Exodus 8

Sunday Morning Bible Study

January 6, 2008

Introduction

The process of deliverance has begun. It started with the famous declaration of Moses, “Let my people go”. But instead of getting better, things got worse.

The next time Moses proclaimed “Let my people go”, he followed it with the first judgment of God, turning the Nile River into blood.

One of the things we discussed last week was how the judgments weren’t just designed to twist Pharaoh’s arm, but were designed to be a judgment against the gods of Egypt. They were designed to show that Yahweh, the god of the Israel, was stronger than the gods of Egypt.

sobek.gifkhunum.gifosiris.gif*The Nile River was the source of life in Egypt. Many of the Egyptian gods were connected to the Nile.

hapy.gifHapy was the chubby guy who reminded the Egyptians that the prosperity of their farmlands came from the annual flooding of the Nile River. Khnum, the guy with the ram’s head was also connected to the flooding of the Nile. Osiris, the first “cone-head” was not only a the god of the dead, the underworld, and fertility, but the Nile River was considered his lifeblood. Sobek, the crocodile guy and a Nile “god”, was considered the protector of the Pharaoh.

Exodus 8

:1-15 Second Plague: Frogs

:1 And the LORD spoke to Moses, "Go to Pharaoh and say to him, 'Thus says the LORD: "Let My people go, that they may serve Me.

:2 "But if you refuse to let them go, behold, I will smite all your territory with frogs.

frogs – what is the significance of the frogs?

heket.jpegFor the people of Egypt, when the Nile River flooded every year, their ponds and reservoirs would fill and their fields would get watered. Along with this flooding came the annual migration of the frogs. The evening croaking of the frogs was like the sound of music, reminding them that they had been blessed for the coming year. The frog was a symbol of blessing to the Egyptian. Somewhere along the line, someone decided to start worshipping the frogs. It got to the point where the frog was one of the sacred animals of Egypt. Killing a frog might be punishable by death. And it wasn’t even one of the endangered species!

heket1.jpeg*Heket (also known as Heqt, Heqet, or Hek) was one of the more stunning goddesses of Egypt. She was the wife of Khnum (pronounced Ker-mit J) and the symbol of resurrection, an emblem of fertility, and she was believed to help women during childbirth. She had the head of a frog.

Illustration

Hamster and Frog
A mangy looking guy who goes into a restaurant and orders food. The waiter says, “No way. I don’t think you can pay for it.” The guy says, “You’re right. I don’t have any money, but if I show you something you haven’t seen before, will you give me the food?” “Deal!” replies the waiter. The guy reaches into his coat pocket and pulls out a hamster. He puts the hamster on the counter and it runs to the end, across the room, up the piano, jumps on the keyboard, and starts playing Gershwin songs. And the hamster is really good. The waiter says, “You’re right. I’ve never seen anything like that before. That hamster is truly good on the piano.” The guy downs the hamburger he ordered and asks the waiter for another. “Money or another miracle,” says the waiter. The guy reaches into his coat again and pulls out a frog. He puts the frog on the counter, and the frog starts to sing. He has a marvelous voice and great pitch. A fine singer. A stranger from the other end of the counter runs over to the guy and offers him $300 for the frog. The guy says, “It’s a deal.” He takes the three hundred and gives the stranger the frog. The stranger runs out of the restaurant. The waiter says to the guy, “Are you crazy? You sold a singing frog for $300? It must have been worth millions.” “Not so,” says the guy, “the hamster is also a ventriloquist.”

You see … frogs aren’t all that great …

:3 "So the river shall bring forth frogs abundantly, which shall go up and come into your house, into your bedroom, on your bed, into the houses of your servants, on your people, into your ovens, and into your kneading bowls.

:4 "And the frogs shall come up on you, on your people, and on all your servants."' "

:5 Then the LORD spoke to Moses, "Say to Aaron, 'Stretch out your hand with your rod over the streams, over the rivers, and over the ponds, and cause frogs to come up on the land of Egypt.'"

:6 So Aaron stretched out his hand over the waters of Egypt, and the frogs came up and covered the land of Egypt.

Think of what a slimy mess this would be. Especially if it was illegal to kill a frog! One fellow wrote,

“Like a blanket of filth the slimy, wet monstrosities covered the land, until men sickened at the continued squashing crunch of the ghastly pavement they were forced to walk upon. If a man’s feet slipped on the greasy mass of their crushed bodies, he fell into an indescribably offensive mass of putrid uncleanness, and when he sought water to cleanse himself, the water was so solid with frogs, he got no cleansing there.” (Harry Rimmer, Dead Men Tell Tales, 1939)

I imagine that during this plague, the goddess Heket was not especially liked. This is probably the origin of the phrase, “Aw Hek” (just kidding J)

:7 And the magicians did so with their enchantments, and brought up frogs on the land of Egypt.

