1 - 3 There Will Be One More Plague
1 Now the LORD said to Moses, “One more plague I will bring on Pharaoh and on Egypt; after that he will let you go from here. When he lets you go, he will surely drive you out from here completely. 2 Speak now in the hearing of the people that each man ask from his neighbor and each woman from her neighbor for articles of silver and articles of gold.” 3 The LORD gave the people favor in the sight of the Egyptians. Furthermore, the man Moses [himself] was greatly esteemed in the land of Egypt, [both] in the sight of Pharaoh’s servants and in the sight of the people.
In a kind of parenthesis, we read in these verses what God said to Moses before he goes to Pharaoh for the last time. In the last plague God Himself will descend to judge. This means the final judgment. The result will be that Pharaoh will drive out the people as a whole by force from the country.
Before they leave, the Israelites have to ask all kinds of articles from the Egyptians. They will need them for their service to the LORD. The LORD will work that they will also receive these articles. It is the unpaid wages of all years of toil that they and their ancestors did as slaves in Egypt.
For Moses, great esteem has arisen. The Egyptians see him as the processor of the plagues, someone whom they have to treat with respect. Moses is here a picture of the Lord Jesus Who will also force respect through the judgments He will execute.
4 - 8 Announcement of the Death of All the Firstborn
4 Moses said, “Thus says the LORD, ‘About midnight I am going out into the midst of Egypt, 5 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 slave girl who is behind the millstones; all the firstborn of the cattle as well. 6 Moreover, there shall be a great cry in all the land of Egypt, such as there has not been [before] and such as shall never be again. 7 But against any of the sons of Israel a dog will not [even] bark, whether against man or beast, that you may understand how the LORD makes a distinction between Egypt and Israel.’ 8 All these your servants will come down to me and bow themselves before me, saying, ‘Go out, you and all the people who follow you,’ and after that I will go out.” And he went out from Pharaoh in hot anger.
Moses addresses his last words to Pharaoh. Unlike all previous plagues that God brought across Egypt through Moses and Aaron, God Himself will execute the last plague. To this end He will go through the midst of Egypt and judge the firstborn. In these firstborn children God will strike the whole land of Egypt (Psa 78:51; 136:10).
The firstborn is a symbol of strength. The eldest son is the deepest pride of the oriental man. As is customary in the East, the existence of the name, of the family, depends on the eldest son. He represents the power of the whole generation. All hope of the natural man focuses on the firstborn. That’s why God smashes all their hope into the ground by hitting their firstborn.
In the same way God breaks the power of every natural man, either by humbling himself and repenting to God, broken and crushed, or by bringing eternal judgment upon him.
A loud whimpering will fill the whole country of Egypt that night. It is the terrible pre-fulfilment of the cry of all who will abide forever in the outer darkness. There will be all those who on earth have preferred darkness to light. They “loved the darkness rather than the Light, for their deeds were evil” (Jn 3:19). Their desire to have nothing to do with God Who is light (1Jn 1:5) is then fulfilled forever.
Unlike Egypt, there is no unrest among the Israelites at all. For the last time the distinction between the Egyptians and the Israelites is mentioned. The Egyptians will see in this distinction a reason to ask the people to leave. To this end they will come to Moses and bow down before him.
After these last words to Pharaoh, Moses went out from Pharaoh in hot anger. This time Pharaoh does not have the chance to chase Moses away, but Moses goes away himself. There is nothing left of any hesitation or fear for Pharaoh with Moses. He is in fellowship with God and therefore filled with a holy contempt for the sins of Pharaoh (cf. Mk 3:5a).
9 - 10 The Heart of Pharaoh Hardened
9 Then the LORD said to Moses, “Pharaoh will not listen to you, so that My wonders will be multiplied in the land of Egypt.” 10 Moses and Aaron performed all these wonders before Pharaoh; yet the LORD hardened Pharaoh’s heart, and he did not let the sons of Israel go out of his land.
The LORD tells Moses why Pharaoh will not listen to him, despite all the miracles he and Aaron have done for Pharaoh. God wants to give an abundance of miracles as a testimony of His power. As for Pharaoh, everything is in vain. If man does not want, God can use his unwillingness to show His power as a warning testimony to anyone who wants to see.