Deal or No Deal? The Plagues of Exodus 7-11

One of the most popular game shows on TV at the moment is Noel Edward’s “Deal or No Deal” on Channel 4. If you have not watched it before, it is the game show in which any one of 22 players try and win up to £250,000. There are 22 sealed boxes with prizes from 50p to a quarter of a million pounds. A chosen candidate has to eliminate as many boxes as possible before guessing which one has the highest remaining prize. And during the programme the banker calculates the chances of having to pay out and offers the contestant a deal that will spread his own risk and hopefully tempt the contestant to make a deal. There are 22 boxes but only one question: “deal – or no deal”? The programme even has its very own website and you can go on a pilgrimage tour of the studios. Its not just a game of chance. It also involves the laws of probability and the psychology of risk.

In today’s study in Exodus God offers Pharoah a deal. “Let my people go so that they may worship me.” (Exodus 7:16)? The deal? Then “you will know that I am the Lord.” (Exodus 7:17).  God’s purpose? We see this in the promise he made earlier to the Israelites: “I will take you as my own people, and I will be your God. Then you will know that I am the Lord your God.” (Exodus 6:7).

Was that promise just for the Israelites? No, of course not. Otherwise, we would not be here today. “This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.  For there is one God and one mediator between God and human beings, Christ Jesus, himself human, who gave himself as a ransom for all people.” (1 Timothy 2:3-6)

And the Apostle Peter writes, “The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.” (2 Peter 3:9)

And this is not simply a New Testament idea. The Lord God says through the prophet Ezekiel insists, “For I take no pleasure in the death of anyone, declares the Sovereign LORD. Repent and live!” (Ezekiel 18:32)

In Exodus 7-11, God is saying to Pharaoh, “I want to give you and your people an opportunity to get to know me. I want to give you a lesson on divine authority. What I want in return is for all my people, all their children, all their animals, all their property, because I want to take them into their own land.” We know that many Egyptians also came to know and fear the Lord. During those terrifying plagues, in compassion, God told Pharaoh how to avoid any loss of life

“Give an order now to bring your livestock and everything you have in the field to a place of shelter, because the hail will fall on every person and animal that has not been brought in and is still out in the field, and they will die.’ ” 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 9:19-21)

Many Egyptians survived because they obeyed God. And when the Israelites finally escaped, we are told in Exodus 12, “The Israelites journeyed from Rameses to Sukkoth. There were about six hundred thousand men on foot, besides women and children. Many other people went up with them, and also large droves of livestock, both flocks and herds.” (Exodus 12:37-38)

Who were the ‘many other people’? Egyptians of course! God’s people have always been an inclusive people, have always incorporated those of other nations – on the basis of faith in the one true God. Membership of God’s people has never on the basis of race or racial purity (see Deuteronomy 23:7-8; Psalm 87:4), always on the basis of faith.

What we have therefore in Exodus 7-11 is an object lesson – an evangelistic call if you will – a lesson in Divine Authority – The ultimate “deal or no deal?” God said to the Israelites “Then you will know that I am the Lord your God.” (Exodus 6:7). And, chapter 7:5, he wanted the Egyptians to know Him too. “the Egyptians will know that I am the Lord…” (Exodus 7:5). And you know what, that’s the reason the story is in the Bible. He wants us to know that He is the Lord too.

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