Burning Anger

Exodus 11

Does God get angry?

Yes, He does. However, we must not think His anger is like ours. He is patient, just, righteous and loving. His anger is an expression of all of these characteristics. It is His love and justice that moves Him to anger. In Exodus 11, we have an example of how God showed His anger.

The story of Exodus 11 started way before the plagues in the days of Abraham when God told Abraham that Abraham’s descendants would be slaves in a foreign land.

The fulfilling of that promise is the story of Exodus. By the time we reach Exodus 11, God has struck Egypt with nine plagues.

With this ninth plague, we see something different. With the first eight plagues, Moses seemed to be told what was coming next about the time it happened. However, at the end of the ninth plague, Moses knew what was coming next.

After three days of absolute darkness, Pharaoh told Moses:
Go and worship the LORD,” he said. “But leave your flocks and herds here. You may even take your little ones with you.” (Exodus 10:24, NLT)

Of course, this was not acceptable, so Moses said:
No, you must provide us with animals for sacrifices and burnt offerings to the LORD our God. All our livestock must go with us, too; not a hoof can be left behind. We must choose our sacrifices for the LORD our God from among these animals. And we won’t know how we are to worship the LORD until we get there. (Exodus 10:25-26, NLT)

Pharaoh finally had enough. He told Moses:
Get out of here! I’m warning you. Never come back to see me again! The day you see my face, you will die! (Exodus 10:28, NLT)

Moses responded:
Very well, I will never see your face again. (Exodus 10:29, NLT)

These words of Moses end Exodus chapter 10 in our Bibles, but they do not end the words of Moses to Pharaoh. Moses does not stop talking to Pharaoh until Exodus 11:8 where it tells us:
Then, burning with anger, Moses left Pharaoh.

Exodus 11:1-3 is an interlude or an explanation. These verses explain to us the preparation that has been going on behind the scenes before Moses spoke to Pharaoh. Exodus 11:1-3 says:
The Lord said to Moses, "Yet one plague more I will bring upon Pharaoh and upon Egypt. Afterward he will let you go from here. When he lets you go, he will drive you away completely. Speak now in the hearing of the people, that they ask, every man of his neighbor and every woman of her neighbor, for silver and gold jewelry." 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. (Exodus 11:1-3 ESV)

Moses knew that there would be yet one more plague. Exodus 11:1 tells us that God had told Moses that He would bring just one more plague upon Pharaoh and upon Egypt.

Pharaoh is angry with Moses, and Moses is angry with Pharaoh. Exodus 11:8 tells us Moses left Pharaoh, burning with anger. He was angry because he was dealing with a fool. This is also what angered God. The book of Proverbs tells us:
Whoever remains stiff-necked after many rebukes will suddenly be destroyed—without remedy. (Proverbs 29:1 NIV)

Jesus told us not to call any person a fool, and I do not call anyone a fool. However, God is God and He calls some people fools. For example, Psalm 14:1 says:
The fool says in his heart, "There is no God." (Psalms 14:1 ESV)

This is Pharaoh’s problem. In his heart, he is still saying, “There is no God.”  Or, worse, “I am a god.”

Psalms 14 describes this kind of fool.
The fool says in his heart, "There is no God." They are corrupt, they do abominable deeds; there is none who does good. The Lord looks down from heaven on the children of man, to see if there are any who understand, who seek after God. They have all turned aside; together they have become corrupt; there is none who does good, not even one. Have they no knowledge, all the evildoers who eat up my people as they eat bread and do not call upon the Lord? (Psalms 14:1-4 ESV)

Pharaoh serves as an example for us, a negative example but nevertheless an example. Pharaoh was showing the foolishness of those who do not acknowledge God.

The world foolishly opposes God and Psalms 2 tells us:
The One enthroned in heaven laughs; the Lord scoffs at them. He rebukes them in his anger and terrifies them in his wrath... (Psalms 2:4-5 NIV)

Pharaoh is one who set himself against the Lord. He called himself a god and refused to acknowledge the God who put him on the throne of Egypt.

Besides this foolish opposition to God, Pharaoh’s attitude also caused great suffering. Pharaoh had ordered the killing of the Hebrew babies, and he had ordered the increase in the workload. His self-exaltation and God-ignoring attitude was the root of his evil deeds.

