because of the extent of the Scripture being covered, we will omit the usual
selections of Scripture. Reading through the chapters indicated will cover all
but the tenth plague. That plague is found to be completed late in the 12th
story is one of the most well known from the Bible, and one of the most
compelling. Particularly for Americans, this is holy ground. Many of the
negro spirituals dating from before the Civil War use the Exodus as a metaphor
for the freeing of American slaves. The spiritual Go down, Moses is
perhaps the best known of these expressions.
begin with a partial review of miracles, adapted for this context. A miracle
supernatural event. It is often a natural event, but speeded up, or
arriving out of season, or in a place not expected.
to the words spoken by one who speaks for God.
a context which makes it clear that the miracle carries a message.
goes some way to explaining the “magicians by their secret arts.” If something
occurs naturally, it can often be made to appear on demand. Science and magic
are twins. But only God is God.
should be clear that the impact and scope of these miracles increases step by
step. At first Moses demands only that the people go out three days journey to
sacrifice to the Lord. By the end of the sequence, it is clear that the
Israelites are not coming back. Similarly, the miracles themselves have
of the heart
of the most difficult aspects of this package is that God hardens Pharaoh’s
heart (over and over again) for the explicit purpose of the glory of God. A
comparable dilemma happens with the man blind from birth.
It seems that the glory of God is so important that extensive suffering may be
required for it.
shall not take too much time to detail these, but point out along the way the
lessons which might not quite be obvious.
word used for snake here actually means a creature of the water; to the
Egyptians this would be from the Nile. Aaron’s snake, therefore, attacks the
credibility of the magicians. The miracle is harmless except to the ego, but
it does serve to credential Aaron and Moses.
in the water
is a natural phenomenon which occurs late in the summer. The miracle is
therefore in the time of year and speed with which it occurs. We have the same
sort of thing in the Pacific; an algae bloom. This is rather different; the
normal version does not kill the fish. The magicians can do the same; just
note that they can’t undo the miracle. Moses can.
also interesting to note that this plague goes on for seven days. That’s long
enough to make everyone in Egypt needy for a well.
is an annual glut of frogs in September in the Nile. Again, it’s the timing of
this invasion that is the miracle. Also, there is a primary deity in the
Egyptian gods who is female and is portrayed with a frog’s head. Thus, this
miracle asserts the superiority of the Lord over this deity.
Moses allows Pharaoh to “call the shot” for the end of this plague. It’s a
very convincing technique. Anyone can say that the frogs will be dead some
time next week; letting your enemy pick the day shows the confidence Moses had
in the Lord.
gnats (or possibly mosquitoes) are a step up in the plagues. This time the
plague falls on the earth (from which the father-god in Egyptian culture is
taken). But note this: the magicians can’t duplicate this. So about this
time they are thinking that Moses is just a more clever illusionist.
plague has a noticeable effect: Pharaoh finally is willing to let them
sacrifice. But Moses insists on going three days out into the desert. It’s a
sign that Pharaoh is cracking. But not yet.
is some suggestion that the flies are in fact beetles, a sacred insect to the
Egyptians. They would be the representation of the sun god (remember scarabs?)
for the first time, we see a clear distinction between Egypt and Israel. Moses
has, if you will, upped the ante.
is going to have quite an effect on the magicians. First, these frauds are
encountering Reality in a painful way. The fact that they have no such trick
up their sleeves starts a change of view.
this is done with ashes. The Egyptians often cremated people, then scattered
their ashes to the winds. To the magicians, this would have seemed a hint to
the power of life and death.
the first time we have recorded that the people around Pharaoh are divided in
their opinion of Moses. Those who think Moses really can do this head home to
round up everyone and everything under a roof. Then the storm hits.
not really sure just what kind of storm this is. Those who tend to the opinion
that this was just a natural event say that lightning flashed; the word
actually used is not lightning, but fire. (The NIV has lightning; NASB has
fire). Hebrew does have two different words for these; the one used here is
for the first time, acknowledges his sin. But as soon as the storm stops, he’s
back to his usual position.
this point the only person in favor of keeping the Israelites is Pharaoh. His
advisors are telling him to let them go. So Pharaoh once again “repents”
(“forgive my sin just this once”) when he calls Moses back to him. Now Pharaoh
is willing to let them go – but leave the livestock.
of the firstborn
event is closely connected with Passover, which is in next week’s lesson, so we
shall defer comment to then. This, however, hits Pharaoh hard and he tells
the Israelites to leave. Interestingly, even after this, Pharaoh will come
is useful to remember that in Scripture the word “heart” does not mean “seat of
the emotions.” It means the center of the will. When the heart is hardened,
it is God’s good pleasure (often enough) that he will gradually increase the
affliction of the hard hearted. This is so that He gives them plenty of time
should we do?
Jas 4:10 NIV
Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.
of us have known someone who “just won’t listen.” Discernment is largely a matter
of taking the facts and organizing them in God’s way so that we might see what
His will might be.
can combine the facts with the word of God. This is why we are always
encouraged to read and memorize the Scripture; when the facts arrive, we
have a framework to hang them on.
can combine the facts with words of warning from our fellow Christians.
Such warnings are often taken directly from the Scripture, or can be
related to it.
can combine the facts with our guilty consciences. The right way to get
rid of guilt is to repent.
we do, remember that God will crescendo His actions toward us. It is better
to repent quickly than at leisure.
it’s just a matter of seeing God in what He does. It might look natural, but you
wonder about the “coincidence.” There are no coincidences with God; therefore,
watch for His hand working around you.