The book of Exodus records the story of God rescuing the nation of Israel from the hand of Egypt. Exodus is a starburst of Old and New Testament theology. God is faithful, and He began to fulfill His promises to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. The Lord also gives Israel the first iteration of the Law, and dwell among His people in the tabernacle. God’s liberation of Israel from slavery foreshadows His work of redemption through His Son, Jesus Christ.
The Israelites had been enslaved in Egypt for 430 years, and in that time, they had lost their faith in the God of their fathers. They believed He existed, but they doubted that He could, or He would save them from their bondage. The Egyptians, like many pagan cultures, worshiped a wide variety of nature-gods and attributed to their powers the natural phenomena they saw in the world around them. There was a god of the sun, god of the river, god of childbirth, god of crops, they had myriads of false gods, who were the invention of Satan. Also, there were magicians who practice deception, trickery, cunning who can pull off things that convinced people with their secret art.
God vs gods
When Moses approached Pharaoh, demanding that he let the people go, Pharaoh responded by saying, in Exodus 5:2, “Who is the LORD that I should obey His voice, and let Israel go? I do not know the LORD, and I will not let Israel go.” Over in chapter 6, v1, God said to Moses, “Now you will see what I will do to Pharaoh. I will show him my power, and he will let my people go.” Thus began the challenge to show whose God was more powerful. God is going to display not only His power to free Israel from Egypt but His power over very areas of dominion exercised by the Egyptian deities. Every single one of the ten plagues was directed at the false gods of Egypt. This was God’s full-fledged war on the gods of Egypt, showing them for what they really were – nonexistent, useless.
THE FIRST PLAGUE, turning the Nile to blood (Exodus 7:14-25)
The Nile was a sacred river. Many gods were associated with the Nile – Isis, Hapi, Khnum. The Nile was also believed to be the bloodstream of Osiris. Hathor and Neith were the goddesses who cared for the fish. This plague was a judgment against these gods and goddesses. The river, which formed the basis of daily life and the national economy, was devastated. Millions of fish died in the river, and the water becomes unusable. The true and living God shows his power over all these Egyptian deities. The magicians couldn’t stop it. Interestingly, they pull off some kind of trick that convinced Pharaoh. V22 says, “But the magicians of Egypt did the same by their secret arts.” This has to be a trick because we read that all the water in Egypt turned into blood; rivers, canals, ponds, pools, and even the water in wooden and stone vessels. So, where did they get the clear water to do their magic? It was a powerful illusion.
Lesson No.01 Be alert, Satan can perform false signs.
He performs counterfeit miracles to deceive and blind people seeing the truth.
Lesson No.02 Leaders who rebel against the Lord can bring destruction to all people.
Each time Pharaoh rebelled and refused to obey the demand of God, God demonstrates His power with the plague after plague bringing destruction to the whole nation.
THE SECOND PLAGUE, Frogs coming from the river (Exodus 8: 1-15)
This plague was a judgment against Heqet, the frog-headed goddess of fertility. Frogs were thought to be sacred and not to be killed. God had the frogs invade every part of the homes of the Egyptians, on their beds, in their food, clothing, everywhere. And, when the frogs died, their stinking bodies were heaped up in offensive piles all through the land. Pharaoh’s magicians did the same thing by their secret arts, but neither frog-god nor magicians couldn’t do a thing to stop this disaster. God of Israel was declaring that His power was greater than all the gods of fertility.
Lesson No.03 The absurdity of waiting until tomorrow.
Pharaoh asked Moses to plead with God to remove the plague. Moses told Pharaoh to pick the time he wanted to frogs removed, and Pharaoh said, “Tomorrow”. Why not remove them now? He wanted to spend one more night with frogs! Sound strange? Not really. There are people – both Christians and non-Christians alike, who want to be forgiven, but put it off for a week, a month, or a year. Though God is ready to forgive, they are saying, “Let me have one more week or month to enjoy sin.”
THE THIRD PLAGUE, lice (gnats) from the dust of the earth (Exodus 8:16-19)
This plague was a judgment against many gods: Geb -the god over the dust of the earth; Seth -the god associated with eclipse and storms in the desert. As Aron struck the earth with his staff, the dust of the earth became a storm of gnats through the land of Egypt. This time, the Pharaoh’s magicians were humiliated not being able to replicate it, and they admitted that it’s the power of Moses’ God.
Lesson No.04 Satan could only go so far in his deceit. Magicians, false priests, false teachers will be humiliated.
