The Cup of Plagues: A curse or cure to the Egyptians?

by Stan Meyer

stan blog 2My parents scolded me for using my hands to eat at the dinner table. That’s what utensils are for. Would you stir your coffee with your finger? I don’t allow my daughter to stir her drink with her pinky. But on Passover we’re commanded to put our pinky in a cup of sugary wine and take ten drops out and put them on our plate.

The cup of plagues (the second cup) reminds us of the blood of the Egyptians who suffered ten plages because of the wickedness of their king who refused to obey God. Because Pharaoh was disobedient, the people suffered. (Remember that this November!) God punished the land of Egypt by turning the Nile River into blood, overrunning the land with green amphibians, being bitten with flies, nats, suffering cattle disease, experiencing boils, extended darkness, and finally grieving the death of their first born children. After the will of the king was broken, he finally relented, agreeing to liberate the Jewish people, only to change his mind again. Sadly, he paid for his executive mistake by losing his army in the Red Sea.

Does the cup of plagues point us toward a vengeful God who avenges those who offend his children? Is Passover an ethnocentric story about a privileged group, contrasted against the nations of the world? Perhaps not. The story goes on to tell us that when the Jewish people departed Egypt, “…a mixed multitude went with them” (Exodus 12:38, ESV). Who joined the Jews? Egyptians, who recognized that their pantheon was a powerless myth, put their faith in the God of Israel, and recognized that salvation is in Him alone. Each plague was in fact an attack on an Egyptian deity, from the god of the Nile, to Horus the Bull, to Ra the Sun God. In the words of Yul Brynner, in the production The Ten Commandments, “His god, is God”.

The Jewish Scriptures is not simply a collection of narratives about God’s election of one privileged group of people. It is the story of God’s effort to bring all nations into a relationship with Him. He sought to reach them through His miraculous intervention in human history. Passover is just one of many interventions in which God used miraculous signs and the history of a group of people to reveal Himself to every culture and ethnos. God is still interested in everyone experiencing a personal relationship with Him. Passover reminds us of His never ending campaign to touch people’s lives.

Stan Meyer is a missionary at the Los Angeles branch of Jews for Jesus. Stan received his theological training at Fuller Theological Seminary. Stan and his late wife adopted their daughter, Carrie-Fu, from China in 2005. Stan married Jacqui Hops, a Jewish believer in Jesus, in August 2014.

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