From Exodus 7-9
The LORD’s fourth plague against Egypt is a plague of flies. Through this plague, the LORD once again displays his power and command over creation. He bends creation to his will in order to rescue his people. Think about what the plagues say about God. We sometimes forget our God is bigger and more powerful than we could ever imagine.
This post is part of my bible in a year series
Passage and Comments
As Pharaoh continues to reject the LORD’s command to let his people go, he suffers more and more plagues. In today’s passage the plague comes from the air.
20 Then the LORD said to Moses, “Rise up early in the morning and present yourself to Pharaoh, as he goes out to the water, and say to him, ‘Thus says the LORD, “Let my people go, that they may serve me. 21 Or else, if you will not let my people go, behold, I will send swarms of flies on you and your servants and your people, and into your houses. And the houses of the Egyptians shall be filled with swarms of flies, and also the ground on which they stand.
22 But on that day I will set apart the land of Goshen, where my people dwell, so that no swarms of flies shall be there, that you may know that I am the LORD in the midst of the earth. 23 Thus I will put a division between my people and your people. Tomorrow this sign shall happen.” ’ ”
24 And the LORD did so. There came great swarms of flies into the house of Pharaoh and into his servants’ houses. Throughout all the land of Egypt the land was ruined by the swarms of flies. (Ex 8.20-24)
‘Morning’, ‘Water’. Like the first plague (Ex 7.15), Moses is commanded to meet Pharaoh in similar circumstances. This suggests a second series of plagues.
‘Or else’. The command is given with a warning of the consequences of failing to obey.
‘Goshen’. Unlike the previous plagues Israel, was given respite from this one. This is the first plague where the LORD makes a public distinction between his people and the Egyptians.
25 Then Pharaoh called Moses and Aaron and said, “Go, sacrifice to your God within the land.”
26 But Moses said, “It would not be right to do so, for the offerings we shall sacrifice to the LORD our God are an abomination to the Egyptians. If we sacrifice offerings abominable to the Egyptians before their eyes, will they not stone us? 27 We must go three days’ journey into the wilderness and sacrifice to the LORD our God as he tells us.”
28 So Pharaoh said, “I will let you go to sacrifice to the LORD your God in the wilderness; only you must not go very far away. Plead for me.”
29 Then Moses said, “Behold, I am going out from you and I will plead with the LORD that the swarms of flies may depart from Pharaoh, from his servants, and from his people, tomorrow. Only let not Pharaoh cheat again by not letting the people go to sacrifice to the LORD.” (Ex 8.25-29)
‘Abomination to the Egyptians’, ‘Three days journey’. After the LORD had send four plagues, Moses has no need to mix words with Pharaoh. The dialogue is a sparring match between the two as Moses gradually lays down the LORD’s demands.
30 So Moses went out from Pharaoh and prayed to the LORD. 31 And the LORD did as Moses asked, and removed the swarms of flies from Pharaoh, from his servants, and from his people; not one remained. 32 But Pharaoh hardened his heart this time also, and did not let the people go. (Ex 8.30-32)
‘Hardened his heart’. Pharaoh’s repentance is skin deep. After so many plagues he has not yet understood the LORD’s power over creation to free His people.
Story of Israel
Creation is at God’s command both to deliver his people and to destroy his enemies. The plagues are creation reversals: Animals harm rather than serve humanity; light ceases and darkness takes over; waters become a source of death rather than life; the climax of Genesis 1 is the creation of humans on the last day, whereas the climax of the plagues is the destruction of human beings in the last plague. The plagues do not run rampant, however. They eventually cease, and each cessation is another display of God’s creative power. (Enns, P., 2000. Exodus, Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.)
Story of Jesus
After many readings it may be easy to read over the story of these plagues without really considering the immensity of who God is and what He is capable of doing.
22 One day he [Jesus] got into a boat with his disciples, and he said to them, “Let us go across to the other side of the lake.” So they set out, 23 and as they sailed he fell asleep. And a windstorm came down on the lake, and they were filling with water and were in danger. 24 And they went and woke him, saying, “Master, Master, we are perishing!” And he awoke and rebuked the wind and the raging waves, and they ceased, and there was a calm. 25 He said to them, “Where is your faith?” And they were afraid, and they marveled, saying to one another, “Who then is this, that he commands even winds and water, and they obey him?” (Lk 8.22-25)
God came down to be one of us. He was in our midst. We should be humble knowing we are dealing with a God of universal power and presence, who wills creation to do his bidding. The same God has gone to great lengths to make himself known to us in Jesus.
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