God reveals himself in both general and special revelation. The former comes to all, while the latter goes only where God sends it. Special revelation takes many forms, including historical events like the plagues and the exodus. God predicts that he “will redeem” Israel from Egyptian bondage “with an outstretched arm and with great acts of judgment” (6:6). After Pharaoh stubbornly refuses to let the Israelites leave Egypt to worship, Yahweh sends 10 terrible plagues upon Egypt (7:14–12:32). God declares that the plagues, a form of special revelation, reveal him as Lord (7:17; 8:22). Specifically, they display God’s power, sovereignty, and covenant-keeping love. In at least half of the plagues the Lord distinguishes between Egypt and Israel, sparing his people (see 11:4–7). Pharaoh’s consistent defiance brings the tenth plague, the death of all the firstborn in Egypt, including his son (12:29). In mercy, God protects the Israelites who obediently put sacrificed lambs’ blood on their doorposts and lintels. Because the Lord promises to pass over such homes when he comes to judge the firstborn, Israel is to celebrate the Passover as an annual feast to the Lord.
Finally, Pharaoh lets the Israelites go. In fulfillment of God’s promise to Abraham hundreds of years prior, the people leave with the Egyptians’ silver and gold (12:35–36; cf. Gen. 15:14). When Pharaoh changes his mind and furiously chases after them, God opens the Red Sea for his people to cross; when the Egyptians follow, God closes the water over their chariots and kills their horsemen (Ex. 14:28). God’s control of the sea is also special revelation, which Moses’ and Miriam’s songs acclaim. They celebrate God’s holiness, might, and majesty in the judgment of Egypt and his greatness, strength, and steadfast love in the deliverance of Israel.
Theology for Life—In the exodus, the major historical event through which God reveals himself in the OT, the Lord judges his enemies and delivers his people. The record of the plagues and the exodus strengthens our faith that Jesus will return in glory and power to punish the wicked and bring final salvation to believers.