This week’s Torah portion contains the most severe of the very famous Ten Plagues, the worst of which is known to many as the “death of the firstborn.”
For those of us who know Yeshua as our personal Lord and Savior often look back at this account of events and shake our heads in confusion. How could the same God who loves the world so much that He gave us His only begotten Son as atonement for our sins be the same God who allowed all the firstborn of Egypt to die, even when not all of them had sinned against Him like Pharaoh had with his obstinance? Such a thing seems so unlike the God of grace and mercy that we’ve come to know through a personal relationship over the years! How can this be?!
This seeming incongruity is at the heart of the idea that God’s character changes over time. But that idea is false. Let me just say: GOD DOES NOT CHANGE. ADONAI Elohim – the Creator of the Universe who placed the stars in the sky – is the same God who brought the Hebrews out of Egypt, the same God who raised Yeshua from the dead, and the same God who will bring about the eternal Messianic age!
In fact, ADONAI Elohim even tells us who He is and what His character is like later on in Exodus 34:6-7:
“Then ADONAI passed before him, and proclaimed, “ADONAI, ADONAI, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, and abundant in lovingkindness and truth, showing mercy to a thousand generations, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, yet by no means leaving the guilty unpunished, but bringing the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, and upon the children’s children, to the third and fourth generation.”Exodus 34:6-7 TLV
These attributes do not change. Ever. But how do we reconcile what we know about God and actions of the ten plagues?
Well, it’s clear in these verses that God’s character is to punish the iniquity of several generations. Pharaoh’s sin, as the head of His people and a self-proclaimed god, was not just his to bear. Unfortunately, those who did not come under the atonement of the Passover lamb throughout the entire land of Egypt were left vulnerable to punishment. But the firstborn of those who were obedient to ADONAI’s commands received mercy – to the thousandth generation – being dedicated to ADONAI and redeemed by Him. Just look at the last few verses of this week’s Torah portion!
“So when your son asks you in times to come, ‘What is this?’ say to him, ‘By a strong hand ADONAI brought us out from Egypt, the house of bondage, and when Pharaoh refused to let us go, ADONAI slew all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both men and animals. So I sacrifice to ADONAI all firstborn males, but I redeem the firstborn of my sons.’ So it will be like a sign on your hand and like frontlets between your eyes, for by a strong hand ADONAI brought us out of Egypt.”Exodus 13:14-16 TLV
When it comes down to it, the question of “How could God do such a thing?” is a moot point. It’s not the question we should be asking. Well, what do you mean Mandie? Let me explain. Sometimes, it can be hard for us as humans to understand how it all makes sense. We see something that doesn’t line up with our views of the world and immediately decide that something is wrong with God. But the reality is that God isn’t supposed to line up with our view of the world. We’re supposed to align ourselves with His!
The question we should really be asking ourselves is “How can we get more people to accept the atonement that God has given us and be saved from punishment? How can we bring more people into His mercy and grace?” So take some time today and pray about what ways God would have you share the ultimate sacrificial lamb: Yeshua the Messiah.