The magicians also make frogs appear. How they did this we do not know. I still wonder why they were trying to produce more frogs instead of trying to make the frogs go away.

Sometimes when the world likes to step in and “help”, things only get worse.

:8 Then Pharaoh called for Moses and Aaron, and said, "Entreat the LORD that He may take away the frogs from me and from my people; and I will let the people go, that they may sacrifice to the LORD."

It seems to me that Pharaoh was beginning to realize who he needed to ask for help. He asks Moses to ask Yahweh for help. He promises that if the frogs go away, he will let the people go.

:9 And Moses said to Pharaoh, "Accept the honor of saying when I shall intercede for you, for your servants, and for your people, to destroy the frogs from you and your houses, that they may remain in the river only."

It sounds as if Moses is speaking with great respect towards Pharaoh. He gives Pharaoh the honor of setting the time for the frogs to recede.

This also is to help Pharaoh know that Moses isn’t just pulling some sort of trick and that indeed Yahweh was the one at work.

:10 So he said, "Tomorrow." And he said, "Let it be according to your word, that you may know that there is no one like the LORD our God.

:11 "And the frogs shall depart from you, from your houses, from your servants, and from your people. They shall remain in the river only."

Lesson

One more night with the frogs

Jon Courson did a sermon with that title once. It’s a great concept.
God says it is time to get away from that messy frog stuff.
And we want just one more night.
Illustration
There are twenty-five million alcoholics in America today. Yet I guarantee not one of them opened his first beer or poured her first glass of wine and said, “Today I’m going to become one of the twenty-five million alcoholics.” No, everyone said, “I’ve got it under control. No problem. It’s not going to bother me.” And we say the same thing concerning everything from a questionable relationship to a hot temper, from a propensity to lie to a curiosity about pornography—until suddenly we wake up one day and realize our houses, ovens, beds, and kneading troughs are filled with frogs; until suddenly we realize that what we once thought we had under control has hopped out of its riverbed and is, instead, controlling us. (Courson)
Jesus told a story…
(Luke 12:16-21 NKJV) …"The ground of a certain rich man yielded plentifully. {17} "And he thought within himself, saying, 'What shall I do, since I have no room to store my crops?' {18} "So he said, 'I will do this: I will pull down my barns and build greater, and there I will store all my crops and my goods. {19} 'And I will say to my soul, "Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years; take your ease; eat, drink, and be merry."' {20} "But God said to him, 'Fool! This night your soul will be required of you; then whose will those things be which you have provided?' {21} "So is he who lays up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God."
Tomorrow may be too late.  Don’t wait for tomorrow if you can start today.

:12 Then Moses and Aaron went out from Pharaoh. And Moses cried out to the LORD concerning the frogs which He had brought against Pharaoh.

:13 So the LORD did according to the word of Moses. And the frogs died out of the houses, out of the courtyards, and out of the fields.

Not all the frogs die. The ones in the Nile are still alive (vs. 11).

:14 They gathered them together in heaps, and the land stank.

:15 But when Pharaoh saw that there was relief, he hardened his heart and did not heed them, as the LORD had said.

relief[email protected] – respite, relief; from revach – space, interval

As soon as there was a break in the action, a pause in the judgment, Pharaoh went back towards hardening his heart.

Illustration

A farmer was nailing shingles on the peak of his roof when he suddenly lost his footing. Sliding down the roof, headed for destruction, he said, “Lord, if You’re there, save me and I’ll give you my life.” Just then, as he reached the edge of the roof and was about to plunge to his demise, his belt loop caught on a nail and halted his fall—at which point he looked up to heaven and said, “Never mind, Lord. The nail saved me.”

The difficulty didn’t last long enough for Pharaoh to take seriously.

Some of us can be quite stubborn. We aren’t going to change until we hit rock bottom. We may even lose our job and lose our family, and still hold on to the stuff we need to let go of.

:16-19 Third Plague: Lice

:16 So the LORD said to Moses, "Say to Aaron, 'Stretch out your rod, and strike the dust of the land, so that it may become lice throughout all the land of Egypt.'"

liceken – gnat; others suggest these might be sand fleas or even mosquitoes. Yikes.

One man tells about his experience with bugs in Egypt: “I noticed that the sand appeared to be in motion. Close … inspection revealed … that the surface of the ground was a moving mass of minute ticks, thousands of which were crawling up my legs … I beat a hasty retreat, pondering the words of the Scriptures, ‘the dust of the land became lice throughout all the land of Egypt.’”

This time there is no warning. There is no “let my people go”.

God doesn’t always have to give you a warning.

If He’s already warned you, why does He have to repeat Himself?

