18 Observations about Nine Plagues

God brought ten judgments (known as the “plagues”) upon Egypt in Exodus 7-12. The first nine plagues are set apart from the tenth by multiple literary features. While considering the tenth judgment–the death of the firstborn–is a worthy focus, the following comments are limited to Plagues 1-9. Some of these observations can be noted in studies addressing the subject of the Egyptian plagues.

  1. Plagues 1-9 unfold in three series of three plagues each.
    • Plagues 1-3 (7:14–8:19)
    • Plagues 4-6 (8:20–9:12)
    • Plagues 7-9 (9:13–10:29)
  2. Each new judgment section begins with “the LORD said to Moses” (7:14; 8:1, 16, 20; 9:1, 8, 13; 10:1, 21).
  3. Each new judgment section ends with a report about Pharaoh’s heart (7:22; 8:15, 19, 32; 9:7, 12, 35; 10:20, 27).
  4. The first set of three plagues (1-3) are performed with Aaron holding the staff (7:19-20; 8:5-6; 8:16-17).
  5. The second set of three plagues (4-6) are performed with no staff involved (8:24; 9:6, 10).
  6. The third set of three plagues (7-9) are performed with Moses holding the staff (9:22-23; 10:12-13, 21-22).
  7. The first plague in each series (1, 4, 7) takes place with Moses going to Pharaoh outside in the morning (7:15; 8:20; 9:13).
  8. The second plague in each series (2, 5, 8) takes place with Moses going into Pharaoh’s palace (8:1; 9:1; 10:1).
  9. The third plague in each series (3, 6, 9) takes place without a warning to Pharaoh at all (8:17; 9:10; 10:22).
  10. Israel is spared from the second series of plagues (4-6).
  11. Israel is spared from the third series of plagues (7-9).
  12. The shortest plague of each series comes third (3, 6, 9).
  13. The third plague of each series (3, 6, 9) doesn’t have the statement “Let my people go, that they may serve me,” which appears in the other plagues.
  14. The plagues serve a polemical purpose by humiliating an Egyptian god (or gods) that is in some way associated with the nature of the judgment.
  15. When each series of three plagues is considered (1-3, 4-6, 7-9), the plagues increase in severity, for judgments 7-9 are the most devastating of the nine plagues.
  16. In the first series of plagues (1-3), the Egyptian magicians attempt to imitate the work of Yahweh. The other series of plagues (4-6 and 7-9) do not report any attempt by the magicians to imitate what they saw.
  17. In the each threefold series of three plagues, Pharaoh tells Moses the Israelites can go.
    • Once in Plagues 1-3 (8:8)
    • Once in Plagues 4-6 (8:28)
    • Three times in Plagues 7-9 (9:28; 10:11, 24)
  18. Pharaoh tries to negotiate with Moses about the Israelites’ departure.
    • None in Plagues 1-3
    • Once in Plagues 4-6 (8:28)
    • Twice in Plagues 7-9 (10:11, 24)

I recently preached through the ten plagues at Kosmosdale Baptist Church, where I serve as the Preaching Pastor. Those sermons can be found here.

Advertisements

“Till All the Blood was Spent” – A Passover Poem

During this Easter season at Kosmosdale Baptist Church, we have been unfolding the plagues upon Egypt which culminate in the death of the firstborn son. But if families heeded the words of Moses, their firstborn sons didn’t have to die.

Passover smear above door

“Till All the Blood was Spent”
Written 3/23/18

Months it took to build the house
before which now he stood,
with sun above and shining on
the brick and stone and wood.

The door was closed with everyone
inside until the morn—
his love of fifteen years and,
at her side, their firstborn.

A boy! They praised the God who heard
their fervent prayers for life
inside the womb of her who thought
she was a barren wife.

At last a father, yet afraid
more now than e’er before,
he stood outside beneath the sun,
before his only door.

Had he heard the prophet right,
who spoke of death to fall
upon the firstborn sons that night,
no matter great or small?

With one hand he held the basin
full of blood he shed,
and with his other held the branch
now high above his head.

