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Scripture reading assignment: Exodus 9-10
Our study in the Book of Exodus continues with the contest between Moses, God’s messenger, and Pharaoh, the king of Egypt. Four judgments have befallen the nation, and each has been followed by Pharaoh hardening his heart and refusing to let the children of Israel go so that they “may serve” the LORD.
The Fifth, Sixth, and Seventh Plagues (9:3-35)
The fifth plague that befell Egypt afflicted the “cattle which [was] in the field, upon the horses, upon the asses, upon the camels, upon the oxen, and upon the sheep” (9:3). The disease was “a very grievous murrain,” an epidemic so severe that “all the cattle of Egypt died.” But, as a testimony of God’s sovereignty and love of His people, none of the livestock of Israel perished (9:4-7). Yet, “the heart of Pharaoh was hardened, and he did not let the people go” (9:7b).
The sixth plague began when Moses gathered “handfuls of ashes of the furnace, and [sprinkled] it toward the heaven in the sight of Pharaoh” (9:8), and boils broke out on man and beast (9:8-11). The affliction of the boils was so painful that even Pharaoh’s magicians “could not stand before Moses” (9:11). And yet, “the Lord hardened the heart of Pharaoh, and he hearkened not unto them; as the Lord had spoken unto Moses” (9:12).
The seventh plague destroyed all the crops of Egypt when the LORD rained down hail upon their fields (9:13-35). This time, however, some of Pharaoh’s servants believed the warnings of Moses. They made their servants and livestock take shelter in their houses (9:20). Pharaoh confessed, “I have sinned this time: the Lord is righteous, and I and my people are wicked” (9:27). The king promised to let Israel go; however, when the hail ceased, “the heart of Pharaoh was hardened, neither would he let the children of Israel go; as the Lord had spoken by Moses” (9:35).
The Eighth and Ninth Plague (10:2-29)
Egypt’s crops and livestock losses brought the suffering of hunger and famine. Perhaps you have wondered why the LORD did not simply deliver Israel from bondage rather than judge Egypt with ten plagues. The answer is found in Exodus 10.
Exodus 10:2 – “And that thou mayest tell in the ears of thy son, and of thy son’s son, what things I have wrought in Egypt, and my signs which I have done among them; that ye may know how that I am the LORD.”
More than delivering His people from slavery, the LORD wanted Israel to know and remember through successive generations all He had done in Egypt. His dealings with Pharaoh were to serve as a lasting testimony of God’s person, power, and presence among His chosen people. Israel was a nation of slaves, but their God was the Creator and Sovereign of nature. He would bring the greatest ruler and the most powerful country in the ancient world to her knees.
The eighth plague of locusts devastated Egypt and devoured what was left of the nation’s vegetation (10:3-20). Heavy darkness was the ninth plague that befell Pharaoh and Egypt (10:21-29), and the Egyptians were oppressed and frightened by the darkness. Yet, Israel was spared, and God’s people enjoyed the warmth of the light in their dwellings.
Pharaoh then sought a compromise with Moses and would have allowed the people to depart, but not with their livestock (10:24-25). Moses, however, refused (10:26), and “the Lord hardened Pharaoh’s heart, and he would not let them go” (10:27). Furious with Moses, Pharaoh warned, “take heed to thyself, see my face no more; for in that day thou seest my face thou shalt die” (10:28).
Strong and confident in the LORD, Moses answered the king and declared: “Thou hast spoken well, I will see thy face again no more” (10:29). The stage was set for the final judgment and the humiliation of Pharaoh.
Questions to consider:
1) What message did God send Pharaoh when the fifth plague killed all the cattle of Egypt? (Exodus 9:3-7)
3) What purpose did the ten plagues that befell Egypt serve? (Exodus 10:2)
4) What spiritual purpose could a plague or pandemic serve in our day?
Copyright © 2023 – Travis D. Smith
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