I’ve heard from pastors that everything in the Old Testament represents something in the New Testament. This morning as I began reading in Exodus about the plagues of Egypt and how Pharaoh handled things and what was happening to his people I saw some things I had never seen before. I believe the 10 plagues that afflicted Egypt and what God is showing the Egyptians then, as well as for us to consider now, is about repentance.
We all know that it says God hardened Pharaoh’s heart but I saw something repeated today that I had never seen before.
God started off with miracles that just showed His power and might. The first thing He did was change Moses staff to a snake. When the Egyptian sorcerers reproduced this themselves God’s snake swallowed up their snakes showing that He was more powerful.
But as it says in Exodus 7:14 “Pharaoh’s heart is unyielding; he refuses to let the people go.” So Pharaoh responded to God’s might and power by insisting on his own way instead of following the Lord. So things escalated.
God turned all the water into blood. Everything in the water died. It smelled horrible with all the rotting fish. The people could no longer drink because even the water in their buckets was turned to blood. The Egyptian sorcerers also reproduced this miracle. Again, God shows His power and might but Pharaoh pretty much thumbs his nose at it and says “oh yeah…well we can do that too.” I find it interesting that after Pharaoh refused to do as God had commanded the first thing to happen to the people was that water was taken from them. We know that water represents the spirit. I would suggest that this is a warning to us all that if we are living in sin and refusing to yield to God in some area the first thing He is going to do is remove the spirit of God from you. But I suspect many will respond as Pharaoh did and say well I don’t need the spirit of God. I can do just fine on my own. Hopefully you will notice the stench of your life and choose to yield to God. But we all know that Pharaoh did not change. And things escalated.
God sent frogs to infest everything in Egypt. They were everywhere covering everything. They were a nuisance at best and I’m guessing probably a health issue. The Egyptian sorcerers again reproduced this. However I believe all they did was make the problem worse. This is the first time that Pharaoh begins to respond to what God is doing and his response is to ask Moses to pray to God to take away the frogs. Finally God got Pharaoh to admit that he needs God and that he cannot get himself out of this mess. I would say this is the beginning of fearing the Lord and how many of us when things get bad turn to God and ask Him to remove the annoyances in our lives? But was there true repentance or just desire to get out of a mess? I find it funny how God chose to remove the frogs. They died. Yep God stopped them from coming but His way of removing them left a huge mess and I’m sure it was quite nasty to have dead frogs in your food, in your houses, everywhere. God honored their request but did not take away the consequences of Pharaoh’s choice. I would suggest that praying without repenting might kill the frogs but it will leave a huge mess that you still have to walk through. Pharaoh didn’t really change. It says, “when Pharaoh saw that there was relief he hardened his heart.” Once the mess was gone, he went back to being the same. How many times do we ask God to deliver us from some mess we’ve gotten into because of our disobedience or rebellion and God brings hardship to our lives. We cry out to Him to save us and just when some relief comes, we go right back to our sin. And things escalated.
God sent gnats this time and they were everywhere. The sorcerers tried to reproduce this one but this is the first time they were unable to do so and they admitted this must be God. Pharaoh is now seeing that God is powerful and that try as they might no one can equal Him. But Pharaoh’s response this time was not even to acknowledge God despite his sorcerers’ statement that this was of God. I believe God was giving them mercy at this point. Gnats although annoying aren’t that bad. They are tiny, pesky little things but they don’t bite and they don’t eat much. God proved Himself to them and gave them an opportunity to do the right thing but again Pharaoh did not submit to God but insisted on doing things his way. How many things in your life are pesky little annoyances? Is God maybe trying to give you some mercy and get your attention? And things escalated.
Now we see Moses going to Pharaoh and warning him this time. I’m going to send flies if you don’t change but Pharaoh in his stubbornness did not respond. Has God warned you about something? When the flies came this time Pharaoh decided to let the people go. He asked Moses to pray for him to remove the flies. Now flies are pretty nasty. They spread diseases. This is the beginning of things getting really bad. Is there some sin in your life causing issues? What is your fly? All sin comes with a price and it will only grow and spread if you refuse to acknowledge it and deal with it properly. Finally, God got Pharaoh to make the right choice. But…did his heart change or is he still just wanting to get rid of the problem? The flies left but Pharaoh did not let the people go. His heart never changed. And things escalated.
Another warning. If you do not change Pharaoh, I’m going to kill your livestock. Now back then this would have been their livelihood. No livestock no food to eat. No livestock to sell no money to buy other things you need. They were warned but Pharaoh refused again. God in his mercy again gives them a chance. Is there something God has been speaking to you about? This time Pharaoh saw what happened and had no response but to continue in his stubbornness. And things escalated.
God took away their livelihood and Pharaoh did not budge so now God is moving to something a little more personal their bodies. God sent boils upon the people and the animals that were left. Now it’s getting personal. God took what they had and that didn’t work so now He is inflicting physical discomfort upon them. Sin has consequences and many times those sins manifest in our bodies. Is there some physical ailment you have that you can’t seem to get rid of? Is there some sin you have refused to acknowledge before the Lord? Pharaoh again did not yield at all. And things escalated.