He moved his arm from side to side,
and smeared above the door
the blood until the branch was dry,
and then he dipped for more.

This time he started high and left
and drug his arm down slow,
as blood began to drip upon
his hand and feet below.

One more dip and one more side,
so high and right he went
and pulled his hand toward the ground
till all the blood was spent.

Stepping back, he saw the door
and thought of him he cherished,
his son—now covered by the blood—
and then said, “It is finished.”

35 Truths That Have Changed My Life

I turn 35 today. And these years have been filled with incalculable blessings and mercy. I especially feel gratitude for the preachers, authors, professors, and friends who have influenced me over the years. Would you mind if I share some of their wisdom with you? Some of the sources will be obvious, and other statements are paraphrases of things I can’t remember verbatim. Nevertheless, here are 35 truths that have impacted me. I believe these things to my bones, and I hope you do too.

  1. Everything and everyone exists for the glory of God.
  2. God is most glorified in me when I am most satisfied in Him.
  3. We should read the Old Testament by imitating the interpretive moves of the New Testament authors.
  4. The Bible is one unfolding Story about Jesus.
  5. Your sin will find you out.
  6. The most important ministry for the minister is his family.
  7. Preach the gospel to yourself everyday. The gospel is for Christians too.
  8. Only one life, ’twill soon be past, only what’s done for Christ will last.
  9. God calls me to holiness because He is more committed to my happiness than I am.
  10. Do now what you will wish you would have done.
  11. Christian maturity and responsibility involves doing what you should do when should do it, regardless of how you feel.
  12. Your idols will not die for your sins; they will leave you to do that.
  13. Satan tempts us all the time with the same temptation from Eden: to doubt the wisdom and goodness of God’s word for us.
  14. Heaven is not our ultimate home, for the saints will be raised bodily and will dwell forever with their Redeemer in a new creation.
  15. I cannot follow Jesus faithfully without loving His bride, the Church.
  16. Real Christians can have real doubts and questions.
  17. The prosperity health-and-wealth “gospel” is from hell.
  18. God’s commands are wise, good, and beautiful.
  19. If you want God to speak, read the Bible, because God speaks in His Word.
  20. I don’t have to understand why things happen in life the way they do, and I’m not meant to either.
  21. Life is full of wonder and beauty but also full of heartache and sorrow–both things are true in a Genesis 3 world.
  22. God is gloriously, meticulously, comprehensively sovereign.
  23. We must combat the deceiving promises of sin with the superior promises of God’s Word.
  24. From the greatest evil (the rejection and murder of the Son of God), God worked the greatest good (salvation for sinners to the glory of His name).
  25. Preach Christ in every sermon–the Old Testament points to Him, and the New Testament proclaims Him.
  26. No matter what your vocation in life, be a student of God’s Word, always studying and learning and growing.
  27. A strong marriage is worth pursuing and preserving, whatever it takes.
  28. Your children will only be young once, so don’t waste those years–be present, all in, for the long haul.
  29. You need mentors, and you need to be mentoring.
  30. Prioritize–and don’t compromise–the worship of Christ with your family on the Lord’s Day, lest half-hearted obedience in one generation lead to full-on rebellion in the next.
  31. When I don’t feel like going to church, I need to go to church.
  32. Parenting is part of the sanctification process…for the parent.
  33. Nothing is needful that He withholds.
  34. Get friends who make sin look bad and God look big.
  35. The greatest hindrance in your discipleship is not a parent or a spouse or a coworker or a neighbor–it is yourself. Jesus said, “Deny yourself, take up your cross, and follow me.”

 

My Top 10 Reads in 2017

stackofbooks2017In no particular order, here are my 10 favorite books that I read this year. I commend them to you for 2018! Tolle lege.

