Saturday, August 11, 2012

XXXVI - Exodus - The Plagues of Egypt

Exodus 7:14 - 11:10  - The Plagues of Egypt

God displayed His power in order to not only compel Pharaoh to release the Hebrew slaves, but also  to convince the Hebrews of just how powerful their God really is.  Let's not forget the atmosphere under which these Hebrew slaves have been born into, and have lived in all their lives.  In many of their minds, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob was either non-existant or has forgotten about them.  {I still submit that this is the reason God hardened Pharaoh's heart:  to display His power not only to Pharaoh and the Egyptians, but also His chosen people Israel.}

There are ten plagues of Egypt (Exodus 7:14 - 11:10):

* Plague of the Nile River Turned to Blood (7:14-24)
* Plague of Frogs (8:1-15)
* Plague of Lice (8:16-19)
* Plague of Flies (8-20-30)
* Plague on Livestock (9:1-7)
* Plague of Boils (9:8-12)
* Plague of Hail (9:13-35)
* Plague of Locusts (10:1-20)
* Plague of Darkness (10:21-29)
* Plague on Egypt's Firstborn (11:1-10)

If you have ever studied the early Egyptian civilization and their many gods they worshipped, you could conclude that, with each plague, God seemed to attack one of Egypt's gods.  The Nile itself was considered a god.  Ra, the sun god, was considered chief among the Egyptian gods.  Many animals were considered gods.  Even Pharaoh himself (like the Caesars of the Roman Empire) was considered a god, just to name a few.

I want to make a few brief comments about each of these plagues, as an event created by God.  Simply reading these passages don't quite give them justice, as there is so much in them.

Plague of Blood (7:14-24)

Simply to know that God turned the Nile water into blood by having Moses and Aaron strike the waters with their staffs does not begin to describe the devistation wrought by this miracle.  Egypt has long been called "the gift of the nile".  Without the Nile river, that desert in northeast Africa could not support basic human life, let alone a large and powerful civilization.  The entire nation was built along the Nile.  Commerce revolved around it. The agriculture was in the Nile valley, thus all of their food sources were nourished by it.  As I just mentioned, the Egyptians considered the Nile itself
to be a god.  When the Nile river was low, they thought the god was angry.  When the god was pleased, the water flowed high and in abundance and all prospered.  Thus, the first plague attacked their very source of life.  God displayed the fact that the Nile nor anything else was not a god worthy of worship.  Only the God of Israel.   Vs 21 - After God had turned the entire Nile into blood, the people couldn't drink from the river nor any other water source, as those also were turned to blood.  The fish died.  Everything had a horrible odor.  Vss 22-24 are interesting:  Says the magicians turned some water to blood in front of Pharaoh.  {Just a thought:  Think about our magicians of modern times. They are simply illusionists.  I suspect these magicians were only that also.  Remember, this civilization in Egypt was far more advanced than their Canaanite, Syrian, or Macedonian counterparts. These Magicians traveled beyond Egypt and became wealthy, fooling people into believing they had special powers.}  However, with doing that the magicians were telling Pharaoh that what Moses and Aaron did was not big deal.  That was a big mistake.  All that did was cause Pharaoh to disregard the actions of Moses and Aaron as the real power of God.

Plague of Frogs (8:1-15)

After seven days God sent Moses to Pharaoh and warned that if he didn't let His people go, He would send frogs from the Nile and other sources into all of Egypt, including Pharaoh's house, even in the kitchens.  The magicians created the illusion that they could do the same thing.  I'm not sure how long these frogs were everywhere.  But eventually Pharaoh (vs 8) called for Moses to tell him that he promises to release the Israelites if God would take away the frogs.  Moses agrees.  Moses prayed.  God made all the frogs die.  They were so numerous that they were pile up everywhere and the land reeked with the smell of the decaying frogs.  Imagine that.  However, Pharaoh changed his mind
and would not let Israel go.

Plague of Lice (8:16-19)

Lice (KJV) Gnats (NIV)  Lice or gnats.  No matter which, these small pests were all over everything and everyone.  Every living thing was being tormented by these insects, too small even to see one at a time.  But there are some things a little different about this plague as opposed to the first two.  God did not send Pharaoh a warning this time.  He simply performed the act of creating the lice.  Also different, the magicians couldn't create the illusion of doing the same thing.  And thirdly, the magicians confessed to Pharaoh that they were not capable of doing this and it was truly the "finger of God".  Making such a confession was no small thing for the magicians.  They were relinquishing their very high standing in the Egyptian hierarchy.  And finaly, this signified the first group of Egyptian officials to be won over to Moses's side and subtly make an appeal to Pharaoh to consider granting what Moses is demanding.  In other words, Pharaoh's walls are beginning to crack and are about to crumble.

Plague of Flies (8-20-30)

By this time, Egypt is not exactly the most pleasant of places for Pharaoh or anybody else.  The dead fish stink.  Old blood has a terrible stench. The decaying frogs are putrid and piled up everywhere.  And on top of all this they are going to have flies.  Dense flies, which means they are so thick you cannot see any other object because the flies were covering it.  Now flies are filthy little insects.  And they bite.  This time, like the first two, God warned Pharaoh that He would send flies all over Egypt if Pharaoh did not let His people go.  However, this time He had Moses tell Pharaoh that God would not allow flies to be in Goshen where the Israelites were.  Moses told Pharoah to let the Israelites go a
three-day journey into the wilderness so they could worship the true God.  After Pharaoh got tired of not being able to take a breath without breathing flies into his mouth, he told Moses to go tell his people they could worship God in Goshen.  Pharaoh must think he is in some kind of a bargaining position.  Moses immediately rejected that idea.  When God puts forth a command, He doesn't negotiate much.  So Pharaoh agreed Moses's terms.  Moses prayed.  God removed the flies, but Pharaoh would not honor his part of the agreement.

Plague on Livestock (9:1-7)

Again, God forwarns Pharaoh.  Through Moses, God gives Pharaoh another chance.  Gives him an ultimatum, and an easy way out.  The ultimatum is that God will send a plague and kill all of livestock in Egypt:  donkeys, camels, cattle, sheep, and goats.  But all the livestock in Goshen will live.  The easy way out is for Pharaoh to simply release the Israelites from bondage and let them leave Egypt untethered.  Vs 7 - After Pharaoh saw all of Egypt's livestock dead, he checked
to see if the livestock in Goshen were alive and they were, but he still refused to let them go.  Pharaoh was playing a game of wills.  When people act in a stubborn fashion just for the sake of winning, many people suffer.  Same is true today.  There are times when leaders must surrender to the wishes of their advisaries in order to protect the very people they are leading.

We'll pick up on the sixth plague in the next post.

No comments:

Post a Comment