Exodus 11:1-3 Moses did not know how many plagues would come on Egypt but is now told that the final plague was at hand; God had shown who had true power and that the gods of Egypt were nothing. The Egyptians realized that resistance to Israel’s God was useless. They had come to respect Israel partly out of fear and to get the threat they were removed from them. Pharaoh’s resistance was doing greater and greater harm to the people and country. The Egyptians believed Israel was entitled to leave Egypt and that their God would ruin the country if they were hindered. The only one who could not see this was Pharaoh because God had blinded him to the reality for his attack on God’s firstborn. The Egyptians’ softened attitude toward Israel was also part of God’s plan was to provide his people with the wealth. He supernaturally influenced the Egyptians to give them their valuables and caused them to think highly of Moses as well.
Exodus 11:4-5 The plague of darkness proved that God ruled both night and day, the King of Egypt continued to believe he was a god. In his final meeting with Moses he thought he held the power of life and death, saying, “The day you see my face you will die” (Exodus 10:28). God had said the same thing to Moses on the mountain. Pharaoh was asserting the same character and power; to see him again would precipitate Moses’ death. Only God can take life. Pharaoh still thought he ruled over life and death. This last plague would prove who had power over life and death. The final plague would be the death of Egypt’s firstborn sons. God said that He would go through Egypt to bring about the death of the firstborn in Egypt. The Lord himself was the one who would bring this plague. Why at “about midnight”? Day in Israel began at sundown but the start of new day in Egypt was midnight. There is a mercy in this in that the death of so many Egyptians would occur while they were sleeping
Exodus 11:5-6 One may ask was God fair in killing the firstborn of all Egypt when it was the Egyptian king who was resisting God’s demands? Why not kill Pharaoh rather than his firstborn and all the other firstborn punishing the person most guilty of sin against God? Why kill the firstborn of cattle as well? Would families with only girls escape the devastation of this plague since some translations says “firstborn son”? God made a provision for all, not just Israel. Everyone who would heed the words of Moses by placing the blood of the lamb on the door posts and lintel would be spared. But we need to understand that Pharaoh was not the only guilty one in the oppression of Israel. His orders had to be carried out throughout the land, and this required the participation of his court officials, regional administrators, military, social servants. Warren Wiersbe observes:
Compensation is a fundamental law of life, and God isn’t unjust in permitting this law to operate in the world. Pharaoh drowned the Jewish babies, so God drowned Pharaoh’s army (Ex. 14:26-31). Jacob lied to his father Isaac (Genesis 27:15-17), and years later, Jacob’s sons lied to him (Genesis 37:31-35). David committed adultery and had the woman’s husband murdered (2 Samuel 11), and David’s daughter was raped and two of his sons were murdered (2 Samuel 13; 18). Haman built gallows on which to hang Mordecai, but it was Haman who was hanged there instead (Esther 7:7-10). “Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap” (Galatians 6:7).
It was also a display of God’s superiority over all other so-called gods, and for the benefit of all God’s people throughout the ages. Cattle suffered since there is a relationship between man and animals, both were created on the 6th day. Furthermore, it was another judgment on the food of Egypt. It did in fact affect women as well; Exodus 11:5-6 “the firstborn of “the slave girl at her hand mill,” the servant girl who ground the grain”, a representative of the lowest in the society. Wives, would lose their husbands if they were first born. The “wailing” is the same word used by God in Exodus 3:7,9 to describe the crying of Israel from the misery of their slavery. Things have now been turned so that now the Egyptians are crying out over an even greater suffering. The prediction of worse wailing “than there has ever been or ever will be again” is hard to dismiss: nothing like this in their history has ever occurred.
Concerning the firstborn in Genesis, we learn that God often rejected the firstborn son and chose the next son to carry on the family line and receive God’s blessing. God chose Abel, and then Seth, but not Cain; He chose Shem, not Japheth; Isaac, not Ishmael; and Jacob, not Esau. These choices represent God’s sovereign grace, but they are a way of saying that the first birth is not acceptble by God. We must experience a second birth, a spiritual birth, before God can accept us (John 1:12-13; John 3:1-18). The firstborn son represents humanity’s best, but that isn’t good enough for a holy God. Because of our first birth, we inherit Adam’s sinful nature and are lost; but when we experience a second birth through faith in Yeshua, we receive God’s divine nature and are accepted in Messiah. The Lord had endured with much patience the rebellion and arrogance of the king of Egypt and his advisors and his cruel treatment of the Jewish people. God warned Pharaoh many times, but he would not submit. One day every knee will bow to God to do so now leads to life to resist leads to death.Exodus 11:7 Once again Moses reports God’s intention to differentiate between the Egyptians and Israel in their suffering. The lesson for Egypt and all mankind is that when death is on its way, it is a judgment for sin and absolutely necessary to make things right with God. We all face this reality, we all sin and thus we all die. Man has several ways of facing this certain reality. The nihilist believes he has nothing to live for so he destroys himself. The hedonist tries to distract himself so he doesn’t have to think about death and eternity. “Eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we die.” The moralist tries to live the best life he can, hoping that God will accept him in the end. He says, “I’ve tried to be a good person. What more can God ask?” What most refuse to do is the one thing that God requires, and that is to repent for their sin, and receive God’s solution for sin, the one who died for that sin, the Lamb of God. Revelation, which echoes the plagues of Egypt, tells what people need to do when facing God’s judgment; repent of their sins and find safety in the mercy of God. Instead, the people will “curse the name of God, who had control over these plagues, they will refuse to repent and glorify him” (Rev. 16:9).
Exodus 11:8-10 Moses predicted to Pharaoh the reversal of roles between Israel and the Egyptians. The people who had once bowed down to Pharaoh would now bow down to Moses, not to acknowledge him as their king and lord as they did Pharaoh but to plead with him to leave Egypt and take Israel with him. The Egyptians would disagree with the king’s policy. Moses said that the time would come when all Egypt would want and beg for the exodus of Israel. Moses painted an image of the royal officials turning from Pharaoh, and pleading with Moses to leave. Moses’ anger in leaving Pharaoh related to the death Pharaoh had pronounced against himself and his people Egypt. V 9 is a summary of Exodus 4:21–23. V 10 reminds us of what had been happening throughout the plague accounts, as predicted: God showed his wonders to the world, but Pharaoh continues to resist letting Israel leave.