God's Redemptive Activity

by George F Spall

The eight chapters of the book of Exodus, 5 through 12, cover what may be called God's redemptive activity, and many Jewish scholars use Psalms 42 to 72 with these Scriptures. The important command: "Let My people go that they may serve Me" reveals that deliverance had a purpose. The people were to be delivered from work so that they could worship, a command reiterated seven times by Almighty God.

"And afterwards Moses and Aaron went in and told Pharaoh, Thus says the God of Israel, Let My people go, that they may hold a feast unto Me in the wilderness" (5:1):

"The LORD God of the Hebrews has sent me unto you, saying. Let My people go, that they may serve Me in the wilderness" (7:16):

"And the LORD spoke unto Moses, Go unto Pharaoh, and say unto him, Thus says the LORD. Let My people go, that they may serve Me" (8:1):

"And the LORD said unto Moses, Rise up early in the morning, and stand before Pharaoh ... and say unto him, Thus says the LORD, Let My people go, that they may serve Me" (8:20):

"Then the LORD said unto Moses, Go in unto Pharaoh, and tell him, Thus says the God of the Hebrews, Let My people go, that they may serve Me" (9:1):

"And the LORD said unto Moses, Rise up early in the morning, and stand before Pharaoh, and say unto him, Thus says the LORD God of the Hebrews, Let My people go, that they may serve Me" (9:13):

"And Moses and Aaron came in unto Pharaoh, and said unto him, Thus says the LORD God of the Hebrews, How long will you refuse to humble yourself before Me? Let My people go that they may serve Me" (10:3).

God's redemptive activity in redeeming His people from Egypt followed their oppression; dispensed retribution; achieved redemption and release. And we will notice that God's WORDS are to be obeyed or His WORKS will follow, also that occult powers are no match for Him, that God gives every chance for repentance, and that though Pharaoh said, "I have sinned" (9:27; 10:16), he was not sorry enough to quit.


Bricks and bastinados were the main diet of the people of Israel. The bastinado was famous in Egypt as an instrument of punishment and if carried far enough killed. Pictures can be seen in museums of thin flexible whiplike sticks which tore the flesh, sometimes on bare feet. To find their own straw so as to have bricks the right weight and composition in the same time as before was slave-driving with a vengeance.


What follows is a contest with the gods of Egypt, and it is important to note that six out of these ten judgements are to be repeated in the days of the Great Tribulation as recorded in Revelation chapter 16. Here we see a progression in the contest of wills between God and Pharaoh, and the systematic humiliation of the famous gods the Egyptians worshipped.

Judgement No. 1 (7:1-25) After proving his credentials by the serpent and leprosy, Moses next turned the Nile into blood – the Nile! Worshipped as a god and now seen "in the sight of Pharaoh, and in the sight of his servants" that "all the waters that were in the river were turned to blood. And the fish that were in the river died: and the river stank, and the Egyptians could not drink of the water of the river ..."

Judgement No. 2 (8:1-15) Moses' challenge to the frog goddess the priests could duplicate, but instead of their remaining in the river where they were supposed to be, "frogs came up and covered the land of Egypt" ! In fact, when God reversed their activity at Moses' word, "the frogs died ... and they gathered them together upon heaps: and the land stank."

Judgement No. 3 (8:16-19) The earth god was worshipped in Egypt, yet God instructed Moses to "smite the dust of the land that it may become lice throughout all the land of Egypt." Josephus says that Egyptian priests were so clean that they shaved all over every second day, so this was an attack on the heathen priests especially.

Judgement No. 4 (8:20-26) The beetle god Scarab was attacked next by God: "If you will not let My people go, behold, I will send swarms upon you." Thousands of these have been found by Egyptologists depicted on rings and brooches, yet the Israelites were protected from them at the time of God's judgement. This time, too, they were offered a compromise: that they remain in the land to offer their sacrifices. And their response and objection were quite valid, because Egyptians worshipped cattle, and surely would have stoned the Israelites had they killed for sacrifice in their sight.

