Snakes, blood, frogs, gnats, and flies.
So far, the plagues have been limited to annoyances. Granted, they are huge annoyances, but the Egyptians will recover from them without much trouble.
Until Exodus 9.
God is about to turn up the heat. He is gonna kick it up a notch. He is going to put a little spicy dijon on the next one. Pick your metaphor. I like the last one myself.
The flies give way to a “deadly pestilence” that will kill all the livestock. This just got real folks! Things that aren’t frogs are dying now. Things of value. Things that help an economy stay on its feet.
Then come the boils. Gross.
Then comes the heaviest hail Egypt has ever seen. I didn’t know Egypt had even seen any hail. But this stuff will literally end your life if you are caught in it.
So get the HAIL indoors! Boom!
Playing Both Sides
These plagues are happening because Pharaoh’s heart is hard and he won’t let the people go. Sometimes the text makes it clear that Pharaoh was hardening his own heart.
But most of the time it seems like God is doing the hardening.
And I don’t know what to do with that.
God is simultaneously dead-set on getting his people out of Egypt and making it more difficult for them to leave. He is hardening Pharaoh’s heart! He is working against himself!
Does anyone else think that’s crazy?! Am I missing something?
Cards On The Table
I wrote before about God being fine with inefficiency. Now we know why.
“. . . so that you (Pharaoh) may know that there is no one like me in all the earth. For by now I could have stretched out my hand and struck you and your people with pestilence, and you would have been cut off from the earth. But this is why I have let you live: to show you my power, and to make my name resound through all the earth.”
Look Pharaoh, I’m a lot like Texas. Don’t mess with me.
Oh, you don’t like that comparison? Try this one on. I’m like Frank Thomas. I bring the Big Hurt!
I just want to make sure that you and everyone else around here know who I am. And not only that, but I want y’all to know I will f**k you up if you don’t let my people go!
The Big Reveal
I think back to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. I think about how they primarily (with a few notable exceptions) knew God as one who stuck with them and helped them prosper. I think about the long periods of time where he didn’t really do anything big save for keep Laban at bay.
But now God reveals what he is capable of.
Not only can he provide a wife, children, and striped sheep, but he can bring the most powerful empire on earth to its knees.
God just got big. God just got scary.
And that is terrible news if you are Pharaoh.
As a Texan AND a huge baseball fan, I am totally on board with both of those comparisons.
I was able to drive through Texas on a baseball roadtrip. It was special. That is a FLAT state! But the rangers stadium was awesome.
I was teaching this passage to 3-5th graders at my church in St. Louis, and our curriculum guide had a page which showed that each plague targeted a god that the Egyptians worshiped. I guess God was saying that he was more powerful than their gods. Something to look into that I didn’t know before!
First off, ditto to Mandy, lol! Second, I cannot lie and say that I haven’t been confused by the fact that God’s playing…well…devil’s advocate with Himself. However, we He explains that His actions are to show His power, it becomes very clear that He’s challenging Himself to prove that no man’s will is greater than His.
Sure, Pharoah could tell himself that he has the power (over himself, others…the prevention of economic chaos) and he’d be partially right since that falls into the realm of free will. BUT! God’s will is greater, period…He does what He wants to do, and this whole chapter shows that in detail.
A college professor once put forth that perhaps God is not intentionally hardening Pharoah’s heart, but rather that Pharoah’s heart is hardened by God, naturally. Not unlike how an egg would be fried by a hot pan. It’s the nature of the egg to be fried by the heat and it’s the evil nature of Pharoah to be hardened by God.
I’m still not sure I am 100% on board with this thought, but it’s something to ponder.
I guess that would still make God a heart-hardener. That’s an interesting idea. I’m not familiar with the original language to know if the verb is active or passive. But whatever the case, thanks for the comment!
God is playing both sides. Against himself even.
To what end? Ooooh, he showed his power, he proved that he was better than the Egyptian gods. Yeah, what good did that do?
So the Egyptians saw all this and converted to Judaism? Gave up their gods? Started worshiping Yaweh?
Oh, they didn’t? Then I guess it was all a big waste of time. A torturing of many innocent people for no gain. The majority of people affected had nothing to do with pharaoh’s decision to keep the Israelites as slaves yet suffered. They were innocent victims.
God wanted his people let go. Could have had it several times, but no. Had to stroke his ego. Show he was best. Didn’t convert anyone.
Some all-powerful being…
People who behave him are often called a-holes.
Oh, and btw, if God could harden pharaoh’s heart, he could just as easily have softened it without anyone having to suffer. Something a higher-thinking being would do.