The Passover is one of the primary feasts of Israel. It marked the beginning month of the year. On the tenth of the month, they would take a lamb without blemish, a male about a year old. The lamb would be killed at twilight on the 14th of the month, roasted in fire, and eaten with unleavened bread and bitter herbs. They were to eat all of it, leaving nothing until morning. The remains would be burned in the fire. The interesting thing about this process is that each family would take some of the blood from the lamb and put it on the doorposts and lintel of the house where they eat it. Additionally, they were to eat with a belt on their waist, sandals on their feet, and a staff in their hand. They were to eat it in haste. This imagery of being ready to leave was important for their memorial to their deliverance from Egypt.
On this first passover, God would pass through the land of Egypt and kill the firstborn of man and beast. He would pass over every home where the blood was applied to the house. Further specific instructions were given for eating the passover in memorial in later years. However, specific instructions were also given for this first passover relating to using hyssop to apply the blood, and striking the door frame.
An important instruction relating to the children is that when the children ask questions about the service, that they would describe the Passover sacrifice and how God passed over the houses of the children of Israel. The Israelites did all that they were told.
Then the actual tenth plague hit: the firstborn of all the land of Egypt were struck, except for the homes where the blood had been applied, from the firstborn of Pharaoh to the firstborn of the prisoners in dungeons. Even the livestock lost their firstborn. “There was not a house where there was not one dead (v. 30).”
The blood of the sacrificial lamb made the difference for each home. Any home where the blood had been applied was spared the death of the firstborn. This entire ceremony, this pageant, was the foreshadowing of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross. Just as the blood of the Passover lamb protected the homes of the faithful in Israel, the blood of Jesus Christ can protect the home of the Christian today. Plead the blood of Jesus over your home, your health, your job, and your finances. God cares about the faithful!
The Sun-god of Egypt, Ra, was a powerful deity in the nation of Egypt. Ra was thought to be “the father of the gods, head of the great ennead (Chuck Pierce).” He was thought, perhaps, to be the greatest of all the Egyptian gods. God was making a definitive statement, a crowning win over the most powerful god Egypt had to offer. He stood tall over Ra for three days, with a darkness so heavy that no one could move or leave his house.
Pharaoh agreed to let the Hebrews go, but then reneged on the offer when they asked to take their livestock. The Lord hardened Pharaoh’s heart one more time. God had established his superiority over even the greatest god of Egypt, Ra! After the defeat of the Sun god, God then declared to Moses that He would kill the firstborn of every family. After that, Pharaoh would let them go. Before that plague, though, the Hebrews would ask the Egyptians for articles of silver and gold. By this time, Moses was considered great in the sight of the Egyptians and Pharaoh’s servants. God was establishing the nation of Israel as a force of God’s favor, and was providing them the means to be prosperous.
God further explained what would happen in the last plague. The firstborn of every family would be taken, except for the Israelites’ children. He said that all the servants of Pharaoh would come to Moses and bow down and then ask the Hebrews to leave. But for now, Pharaoh’s heart was still hard and he would not allow Israel to leave.
There is coming a day when every god of man will bow down before God Almighty. Prophecies concerning the end times foretell that fact. It is important for us as Christians to hold on until the end. Moses, Aaron, and the children of Israel were in a position of oppression and hardship. They also saw Pharaoh continually deny Moses’ call to let the people go. But their continued faith in God and their continued patience in waiting for the end result would soon be rewarded. One more plague to unfold!
Pharaoh entertains Moses and Aaron again after consultation with his advisors. They made sure that he understood that the nation was practically in ruins, as a result of the plagues of the Lord. He tentatively agrees to let them go into the wilderness to sacrifice to their God, but when they said that everyone must go, Pharaoh refused and threatened them with impending danger. The threat was met with God’s promise of a massive swarm of locusts to overwhelm the land of Egypt.
Moses then stretched his rod out over Egypt and an east wind blew in the locusts. They devoured everything that was left after the hailstorm, and there was nothing left. It was utter devastation. Pharaoh called for Moses and Aaron and in haste, and begged for forgiveness and an end to the plague. Moses interceded and a west wind blew the locusts into the Red Sea. Again, the Lord hardened Pharaoh’s heart, and the Hebrews were not let go.
This continual back and forth battle between God Jehovah and Pharaoh is getting intense, as Egypt is standing in ruins, with no vegetation, and very little cattle and livestock, and dead relatives in many places. Sometimes the battles get long and hard, with no apparent end in sight. When you feel like the victory is far away, do not despair. Do not doubt; do not give up; do not lose faith in God. He is faithful. He is true and trustworthy. Even when the enemy seems relentless, know that God has already won the victory!
In the accounts of plagues six and seven, we find a new development in the saga of Moses v. Pharaoh, God v. the gods. The development is this: for the first time in the story, the Scriptures record that God hardened Pharaoh’s heart. In every plague up to the fifth, the stories recorded that Pharaoh hardened his heart, or simply that his heart became hardened. In plague six, though, the plague of boils, the Scripture says, “12 But the LORD hardened the heart of Pharaoh; and he did not heed them, just as the LORD had spoken to Moses.(NKJV)”
Just a few thoughts come to mind when I read these two accounts. First, the plague of boils continues an escalation of sorts, in that it directly attacks the bodies of the Egyptians, while the Israelites were exempt from the plague. The seventh plague, hail, destroys not only crops, but any and all people who were outside at the time of the storm. Lightning, thunder, hail, and even fire came down on those outdoors, and the crops were destroyed, and any livestock or humans outside were killed.
