The following study is based on Hebrews 11:27-28, “27 By faith he forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king: for he endured, as seeing him who is invisible. 28 Through faith he kept the passover, and the sprinkling of blood, lest he that destroyed the firstborn should touch them.”
We have already seen when Moses left Egypt the first time at the age of 40 after killing an Egyptian and Pharaoh was seeking his life. But now we are coming to the 10 plagues that would fall on Egypt. There are a few parts that lead up to the plagues that I want to look at first though.
First is the burning bush experience.
- Exodus 3:9-10
9 Now therefore, behold, the cry of the children of Israel is come unto me: and I have also seen the oppression wherewith the Egyptians oppress them. 10 Come now therefore, and I will send thee unto Pharaoh, that thou mayest bring forth my people the children of Israel out of Egypt.
- God speaks to Moses after 40 years of being in the wilderness and says to him that He wants him to lead the children of Israel out of Egypt.
- How does Moses reply?
- Exodus 3:11
And Moses said unto God, Who am I, that I should go unto Pharaoh, and that I should bring forth the children of Israel out of Egypt?
- Moses in his humility asks – God who am I that you should call me? He’s shocked that he’s still even qualified since he was a murderer!
- God gives him a reply and it’s basically the rest of the chapter. We won’t be reading through it. But basically, God reaffirms the fact that He hasn’t got it wrong and yes, that He really wants Moses to lead the children of Israel.
Now Moses continues:
- Exodus 4:1
And Moses answered and said, But, behold, they will not believe me, nor hearken unto my voice: for they will say, The LORD hath not appeared unto thee.
- Moses raises a concern. They, the Israelites in Egypt, will not believe me! They will listen to me. They won’t believe that You have appeared to me and called me to them.
- What is God’s reponse?
- Exodus 4:2-9
2 And the LORD said unto him, What is that in thine hand? And he said, A rod. 3 And he said, Cast it on the ground. And he cast it on the ground, and it became a serpent; and Moses fled from before it. 4 And the LORD said unto Moses, Put forth thine hand, and take it by the tail. And he put forth his hand, and caught it, and it became a rod in his hand: 5 That they may believe that the LORD God of their fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, hath appeared unto thee. 6 And the LORD said furthermore unto him, Put now thine hand into thy bosom. And he put his hand into his bosom: and when he took it out, behold, his hand was leprous as snow. 7 And he said, Put thine hand into thy bosom again. And he put his hand into his bosom again; and plucked it out of his bosom, and, behold, it was turned again as his other flesh. 8 And it shall come to pass, if they will not believe thee, neither hearken to the voice of the first sign, that they will believe the voice of the latter sign. 9 And it shall come to pass, if they will not believe also these two signs, neither hearken unto thy voice, that thou shalt take of the water of the river, and pour it upon the dry land: and the water which thou takest out of the river shall become blood upon the dry land.
- The miracle of his rod becoming a serpent and then the miracle of his hand becoming as leprosy and then being healed again God says will be enough evidence to show to the Israelites that God had called Moses.
- God gave him ample evidence that He would be with him and that he had nothing to fear about them not believing him.
But Moses isn’t done. He has another reason as to why God shouldn’t send him.
- Exodus 4:10-12
10 And Moses said unto the LORD, O my Lord, I am not eloquent, neither heretofore, nor since thou hast spoken unto thy servant: but I am slow of speech, and of a slow tongue. 11 And the LORD said unto him, Who hath made man’s mouth? or who maketh the dumb, or deaf, or the seeing, or the blind? have not I the LORD? 12 Now therefore go, and I will be with thy mouth, and teach thee what thou shalt say.
- Moses says, I can’t speak Egyptian anymore! How will I be able to communicate.
- But God says don’t worry, I will be with your mouth. I will help you to speak whatever language you need to speak!
But then look at Moses’ reply!
- Exodus 4:13
And he said, O my Lord, send, I pray thee, by the hand of him whom thou wilt send.
- What is Moses basically saying? God, send the man that you want to send.
- Now you must understand, Moses is the only man that is standing before God at this time. There’s no one else. The rest are sheep!
