What about the Egyptians who've never heard

Hello everyone! I’ve been wondering recently about the people who haven’t heard the messages of God especially in the Old Testament. For example, we never hear of any Egyptian family who has done the Passover. Obviously, the Lord had His chosen people, the children of Israel; but hasn’t any one of the Egyptians repented of the evil they have done. Did the Lord bring down the plagues on all the Egyptian people because of the evil acts of Pharaoh. Did all the Egyptians have to suffer the plagues because Pharaoh was not responding to the word of the Lord?
thank you for your answers and many blessings

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Good evening, @linda.1.dagher - that is a very good question.

Actually, when you read the story in Exodus, you will frequently see references to the “mixed multitude” that also came out of Egypt with the Israelites. Those were the non-Israelites, most of whom would have been the very Egyptians you’re wondering about.

But we could expand your question and ask about all of the people who’ve never heard about God and His word. How are they judged?

Every man is judged according to the light he has, not by the light he hasn’t. Those with greater light have greater accountability, those with less have less. See Matthew 11:21-24.

But all men have some level of light from God - John 1:9. Even those without the light of God’s word still had the light of conscience within them (Romans 2:14-15). They still had the light of creation around them (Genesis 1:18-20). And those who respond to the light God gives them are given more light - enough for the next step - and every time they turn toward the light, there will always be more light to lead them to God. Jeremiah 29:13, ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart.

I hope this addresses the essence of what you were wondering about.

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Thanks @jlyons for your response!

That’s a great reminder; He is a loving and Just God and I’m sure He will judge the people with equity.

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Hi @linda.1.dagher, thanks for sharing what has been on your mind with this question of God’s revelation and the response of non-Israelites.

I appreciate what @jlyons has shared about the mixed multitude coming out of Egypt, and wanted to just point up a few more examples to encourage you this is not an isolated reference. Rather, it points us to an important truth in Scripture about the inclusion of the nations in God’s redemptive purposes in the world!

First, we find a paradigm example in Rahab, a Canaanite who aligns herself with Israel even as her city is set in conflict with them. In Joshua 2, she tells the Israelite spies that she has heard of the work of God on behalf of his people; sparing the lives of the spies, she obtains a promise that she and her household will be spared when the city is taken. In Joshua 6, we read that this promise was kept, and she remained among the people of Israel. She had transferred her allegiance in response to hearing of and believing in God’s presence with Israel. If we are tempted to doubt that she truly joined the people of God, we might turn to Matthew 1: she is listed in the genealogy of Jesus.

Second, we can look at the story of Ruth. A Moabitess, she is brought into contact with the people of God through her marriage, but after her husband dies, she immigrates to Israel with her mother-in-law and decisively takes the God of Israel as her own:

But Ruth replied, “Don’t urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God. (Ruth 1:16)

After immigrating with her mother-in-law as a widow, she was married to Rahab’s son, Boaz. Interestingly, Ruth too is listed in the genealogy of Jesus!

Finally, apart from these zoomed in snapshots or case studies, we can surmise that men and women from varied people and nations came into Israel because of the commands and codes which assume their presence. For instance, at the return from Exile:

The sons of Israel who returned from exile and all those who had separated themselves from the impurity of the nations of the land to join them, to seek the Lord God of Israel, ate the Passover. (Ezra 6:21) [emphasis mine]

Scripture is careful to trace the beginnings of the fulfillment of God’s promise to the patriarchs: through them he would bless all the nations of the earth. From the very first, God’s intention was for his blessing and presence in the midst of Israel to be testify to the nations, that they might abandon idols and come to worship the God of heaven and earth.

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Thank you @Lizibeth for taking the time to respond! These references are great and what a beautiful Lord we serve that places the names of Canaanite and Moabite women in his genealogy!
Thanks for that reminder and many blessings

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Hi Linda,
Your question is a very valid one, and actually a very common one when applied not only to the Egyptians but to all the “unreached” people of the world today.

In his letter to the Roman Christians Paul wrote very bluntly about this question. So blunt it sometimes makes me wonder how “sensitive” he was to people around him - including the Romans and the Greeks. He wrote
“what may be known about God is plain to them [the wicked], because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse. For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened.”

I recall sitting in a meeting in a Congolese village during which the villagers described their concept of God. They explained that it was God who made everything. And they strongly implied in their description that there is only one God, supreme over all. In this they recognized his creative power and his supremacy; they recognised the resources He made available to them in his amazing creation.

But, they said, He is so far away that He doesn’t really pay any attention to them. Much closer were the spirits of their ancestors (even deceased parents and grandparents) who watched over them, but also continued the local family feuds with both the other spirits and the living feuding families. To ensure that their own deceased family members continued to support and protect them from “enemy family” spirits, they must provide offerings of food and drink to them on a regular basis.