:17 And they did so. For Aaron stretched out his hand with his rod and struck the dust of the earth, and it became lice on man and beast. All the dust of the land became lice throughout all the land of Egypt.

set_3.jpeg*Because Aaron strikes the “dust”, it has been suggested that this judgment is against the god “Set”, also called Sutekh, or Setesh, the god of the desert. He sometimes had the form of a pig, a hippo, or a dog. He was also known as the god of “love”.  The “love pig”.  Hmmm.

Frogs and pigs. Egypt is beginning to sound a lot like the Muppets.

This thing with the lice is also going to “bug” the heck out of the priests who prided themselves on their cleanliness.

:18 Now the magicians so worked with their enchantments to bring forth lice, but they could not. So there were lice on man and beast.

This is the first miracle that the magicians are unable to copy. Maybe they’re beginning to realize they don’t really WANT to copy these things.

:19 Then the magicians said to Pharaoh, "This is the finger of God." But Pharaoh's heart grew hard, and he did not heed them, just as the LORD had said.

finger of God – To me the idea of the “finger” of God seems to imply the smallest bit of His power as compared to His “strong right arm”.

It’s amazing to see what God can do with just His fingers:

He can write the Ten Commandments on tablets of stone (Ex. 31:18)
He can toss stars into existence.
(Psa 8:3 NKJV) When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, The moon and the stars, which You have ordained,
He can write in judgment on the wall to Belshazzar, “You have been weighed in the balance and found wanting” (Dan. 5:5).
He can write in the dust as the woman is caught in adultery, then say to the woman, “Neither do I condemn you” (John 8).

:20-32 Fourth Plague: Flies

:20 And the LORD said to Moses, "Rise early in the morning and stand before Pharaoh as he comes out to the water. Then say to him, 'Thus says the LORD: "Let My people go, that they may serve Me.

Another morning meeting at the Nile River. Once again the request is made.

:21 "Or else, if you will not let My people go, behold, I will send swarms of flies on you and your servants, on your people and into your houses. The houses of the Egyptians shall be full of swarms of flies, and also the ground on which they stand.

swarms of flies ‘arob – swarm; probable meaning from ‘mixture’ and ‘incessant or involved motion’

Uadjet1.jpegThe word “flies” isn’t in the Hebrew. It could be swarms of any kind of flying insects.

250px-Megarhyssa_macrurus_female.jpegDog fly.jpg*The Septuagint uses the word “dog-fly” here. The Septuagint translators lived in Egypt (Alexandria) and may have had a clue. The dog fly (also called a stable fly) is a blood sucking insect that has a bite that can be quite painful.

*There is also a species known as the Ichneumon fly, which lays its eggs on other living things.

scarab1.jpegrahora.gif*The eggs hatch into larvae (think of little worms) which were considered a manifestation of the goddess Uatchit, a gal that looked a bit like a snake.

*Others suggest the scarab beetle may have been involved. This was a bug that was sacred to the god Ra, the sun god.

Whatever it was, it sounds painful. The psalmist writes,

(Psa 78:45 NKJV) He sent swarms of flies among them, which devoured them,

Remember, houses did not have windows or screens. The bugs would be everywhere.

:22 "And in that day I will set apart the land of Goshen, in which My people dwell, that no swarms of flies shall be there, in order that you may know that I am the LORD in the midst of the land.

Goshen was the land in northern Egypt where the Israelites live.

You could say that God has established the first “no fly zone” over Goshen.

You will have a hard time in explaining these plagues as simply natural occurrences when it comes to how Goshen was exempt from this and the following plagues.

:23 "I will make a difference between My people and your people. Tomorrow this sign shall be."' "

It isn’t always black and white. Apparently the Israelites experienced the first three plagues. Sometimes God’s people get caught in the judgment that comes on the world. This is the fourth plague, but the first time God’s people are exempt from the judgment.

There are some things that all of us are going to be subject to. We could all get cancer. We could all get a heart attack. We might experience a terrorist attack.

But there are some things that a walking talking Christian will have a less likely chance to experience.

I don’t expect to die of AIDS. I practice “safe sex” – I honor the commitment I made to my wife, the one symbolized by my wedding ring.

:24 And the LORD did so. Thick swarms of flies came into the house of Pharaoh, into his servants' houses, and into all the land of Egypt. The land was corrupted because of the swarms of flies.

Thickkabed – heavy, great; massive, abundant, numerous; hard, difficult, burdensome

corruptedshachath – to destroy, corrupt, go to ruin, decay

Perhaps they had that maggot thing at work?

We have the record of the Scriptures concerning these things, but are they also found in the secular Egyptian sources? Apparently there is very little record of anything negative happening in Egypt. One scholar wrote, “The Egyptians suffered from a sort of official amnesia with regard to unpleasant facts …”

:25 Then Pharaoh called for Moses and Aaron, and said, "Go, sacrifice to your God in the land."

At first glance, it seems that Pharaoh is finally letting the people go. But pay attention to what he’s saying. He says to go, but they have to stay in Egypt. They have to stay close.

