I will send the full force of my plagues… so you may know that there is no one like me in all the earth. –Exodus 9:14
Can you imagine?
First, the water turned to blood. Not just in the Nile, but all of the rivers, every pond, each marsh. Even the water from pots and basins in Egypt turned red. Yuck.
Then came the frogs. Thousands upon thousands of (gag) slimy, grunting frogs. In beds. In ovens. In bowls. Then, once the frogs, ahem, croaked, the gnats and flies settled in.
Next, the livestock perished. Dead cows, oxen and sheep as far as the eye could see; how awful. Almost as bad as the painful boils, the unprecedented hail, the destructive locusts, and the utter darkness.
Still, certainly nothing could have been worse than the death of every first born son of the Egyptians. And so, ten plagues, thousands of suffering citizens and one devastated nation later, a broken Pharaoh finally let the Israelites go.
The story of the Ten Plagues (Exodus 7-11) is a well known, undeniably astonishing account of Biblical history. Most believers know all about God’s children who had been turned into slaves, Moses the reluctant Rescuer, and a stubborn, indecisive Egyptian leader who refused to let them go. Even after some wild weather patterns, unprecedented natural disasters, and painful health issues, Pharaoh’s heart remained hard.
But are the plagues merely a summary describing a group of people I never knew, in a culture I know little about, in a foreign land I’ve never visited? Or could a story of blood and frogs and boils be for you and me today?
In sending the plagues, I believe God was doing much more than than simply trying to get Pharaoh’s attention. He had more in mind than just getting the Israelites out of a bad situation. His purpose was even larger than fulfilling a 430 year old promise.
To the Egyptians who served a plethora of worthless gods. To the Israelites who lived in a pagan culture for centuries and barely knew Him. And to us. Through the plagues God was declaring Himself the only true god, the Lord eternal, the only One worthy of praise, rightfully placing Himself above all.
We know there is none like Him…
In Power. The magicians tried, but they couldn’t keep up with the miracles God performed. They used trickery and confusion, however they gave up when they realized they were no match for God’s power. But when the magicians tried to produce gnats… they could not. The magicians said to Pharoah, “This is the finger of God.” (Exodus 8:18-19, NIV)
In Predictions– Just like “fortune tellers” of today, the Egyptian sorcerers had a chance of being right, solely based on probability. They simply guessed and happened to be right some of the time. God’s predictions, however, are infallible. Every time the Lord foretold details of a plague, or of Pharaoh’s stubborn behavior, it came to pass. Pharoah’s heart, however, remained hard. He still refused to listen, just as the Lord had said. (Exodus 7:13, NLT)
In Protection. Some disasters hit the Egyptians but not the Israelites. For instance, hail only fell where the Egyptians lived and the Israelites enjoyed light when darkness plagued the people of Egypt. Throughout Egypt hail struck everything in the the fields- both people and animals… the only place it did not hail was the land of Goshen, where the Israelites were. (Exodus 9:25-26, NIV)
In Position– God’s desire is to be first in the hearts of His people. The plagues displayed His rightful place, distinguishing Himself above every other deity, god, idol and idea that are worshipped falsely. You were shown these things so that you might know that the Lord is God; besides Him there is no other. (Deuteronomy 4:35, NIV)
In Plans– Only a loving God makes good plans for his people. His promises may take longer than we’d like; the Israelites waited 430 years. But they are never late. God’s plans for the Israelites, and for us, are perfect. You shall know that I am the Lord your God, who brought you out from under the yoke of the Egyptians. (Exodus 6:7, NIV)