It was a strange thing that the story said that God hardened Pharaoh’s heart. Did not God want the children of Israel set free? Did He not just warn Pharaoh of the impending danger? Why would He do that if He would not allow Pharaoh to respond appropriately? Just before the storm, though, the Lord gives the reader an explanation of why He may have hardened Pharaoh’s heart.
Exodus 9:14–16 (NKJV)
14 for at this time I will send all My plagues to your very heart, and on your servants and on your people, that you may know that there is none like Me in all the earth. 15 Now if I had stretched out My hand and struck you and your people with pestilence, then you would have been cut off from the earth. 16 But indeed for this purpose I have raised you up, that I may show My power in you, and that My name may be declared in all the earth.
Pharaoh was being used to bring about the news of the glory of God, and His power and might! After the hail storm that destroyed so much of Egypt, and killed so many people and livestock, Pharaoh called for Moses and repented, and told him he was sorry. He asked Moses to intercede on their behalf. Moses agreed to pray, with the caveat that he knew that Pharaoh would not truly let them go or change his mind. And, just as he said, Pharaoh backpedaled and hardened his heart again once the hail had stopped.
One last interesting thought: 400 years earlier, a son of Israel–Joseph–had come to Egypt and saved the day, gathering grain for seven years that sustained all of Egypt and the surrounding nations during the next seven years of famine. Now, 400 years after Joseph, God took away their grain through a hailstorm due to their oppression of Israel. Do not presume upon the grace or favor of God and forget all the blessings He has given you in the past. Praise God for the past, the present, and the future. Live with a healthy reverence for His glory, and a healthy appreciation for His love and provision!
In the story of the fourth plague on Egypt, God threatens to and then does send flies all over Egypt, which contaminates the entire land. In this case, however, the writer makes it clear that the plague does not touch the land of Goshen, which is the dwelling place of the Israelites. So not only does God have the ability to call nature into action on His behalf, but was able to do so with a pinpoint-strike capability. The flies infested Pharaoh’s palace, and avoided the infestation of the land where the childen of Israel dwelled. So He was Lord of the Jews, Lord of the Egyptians, and Lord of the flies as well.
In the next account of the fifth plague, He threatened the cattle and livestock of the Egyptians, and followed through with the destruction of the livestock of the Egyptians, but the livestock of the Israelites was spared. After the flies, Pharaoh agreed to let the Israelites go into the wilderness to offer sacrifices to God, but when the flies relented, he hardened his heart again and changed his mind. The cattle plague was an escalation of sorts, because it was the first time that direct death occured. Although the water turning to blood did affect the fish not being able to live in the river, this time God directly killed the cattle and livestock of Egypt. God is getting more and more extreme in His attacks on Egypt.
What is the moral of the story? When judgement comes upon sinful or disobedient men, God will reserve a blessing for His righteous children. We can see judgement falling all around, but He will protect us and make a distinction between the sinful and the redeemed. We can hide in His hand. We can be covered by His blood and avoid the plagues if we keep our trust in Him and maintain our relationship with the Most High
After the first two plagues, God’s superiority was established over the false gods of the Egyptians. Now, God instructs Aaron to strike the dust of the ground and that all the dust would turn into lice. He did as God commanded, and then the lice appeared and attached to all the people of Egypt. Just like the rods turning to snakes (which were also symbolic of Egyptian gods), the Egyptian magicians tried to use their magic to recreate the same action, but were unable to do so. When they were not able to replicate the action of Aaron, they confessed to Pharaoh, “This is the finger of God.” Many scholars believe that this refers to the work of the Holy Spirit, who the Egyptians simply referred to as the finger of God. When the magicians were unable to do their magic, this confirmed God’s superiority not only over the false gods of the Egyptians, but also over the magic of the wise men of Pharaoh.
When God is working in an individuals life, His Holy Spirit leads, guides, directs, protects, comforts, and helps the Christian individual. When you are faced with opposition, and you must take a stand against the power of the enemy, believe that the Holy Spirit will go with you. He will open doors, bring you before kings, elevate you to places of influence, and make your name great. God has a plan for your life, and the Holy Spirit will lead you along that path. Trust in Him and he will give you all you need to overcome!
God tells Moses how that Pharaoh’s hard was hardened, then proceeded to instruct him on how to inflict the first plague. Many inanimate objects and animals were regarded as gods in the Egyptian nation. In the first plague, Moses was sent to turn the Nile River to blood, as well as all the water of the land. The Nile River was considered a god because it was responsible for the crops yielding a great harvest. Every year, the Nile would flood its banks and irrigate the fields on either side of the river. Therefore, they attributed god-like status to it. When God turned it to blood, he established His authority over the god of the harvest, the Nile River.
The second plague involved frogs. One of the main gods of Israel was Heqet, a goddess with the head and body of a frog. The frog symbolized life and fertility. Then, in the second plague, frogs began to multiply at an alarming rate and infiltrated homes and kitchens, and pots, etc., until they were absolutely everywhere. The very figure of fertility and life suddenly was a symbol of death, as the frogs died and began to fill all the places of residence in Egypt. They smelled horrible, and the stench nearly overwhelmed the residents of the country. The goddess of life has died and brought the smell of death to everyone.
What does all this mean? God was the true and only God. The gods of Egypt were false, and had no true power. The gods of Egypt held sway over Egyptians, but did not even want that sway or even know that it was theirs. It was the Egyptians who gave them that power. In the same way, we often give the false gods of this world sway over our lives and surrender our will to their unwitting influence. However, just as God showed His superiority over the gods of Egypt, we can know that God is truly superior to the gods of this world as well. Instead of giving our lives and souls to the gods that truly have no power, give your life to the one and only true God, Jehovah, Yahweh, the Creator and Sustainer of the Earth and of our souls!