God's love isn't absent.

Exodus 11:1-8 (NKJV)

And the LORD said to Moses, “I will bring one more plague on Pharaoh and on Egypt. Afterward he will let you go from here. When he lets you go, he will surely drive you out of here altogether. Speak now in the hearing of the people, and let every man ask from his neighbor and every woman from her neighbor, articles of silver and articles of gold.” And the LORD gave the people favor in the sight of the Egyptians. Moreover the man Moses was very great in the land of Egypt, in the sight of Pharaoh’s servants and in the sight of the people.

Then Moses said, “Thus says the LORD: ‘About midnight I will go out into the midst of Egypt; and all the firstborn in the land of Egypt shall die, from the firstborn of Pharaoh who sits on his throne, even to the firstborn of the female servant who is behind the handmill, and all the firstborn of the animals. Then there shall be a great cry throughout all the land of Egypt, such as was not like it before, nor shall be like it again. But against none of the children of Israel shall a dog move its tongue, against man or beast, that you may know that the LORD does make a difference between the Egyptians and Israel.’ And all these your servants shall come down to me and bow down to me, saying, ‘Get out, and all the people who follow you!’ After that I will go out.” Then he went out from Pharaoh in great anger.

Notice how God sets up this plague to get the job done. First off, the LORD gave the people [of Israel] favor in the sight of the Egyptians. Also, Moses is now very great in the land of Egypt, in the sight of Pharaoh's servants and in the sight of the people.

So, when Moses speaks, they listen. To this attentive audience, he precisely predicts an epic supernatural disaster. If this comes true, Moses’s credibility will be a lot more than just very great in the land of Egypt.

Also, this plague will be much more painful than the others. With their crops virtually destroyed, the Egyptian people may be worried about famine, but they aren’t starving yet. Worrying isn’t the same as grieving.

Moses is saying, “This one will make you cry.”

These plagues display God’s wrath in an especially brutal fashion. That’s troubling. It makes people wonder, “What about God’s love?” That’s a good question. The answer is uniquely blunt.

If God’s love was all about pain avoidance, Jesus would never have gone to the cross. Something bigger and more glorious must be involved. We may not understand it – I sure don’t – but it’s obviously a lot more interesting than just making folks comfortable. Every book of the Bible testifies to this attitude. The action is fast, the drama intense, and the pain great.

Every character is put through the wringer, including us. God has big plans for His servants. Frankly, most of us don’t want that. We want comfort, not action. “Let someone else make a difference; I’m busy.”

Sometimes God gets us off the couch by setting the cushions on fire.

The weekly study guides, which include discussion questions, are available for download here:

Mike Slay

As a mathematician, inventor, and ruling elder in the Presbyterian Church in America, Mike Slay brings an analytical, conversational, and even whimsical approach to the daily study of God's Word.