  1. Strong and Weak: Embracing a Life of Love, Risk and True Flourishing, by Andy Crouch
  2. Recapturing the Wonder: Transcendent Faith in a Disenchanted World, by Mike Cosper
  3. Destroyer of the Gods: Early Christian Distinctiveness in the Roman World, by Larry Hurtado
  4. Faith.Hope.Love: The Christ-Centered Way to Grow in Grace, by Mark Jones
  5. The Imperfect Disciple: Grace for People Who Can’t Get Their Act Together, by Jared Wilson
  6. The Life of God in the Soul of Man, by Henry Scougal
  7. Reading the Bible Supernaturally: Seeing and Savoring the Glory of God in Scripture, by John Piper
  8. The Duties of Parents, by J.C. Ryle
  9. How to Think: A Survival Guide for a World at Odds, by Alan Jacobs
  10. The Pilgrim’s Progress, by John Bunyan

 

 

 

“This Father’s Prayer for Grace”

IMy first pic with Graysonn the amazing kindness of the Lord, today my wife Stacie and I rejoiced at the birth of
our fourth son, Grayson Mitchell Chase. He was 7 pounds 15 ounces, 20 inches long, and arrived at 5:44 pm in Louisville, Kentucky, at Norton Suburban Hospital.

Here is a poetic reflection and prayer on the day of Grayson’s birth.

“This Father’s Prayer for Grace”
May 2, 2017

Praise and honor be to God
who rules the depths and heights,
and knits inside a mother’s womb
an image-bearer’s life.

What joy to declare the birth
of Grayson Mitchell Chase!—
this one whom we have longed to see
and now hold face to face.

We pray his future steps you will
direct to this chief end:
to glorify and to enjoy
Your Son who saves from sin.

Our fourth son needs a heart to love
and eyes of faith to see
the Risen, Reigning Lord above
who sets the captive free.

Father, you alone can grant
this father’s prayer for grace:
that gospel light will dawn upon
my Grayson Mitchell Chase.

“This Temple Will Be Raised” – A Good Friday Poem

The people of Israel were familiar with a temple being destroyed and rebuilt. When Jesus tells the people in John 2:19, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up,” the disciples later realized he was speaking about his body as a temple that would be destroyed and raised. Here is a Good Friday poem focusing on that temple motif:

jesus on the cross“This Temple Will Be Raised”
April 14, 2017

Seven years it took to build
The temple of the Lord,
That sacred space
And dwelling place
Where blood and life were poured.

But when the people saw the curse
That prophets warned would fall,
They strode the path
Of holy wrath,
And bitter was the gall.

Many years would pass before
The house, which fell by flame,
Was built to stand
In promised land
Once more for Yahweh’s name.

But all the blood of bulls and lambs
For sin could not atone,
So God the Son
Said, “It is done,”
And drank the cup alone.

Upon the hill they crucified
The temple of the Lord,
His body dead
Where, in our stead,
His blood and life were poured.

The people ’round the cross beheld
The one they deemed a fraud,
Who took the path
Of holy wrath,
The spotless Lamb of God.

Now he who once said, “In three days,
This temple will be raised,”
Who by the cross
Brought gain not loss,
Should be forever praised.

Seven Scenes of Joseph Weeping

joseph weepingThe stories in Genesis 37-50 report the trials and vindication of Joseph. The chapters are full of moving accounts for the reader, and characters inside the events are moved as well. Jeremiah may be the weeping prophet, but Joseph is the weeping ruler. In multiple scenes he weeps both privately and openly: 42:24; 43:30; 45:2; 45:14-15; 46:29; 50:1; 50:17. Here’s how it breaks down:

  1. In 42:24, Joseph weeps privately during his brothers’ first visit to Egypt. He recognizes them, but they don’t recognize him.
  2. In 43:30, Joseph weeps privately as he is moved over one brother in particular, the arrival of Benjamin in Egypt.
  3. In 45:2, Joseph weeps openly as he reveals himself to his brothers after more than twenty years since they betrayed him.
  4. In 45:14-15, Joseph weeps openly on all his brothers.
  5. In 46:29, Joseph weeps openly as he presents himself to his father after many years of relational separation.
  6. In 50:1, Joseph weeps openly in response to his father’s death.
  7. In 50:17, Joseph weeps openly before the messengers whom his brothers had sent.

Seven scenes of weeping. SEVEN.