EXODUS 6, 7 and 8
Egypt became a battleground between Pharaoh, his magicians, his officials, and the false gods of the land – against the Lord, Moses and Aaron. The outcome was never in doubt! Ten plagues of increasing severity were unleashed against the stubborn Egyptians, with God demonstrating his power and control over his creation. The plagues were grouped into three groups of three, with a warning delivered by Moses to Pharaoh at the beginning of each group, early in the morning as Pharaoh went to the Nile to bathe. Each group of three judgments (three is God’s number!) was a divine attack upon the false gods of Egypt, demonstrating that the Lord is the only true God and is greater than all.
“Nile turning to blood” = a judgment against Apis and Isis, the god and goddess of the Nile
“Plague of frogs” = a judgment against Heqet, the frog-headed goddess of birth
“Plague of gnats” = a judgment against Set, the god of the desert sands
“Plague of flies” = judgment on Re or Uatchit, fly gods
“Plague on livestock” = judgment on Apis and Hathor, god and goddess who were often depicted as cattle
“Plague of boils” = against Sekhmet, Sunu, and Isis who had jurisdiction over health and disease
“Hail” = this attacked Nut, the sky goddess, Osiris, the fertility god of crops, and Set the storm god
“Locusts” = also attacked the same three gods again
“Darkness” = a direct attack on the sun god, Re, who also was symbolized by Pharaoh himself
The first two plagues were able to be replicated by the Egyptian magicians, but that was as far as they could go. From the second set of three, God made a distinction between Israel and Egypt by completely shielding Israel from all effects of the plagues. (The tenth and final plague on the firstborn will be discussed tomorrow.)
As the Lord had promised, he hardened Pharaoh’s heart at the beginning of this process (7:3) and this had the outward effect of causing Pharaoh to harden his own heart at each stage of the process. The purpose was to demonstrate the power and glory of the Lord and his supremacy over all aspects of his creation (Romans 9:17)
At the end of seven waves of judgment (the Hail), Pharaoh actually admitted that he had sinned against the Lord and that he, Pharaoh, was in the wrong; but once Moses had prayed for the hail and thunder to stop, Pharaoh sinned again by breaking his promise yet again.
Let us examine our own behaviour towards the Lord in our daily lives: Are we also guilty of calling upon him and making commitments of faithfulness and devotion – when we are in need or trouble – and then conveniently forgetting these promises once He has delivered us from whatever problem we were facing? Are we presuming upon God’s mercy and leaning rather heavily upon his patience? Do we believe that we can choose when we will repent and return to the Lord? If so, like Pharaoh, we might just find that we are mistaken!
“Seek the Lord while he may be found; call on him while he is near”. (Isaiah 55:6-)