Peter Misselbrook's Blog
Aug 10 2011 - E100.18b – Exodus 7:25-9:12, Frogs, gnats, flies, death and boils

One plague follows upon another, but still Pharaoh hardens his heart against the Lord's demand to let his people go. The whole of Egypt is crawling – or more accurately, hopping – with frogs. Again the Egyptian sorcerers manage to add to the plague. When the frogs die and their rotting bodies fill the land with the smell of death, the air is also filled with gnats. This is enough for the Egyptian sorcerers who tell Pharaoh, "This is the finger of God." But still Pharaoh will not listen.

The gnats are followed by swarms of flies. Pharaoh is weakening and is ready to compromise. He suggests to Moses that the Israelites can have a holiday from their work and celebrate a festival of worship to their God, but they must not leave the land of Egypt. Moses is equally adamant; the Israelites must take a three-day journey into the desert to worship God. Pharaoh concedes; the people may go into the desert to worship as long as they do not go very far. Pharaoh sends Moses away to pray that the plague of flies may cease. But as soon as the flies are gone, Pharaoh hardens his heart again and will not let the Israelites go.

The next plague shows that the God of Israel is fighting against Egypt while protecting his own people. Many of the domesticated animals in Egypt are struck dead, while none of the Israelites' animals is harmed. The smell of death hangs heavy in the air of Egypt as a warning of what is to come, but still Pharaoh will not loosen his grip upon the children of Israel.

The next is a plague of boils – festering boils broke out on the inhabitants of Egypt and their remaining animals. Pharaoh summoned his sorcerers to see what they could do about it, but they could not come; they were suffering too much with their festering boils. But still Pharaoh will not let God's people go.

Those who resist God's purposes do so to their own hurt and the hurt of those around them. But Pharaoh is not alone in being hard of heart and slow to learn the lessons God is teaching him. We shall see that Israel is also capable of rebellion and slow in learning to trust and obey. In Psalm 95, the Lord reminds the Israelites of how they rebelled against him in the desert after he had rescued them from Egypt; God pleads with them not to harden their hearts against him. The warning is repeated by the writer of the letter to the Hebrews – writing to Christians (Hebrews 3). We cannot afford to point the finger at others; we need always to be watchful over our own hearts.

Gracious Father, keep me from passing quick judgment upon others. Help me to watch over my own heart and to fear the sin of rebellion that may so easily lead me away from walking humbly with you.

Peter Misselbrook