Lesson

Don’t get too serious

Pharaoh says, “Go, but just not too far.”
Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego faced a challenge in Daniel 3. They were told that everyone had to bow before Nebuchadnezzar’s statue when the band started playing. If anyone refused to bow before the statue, they would be thrown into the fire. But these guys were raised to be good Jewish boys who only bow before God. They faced a choice. Was it that big of a deal? Who would even pay attention or care?  Do I have to get so serious about God?
Illustration
"Stalin's reign was the worst time," said a former Soviet Union pastor. "I had two KGB agents come to me and say, 'We'll take care of you. You stay the pastor of that church, but once a week give us a report on every one of these Christians. Work for us.' "I can't do that to God, and I can't do that to this flock," he replied. So they sent him to a prison camp in Siberia. He endured the forced labor and the cold for ten years. But he did find other Christians in the camp, and God used these believers to fulfill his purposes. "I was a carpenter building towns for Stalin," said the pastor. "We'd go out in sixty-mile radiuses, and there we would fellowship together. Today there are hundreds of churches in Siberia as a result of these small prisoner fellowship groups." When men refuse to compromise, they may lose much, but through them God will fulfill his higher eternal purpose.

-- Joseph Stowell, president of Moody Bible Institute.

:26 And Moses said, "It is not right to do so, for we would be sacrificing the abomination of the Egyptians to the LORD our God. If we sacrifice the abomination of the Egyptians before their eyes, then will they not stone us?

abomination of the Egyptians

apis.gifhathor_1.jpegThere are a couple of suggestions as to what Moses is hinting at. Do you know what two kinds of animals are most often sacrificed by Israelites? Cows and sheep.

* Among many other things, the Egyptians worshipped cows. One of their goddesses, Hathor, looked just a bit like a cow.
sheep.jpg*Another god, Apis, was a bull. It might be offensive to the Egyptians if the Israelites were slaughtering their goddess or god.
*On the other hand, Egyptians DIDN’T like sheep. They considered shepherds to be horrible people. As bad as sacrificing a cow was, it was just as repulsive for an Egyptian to see someone worshipping by slaughtering a --lamb.

It kind of seems that no matter what the Israelites do, they’re going to be in trouble with their neighbors.

The cross

Huckabee.jpg*Huckabee’s Christmas message. (This is NOT a political endorsement) I don’t know whether you’re following politics or not. There was a big “to-do” a few weeks ago when Mike Huckabee released his video Christmas greeting like the other candidates did. Mr. Huckabee mentioned that he thought that Christmas ought to be about celebrating the birth of Christ. What was even more controversial was the fact that he had a bookcase behind him that looked like a cross in the lighting of the commercial. Mr. Huckabee claims that it was simply a coincidence and was not intended at all. But you should have heard the liberal news media – they had a cow. They thought it was an abomination for a candidate to have a cross in his commercial. Whether it was intentional or not, I am curious as to why it’s so horrible to have a cross on anything?

(1 Cor 1:18 NKJV) For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.

The cross is important to a Christian.  It is where Jesus paid for our sins.  The message of the cross is that God can forgive you.

:27 "We will go three days' journey into the wilderness and sacrifice to the LORD our God as He will command us."

:28 And Pharaoh said, "I will let you go, that you may sacrifice to the LORD your God in the wilderness; only you shall not go very far away. Intercede for me."

Now Pharaoh says “go” to the wilderness, but he still doesn’t want them going too far away. He wants to keep an eye on them.

Moses doesn’t seem to object to this. He’s got Pharaoh saying they can go to the wilderness.

:29 Then Moses said, "Indeed I am going out from you, and I will entreat the LORD, that the swarms of flies may depart tomorrow from Pharaoh, from his servants, and from his people. But let Pharaoh not deal deceitfully anymore in not letting the people go to sacrifice to the LORD."

A little forewarning. Just don’t jerk us around anymore.

A pretty bold statement to make considering that Pharaoh was supposed to be the model of justice and truth.

:30 So Moses went out from Pharaoh and entreated the LORD.

:31 And the LORD did according to the word of Moses; He removed the swarms of flies from Pharaoh, from his servants, and from his people. Not one remained.

:32 But Pharaoh hardened his heart at this time also; neither would he let the people go.

Sometimes I don’t see Pharaoh as a picture of the evil world as much as I see him as a picture of our own evil sin nature.

When things get hard in our life, we start getting serious about God. The question I want to ask is, what will you do when things get better?

I don’t doubt that there are such things as “foxhole conversions” where a person truly commits their life to God when the bullets are whizzing by and the bombs are exploding. But when a person in a difficult place makes a commitment, I want to know what they’re going to do when things lighten up.

Are you ready to commit your life to God today?  Are you ready to stop spending the night with the frogs?  Are you ready to leave the things of Egypt far behind?