Here is Paul’s second point - they accept that He is supreme, but they also claim He doesn’t seem to bother controlling lesser spirits. So for practical purposes they ignore God - they do not worship him (‘glorify him’) as God, and they do not give thanks to him. For them it is very much more important to appease the spirits that directly interfere in their lives.

Their minds were darkened. It didn’t seem to occur to them that they could call on Him for protection from lesser spirits, or relieve them from their many fears.

When Adam and Eve sinned, it was God who came looking for them, he took the initiative to seek them out and restore the relationship. And this principle we see throughout the Bible. Jesus died for everyone. I personally believe that His Spirit is very active in every corner of the world, searching out everyone who has the faintest interest in Him, and drawing them to Him. He knows their hearts, He as “judge of all the earth” will do right.

When those villages heard the good news that God (so remote and beyond us) was indeed interested in people to the extent that he came to earth, and wants to establish contact, wants to replace fear with love and peace of mind… why, then very often there was immediate response. A light appeared in their “darkness of mind.” Often God has planted clues or keys in (probably) all cultures, which can be used to bring amazing “Aha!” experiences to people when they hear the good news presented in the right way. A tremendous book that illustrates this is one by Don Richardson called “The Peace Child.” It provides clear evidence of what the Psalmist wrote - “their voice has gone to all the world.”

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@Mohembo The Peace Child is such an incredible book! The Lord has definitely planted clues in every culture.

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Thanks @Mohembo for your answer ! What a beautiful reminder that He reveals Himself in ways we couldn’t have imagined and that He’s always wanting to reveal Himself to the ones who seek Him wholeheartedly.
“The Peace Child” seems like a great book, what an interesting topic!
Many blessings

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I think I didn’t address this particular angle. If I understand it correctly the question is basically “do all the people have to suffer because of the behaviour of the leader?” Putting it that way, it becomes very relevant to many situations today. This is a hard one, in my mind at least, because it goes against my personal and basic view of what’s “fair.”

Is it “fair” that birds can fly, but if I jump off a cliff, flap my arms madly, I will still be smashed on the rocks below? One could say that this is not at all an equivalent question, we’re not talking about people compared to birds, but Hebrew people compared with Egyptian people. And to some extent that is correct.

But from another perspective it isn’t so preposterous. Both birds and humans are bound by the law of gravity. Both Hebrews and Egyptians were bound by the “laws of relationships and community living.” Maybe you never heard of those. But they are basically the foundational principles that God used in designing the way the nation of Israel (His people) should conduct themselve as a community. And the people were supposed to be a light, a model, for other people to see and emulate. Our mind goes immediately to the famous “10 commandments” but these are only the briefest of summaries. When you read the other special features of God’s people, you’ll see what I mean.

The prophets of the OT have a very consistent theme in their warnings to the Israelites - and this warning was always about their failure to “acknowledge Him as God, and give him thanks” (Romans 1) and to apply his principles of social justice (supporting the weak and disadvantaged, especially orphans and widows and strangers/foreigners in the land, respecting the laws of restoration of personal freedom and family property, etc). These basic “social laws” apply to all societies, as witnessed by the common sense of “fair play” that we are born with, whatever our culture, language, gender, or ethnic identity.

Pharoah couldn’t rule without the support of the majority of his people, even if it wasn’t a democracy. We know this because there were many instances of violent changes of government. The majority of Egyptians probably benefited by having the Hebrews as a slave nation in their culture. And we don’t have to go back far in history even now, to find examples of whole ethnic groups being discriminated against within nations. One of the reasons Moses fled after his murder of the Egyptian “works supervisor” became publicly known, was no doubt that he knew he would find no support for his behaviour among the people of Egypt. (It apparently didn’t even have support among the Hebrews!)

The people of Egypt had another 40 years to change their treatment of the Hebrews, but in spite of the warning sign that Moses had given them in his hasty action, there was no let up in the mistreatment of the Hebrews. No call by the Egyptians to Pharoah to lighten the load. In spite of the series of plagues, Pharoah had no problem summoning his military to rush after Moses and take back their slaves.

Maybe the lesson to us today is that, if we as citizens in any country, do not protest against injustice, we will, as societies and nations, suffer the inevitable consequences, along with our leaders, of not adhering to these God-given rules of good societal behaviour. Love God with everything that you are and have, and your neighbour as yourself.

Paul put it a little more bluntly: Romans 2:14-15 New International Version (NIV)

“(Indeed, when Gentiles, who do not have the law, do by nature things required by the law, they are a law for themselves, even though they do not have the law. They show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness, and their thoughts sometimes accusing them and at other times even defending them.)”

And James wrote [James 4:17]

Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin .

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Thank you @Mohembo for your insightful answer!

It’s so true that sometimes we’re too good at pinpointing the sins and wrongful actions of our leader’s (earthly and spiritual ones) without examining ourselves and acting in a lawful way in the sight of our Lord.
Thanks again and have a great day!