Exodus 8-10
(Faithful Persistence)
January 18th

Produced by The Listening for God Ministry
Copyright 2016

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Please refer to one or more Bible versions of your choice to read this section. For your convenience, we have provided six links below, each of which takes you directly to today's chapters in a specific version:

Key Verse

Then the LORD said to Moses, “Go to the king and tell him that the LORD says, ‘Let my people go, so that they can worship me. If you refuse, I will punish your country by covering it with frogs.' "

- Exodus 8:1-2 (NAB)

Summary of Chapters

God created eight more plagues for Egypt in this group of chapters: Frogs, gnats, flies, livestock fatalities, boils, hail, locusts, and three days of darkness. On many occasions, Pharaoh said he would let the Israelite people leave to worship their God - if the plagues were lifted. However, in each case, once the danger ended he rescinded his promise. At this point, there had been nine plagues in all, and Egypt was in tatters. The Pharaoh’s officials acknowledged the disaster and tried to bring Pharaoh to his senses:

    And Pharaoh's servants said unto him, How long shall this man be a snare unto us? let the men go, that they may serve the Lord their God: knowest thou not yet that Egypt is destroyed?

    - Exodus 10:7 (KJV)

At the end of chapter 10, Pharaoh is frustrated but unyielding. He commands Moses to never to see him again. In reply, "Moses said, 'Have it your way. You won't see my face again.' (Exodus 10:29 - MSG)”

Reflection and Application

Pharaoh was unable to believe in the one true God. He had many gods that he worshiped, such as Hapi, the god of the Nile; Hathor, the cow-goddess, and Amon-Re, the sun god, all of whom were obviously unable to prevent the true God from defiling their river, killing their cows, and blocking their sun.

But the most important god for Pharaoh was the man in the mirror. He worshiped himself above anything else. The Hebrew slaves were an important part of his dominion. Their cheap labor helped to enable him to maintain his life of luxury and abundance. He was not going to sacrifice these precious goods or his precious ego by letting a group of lowly shepherds get the best of him. His own people suffered and his best advisers contradicted him, but he still refused to give in.

How many times have we seen similar scenarios of good advice falling on the deaf egotistical ears of characters in books, plays, and movies? One of the oldest examples, other than the ones in the Bible, is in Shakespeare's Julius Caesar. In this play, Caesar is warned twice on that fateful night of his assassination. First his wife, Caliphurnia, tells him to stay home and not go to the Senate at night, and then concludes that "Your wisdom is consum'd in confidence (Act II, Scene II)." Then Artemidorus writes a petition to tell Caesar to beware of Brutus, who participated in the plot, but Caesar brushes him off (Act III, Scene I).

One of my favorite contemporary examples of a leader brushing off sound advice is from an episode in the Star Trek science fiction movies titled Wrath of Khan. The movie paints a vivid picture of a long-running conflict between the antagonist, Khan, and the hero, Captain Kirk. Near the climax, Khan had won a major victory, including the acquisition of an invention called “Genesis” that could create a vibrant world from a barren rock. Moreover, Khan had apparently mortally wounded Kirk and his vessel. Khan’s son advises him to retreat in victory, but he is blinded by revenge and a desire to finish off his nemesis. In a reference to Moby Dick, Khan declares,

    "He tasks me! He tasks me, and I shall have him! I'll chase him round the Moons of Nibia, and round the Antares Maelstrom, and round Perdition's flames before I give him up! Prepare to alter course."

This proves to be a fatal error as Kirk outfoxed him and good triumphs over evil once again.

Caliphurnia, the wife of Caesar, was correct when she said that wisdom has been overcome by other emotions, as this is exactly what happened in all three cases. How often does it happen with us? Yet we can be wiser than Pharaoh, Caesar, and Khan by keeping an open mind when our colleagues, family members, or friends advise us against our current behavior. An open mind is particularly important when the consequences or potential risks are right under our noses, in the form of dangerous plagues or other situations.

The first eight plagues recorded in Exodus were ones that could have occurred naturally, although they had never occurred with such intensity. We will read about reoccurrences of some of these plagues in future chapters. For example, in the Book of Revelation, chapters 8 and 9, we see two instances:

    The first angel sounded his trumpet, and there came hail and fire mixed with blood, and it was hurled down on the earth. A third of the earth was burned up, a third of the trees were burned up, and all the green grass was burned up.

    - Revelation 8:7 (MSG)

    The fifth angel sounded his trumpet, and I saw a star that had fallen from the sky to the earth. The star was given the key to the shaft of the Abyss. When he opened the Abyss, smoke rose from it like the smoke from a gigantic furnace. The sun and sky were darkened by the smoke from the Abyss. And out of the smoke locusts came down on the earth and were given power like that of scorpions of the earth. They were told not to harm the grass of the earth or any plant or tree, but only those people who did not have the seal of God on their foreheads.

    - Revelation 9:1-4 (MSG)

Note that the locusts were instructed to not harm the believers or the natural elements, like the grass. This selective plague damage is similar to the ones in Exodus, such as the three days of darkness, which affected the Egyptians, but not the Hebrews. The Pharaoh may have rationalized the origin of some of the other events but this one should have been convincing proof of God's dominion. A full eclipse of the sun lasts for a few minutes, but this plague of darkness persisted for days, and the Pharaoh continued to be plagued by his own stubbornness.

Moses and Aaron persisted with their demand to be allowed to leave Egypt. Their faith and confidence had grown despite the perception that no disaster would convince the Pharaoh to change his mind. Moses and Aaron no longer hesitated or complained to God, and possibly Moses overcame his impediment, or no longer worried about it, because he is described as speaking directly with Pharaoh. Moses and Aaron knew they had the momentum of the game.

Dr. Martin Luther King once said that "Faith is taking the first step, even when you don't see the whole staircase." This description fit the attitude of Moses and Aaron at this point of the Exodus story. They did not know how or when the Pharaoh would change his mind but they had faith that the LORD would deliver and could sense that the sands of the hourglass were rapidly running out for their opponent. As for the LORD, he had the enemy right where he wanted him. Notice that the LORD said that he had hardened the heart of this man for a reason:

    Then the Lord said to Moses, “Go to Pharaoh, for I have hardened his heart and the hearts of his officials so that I may perform these signs of mine among them that you may tell your children and grandchildren how I dealt harshly with the Egyptians and how I performed my signs among them, and that you may know that I am the Lord.”

    - Exodus 10:1-2 (NIV)

This statement did indeed come true. The story has been passed down from Moses' generation to ours and appears in many other books of the Bible as a reminder of the power of God. For example, the plagues are recounted in Psalm 105:26:38

Let us ask for help in remembering and sharing these stories with others and consider which Biblical persons we want to emulate. Do we desire to stubbornly refuse to acknowledge God, despite countless miracles, as Pharaoh did? Or, do we want to persist in faith, as Moses and Aaron did, even when the battle is prolonged and the opponent is firmly entrenched?

"The Plagues", from the movie Prince of Egypt

Questions and Prayers for Further Reflection

    Related Questions
    1. What is the worst plague that you have experienced or witnessed?
    2. What are the gods of our culture that distract us from recognizing the true God?
    3. What advice have you recieved recently that may be worthy of further consideration?
    Recommended Prayer
    Father, please help us to recognize your presence and accept advice from those who you have sent to help us.

    Suggested Prayer Concerns
    The people of Syria who are oppressed by a stubborn leader

    Looking Ahead

    Tomorrow's reading: Exodus 11-13 (The First Passover)

    Comments and Questions
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