God shows His power
This is the book where Moses leads the Israelites out of Egypt. And God loves to show his power in this book, something I found difficult to accept and read. It didn't exactly fit into my understanding of God- in Exodus, God repeatedly says that He will perform a miracle/send a plague, so that Pharaoh will let the Israelites go to the land He promised to give them - but that He will harden Pharaoh's heart so that even though the miracle happens, Pharaoh will not let the people go. All so that God can show His power and glory. I kept thinking - how egotistical! And, well, He does exactly that-
He turns the waters of the Nile into blood, He sends plagues of frogs, gnats, flies. He diseases livestock, sends a plague of boils, sends storms of thunder and hail, locusts, darkness, and lastly, curses the first born of every Egyptian to die. Each time He sends a plague, He lifts it as soon as Pharaoh says he will let the people go- but then God hardens Pharaohs heart, so that he takes back his word and keeps the Israelites in slavery. All the while putting the Egyptians and Israelites through horrible plagues. Just so He can show His power? Goodness, this really frustrated me. This is not the God of mercy and love that I feel I know so well. But later, I came to appreciate this slightly more. All the while being very grateful that I was not an Israelite or an Egyptian at this time.
Finally, after the last plague- the death of all of the first born sons of all of the Egyptian families- Pharaoh finally lets the Israelites go- he SHOO's them out actually. But, shortly after they are on their way, God hardens his heart AGAIN, and has Pharaoh send out his army to chase the Israelites to bring them back. Honestly, haven't you shown enough power already God? Doesn't this seem unfair? Unjust?
It makes a little more sense to me later.