn from the 10 plagues is that Satan often tries to mimic what God does. In the New Testament (2 Cor. 11:14), it says Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. This was true in Egypt as well. The magicians tried to replicate the miracles of God and it seemed to work for a little while, until God raised the bar.

One thing we must always recognize is that no matter what happens around you, God will have the final word. There was this old play called your arms are too short to box with God. That is not only true of Satan that is true of every one of us.

Eventually, God will prove that he truly is above all and besides him, there is no other.

4. God Distinguishes between Those Who Belong to Him and Those Who Don’t

“‘But on that day, I will deal differently with the land of Goshen, where my people live; no swarms of flies will be there, so that you will know that I, the Lord, am in this land. I will make a distinction between my people and your people. This sign will occur tomorrow.’” – Exodus 8:22-23

What we know from the 10 plagues is when God was bringing judgment on Egypt, he made a distinction between those who were his people and those who weren’t. God was proving that he will take care of his own and he does not treat those who are his the same as those who are not.

This is not because we are so great but because God is so good. Even when he is judging others he protects and provides for those who belong to him because he is faithful.

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5. There Is Mercy in Judgment

5. There Is Mercy in Judgment

For by now I could have stretched out my hand and struck you and your people with a plague that would have wiped you off the earth. But I have raised you up for this very purpose, that I might show you my power and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth. – Exodus 9:15-16

There is something hidden in judgment that sometimes we can easily forget. God often uses judgment as a precursor or the key that unlocks the door for him to show mercy. God brings judgment in the hopes that it will lead a person to repentance, giving him the opportunity to show mercy.

What we learn from the 10 plagues is that God could have used any one of them to annihilate Egypt, yet he chose not to. It is the same with you and me. Think of all the times he could have judged us according to our sin and wiped us out, especially before we were saved and even after. Yet he didn’t and instead decided to extend mercy.

By doing this we were able to see and experience the true grace of God. It is this type of kindness, even amid judgment, that leads to repentance.

6. The Heart of the Leader Is Not Always Reflected in the Heart of the People

Those officials of Pharaoh who feared the word of the Lord hurried to bring their slaves and their livestock inside. But those who ignored the word of the Lord left their slaves and livestock in the field. – Exodus 9:20-21

I will share with you one more lesson we can learn from the 10 plagues, but as I said there are plenty more. Here is this last lesson. The heart of the leader is not always reflected in the heart of the people. This was true in Egypt, and this is always true. If the leader is going down the wrong path those who follow may choose to not follow the leader down that destructive path.

The reverse of this is also true. The leader may choose to do what is right but that doesn’t mean that the people will automatically do right as well. Each person has a responsibility to what they will do with the word of the Lord. This was true with those in Egypt, and this remains true today. In this instance, those who feared the word of the Lord and listened were spared, those who didn’t were killed but each person had to make their own choice.

There is so much more we can learn from the 10 plagues, but this article might never end or at least it would be a whole lot longer. Sometimes you try to encourage people to take one thing from a story but there are too many one things to try to do that. All I can tell you is read through it again yourself and see all the things you learn from these 10 plagues.

I promise you it will be a whole lot more than the 6 I shared with you.

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