Now God is warning Pharaoh that His full force is about to come upon them and He says He could have killed them already, but He did not. Some of the people listened this time and took precautions to protect themselves from what was coming but Pharaoh and many others did not. Hail came and not only destroyed the remaining livestock but also destroyed most of the crops in the fields. This is the first time we finally see Pharaoh admitting what he has done. He says to Moses, “This time I have sinned. The Lord is in the right, and I and my people are in the wrong.” He finally acknowledges his sin before the Lord. But again, did he truly change or is he just responding to the pressure he is receiving? Although he acknowledged his sin he refused to change because again he did not let the people go. How many times do we bring our sin before God and acknowledge that we have sinned, and we may even ask for His forgiveness but we haven’t given up the sin. We want God to forgive us while we continue to do what we know is wrong. I believe this is the most dangerous place to be. This is where Pharaoh was. He knew he was wrong, but he continued and this is where things get really bad. They already have no animals to eat or sell. They have very little crops left to eat. Their bodies are suffering from boils. This is pretty bad but apparently not bad enough. What is the status of your life? Are you suffering from not enough money? Not having a good job? Health problems? And things escalated.
Now we get to the real issue here. Finally, we are shown what Pharaoh’s sin is. God tells Moses to say to Pharaoh, “How long will you refuse to humble yourself before me?” Hmm….humility. That means Pharaoh must be a prideful man. The Bible says pride goes before destruction. Pride is one of the worst sins we can commit because we are putting ourselves in the place of God saying that our way is better than His way. And this is when God sent the locusts to devour what was left of what the Egyptians had. At this point they have lost it all. All their food is gone. Egypt is now declared “ruined”. Pharaoh’s own advisers are begging him to send the people away. Has God sent advisers into your life? Has anyone suggested that there is some sin that needs to be addressed? Woe to those who do not heed God’s advisers because what comes next is permanent. Crops will grow back. Boils will heal. Livestock can be replaced. Now Pharaoh is agreeing to let the people go but only on his terms. He shows us again that his heart is still not yielding to God. Yes, he agreed but he is still in control. At this point Pharaoh again realizes he is wrong. He says, “I have sinned against the Lord your God and against you. Now forgive my sin once more.” Pharaoh again begins to humble himself he says the right words, but his attitude is still not right. How many times have you confessed a sin to God knowing you are wrong but yet still continuing in that sin? And things escalated.
I find it interesting that this plague is what comes next because after all they have been through this one seems pretty easy. God sent darkness on the land. For three days there was darkness. Now honestly, I’d rather have three days of darkness than frogs in my house or boils on my body. This doesn’t seem too bad until you consider the spiritual ramifications of what darkness means. Darkness is the absence of light. God is light and Satan represents darkness. I propose that this plague shows that if you refuse to change then you will have all of God removed from your life and you will be left to the evil that is in the world. I would suggest that God is done with you at this point and going to let Satan have his way. His hand of protection is gone. I would even go so far as to say He isn’t going to listen to you cry out for help and He’s just going to leave you to your sin. Many will argue that God never leaves us or forsakes us, and I agree God doesn’t remove His LOVE from us but God most definitely will remove His protection, His blessings and He will refuse to listen to your prayers. There are many scriptures to support this position that I will address at another time but being left in the darkness is a whole lot worse than it sounds. Now you are on your own. Pharaoh did tell Moses he could leave but there was no acknowledgement of sin this time. Now Pharaohs response was to send Moses away from his presence but not letting his people go. And things escalated.
This time God took the firstborn from everyone who did not follow the specific plan of God and protect themselves by putting blood on their doorposts. Many sermons have been taught on this but the only thing we need to know right now is DEATH came. God killed the first born of those who did not acknowledge Him as God. You may think this is harsh but how long did God show mercy and grace and give them opportunity to repent? If you continue in your sin long enough God will eventually let you die. You may die a physical death, or you may continue to live out days here on earth but you will have died a spiritual death and you will be eternally separated from God. God cannot allow you into His presence as long as you are living in your sin. Yes, Jesus came to die for our sins but we only receive what Jesus did when we repent of our sins. When our heart changes. If you are still holding onto some sin in your life that you know is sin and yet you refuse to let go of it then you are in danger of suffering the same fate they did. At this point Pharaoh finally sent the people away. When his son was killed his heart was broken and he finally released his control. However, I do not believe that his heart changed towards God at this point either as he sent his soldiers after the people to try to bring them back. We do not know from what is given us in the Bible if Pharaoh ever yielded to God or whether he died in his stubbornness. I suspect that he died, thirsty, hungry, with physical pain, emotional pain, living in darkness away from God. I have no proof of this but given all his actions it seems he was willing to acknowledge God was powerful. He was willing to ask Him to take bad things away from him. He was willing to submit to God’s will in his actions but not in his heart. How many of us are thirsty because God’s spirit is not living in us? How many of us are hungry because we do not feed upon the word of God? How many of us are living with some physical ailment because of our sin? How many of us are living with emotional pain caused by our own bad choices? How many of us are in darkness and God is not with us because He cannot be where sin is?
I know I will be examining my life after seeing all these things and asking God to reveal to me what areas in my life I am not letting Him in. Is there some sin that has been brought to my attention, but I am stubbornly refusing to deal with it? Am I suffering because of bad choices I have made? Is my family in danger because of what I am doing? There are so many questions to be asked when looking at how Pharaoh responded and what God did. Am I walking in humility before God or am I wanting to be the Pharaoh of my life?