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May 20 – God commands the heavens to strike and the locusts to destroy

“By now I could have put out my hand and struck you and your people with pestilence, and you would have been cut off from the earth. But for this purpose I have raised you up, to show you my power, so that my name may be proclaimed in all the earth.” – Exodus 9:15-16

Scripture reading: Exodus 9:13-21; Psalm 29

Pharaoh’s sorcerers were humiliated. These lurking shadows, with power to frighten Pharaoh and wield authority in Egypt, were driven away by their boils in the last plague. Whatever threat they possessed was neutralized. They are never mentioned again. Egypt’s whole system of command and control is being decimated by these waves of judgment on Egypt. And the LORD explains what He is doing: “I am showing you My power so that My name may be proclaimed in all the earth!”

This is the whole point of the plague cycle. The LORD’s power is being shown in increasing magnitude. “The hail, rain, thunder and fire came as a barrage,” writes Phillip Ryken, “an opening of the arsenal of judgment to pour out his deadly wrath on Egypt.” So Pharaoh’s servants ask, “How long shall this man be a snare to us? Let the men go, that they may serve the LORD their God. Do you not yet understand that Egypt is ruined?” This judgment scene in the Old Testament serves as a preview of the all-out destruction that shall occur on the Last Day. As a hymn writer puts it,

At His call the dead awaken, rise to life from earth and sea;
all the pow’rs of nature, shaken by His looks, prepare to flee.
Careless sinner, what will then become of thee?

But to those who have confessed, loved and served the Lord below,
He will say, “Come near, ye blessed, see the kingdom I bestow;
you forever shall My love and glory know.”

Suggestions for prayer

Rejoice in the LORD’s goodness that ‘the free gift following many trespasses brought justification’ for all who believe in Jesus Christ! Ask the LORD to give you courage as you testify of the blessings which you have received through His grace to you!

This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Norman Van Eeden Petersman is the pastor of the Vancouver Associated Presbyterian Church in BC.

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