There were two sides to what was happening in Exodus 11. There was the Egyptian side where things were good up until the plagues, and there was the Israelite side where things were horrible. It is important to understand that God did not disregard or ignore the suffering of the Israelites. Although God used the sufferings of Egypt to shape and strengthen His people, He was angry with Egypt for their evil treatment of the Israelites. Malice and injustice brought God’s wrath. Both God’s love and God’s justice were affronted by the Egyptians’ treatment of God’s people.

God does not waste suffering. He uses suffering to grow and shape His people and to warn of judgment to come, but even though He uses suffering, He holds those responsible who by their evil deeds are the source of the suffering. Romans 1:18 says that the wrath of God is directed at unrighteousness. Unrighteousness is the cause of all the suffering in the world. Before sin, humanity lived in a perfect garden with no suffering. The problem is that we all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. God’s justice requires that wrongs be made right, that debts be paid. The law says a tooth for a tooth and an eye for an eye, a blow for a blow. The Egyptians had stored up a huge debt of blows and suffering.

How were they going to pay this debt?

God had a plan.

The Egyptians practiced primogeniture, in other words, the right of succession or inheritance belonged to the firstborn son. Thus, Pharaoh would always be a firstborn of a firstborn. The judgment falling on the firstborn is an example of substitution or of a representative standing in for the whole. The firstborn represented all of Egyptian society or the Egyptian social order. It was top-down with those on top using and having power over those below. As a judgment on all the gods of the Egyptians and all the Egyptian social order, God struck the firstborn of every family in Egypt. The firstborn was the substitute for each family.

Now, one might think that the Israelites were the oppressed and had been suffering under the Egyptians so they would not need a substitute. But, God required a substitute for the firstborn of the Israelites also. A lamb had to be killed and its blood put on the doorpost and on the lintel in order for a house to be passed over. This substitution points out that the Israelites were not without sin. Being oppressed and afflicted does not save one from his sins. A lamb was necessary as a substitute for the firstborn of the Israelites to be spared.

All mankind is enslaved to sin. The wages of sin is death. We were born into this situation because the firstborn of the whole human race, Adam, sinned, and as our representative and father, he passed his sin down to all of us. Of course, we have all added our own sins to what we inherited.

This same system of representation is what allowed Jesus to represent all of us on the cross. Jesus is God’s firstborn and as a second Adam, He paid for our sins by representing us all on the cross. He is our substitute.

Just as there was an Egyptian and Israelite side to the story in Exodus, there is a believer and an unbeliever side to the story of the cross. The picture of God’s judgment on Egypt and of sin on the cross is terrible. These two events show us that God will not hold back His judgment forever. When we look at the Passover and the Cross, we see that God does get angry, very angry. These two events also show us the great love and grace of God in providing a way of escape. He gave His own Son as a Passover lamb for all mankind, and He delivers all who will call upon His name. But the blood must be on the doorposts. In other words, we must accept His work of atonement.

God’s deliverance is a wonderful thing. Not only did God deliver the Israelites from Egypt, but He also brought them out with great riches and with a great victory. He did not deliver them then leave them as orphans with no place to go. He adopted them as His own. Consider with me the benefits God gave the Israelites when He delivered them.

First, when they left, they left with great possessions and riches. They plundered the Egyptians. God gave the Israelites favor with the Egyptians and they willingly gave up their silver and gold jewelry. God was preparing this beforehand. God does the same for us. Ephesians 4:7-8 tells us:
But grace was given to each one of us according to the measure of Christ's gift. Therefore it says, "When he ascended on high he led a host of captives, and he gave gifts to men." (Ephesians 4:7-8 ESV)

Next, God provided a substitute so that the firstborn of the Israelite families could be spared. This continued throughout their history. Every firstborn male of the Israelites was redeemed with a substitute. This is of course what we have been talking about when Jesus took our place on the cross. He paid our debt and satisfied the wrath of God.

Finally, God made a distinction between the Israelites and the Egyptians. Exodus 11:7 says:
But not a dog shall growl against any of the people of Israel, either man or beast, that you may know that the Lord makes a distinction between Egypt and Israel. (Exodus 11:7 ESV)

This is the greatest blessing possible. If God is for us, who can be against us?
What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? (Romans 8:31-32 ESV)

It is because of this distinction that God made between His people and the Egyptians that the Israelites inherited the Promised Land. It is because of this distinction that they were given riches and a special place in God’s plans.

It is because of this distinction that we are made co-heirs with Christ. It is because of this distinction that we are seated in the heavenlies with Christ.

Does God get angry?

Pharaoh is in hell today because he was a fool and opposed God.

Don’t be like Pharaoh. Call on God today.


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