“And I will sever in that day the land of Goshen, in which my people dwell, that no swarms of flies shall be there; to the end thou mayest know that I am the LORD in the midst of the earth. And I will put a division between my people and thy people: to morrow shall this sign be.” (Exodus 8:22-23)
There is no mention in the first three plagues that fall upon the land of Egypt whether or not the Israelites were affected. Since in every other plague following, the fourth through the tenth, we are specifically told that the people of God were not affected, we may assume that the turning of the Nile into blood, the frogs covering the land, and the plague of lice were poured out indiscriminately. Preceding the swarms of flies, however, God stipulates that He will put a division between the people of Egypt and His own people. The word for division literally means a redemption (it is translated as such in Psalms 111:9 and 130:7; and as redeem in Isaiah 50:2). In the plagues that God pours out on Egypt and the saving of His people from these plagues, we have a portrait of God’s judgment and redemption.
The Plagues Are Judgment
“Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him.” (Romans 5:9)
The first thing we should consider is that the plagues God poured out on Egypt were His judgments against a wicked people who defied Him. These plagues were the wrath of God being revealed against those who denied and rejected Him. Wherever we read in the New Testament about the wrath of God, we are reading about His judgment. Verses such as Romans 5:9 and 1 Thessalonians 1:10 promise that those who trust in Christ shall not come under the wrath of God, we shall not come under His holy judgment. God’s redemption saves His people from His wrath and judgment, just as it did for His people living in the land of Egypt. God does chasten those whom He loves (Hebrews 12:6-7), but we are never judged by God’s wrath. In fact, Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 11:32 that God’s judgment on us is His chastening that we might not be condemned with the world. God never judges those who belong to Him with destruction or condemnation like He judges those who reject Him and defy Him. He corrects His own as a loving Father corrects a son.
The plagues of Egypt are punitive in nature, not corrective. They are the direct actions of God upon a people in judgment for their rebellion. Yet even in this judgment there is the opportunity for repentance and a turning to the Lord. Had Pharaoh submitted at any time during this process we can be sure that the judgments would have ceased.
God’s People Are Not Immune To Difficulties
“These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)
While we are promised that we will not suffer the wrath of God, we are never promised that we will escape the trials and difficulties present in a fallen world. The Lord Jesus Christ made it clear that we would not be immune to the troubles of life and that we should expect them. As Christians, we have more than our share of suffering. This world, the devil, and even our own flesh are all in conflict against the things of God. 1 Timothy 3:11-12 tells us that even the sincere desire to live a godly life that honors the Lord will bring persecution and affliction (though we have the promise that God will deliver us from them all!). But God’s wrath and judgment are not among the adversities that the child of God will have to face.
Kept From Judgment
“Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth.” (Revelation 3:10)
Like the plagues of Egypt, the judgments listed in the Book of Revelation which will occur during the “Great Tribulation” are judgments from God. These judgments are the final outpouring of God’s wrath on a sinful and rebellious world that has utterly rejected Him. When God judged the world with the Great Flood, He set apart those belonging to Him; He redeemed Noah and his family. When God judged Sodom and Gomorrah, He set apart those belonging to Him; He redeemed Lot and his family. When God judged Pharaoh and Egypt, He set apart those belonging to Him; He redeemed the children of Israel. Will God do any differently when He pours out His greatest judgments upon the Earth? In each of these cases in the Old Testament, God removed those belonging to Him before He poured out His wrath. The Israelites may have endured the consequences of the first three plagues of Egypt, but the implications and severity of these three were nothing like the remaining seven. The bloody river, the frogs and the lice were certainly annoying and bothersome, but they were nothing like the plagues to come. They did not involve death, loss of livestock/property, or physical pain as the latter plagues would. Before these would come, God set His own people in safety. He set apart the land of Goshen.
“And I heard another voice from heaven, saying, Come out of [Babylon], my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues.” (Revelation 18:4)
One common objection raised against the idea of a “pre-Tribulation Rapture” (that the Lord Jesus will take His own out of the world before the Tribulation begins) is that the Bible does not teach that God ever removes His people from danger and hardships. But such an objection seems to seriously misunderstand both the nature and severity of the judgments that will occur during the Great Tribulation. The events described are not mere “trials”, “hardships”, or “difficulties.” They are the judgments of God Almighty, pouring out His wrath on the entire Earth in an unprecedented way! Yes, the devil will have his season during this time, but it is the hand of God that will be responsible for the most dramatic and awe-inspiring judgments that man has ever known. God has promised that those belonging to Him will escape His wrathful judgment. A “pre-Tribulation Rapture” of those who trust in Christ definitely appears to be the way that the Bible shows this promise will be carried out.
Until next time: May the Lord bless and keep you. To God goes all glory.
In His service,