The Story of Moses
Part Two: The Plagues
When we come to the story of the plagues God poured out upon Egypt, we have to deal with the issue of whether or not these stories are true. We once more assert strongly that these biblical stories are true. The first reason we assert these stories are true is that they help explain what happened to the once mighty Egypt. Egypt before this time was the world's super power. No other force on earth equalled her in might and wealth. By the time of Moses the great pyramids had already been built. Hieroglyphics have already been developed. Her armies were practically unchallenged in the ancient Middle East, and yet within a few years Egypt was a broken nation (Ex. 10:7). What brought about this collapse? Moses informs us that God's deliverance of His people brought about this collapse. No other plausible explanation taken from any evidence has been provided to explain this collapse.
Another factor provides evidence that these stories are true. The plagues which occur in this passage are not abnormal events. In fact the plagues or a variant form of these plagues actually occur in Egypt's ecosystem. The Nile at times will turn a blood red color. Once it has been polluted, the Nile will spew out frogs. Some of the plagues are practically the natural consequence of the previous plague. Normally, when God does a miracle, He does not go around or supercede His creation. He will speed up that process in creation. He will initiate that process whenever it would not have been initiated by itself; however, normally He does not violate the processes of nature.
Why did God inflict Egypt with these plagues? Because Egypt had steadfastly rejected Him. This was a land which worshiped nearly everything as a god: the sun, the moon, the Nile River, cats, serpents, etc. For all practical purposes Egypt was so far gone spiritually that the only response God could make was to judge her. How far gone was Egypt? No matter what plague God sent against Egypt, Egypt refused to repent. It is true that God hardened Pharaoh's heart, but God hardened his heart when it came to letting God's people leave Egypt. If there was a chance that Egypt would have truly repented and turned to God, then God would not have hardened Pharaoh's heart. Well, God was not going to let Egypt repent only in the sense of letting Israel go. Since she would not repent and acknowledge the Lord as God, God was going to harden her heart. Then He was going to break her by pouring out His wrath upon her. By destroying the world's super power, God was going to demonstrate His might and power to that ancient world. He was going to show the world that the Lord of Israel was none other than the God of all creation. The Lord is going to reveal Himself to the world as God. He would prefer to reveal Himself to the world in a positive way, by working through obedient people. Yet if they refuse to obey Him, then He will show Himself great, even if it costs people greatly. The choice though is ours which way God will demonstrate Himself.
THE GENESIS ACCOUNT
God Commissions Moses (Ex. 4:1-17)
When God commissions Moses on Mt. Sinai, Moses objects to being God's messenger. What excuse does Moses have for rejecting this commission (Ex. 4:1)?
When Moses continues to reject God's commission to deliver the Israelites, what miracles does God perform to show Moses that He is going to support him (Ex. 4:2-9)?
What last excuse does Moses give for not accepting this commission and what is God's response (Ex. 4:10)?
Finally, when Moses just flat out refuses to accept the commission, how does God respond (Ex 4:14-17)?
There comes a point when our unbelief becomes nothing less than wicked. Moses' refusal to accept the mission reflected not simply on him but also on God. For all practical purposes he was saying that God was not going to be able to use him, that God was not powerful enough to work through Moses. Yes, we can have legitimate questions and concerns; however, there comes a point when our refusal is simple rebellion. The statement "God cannot work through me" is more a slap at God than at myself.
Moses' First Encounter with Pharaoh (Ex. 4:18-5:23)
Moses heads for Egypt. On the way he is joined by his older brother Aaron. When they arrive in Egypt, they first meet with the leaders (elders) of the 12 tribes of Israel. How do the leaders and people receive Moses (Ex. 4:29-31)?
Moses and Aaron now approach Pharaoh. Upon Moses' demand that Pharaoh release God's people so that they might worship Him at Mt. Sinai, how does Pharaoh respond (Ex. 5:2)?
Pharaoh claims that the people must have too much time on their hands since they have enough time to sit around and complain about their situation. In order to relieve them of this excess time, what does Pharaoh order the Israelites to do from now on (Ex. 5:6-9)?
How do the Israelites respond when they get this bad news (Ex. 5:19-21)?
This response gives you insight into the way the Israelites are going to behave in the future. Whenever God is about to do something marvelous and yet things get rough, the Israelites (and most of us too) respond this negative way.
When things get rough during times like this, we don't need to despair. The rough times do not mean that God has abandoned us. Rather most of the time whenever God does something major, it takes the form of childbirth. During childbirth something wonderful is coming--the birth of a beautiful baby. Yet intense labor pangs precede the childbirth. The labor pangs are not the end-all of the event. The labor pangs however intense are still temporary and point to the birth of the baby.
How does Moses respond to this turn of events (Ex. 5:22-23)?
Is God daunted by the way things are turning out (Ex. 6:1-8)?
Moses' Second Encounter with Pharaoh (Ex. 7:6-13)
When Pharaoh responds this way, how does Moses prove that God is with him (Ex 7:9)?
How do Pharaoh's magicians respond to this miracle (Ex. 7:11)?
Because his magicians are able to duplicate this miracle, how does Pharaoh respond to Moses (Ex. 7:12-13)?
Moses' Third Encounter with Pharaoh--the First Plague (Ex. 7:14-25)
Since Pharaoh has refused to obey God, what does God want Moses to do now (Ex. 7:17)?
