Exodus 8: Puffed Up

Then the Lord said to Moses, “Go to Pharaoh and say to him, ‘This is what the Lord says: Let my people go, so that they may worship me. 2 If you refuse to let them go, I will send a plague of frogs on your whole country. 3 The Nile will teem with frogs. They will come up into your palace and your bedroom and onto your bed, into the houses of your officials and on your people, and into your ovens and kneading troughs. 4 The frogs will come up on you and your people and all your officials.’”

Notice what the Lord tells Pharaoh: Let my people go, so that they may worship me. He didn’t tell Pharaoh to let them go so they’d complain less or so they’d get a few extra days of rest; the purpose was to worship. To worship means to credit worth to something. God doesn’t need us to worship Him, but He does desire it. He desires it because when our eyes are focused on Him, we can’t help but be transformed into His likeness.

As was mentioned last week, with each of the plagues there is a moral parallel. The plague of blood represented the death which overshadows unbelievers. The plague of frogs signified the puffed up pride of the world. There are several verses about being puffed up and they each provide a perspective on why the pride of life must be eradicated from our hearts:

-          See, the enemy is puffed up; his desires are not upright— but the righteous person will live by his faithfulness…” Habakkuk 2:4

-          “Now about food sacrificed to idols: We know that ‘We all possess knowledge.’ But knowledge puffs up while love builds up.” 1 Corinthians 8:1

-          “Do not let anyone who delights in false humility and the worship of angels disqualify you. Such a person also goes into great detail about what they have seen; they are puffed up with idle notions by their unspiritual mind.” Colossians 2:18

5 Then the Lord said to Moses, “Tell Aaron, ‘Stretch out your hand with your staff over the streams and canals and ponds, and make frogs come up on the land of Egypt.’”

6 So Aaron stretched out his hand over the waters of Egypt, and the frogs came up and covered the land. 7 But the magicians did the same things by their secret arts; they also made frogs come up on the land of Egypt.

The annoying thing about the magicians is they only recreated the plague, they never removed it. When the sin of pride infects our lives, it is only multiplied. 1 Corinthians 5:6 reminds us of this: “Your boasting is not good. Don’t you know that a little yeast leavens the whole batch of dough?”

8 Pharaoh summoned Moses and Aaron and said, “Pray to the Lord to take the frogs away from me and my people, and I will let your people go to offer sacrifices to the Lord.”

9 Moses said to Pharaoh, “I leave to you the honor of setting the time for me to pray for you and your officials and your people that you and your houses may be rid of the frogs, except for those that remain in the Nile.”

10 “Tomorrow,” Pharaoh said.

Moses replied, “It will be as you say, so that you may know there is no one like the Lord our God. 11 The frogs will leave you and your houses, your officials and your people; they will remain only in the Nile.”

12 After Moses and Aaron left Pharaoh, Moses cried out to the Lord about the frogs he had brought on Pharaoh. 13 And the Lord did what Moses asked. The frogs died in the houses, in the courtyards and in the fields. 14 They were piled into heaps, and the land reeked of them. 15 But when Pharaoh saw that there was relief, he hardened his heart and would not listen to Moses and Aaron, just as the Lord had said.

What do you do when you realize sin has multiplied in your life? Don’t do as Pharaoh said by declaring, “Tomorrow.” Do what needs to get done today. Let’s take a lesson from Moses and pray for its [sin] removal.  Ezekiel proclaims this very thing in chapter 18 when he says, “Repent! Turn away from all your offenses; then sin will not be your downfall.

Even though the frogs (pride) were removed, the land still reeked of them. This is true in our own lives when pride has poisoned us. Even though we come to a place of humility before the Lord and others, the consequences of that sin still remains. It takes time for relationships and hearts to mend from the effects of sin.

“But when Pharaoh saw that there was relief, he hardened his heart and would not listen.” This is something we must guard ourselves against. When life is easy, comfortable, and without problems, it’s simple to kick those feet up and recline for a little bit. Be alert! Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for some unsuspecting character to devour (paraphrased, 1 Peter 5:8).