If you remember, when the COVID-19 plague started, how many faith healers boasted their ability to stop the plague? The famous faith Healer and the convicted fraudster, Jim Bakker started selling fake coronavirus curing drugs, and the government had stopped him doing that. How many powerful national leaders boasted about their nation’s immunity to the plague? Where are the false spiritual advisers of nations? Where is Joel Osteen, Benny Hinn, Joyce Meyer? The mega faith healer, the Bethel church, they closed their ‘healing room’ in California, suspended their healing visits to hospitals, because of the fear of getting infected. Where are the superpowers who boast about their military strength, their medical and technological advancements? Human powers are like pop-guns before the mighty hand of the living God. He shut the mouths of every lords and magician of this day.
THE FOURTH PLAGUE, swarms of flies (Exodus 8:20-32)
This plague was a judgment on Uatchit, the fly god, and Khepri, the insect god. God sent a swarm of flies and they covered the land of Egypt like a carpet, but the land of Goshen where Israelites dwell there were no flies. Only the Egyptians were affected by this plague, and the children of Israel remain unharmed. God made a distinction between His people and the rest. The gods of Pharaoh couldn’t do anything.
Lesson No.05 God takes care of his people.
The first three plagues affected them all. It shows that Christians are not exempted from disasters. There will be plagues and disasters in our lives, but for a limited time. God promises to keep his eyes open on His children and have His ears open to their prayers (1 Pet. 3:12).
Lesson No.06 God can keep you unharmed amid any disaster.
This plague dodges Israelites and hit only the Egyptians. God made a distinction between His people and Pharaoh’s people. Beloved, you can trust God for His protection.
THE FIFTH PLAGUE, Death of Livestock (Exodus 9:1-7)
This was a judgment on the goddess Hathor and the god Apis, who were both depicted as cattle. All livestock of Egyptians -horses, donkeys, camels, cattle, sheep, and goats, all died, but none of the animals belong to Israelites died. Again, God made a difference between His people and Egyptians. God was steadily destroying the economy of Egypt while showing His ability to protect and provide for those who obeyed Him.
Lesson No.07 God is patient, He gives time to repent and be saved. (2 Pt. 3)
This plague was given with an advanced warning, “Tomorrow the Lord will do this thing in the land.” God was patient and gave them time to repent, but they ignored it. It is the same today. Many people make promises and plead deliverance when they are down. But, when the plague is lifted, when the danger is removed, they return to their stubborn rebellion against God.
THE SIXTH PLAGUE, Ashes turned to Boils and Sores (Exodus 9:8-12)
This was a judgment against several gods over health and epidemic (Sekhmet and Isis). As the dust from the ashes blew all over Egypt, a horrible plague of boils and sores broke out over the land of Egypt. Cleanliness being paramount in the Egyptian society, this plague pronounces the people “unclean.” Sekhmet and Isis couldn’t help them. They were powerless against the true and living God of Israel.
Lesson No.08 God sends sudden destruction on the wicked. There is a limit to His patient.
For the first time, this plague came upon the Egyptians without any warning. God gives many opportunities, and time to repent. God is certainly gracious. He is rich in kindness, forbearance, and patience, which is why He does not bring an immediate end to all sinners. We often escape the discipline we are due because of God’s kindness. Nevertheless, we walk on thin ice when we think we can presume upon His kindness and patience. After all, the Lord’s patience toward sinners will run out eventually (Rom. 2:4–5; 2 Peter 3:8–10). A man who hardens his neck after much reproof will suddenly be broken beyond remedy (Proverbs 29:1).
THE SEVENTH PLAGUE, Hail, and fire from heaven (Exodus 9:13-35)
Again warning is given before the execution of the last three plagues. The Lord is showing Pharaoh and people that “there is none like Him on the Earth, all other gods are worthless idols.” This plague was a judgment against Nut, the goddess of the sky, Osiris, the god of crops. Throughout Egypt, hail and lightning struck everything in the fields -both people and animals. It beat down everything growing in the fields and stripped every tree. The only place it did not hail was the land of Goshen, where the Israelites were.
Lesson No.09 God continues to extend opportunity, to seek shelter under Him.
God allows those who are willing to hear His word and do as He commands, to be saved. In His grace, God warned Pharaoh to gather whatever cattle and crops remained from the previous plagues, and shelter them from the coming storm. Those officials of Pharaoh who feared the word of the Lord hurried to bring their slaves and their livestock inside. But those who ignored the word of the Lord left their slaves and livestock in the field, they were all destroyed. Similarly, we are also warned today to take shelter under the Word of God. Those who ignore his warning will be destroyed.
