Summary: The plagues of Egypt get closer and closer to home. God warns the Egyptians how to escape His judgment. Some listen, others do not. What is the condition of your heart when it comes to receiving from God’s Word?
The 10 plagues go from remote and objective, to very personal and subjective. A staff turns into a snake - big deal - stay away from snakes. (I wonder why Moses didn’t do the leprosy trick?). Turn the water into blood - the water was something the Egyptians would have to go to get - and they tried to find ways around the problem by avoiding it. The next plagues that we see tonight - frogs, gnats and flies - start getting closer to them - invading their personal space. But they are just nuisances - really bad nuisances - but nothing personal.
Then the Lord will strike their livestock in chapter 9. Livestock were their livelihood - their food, milk, perhaps money too. And here things start to get subjective - as the Israelite livestock are spared. Then we see God get very personal by inflicting boils on the Egyptians. Then things get downright disastrous and out of control with hail - again an impersonal object, but one that wreaks terrible destruction.
Verses 1 - 15 The Frogs
Verses 1 - 4
I think frogs are kind of cute. I remember once I was putting in plumbing under our house and I was having a real hard time - I ended up getting blasted with water - it’s a long story. Anyway, I was pretty frustrated and wet and I don’t like it under houses anyway. So I’m looking for where the house drain is and I shine my flashlight over and here’s this little frog. I have no idea how he got under the house and into the sewer pipe, but he was so cute and I was comforted. Somehow I don’t think that was the response the Egyptians had.
Notice here that we don’t actually hear Pharaoh refuse to let the people go before God sends the frogs.
Verses 5 - 7
Notice that it’s actually Aaron that lifts up his staff. This is really the prototype of the prophet - speaking the words of God and then doing the acts of God. Again the Egyptian magicians did the same thing - bringing more destruction, not stopping the frogs, but making more of them. This is still a power struggle - which God is greater - Yahweh or the Egyptian gods.
So now we see Pharaoh’s first lie that he will comply. But this too is probably a test to see if God is really serious.
Verses 8 - 15
Isn’t it interesting that Pharaoh told Moses to send the frogs away tomorrow? Why not - right now! Perhaps it was because he had other schemes he was hatching - maybe by tomorrow he thought Moses might change his mind - who knows. It’s possible that Pharaoh realizes how his comfortable world is going to change drastically - and he just isn’t quite ready to give up yet. How often do we want "one more night with the frogs" - just a little longer with our pet sin, before we give it up to God. Sometimes our minds trick us to withstand the short term consequences of sin because we don’t want to face the long term consequences of giving up our lives to the Lord.
In reality - all Pharaoh wanted was for a respite from the frogs - he had no intention of letting the people go. He figured that "if I can just get these frogs out of here it’ll give me some breathing room to come up with another scheme."
In a way we might call this foxhole repentance - "I’m in a jam, Lord. Get me out and I’ll go to church every Sunday." God doesn’t allow trials so that we can make empty promises - as if God can’t see right through that anyway. He brings us into trials, like Moses said - "so that you may know that there is no one like the Lord our God."
Notice too that it was Pharaoh who hardened his heart - take note because after a while God’s going to give him a hand in the heart hardening.
Verses 16 - 19 The Gnats
So did the dust actually become gnats? Or were they born from the stinking rotten masses of frogs? Doesn’t really matter. It is interesting that the magicians were no longer capable to mimicking God’s power. The enemy does have power, but it is limited - he can only do what God allows.
This must have been a terrible thing to endure. At least you can see frogs - you can’t see gnats. Notice that so far the plagues have affected the Israelites as much as the Egyptians - living in this world we too are affected by sin, even though our sins have been paid for. There is much sickness and plague in this place - violence, disease, and heartache. But we are spared ultimate death - and from now on, only the Egyptians are plagued.