“And the Egyptians shall know that I am the Lord, when I stretch out My hand on Egypt and bring out the children of Israel from among them.” (Exodus 7:5)
When Moses and Aaron first addressed Pharaoh with the demand to let the people of Israel go free, he had responded with the arrogant question, “Who is LORD that I should let Israel go?” Thus, the primary function of the plagues was to demonstrate to Pharaoh and Egypt that there is only one God. It is understood that, collectively, the plagues were a judgment against the gods of Egypt. Each of the plagues were directed at individual gods to show their complete lack of power and that they were, in reality, no gods at all.
One rabbinic work claims that where the Egyptian people were concerned, the first nine plagues were not punishments, necessarily, but proofs. By demonstrating His sovereignty over all of their nothing-gods, the Almighty was presenting evidence that He alone was God, thus providing the people of Egypt an opportunity to repent. In fact, later when Moses led the children of Israel from the land of Egypt, the Bible records that they were accompanied by a “mixed multitude” — a large group of non-Hebrew people who joined themselves to the sons of Jacob. Obviously, they had been convinced.
Only the death of the firstborn and the drowning of the Egyptians in the Red Sea is viewed as being a punishment. This came because Pharaoh’s heart was so calloused that he couldn’t bear to think of Israel being a free people. He wouldn’t humble himself before the Almighty even though he KNEW that the God of Israel was God.
Unfortunately, this belligerent posturing will be repeated by many in these last days. People will harden their hearts to such an extent that God will pour out signs and wonders to prove to them — and to us all — that He alone is God. Unfortunately, many will follow the same path that Pharaoh chose to take and will ultimately come to destruction.
And the kings of the earth, and the great men, and the rich men, and the chief captains, and the mighty men, and every bondman, and every free man, hid themselves in the dens and in the rocks of the mountains; and said to the mountains and rocks, “Fall on us, and hide us from the face of him that sits on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb: For the great day of his wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand?” (Revelation 6:15-17)
In other words, many of the judgments that are poured out in last days will serve the same purpose as the plagues did for Egypt and its people. In the end, the world will know that “He is the LORD.” As His people, we should proclaim that He is LORD without the provocation of judgments and wonders. We who have been called out of darkness into His marvelous light are charged with declaring His great Name to all. Let us, therefore, be about His business.
Blessings and Shalom,