Lesson No.10 God still shows mercy towards the wicked
If you’re paying attention to some specific details when you read the text, you will see in v31 and 32, only the Flax and barley were destroyed, not the wheat and spelt. What’s the big deal? Flex and barley were not their main diet. Flex has grown for making garments, and Barley as food for the horses. This destruction would make their life uncomfortable, but as far as affecting their food supply, the wheat still survived. This gave the Egyptians still another chance to turn to “the One True God”, and forsake their Egyptian gods and goddesses, thus showing His mercy and grace even yet. “As I live, declares the Lord GOD, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live; turn back, turn back from your evil ways, for why will you die, O house of Israel?” (Ezekiel 33:11). Do you see the compassion of God? He does not get any joy in killing people. He wants them to be saved coming to the realization of the true God.
THE EIGHTH PLAGUE, a storm of Locust (Exodus 10:1-20)
Still, Pharaoh would not listen to the message of the Lord, still, he relies on his Egyptian gods and goddesses. The eighth plague was a judgment against their gods Nut, Osiris, and Seth. A storm of locust, covers the whole land and it became dark, and they devoured all that was left after the hail. Their gods couldn’t do a thing to stop this destruction. The county is already ruined, yet Pharaoh has not bowed down to God.
Lesson No.11 God commands us to pass on the knowledge of Him from generation to generation
Before God brought the next plague, He told Moses that the Israelites would be able to tell their children of the mighty things He has done. God told Moses that they should pass this knowledge to their children and grandchildren. How do we pass this knowledge to our children if we do not know the redemptive history? It is incumbent upon us to study God’s redemptive history and know His mighty deeds.
Lesson No.12 Intensifying destructions indicate coming of the eminent judgment
This plague definitely affected their life source. By hitting them in their food supply, the Lord displayed the possibility of imminent death if a change of heart did not occur.
THE NINTH PLAGUE, Darkness over the land (Exodus 10:21-29)
This disaster also came unannounced, and without warning. It was a judgment against the sun god, Ra – creator of the universe and the source of life, who was symbolized by Pharaoh – the Ultimate Power of Egypt. It was believed that Pharaoh was the son of Ra himself, manifest in the flesh. Ra couldn’t do a thing. Darkness was a representation of death, judgment, and hopelessness. The land was in darkness for three days, but all the sons of Israel had light in their homes. The Lord showed that he had control over the sun as a witness that the God of Israel had ultimate power over Egypt.
Lesson No.13 Stubbornness has terrible consequences
Pharaoh’s stubbornness led to the destruction of his land, his people, his power, and himself. Today, we see families ruin, countries ruin, churches ruin because of the rejection of the true and living God.
Lesson No.14 The judgment of the spiritual blindness is the judicial blindness
We read Pharaoh hardening his heart at the beginning. Now, in v27 it says, the Lord hardened Pharaoh’s heart. Scripture talks about three kinds of Spiritual blindness.
First, by nature men blinded their minds themselves
Second, Satan has blinded men (2 Cor. 4:4)
Third, God blinds the unbeliever
THE TENTH PLAGUE, Death of the Firstborn (Exodus 11:1-12:32)
This was a judgment against Isis, goddess of life and magic, protector of women and children. In this plague, God was teaching the Israelites a deep spiritual lesson that pointed to Christ. Unlike the other plagues, which the Israelites survived by virtue of their identity as God’s people, this plague required an act of faith by them. God commanded each family to take an unblemished male lamb, kill it, and put the blood on the top and the sides of their doorposts. Any family that did not follow God’s instructions would suffer in the last plague. The only protection was the blood of the lamb on the door.
On that same night, I will pass through Egypt and strike down every firstborn of both people and animals, and I will bring judgment on all the gods of Egypt. I am the Lord. The blood will be a sign for you on the houses where you are, and when I see the blood, I will pass over you. No destructive plague will touch you when I strike Egypt. – Ex.12:12-1
Lesson No.15 There is no other god apart from the God of the Bible. Avery one who does not bow down to His commands will be destroyed. Safety is only granted in Christ through faith.
In the life of every creature made in the image of God, there is a terror far greater than all of these plagues, because there is a threat far greater to them than any plague can deliver. It is the threat of falling into the hands of living God. The only way you can save yourself is turning away from your idols, false gods and unbelief, and trusting in the person and the work of Jesus Christ.
Well researched; informative