Numbers 33:4 “…also on their gods the Lord had executed judgment.”
God did more than just send random plagues on Egypt. He was accomplishing more than just trying to make the Egyptians miserable enough to release the Israelites from slavery. He could have accomplished that in one plague instead of ten.
God was executing judgment on the gods and on the pride of Egypt. He was proving their gods to be false, to be subject to His will, and to be powerless to save them. God was exposing the gods of Egypt for the false gods they were. Egypt considered the Nile River to be a god, so it turned to blood. They considered the calf to be a god, so the cattle died. He attacked the pride of their civilization and culture by sending flies, lice and frogs. He judged their fertility gods by destroying the crops with locust and fiery hail.
In Exodus 18, when they met up in the wilderness after the Red Sea crossing, Moses father-in-law said to him, “Now I know that the Lord is greater than all the gods; for in the very thing in which they behaved proudly, He was above them.” God proved to Egypt the utter futility of trusting in any god besides Himself.
This changes our view of trials.
Perhaps, when God allows plagues or hardship to come into our lives, it is not just to make us miserable. He is not just punishing us for being bad. Perhaps, like the Egyptians, God is destroying and rendering powerless those gods in which we have placed our trust.
Isaiah 26:13 says, “…masters besides You have had dominion over us…” It is these masters that God wants to destroy. Not because He is mad at us, but because He knows it is for our benefit that we have no other masters. Look at the prior verse in Isaiah 26, “Lord, You will establish peace for us…” This is His plan. This is His purpose. He wants to show us the utter powerlessness of those other gods in whom we have placed our trust.
Like Israel, God wants to deliver us from bondage.
Like Israel, God knows He must judge the gods of this world before they will release us. So instead of complaining about the plagues, let us instead turn our eyes to the God who is bringing us deliverance for that bondage. Instead of running from hardship, let us instead see the masters other than God who have had dominion over us.
And let us rejoice in the judgment of these masters, that we might live in the freedom of belonging only to our loving Father.
It’s the only way we get to the Promised Land.