Judgement No.5 (9:1-7) God's challenge to the god of the air and to the sacred Egyptian bull god Apis followed, for out of the air came "a very grievous murrain ... and all the cattle of Egypt died: but of the cattle of the children of Israel died not one."

Judgement No. 6 (9:8-12) Water, the earth, air and fire were all elemental gods to the Egyptians, as was Neit the goddess of health, yet here was a challenge to "take handfuls of the ashes of the furnace ... sprinkle it towards heaven in the sight of Pharaoh, and it shall become small dust ... and shall be a boil breaking forth with blains upon man, and upon beast, throughout all the land of Egypt ... upon all the Egyptians."

Judgement No. 7 (9:13-36) The storm god, the god of the atmosphere, was next for humiliation. " ... and the LORD sent thunder and hail, and the fire ran along the ground: and the LORD rained hail upon the land of Egypt ... only in the land of Goshen, where the children of Israel were, was there no hail." The timing was perfect so that the food grains were not hurt but the flax from which the linen for the priests' robes were made meant no new robes for the priests that year -- or maybe the next!

Judgement No. 8 (10:1-20) The god the Egyptians worshipped for protection from plagues of locusts was proven impotent against the God of the Hebrews. "And the LORD said unto Moses, Stretch out your hand over the land of Egypt for the locusts, that they may come upon the land of Egypt, and eat every herb of the land, even all that the hail has left ... before them there were no such locusts ... they did eat every herb of the land, and all the fruit of the trees which the hail had left ...". It was at this point in the saga that Moses resisted another compromise suggested by Pharaoh: that the men only should go to worship but leave their families behind!

Judgement No. 9 (10:21-29) Pharaoh claimed to be the son of the sun and so Ra the sun god's challenge was a challenge to Pharaoh himself. When God said, "Stretch forth your hand toward heaven that there may be darkness over the land of Egypt, even darkness which may be felt" Pharaoh should have been able to dispel it – how humiliating that he was powerless, yet "all the children of Israel had light in their dwellings." And once again Moses resisted Pharaoh's compromise: let your flocks and herds stay behind when you go to worship God.

Judgement No. 10 (chapters 11 and 12) "My son or yours: Israel is My son, even My firstborn: and I say unto you, Let My son go; and if you refuse to let him go, behold, I will slay your son, even your firstborn" (Exodus 4:22,23). And so the Passover was instituted, the calendar for God's people was changed, and the blood was sprinkled as God commanded so that "when I see the blood, I will pass over you." Blood at night might be difficult to see, but God could see it. He would have passed over even an Egyptian house had the conditions been met.


People who like Pharaoh do not believe God's Word doubt His works too. Many assume that God is too loving to punish anyone, but those firstborn even in Israel would have died as well but for the substitute lamb whose blood had to be applied in faith and obedience.

And the repeat of the Passover celebrated every year in memorial of that great deliverance shows its extreme importance. "And you shall observe this thing for an ordinance to you and to your sons for ever ... it is the sacrifice of the LORD's Passover, who passed over the houses of the children of Israel in Egypt, when He smote the Egyptians and delivered our houses."

A great prophet of Israel who later saw the Messiah coming towards him declared: "Behold the Lamb of God which takes away the sins of the world" (John 1:29). That same Messiah fulfilled Zechariah's prophecy, and crowds of people too recognized the significance of the event when He entered Jerusalem on the colt of a donkey: "Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; shout, O daughter of Jerusalem: behold, your King comes unto you: He is just, and having salvation; lowly, and riding upon an ass, a colt the foal of an ass" (9:9).

He offered Himself at Passover time as the Lamb of God, and His blood was shed to provide an atonement not only for Israel but for all mankind, a redemption so complete that "whosoever believes on Him should not perish but have everlasting life" (John 3:16).