Read Exodus 8
1 Then the Lord said to Moses, “Go to Pharaoh and say to him, ‘This is what the Lord says: Let my people go, so that they may worship me. 2 If you refuse to let them go, I will send a plague of frogs on your whole country. 3 The Nile will teem with frogs. They will come up into your palace and your bedroom and onto your bed, into the houses of your officials and on your people, and into your ovens and kneading troughs. 4 The frogs will come up on you and your people and all your officials.’”
5 Then the Lord said to Moses, “Tell Aaron, ‘Stretch out your hand with your staff over the streams and canals and ponds, and make frogs come up on the land of Egypt.’”
6 So Aaron stretched out his hand over the waters of Egypt, and the frogs came up and covered the land. 7 But the magicians did the same things by their secret arts; they also made frogs come up on the land of Egypt.
8 Pharaoh summoned Moses and Aaron and said, “Pray to the Lord to take the frogs away from me and my people, and I will let your people go to offer sacrifices to the Lord.”
9 Moses said to Pharaoh, “I leave to you the honor of setting the time for me to pray for you and your officials and your people that you and your houses may be rid of the frogs, except for those that remain in the Nile.”
10 “Tomorrow,” Pharaoh said.
Moses replied, “It will be as you say, so that you may know there is no one like the Lord our God. 11 The frogs will leave you and your houses, your officials and your people; they will remain only in the Nile.”
12 After Moses and Aaron left Pharaoh, Moses cried out to the Lord about the frogs he had brought on Pharaoh. 13 And the Lord did what Moses asked. The frogs died in the houses, in the courtyards and in the fields.14 They were piled into heaps, and the land reeked of them. 15 But when Pharaoh saw that there was relief, he hardened his heart and would not listen to Moses and Aaron, just as the Lord had said.
The Plague of Gnats
16 Then the Lord said to Moses, “Tell Aaron, ‘Stretch out your staff and strike the dust of the ground,’ and throughout the land of Egypt the dust will become gnats.” 17 They did this, and when Aaron stretched out his hand with the staff and struck the dust of the ground, gnats came on people and animals. All the dust throughout the land of Egypt became gnats. 18 But when the magicians tried to produce gnats by their secret arts, they could not.
Since the gnats were on people and animals everywhere, 19 the magicians said to Pharaoh, “This is the finger of God.” But Pharaoh’s heart was hard and he would not listen, just as the Lord had said.
The Plague of Flies
20 Then the Lord said to Moses, “Get up early in the morning and confront Pharaoh as he goes to the river and say to him, ‘This is what the Lord says: Let my people go, so that they may worship me. 21 If you do not let my people go, I will send swarms of flies on you and your officials, on your people and into your houses. The houses of the Egyptians will be full of flies; even the ground will be covered with them.
22 “‘But on that day I will deal differently with the land of Goshen, where my people live; no swarms of flies will be there, so that you will know that I, the Lord, am in this land. 23 I will make a distinction between my people and your people. This sign will occur tomorrow.’”
24 And the Lord did this. Dense swarms of flies poured into Pharaoh’s palace and into the houses of his officials; throughout Egypt the land was ruined by the flies.
25 Then Pharaoh summoned Moses and Aaron and said, “Go, sacrifice to your God here in the land.”
26 But Moses said, “That would not be right. The sacrifices we offer the Lord our God would be detestable to the Egyptians. And if we offer sacrifices that are detestable in their eyes, will they not stone us? 27 We must take a three-day journey into the wilderness to offer sacrifices to the Lord our God, as he commands us.”
28 Pharaoh said, “I will let you go to offer sacrifices to the Lord your God in the wilderness, but you must not go very far. Now pray for me.”
29 Moses answered, “As soon as I leave you, I will pray to the Lord, and tomorrow the flies will leave Pharaoh and his officials and his people. Only let Pharaoh be sure that he does not act deceitfully again by not letting the people go to offer sacrifices to the Lord.”
30 Then Moses left Pharaoh and prayed to the Lord, 31 and the Lord did what Moses asked. The flies left Pharaoh and his officials and his people; not a fly remained. 32 But this time also Pharaoh hardened his heart and would not let the people go.
“Those who trust their own insight are foolish, but anyone who walks in wisdom is safe.” –Proverbs 28:26
Different day, same message: “Let My people go.” By the end of this week, you will be astounded by Pharaoh’s unrelenting heart and behavior. But, let’s not be quick to distance ourselves from his pride and arrogance, assuming that “we would never…” The truth is, we have. We do. All the time. We’ve stubbornly clung to a cause or a justification when God told us to let it go. We’ve made promises and repented falsely. We’ve seen the destruction our pride and sin has caused other people. We’ve hardened our hearts as we’ve feasted on disobedience and rebellion. Asking someone to pray for us, on our behalf, that God would be kind and relenting, when we have no intention of changing or surrendering.
Stubborn. Strong-willed. Obstinate. Prideful. We don’t like to be called out. It’s painful. But, what is more painful is the wake of destruction left behind when we refuse to listen to wise counsel. Pharaoh refused to listen to Moses and Aaron. He then refused to listen to his own advisors when they said, “This is the finger of God.” Ultimately, he refused to listen to God, and it was devastating and costly.
Pharaoh is like so many people in the world. God’s method of dealing with Pharaoh is still the same way He works today—God wants people to know Him. He gives us opportunities to make the right choices, and so experience the blessing of God. He often uses people to speak into our lives, to warn us, to encourage us, to remind us that God wants freedom for us. Pharaoh chose not to trust God, to ignore wise counsel, and his disobedience resulted in personal tragedy for himself and national tragedy for Egypt. Our choices determine our destiny.
Pharaoh either forgot his promises or had no intention of following through on them. Make no mistake–God keeps every one of His promises. He is true to His word. He is after your deliverance and surrender.
What do you learn about the character of God in this passage?
What do you learn about Moses’ character in this passage?
Is there someone in your life who keeps reminding you that “this is the finger of God”–someone who is encouraging you to turn from sin and turn to God? What is keeping you from surrendering or letting go of a familiar sin?
Did You Know?
Cows and bulls, the animals the Israelites would slaughter in order to offer sacrifices to the One True God, were actually considered deities in the Egyptian religion. To offer such a sacrifice in front of an Egyptian could incite a violent response.