Why does God want Moses to do this? "By this you shall know that I am _______ __________" (7:17).
When Moses performs this miracle, how do Pharaoh's magicians respond and what is Pharaoh's reaction (7:22)?
Moses' Fourth Encounter with Pharaoh--the Second Plague (Ex. 8:1-15)
Up to this point Pharaoh has completely refused to comply with the Lord's commands. This time a new development emerges in Moses' encounter with Pharaoh. What plague does God bring Pharaoh and the Egyptians this second time (Ex. 8:5-6)?
After this plague occurs, what does Pharaoh tell Moses (Ex. 8:8)?
Does Pharaoh keep his word after God removes the plague (Ex. 8:15)?
So a new cycle begins. God will send a plague; Pharaoh will repent and agree to free the people; then God will remove the plague; then Pharaoh's heart will be hardened. Then God sends another plague, and the cycle is repeated. (This cycle shows you how shallow Pharaoh's repentance was. Well, God is not going to put up with a shallow repentance. He will either have full repentance or He will break Pharaoh.)
What is sad is that the more Pharaoh hardens his heart, the worse the plagues become. Finally, Pharaoh hardens his heart to such an extent that God is going to send up Egypt a plague which will cause them to buckle at the knees. It didn't have to happen this way; however, Pharaoh and the Egyptians brought this upon themselves.
Other Plagues God Brings Upon Egypt (Ex. 8:16-10:21)
In the table below list 7 other plagues God will visit upon Pharaoh and the Egyptians.
|Number of Plague||Scripture Reference||The Plague|
|Plague #3||Ex. 8:16||Gnats|
|Plague #4||Ex. 8:20-21||.|
|Plague #5||Ex. 9:1-3||.|
|Plague #6||Ex. 9:8-9||.|
|Plague #7||Ex. 9:18-19||.|
|Plague #8||Ex. 10:4||.|
|Plague #9||Ex. 10:21||.|
Another new development emerges with the 4th plague. Up until this time God has poured out His wrath upon Pharaoh and Egypt. What in the meantime was happening to the Israelites who were living in Egypt? Were they being affected negatively by these plagues? Nothing is said about them during the first three plagues; however, what does God say about the land of Goshen where the Israelites are living (Ex. 8:22-23)?
From here on out God will distinguish between the Israelites and the Egyptians.
Since Pharaoh refuses to obey the Lord, God decides to send one final plague upon Egypt. The plague is so devastating that it breaks Egypt. Egypt will never be the same after God sends this one last plague. That plague and God's instructions to Israel provide the basis for the Exodus, the content of next week's study.
THROUGH THE EYES OF THE APOSTLES
Many Christians view the plagues in Exodus as a unique event in the life of Israel. Whereas it is true that Israel never underwent this type of experience again, the event itself is not unique. In fact the Exodus event is a preview of a greater event which will precede the return of Christ, the Great Tribulation. We claim this because several aspects of the Great Tribulation parallel the Exodus event. For example, when God pours out wrath upon the Antichrist and his followers, what does John call this pouring out: "they blasphemed the name of God who has power over these _________________" (Rev. 16:9)?
Also, several of the seals, trumpets, and bowls of wrath in Revelation are similar to the plagues God pours out upon the Egyptians in Exodus. Which plagues are similar to the plagues in Exodus?
|Scripture||Nature of Wrath in Revelation||# of Plague in Exodus|
|Rev. 9:7||Hail||plague #7|
|Rev. 9:8||.||plague #1|
|Rev. 9:3||.||plague #8|
|Rev. 16:2||.||plague #6|
|Rev. 16:3||.||plague #1|
|Rev. 16:10||.||plague #9|
|Rev. 16:21||.||plague #7|
Another similarity between the Exodus event and the Great Tribulation is found in the description of the city which kills the 2 men who bear witness to Jesus Christ. In addition to being called Sodom, Jerusalem is also called ____________________ in Rev. 11:8.
When the victorious saints sing a song of victory to God, John calls this song "the song of _________________, the bondservant of God and the song of the Lamb" (Rev. 15:3).
Another dramatic similarity between Exodus and Revelation revolves around the way God's people are treated in both events. In both events did God's people escape persecution? Who persecuted them in these 2 events?
When God poured out wrath upon the enemies of God's people in these 2 events, did God's people suffer because of God's wrath?
What does God do for His people in Rev. 7:2-3 (see also Rev. 9:1-4, especially verse 4) which prevents God's people from tasting His wrath?
Both the Exodus and the Great Tribulation are times in which God's people undergo great persecution at the hands of God's enemies. It is a time in which God takes on false gods, in the first case the gods of Egypt and in the second case the false Christ, Antichrist. Finally, in both these instances whereas God pours out great wrath upon His enemies and the enemies of His people, God's people are not affected by His wrath. Instead the wrath precedes the time when God will effect a great deliverance for His people.
The plagues and persecution of the Israelites in Egypt were not an end in and of themselves. They were events which prepared the Israelites for the great deliverance God was about to effect for them on the night of the Passover and the Exodus from Egypt. Next week we shall see that this Great Tribulation which is yet to come is also an event which prepares God's people for an even greater Passover and an even greater Exodus. When that occurs, God's people will be delivered on the greatest scale.