From the first verse, we have seen Yahweh’s righteousness manifest in His creation of the heavens and the earth, in His placement of limits on the destructive forces of nature, in His delegation of authority on earth to human beings and in His judgment through the worldwide flood. We have seen it in His punishment of sinners… and in His mercy in accepting a substitute for their lives, even in the provision of the substitute. We’ve seen His righteousness in His covenant with Abraham and his descendants, directed by grace and with the desire to bless all nations. Through the example of Joseph and his brothers, we have seen how he examines hearts to reveal what is hidden. And today we see another characteristic in our growing list describing Yahweh’s righteousness: He has the power to impose His justice and righteousness despite the resistance of His enemies.
You can have nice ideas and opinions about righteousness and justice, but if you don’t have the power to impose them, your justice is weak and ineffective, simply imagination. Yahweh, on the other hand, does not just proclaim what righteousness and justice are; He enforces them, too. And today’s reading gives one of the unforgettable examples in the Bible of how He enforces His righteousness and justice despite opposition.
Remember yesterday that we said a conflict emerged between the power of Yahweh’s word and the power of Pharaoh’s. Pharaoh’s word has the power to make the Israelites moan in pain; his magicians also know how to change staffs into serpents, and they can reproduce some of the miracles that Moses and Aaron do. But the power of God’s word surpasses them. It extends to the waters, the earth and the sky (the three parts of creation in Genesis 1). It touches the human body created in His image, even the bodies of His enemies (Exodus 9:11). It distinguishes between nations in agreement with the covenant (Exodus 8:22-23; 9:4-7, 26; 10:23). It is complete and perfect (Exodus 8:31; 9:7; 10:15). Yahweh 9, Pharaoh 0.
And Yahweh’s righteousness does not accept a truce with the enemy; it does not accept a competing righteousness. Pharaoh insists on putting conditions on the Israelites’ exit; Yahweh accepts none: their leaving must be on His terms. He insists that the redemption of His people be perfect and complete.
As you read about the plagues, marvel over the righteous God who imposes His righteousness and justice despite the resistance of His enemies.