The Plague of Gnats

16 Then the Lord said to Moses, “Tell Aaron, ‘Stretch out your staff and strike the dust of the ground,’ and throughout the land of Egypt the dust will become gnats.” 17 They did this, and when Aaron stretched out his hand with the staff and struck the dust of the ground, gnats came on people and animals. All the dust throughout the land of Egypt became gnats. 18 But when the magicians tried to produce gnats by their secret arts, they could not.

Since the gnats were on people and animals everywhere, 19 the magicians said to Pharaoh, “This is the finger of God.” But Pharaoh’s heart was hard and he would not listen, just as the Lord had said.

A third plague had arrived, but this time it was different because the magicians were unable to reproduce this it and in turn, credited the work to God. An important lesson: even the most annoying things in life can bring glory to the Father. These gnats (or lice, as some commentators believe) were an irritation – yet the Lord was glorified.

Even though the magicians recreated the first two plagues, their “efforts” soon came to an end. The same is true for us, too. For a time, the Lord may allow us to build ourselves up, but eventually, we will come to the end of ourselves and our efforts and the Lord will be glorified. Let’s make it simpler in the beginning by not robbing God of His glory in the first place.

The Plague of Flies

20 Then the Lord said to Moses, “Get up early in the morning and confront Pharaoh as he goes to the river and say to him, ‘This is what the Lord says: Let my people go, so that they may worship me. 21 If you do not let my people go, I will send swarms of flies on you and your officials, on your people and into your houses. The houses of the Egyptians will be full of flies; even the ground will be covered with them.

22 “‘But on that day I will deal differently with the land of Goshen, where my people live; no swarms of flies will be there, so that you will know that I, the Lord, am in this land. 23 I will make a distinction between my people and your people. This sign will occur tomorrow.’”

God drew a line and ensured none of the plagues affected the Israelites. We are God’s chosen (1 Thessalonians 1:4). Just as the Israelites were set apart in that day, so we are set apart today. The flies of life should not plague us – there should be a clear distinction between the life we live and the world’s way.

24 And the Lord did this. Dense swarms of flies poured into Pharaoh’s palace and into the houses of his officials; throughout Egypt the land was ruined by the flies.

25 Then Pharaoh summoned Moses and Aaron and said, “Go, sacrifice to your God here in the land.”

26 But Moses said, “That would not be right. The sacrifices we offer the Lord our God would be detestable to the Egyptians. And if we offer sacrifices that are detestable in their eyes, will they not stone us? 27 We must take a three-day journey into the wilderness to offer sacrifices to the Lord our God, as he commands us.”

The Egyptians had quite the slew of gods and many of them were animals. For instance, the cow was sacred to the Egyptians. So to have a sacrificial ceremony using a bull would be offensive and anger the Egyptian people. That is why Moses pressed for a three-day journey.

28 Pharaoh said, “I will let you go to offer sacrifices to the Lord your God in the wilderness, but you must not go very far. Now pray for me.”

I think Pharaoh’s statement is pretty comical. It’s typical of the skeptic who says, “It’s fine for people to go to church, but there’s no need to go three times a week, hang out with only people from church, and so forth.” Like Pharaoh, their hearts don’t allow them to go “very far.” As believers, we must do as it was done in Acts 2:42 and be continually devoting ourselves to the teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. That is the recipe for going as far as God desires for us and not stopping short.

29 Moses answered, “As soon as I leave you, I will pray to the Lord, and tomorrow the flies will leave Pharaoh and his officials and his people. Only let Pharaoh be sure that he does not act deceitfully again by not letting the people go to offer sacrifices to the Lord.”

30 Then Moses left Pharaoh and prayed to the Lord, 31 and the Lord did what Moses asked. The flies left Pharaoh and his officials and his people; not a fly remained. 32 But this time also Pharaoh hardened his heart and would not let the people go.

How many times have you begged for prayer from others and then when the Lord provided, you didn’t even say thank you? We have all been guilty of this at one time or another. Psalm 107:8 says, “Oh, that men would give thanks to the Lord for His goodness. And for His wonderful works to the children of men!” Amen.