Plagued

Almost 1500 years before Christ, God “heard the groaning” of His chosen people in slavery in ancient Egypt (Ex. 3:7-10). Moses and his brother, Aaron, were sent to “command Pharaoh to let the people of Israel leave his country” (v. 10). Egypt no longer remembered how God had used Joseph to save it from famine (see Genesis 41 and following). The Hebrews were cruelly mistreated in this foreign land, and the time was right for God to give them their own country.

So Moses and Aaron went to Pharaoh and did what the Lord had commanded them. Aaron threw down his staff before Pharaoh and his officials, and it became a serpent! Then Pharaoh called in his own wise men and sorcerers, and these Egyptian magicians did the same thing with their magic. They threw down their staffs, which also became serpents! But then Aaron’s staff swallowed up their staffs. Pharaoh’s heart, however, remained hard. He still refused to listen, just as the Lord had predicted. Exodus 7:10‭-‬13 NLT

Egypt was a land of many gods, so before the Israelites left them, God again put His sovereignty on display before them. He overcame each of their gods, often with a flick of Moses’ or Aaron’s wrist. Beginning with the first of ten plagues designed to overcome Pharaoh’s determination to keep millions of slaves, Moses was told to meet Pharaoh when he went to the river in the morning. Aaron was to raise his staff over the waters of Egypt, and they would all turn to blood, even what was in pots and bowls! Aaron obeyed, and the water was undrinkable, killed all the fish, and made them want to hold their noses!

Pharaoh asked that the plague be removed, so God agreed to his request. But Pharaoh again “hardened his heart”, and refused to let Israel leave.

Egyptian gods and goddesses of the river had been given credit for abundant harvests, due to the annual flooding that fertilized the soil, causing bumper crops. This miracle established God as Sovereign over the river.

The next week, Pharaoh was again told to let the Israelites leave. Again, he refused.

Then the Lord said to Moses, “Tell Aaron, ‘Raise the staff in your hand over all the rivers, canals, and ponds of Egypt, and bring up frogs over all the land.’” So Aaron raised his hand over the waters of Egypt, and frogs came up and covered the whole land! But the magicians were able to do the same thing with their magic. They, too, caused frogs to come up on the land of Egypt. Exodus 8:5‭-‬7 NLT

What was the significance of a plague of frogs? The Egytians worshipped a goddess with the face of a frog, Heqet. It was the Lord of the frogs demanding His people be freed!

The magicians were able to call frogs up, but were unable to get rid of the frogs YHWH sent! (This name for God, YHWH, was first given to Moses just previously when he asked whom it was he should tell the Hebrew children had sent him.)

Pharaoh again asked for relief from the plague, and at Moses’ request, the frogs all died the next day. Pharaoh again reneged on his agreement to let his slaves go. His stubborn refusal to acknowledge God’s sovereignty in the face of increasingly harsh miracles carried a high price for himself and his country. This continuing drama would see eight more plagues on Pharaoh and Egypt before the Hebrew children set out for the desert. Stay tuned for… the rest of the story!

Categories: Bible study

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