THE INCREASING SEVERITY OF THE PLAGUES
"Every man's judgment cometh from the LORD" (Proverbs 29:26).
Magicians' Power Broken
By the time the third plague struck Egypt, the magicians found they were powerless to imitate the work of Moses. Even their limited power was broken, and we never hear again of any supernatural work they performed. But God had only begun to show His wonder working power. We remember that He had said He would show the Egyptians who was God; and as they continued to harden their hearts against Him, He sent still greater plagues.
The Rod of God No Magic Wand
In the first miracle God told Moses to throw down his rod, and it became a serpent. In the first and second plagues he stretched the rod over the water; and in the third plague Moses smote the land with the rod, and the dust became lice. But in the next three plagues we hear nothing about the rod. It was not a magic wand that could perform any miracle; but the power of God behind the rod brought about the supernatural. When God threatened the land with flies He said they would appear the following day; and they did, without any apparent command from Moses. God's power was not limited to the use of the rod.
Separation of God's People
Another revelation of God's power was seen in this new plague. It seems that the first three plagues also came upon the Hebrews; but as the troubles became greater, God divided His people from the Egyptians, and spared them the torments that the enemies of had to go through. If this had been such a plague as the next one that was to strike, the disease that killed the cattle, one might say that it did not spread as far as to the land of Goshen. But who can keep flies from going where they want to? There were huge swarms of flies; they were in all the houses and all over the ground. There was no dividing line between Goshen and the rest of Egypt that the flies could see. Why is it that the thousands of miles of ocean does not overflow the land, especially where there is a flat beach and nothing to keep back the water? Because God has said, "Hitherto shalt thou come, but no further: and here shall thy proud waves be stayed" (Job:38:11). The Egyptians were yet to learn who was the Almighty God! So God kept the flies where He wanted them.
Pharaoh's Partial Yielding
The flies greatly distressed Pharaoh, and he sent for Moses and Aaron to come to rid the land of this plague. He promised them they could make their sacrifices, but he wanted them to stay in Egypt to do it. The Children of Israel could not do that for several reasons. In the first place, God had told them to go into the wilderness, and they must obey Him exactly. Later, when the Law was given to Israel, God emphasized the fact that He did not want His children to worship in just any place, but only where He ordained ([Deuteronomy:12:11]; [Deuteronomy:14:23]; [Deuteronomy:15:20]; [Deuteronomy:16:2]).
Another reason was that the Egyptians worshiped the animals that the people of God sacrificed; and if the Jews should kill those animals in the sight of the people of the land, they would suffer the wrath of the Egyptians. Pharaoh seemed to see their point, and finally agreed to let them go into the wilderness if they did not go far. But as soon as the flies were gone -- there was not even one little fly left when God took them away -- he took back his promise. The promises of wicked men cannot be trusted at all.
The Sacred Cow Dishonoured
Archaeologists have found inscriptions in Egypt, which state that the Egyptians worshiped at least 2,200 different gods. One of their most important ones, they said, sometimes came to earth in the form of a cow; so the people would never kill a cow for fear they might kill one of their gods. In India today the "holy" cow is allowed to wander through the streets, and even into stores, without being molested. When the fifth plague struck Egypt, all the useful animals died, including the cattle of the Egyptians. Our God did not pay any attention to their mythical gods, and brought to nothing the power they were supposed to have.
Pharaoh knew that the Hebrews needed cattle and sheep to offer as sacrifices to their God, so he sent someone to see if there were any alive in Goshen. Not one of their animals had died! But still Pharaoh hardened his heart against God, and would not yield.
We know there are people today who set their hearts to do evil; and the more God deals with them through trouble, the more bitter they become. Rather than call upon God for mercy, they curse Him because of the affliction. What a terrible judgment awaits such a person!
Sore Boils upon the Egyptians
The sixth plague to come upon the Egyptians was boils, not only upon the people, but also upon the beasts. If you have ever had a boil, you know what terrible suffering must have accompanied this plague. The Scripture does not state whether Moses said anything to Pharaoh about this approaching affliction; but he stood before the king and threw ashes into the altar, which became a fine dust that blew an over the land of Egypt -- except Goshen -- and caused the boils to break out. Evidently Moses and Aaron walked around among the dust, too, but they did not get any boils because God was taking care of them.
The magicians were powerless to keep the boils off themselves, and they were so terribly afflicted that they could not even stand before Moses. They had served Satan faithfully, but what reward did they get for it? Satan not only makes people believe a lie, but after they have served him faithfully he pays them off in much suffering and trouble; and in the end they will receive God's heaviest judgements.
Through all these trials we can see the mercy of God to the sinners. He could have taken their reason from them, or He could have killed them outright, but He still gave them a chance to repent. He was showing them the power of the true God, so they could never say that the reason they were lost was that they did not know the right way.
1. Name the fourth, fifth, and sixth plagues.
2. Did God have to use the rod to bring the plagues?
3. Why did the flies stay out of the land of Goshen?
4. Can we trust the promises of wicked men?
5. Why was it such a blow to the Egyptians when the cattle died?
6. What made the boils come upon the people?
7. Could the magicians keep the boils from coming on themselves?