Exodus 9

Three more plagues arrive: livestock, boils and hail. In the foreground of this chapter are the interactions between God, Moses and Pharaoh, but in the background are the people of Israel. What are they doing while all this is going on?

Presumably they are still having to make bricks without straw, and so life is still pretty grim. They are at least protected from the plague on livestock (v.4) and from the hail (v.26), but it is not clear whether they are infected with the boils.

We aren't told what kind of relationship the ordinary Israelites had with God at this stage. Were they praying to him as they suffered in Egypt? In Exodus 2:23 we read that they groaned and cried out, and although it doesn't say that they were specifically addressing God in their groaning and crying, we are told that God heard them.

I suspect the Apostle Paul had the Israelites in the back of his mind when he wrote Romans 8, especially v.23. Like the Israelites, Christians need to wait to see the full outworking of what God has promised to do for us - we have already been redeemed from slavery to sin, but we also groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies.

It may be that for the time being we have to put up with unfair treatment and even festering boils. We may have reason to groan. But Romans 8 reminds us that we have the Holy Spirit to help us and to pray alongside us. We also have the assurance that God is at work for good.

And we are invited to watch and wait, while God says to all the modern-day Pharaohs:

I have raised you up for this very purpose, that I may show you my power and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth. (Exodus 9:16)