In delivering His children from the fiery furnace of slavery in Egypt, God had very specific objectives to accomplish through the Exodus. The Egyptians served other gods. They did not know or worship Yahweh. The Hebrew people had lived in that environment for 430 years. In their verbal history, they knew of Yahweh, but had no personal revelation of Him. There are varying ideas as to how the 430 years is calculated and how many generations were involved in this timeframe, but the point is that God – the Great I AM – was likely not uppermost in their thoughts.
(Note: If you wish to investigate an interesting rabbit trail, the timeframe of the Exile and the number of generations is explored in these two links from Answers in Genesis and may surprise you – it certainly surprised me:
As a result of how the gods of Egypt were perceived by both the Egyptians and the Hebrew people, Yahweh needed to take drastic action to get their attention. The Egyptians placed their faith and trust in their many gods and had no idea there was One greater. The Hebrews probably didn’t care much because of the burdens of slavery, having likely lost all hope in their heritage.
When Moses showed up proclaiming that Yahweh was greater and demonstrating that fact, God indeed made these two groups realize that the Egyptian gods were worthless and without power or authority. Exodus 11:3 tells us:
“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.”
Of course, Moses’ greatness was because of the God he represented.
But, God had another purpose in mind in bringing the plagues and freeing His people. In the course of the Passover narrative, the Lord declares in Exodus 12:12:
“For I will pass through the land of Egypt that night, and I will strike all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and on all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgments: I am the Lord.”
God’s intent was to execute judgments on all the gods of Egypt, showing definitively that He was Lord over them all. That had become very clear with every plague He sent that literally belittled the Egyptian gods. They could do nothing against the Lord, their creator. God glorified His Name. The pagan people of Egypt saw that as did the children of Israel.
Despite this, Pharaoh retained a hard and unrepentant heart. Because he wouldn’t give glory to God, he and his nation suffered the consequences.
In this context, let’s briefly explore Revelation 9:20, which occurs in the midst of the second set of God’s plagues on earth during the Tribulation – the devastating Trumpet Judgments
“The rest of mankind, who were not killed by these plagues, did not repent of the works of their hands nor give up worshiping demons and idols of gold and silver and bronze and stone and wood, which cannot see or hear or walk…”
Notice the similarity with the outcome of the plagues in Egypt. God does everything He can to awaken mankind to the error of following other gods that have been spawned from the demonic realm. We know that during the Tribulation, many who did not believe in Jesus prior to its advent, and thus missed the Rapture, come to faith in Him during these awful seven years. But the cost is high. The vast majority of these newly minted Christians will lose their lives for their faith.
Because of their hard hearts and the cost of discipleship, most inhabitants of the earth will refuse God’s merciful offer of eternal life with Him in favor of a brief reprieve from despair or death that the world seems to offer. People will continue following the gods of their imaginations, if not the gods that manifest during this time. Yet, none of these gods can save. Regardless, no one will repent. Their pagan ways will seem the more attractive choice. But, it will be to their eternal regret.
God makes a way for all people to know and follow Him. He does it through different means depending on our personal circumstances. If it was up to Him, He would not allow a single lost sheep to die in the wilderness. The sad truth is that it’s up to each of us, and many people choose to reject God’s merciful offer of redemption. For that choice, there are consequences.
As people of God, we know that because of the narrow gate, very few will enter into God’s Kingdom. Yet, we are to do our part by telling others the Good News. Let us make sure we obey Jesus by following His command in Matthew 28:19-20:
“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
When we do this, we can be assured that God will bless us just as the master did with his faithful servant in Matthew 25:23:
“His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’”