Summary: To show the ways in which believers are tempted to compromise our distinctiveness
No Flies On Us
by Pastor David Moore,
Braehill Baptist Church, Belfast, Northern Ireland
Text: Exodus 8:20-32
Introduction: We have all heard that old joke “Waiter what’s this fly doing in my soup?” “I believe it’s the breast stroke sir.” All of us have enjoyed the series of “fly in my soup,” jokes, but flies in reality are little to laugh about. Flies! Who would have them? Horrible, horrible creatures. In the fourth plague flies were not only found in the Egyptian’s soup, but everywhere. On their person, in their homes even underneath their feet. The Hebrew phrase translated “swarm of flies” literally rendered is “a mixture of noisome beasts.” What kind of noisome beasts? Jewish traditions tell us it was the dog fly, a particularly difficult nuisance, but the Psalmist tells us that these flies were not limited to one particular kind. Psalm 78:45 reads “He sent divers sorts of flies among them which devoured them.” There were house flies and mosquitoes. Crane flies, gnats, black flies, bluebottles, midges, fruit flies, horse flies, dog flies and blow flies. In fact there are about 119,500 known species of flies in the world and I suspect just about everyone of them was swarming in that land, alongside beetles, bees and wasps. The fourth plague had Egypt buzzing!
Flies speak to us of filth, disease, contamination and nuisance. In Scripture Satan is called Beelzebub, meaning “lord of flies” symbolising the myriad of demons at his command and the filthiness of his and their nature. Some species destroy crops; they live as parasites under the skin of animals, causing blindness or infestation with fly maggots; and they carry such diseases as typhoid, anthrax, cholera, and dysentery. Mosquitoes carry malaria, dengue fever, and encephalitis. Flies in the land was bad news for everyone – everyone that is, except the Israelite slaves, they were untroubled by this plague, for throughout the area of Goshen not a fly was to be seen. You see the fourth plague served a dual purpose.
First of all it served to expose the Egyptians as a pagan people, and secondly it served to exhibit the Israelites as a peculiar people. Here in the fourth plague God espressly puts a difference between Israel and Egypt.
I. The Plague Exposed The Egyptians As A Pagan People.
A. We have seen this from the first – this is a contest between the God of the Hebrews and the gods of Egypt, excited by the words of Pharaoh when he said “Who is the Lord that I should obey his voice?”
1. The river turning into blood was a challenge to Hapi, god of the Nile.
2. The plague of frogs an attack upon Heqt, the frog god
3. The dust transforming into lice defied Geb – god of the earth.
B. The fourth plague likewise exposed and challenged the idolatry of Egypt.
1. It pointed the spotlight on Khepara, who was the Egyptian god of eternal life.
2. Khepara was represented by a flying beetle, the dung beetle, sometimes called the scarab.
3. Scarabs breed in dung, and use dung as the food for their larvae.
a. The beetles roll this dung into small pellets, and then lay their eggs inside them.
b. Egyptians regarded these pellets as symbols of the world, and considered the scarab to be a symbol of resurrection and immortality.
c. They carved figures of the insects out of stone, and made all kinds of scarab jewelry. They wore Scarab charms, and when they were mummifying their dead they would often cut the heart of the diseased out , and put a large carved scarab in its place.
d. It is interesting to see that in these last days scarab jewelry is making something of a come back, and ladies can once again be seen sporting these creatures around their necks.
C. If the Egyptian’s were so devoted to the worship of the dung beetle, then the Lord would let them have as many flying insects as they could bear – or could not bear as the case may be.
1. There were flies everywhere, notice – vs 21, they first appeared on Pharaoh, then on his servants, then upon the people and soon infested the houses, indeed they were so numerous that they were covering the ground, so that the Egyptian’s could not get away from them.
2. The Bible says their presence was grievous meaning that they proved to be very oppressive to the people.
C. If proof were needed that this too was the finger of God, then the Egyptian’s need have looked no further than Goshen, were the Israelite slaves dwelt.
1. When news came from Goshen it was told that there was not a fly to be seen.
2. Although it is unlikely that the Israelites had suffered any of the previous plagues, this time God expressly states that the Jews will not be touched.