Point of View

The LORD said to Moses, “I will bring one more plague upon Pharaoh and upon Egypt; afterwards he will let you go from here; indeed, when he lets you go, he will drive you away. Tell the people that every man is to ask his neighbor and every woman is to ask her neighbor for objects of silver and gold.” The LORD gave the people favor in the sight of the Egyptians. Moreover, Moses himself was a man of great importance in the land of Egypt, in the sight of Pharaoh’s officials and in the sight of the people.

Moses said, “Thus says the LORD: About midnight I will go out through Egypt. Every firstborn in the land of Egypt shall die, from the firstborn of Pharaoh who sits on his throne to the firstborn of the female slave who is behind the handmill, and all the firstborn of the livestock. Then there will be a loud cry throughout the whole land of Egypt, such as has never been or will ever be again. But not a dog shall growl at any of the Israelites—not at people, not at animals—so that you may know that the LORD makes a distinction between Egypt and Israel. Then all these officials of yours shall come down to me, and bow low to me, saying, ‘Leave us, you and all the people who follow you.’ After that I will leave.” And in hot anger he left Pharaoh. (Exodus 11:1-8)

How you perceive God’s actions depends entirely on your point of view. God rescued his people from Egypt and set them free. The Israelites had no trouble seeing how much God loved them and cared about them when he slaughtered the first born of Egypt. The Egyptians and especially their first born, probably didn’t see it that way. One action gave rise to two points of view and two radically different interpretations of God.

The same fire that warms also burns. How you feel about the fire will depend on whether you’re warming your hands on a cold night or if you’re being burned at the stake. The fire, however, has not changed. It is doing exactly the same thing, no matter how you feel about it. So with God. God is love. Whatever he does he does because of love. He loves the world. And yet, when God showed his love, Egyptians died while Israelites rejoiced and were set free. God does not change. His behavior is always motivated by love. Love is all he expresses. But how we feel about what God does is up to us and our relationship with him.

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About R.P. Nettelhorst

I'm married with three daughters. I live in southern California and I'm a deacon at Quartz Hill Community Church. I spent a couple of summers while I was in college working on a kibbutz in Israel. In 2004, I was a volunteer with the Ansari X-Prize at the winning launches of SpaceShipOne. Member of Society of Biblical Literature, American Academy of Religion, and The Authors Guild
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