April 6, 2015: Daily Bible Reading with Commentary for Exodus 5-8
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Context: Moses and Aaron have their first conversation with the Pharaoh (who was not the same pharaoh that banished Moses). It did not go well. The Pharaoh not only rejected God's message, thereby rejecting God, but he made the Israelites work harder! And then he mocked the Israelites for being lazy! The important lesson in this episode is that God's presence does not always guarantee immediate results. Moses, like many of us, did not understand this lesson at first. Following Pharaoh's resounding No!, Moses goes back to God confused and probably angry. God promises that He will provide salvation for the Israelites, however the Israelites disbelieve Moses when he tells them of God's promise because of their increased suffering. During a second confrontation with Pharaoh, Aaron’s staff changes to a snake and back. When Pharaoh continues to refuse to release the Israelites, the first plague begins: water turning to blood. The Nile River was the lifeblood of Egypt. Without it, the country would be nothing but desert with a few oases and the powerful nation would cease to exist. The second plague was the plague of frogs. Pharaoh had prior warning of this plague but refused the one act that would have spared Egypt. Frogs were consider sacred in Egypt and could not be killed. Pharaoh begins to recognize God's power and sends for Moses to make the frogs go away. Deliverance from this plague brought with it the stench of death as the frogs died on land and began to rot. Then came the gnats, or lice, as the third plague. For the first time, the Egyptian magicians are unable to reproduce the plague and they acknowledge the power of God is superior to their own. The forth plague begins a distinction between the Israelites in the land of Goshen and the rest of the Egyptians. No more would the plagues affect the Israelites. Perhaps it was thought that since the Israelites were also being affected, it was an upset Egyptian god performing these plagues. The Lord will make it clear He is in control and His children will be spared. Pharaoh, however, is a slow learner, once again hardening his heart and refusing to allow the Israelites to leave.
World History: In Numbers 33:4b, in reference to the 10 Plagues brought on to Egypt, it says "for the Lord had brought judgment on their gods." (NIV) Were the 10 plagues arbitrary or were they striking at specific Egyptian gods and goddesses? Numbers would appear to indicate the latter and we can identify at least one, and often several, Egyptian gods or goddesses who are related to each of the plagues.