- Does that sound like a statement of faith? Definitely not! God still has to build the faith of Moses. He still has room to grow. But Moses, he’s doubting himself – sure that’s ok. But he’s also doubting the power of God.
- You know, we can get to this point in our humility that it actually turns to doubt. At the beginning we could have seen that Moses was humble, he was meek. He had a low estimation of himself. Yet God had made it clear that He was ready to work through Moses. But Moses was still reluctant. He was reluctant to the point that not only he doubted himself, he began to doubt that God had made the right choice to call him!
- So then what happens?
- Exodus 4:14-16
14 And the anger of the LORD was kindled against Moses, and he said, Is not Aaron the Levite thy brother? I know that he can speak well. And also, behold, he cometh forth to meet thee: and when he seeth thee, he will be glad in his heart. 15 And thou shalt speak unto him, and put words in his mouth: and I will be with thy mouth, and with his mouth, and will teach you what ye shall do. 16 And he shall be thy spokesman unto the people: and he shall be, even he shall be to thee instead of a mouth, and thou shalt be to him instead of God.
- God finally says, OK you don’t want to believe me, then I’m going to take some of my Spirit and put it on Aaron. I will give him some of the blessing that I wanted to give you.
- Aaron would become the mouth piece for Moses. It wasn’t actually needed, but because of all the doubts and excuses that Moses gave, God finally had enough.
- The role of Aaron was actually created because Moses made too many excuses. God could have given Moses the gift of tongues. He could have helped Moses to speak perfect Egyptian. But because of all his excuses and doubts, God chose to place some of that blessing on his brother instead.
- Aaron’s role was a redundant, unnecessary role.
- You know friends, sometimes because of all the excuses and doubts that we throw at God, we can come short of the stature of the man or woman that God wants us to be!
- Thankfully God still calls Moses. He had not sinned. He still went finally.
- If Moses had chosen not to go at all, then it would have been a totally different story.
So Moses leaves and first meets his brother Aaron and the two of them go and convince the elders of Israel that God will surely visit them and bring them out soon. After that Moses and Aaron go in to Pharaoh and speak to him.
- Exodus 5:1-2
1 And afterward Moses and Aaron went in, and told Pharaoh, Thus saith the LORD God of Israel, Let my people go, that they may hold a feast unto me in the wilderness. 2 And Pharaoh said, Who is the LORD, that I should obey his voice to let Israel go? I know not the LORD, neither will I let Israel go.
- Moses already knew from God that Pharaoh would not let them go. And what does Pharaoh do? He goes and doubles their workload.
- The people complain to Moses and then Moses goes and talks to God. What does God reply? Go talk to the people and encourage them.
- Exodus 6:9
And Moses spake so unto the children of Israel: but they hearkened not unto Moses for anguish of spirit, and for cruel bondage.
- Moses’ work was not very easy. Pharaoh has rejected his request. The people whom he has come to lead out of Egypt did not want to listen to him. His faith had to be placed purely on God. But Moses is still doubting, his faith also needs to be strengthened – only by God alone.
- Exodus 6:10-12
10 And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, 11 Go in, speak unto Pharaoh king of Egypt, that he let the children of Israel go out of his land. 12 And Moses spake before the LORD, saying, Behold, the children of Israel have not hearkened unto me; how then shall Pharaoh hear me, who am of uncircumcised lips?
- What does God say? Go talk to Pharaoh again. Trust me. Warn him about the plagues.
- You see, the plagues was not just for Pharaoh, but also for Moses and the children of Israel to begin to trust God. To learn to live by faith, by every word of God.
Before we get to the first plague though, we see an encounter take place between Moses, Aaron and Pharaoh.
- Exodus 7:10-12
10 And Moses and Aaron went in unto Pharaoh, and they did so as the LORD had commanded: and Aaron cast down his rod before Pharaoh, and before his servants, and it became a serpent. 11 Then Pharaoh also called the wise men and the sorcerers: now the magicians of Egypt, they also did in like manner with their enchantments. 12 For they cast down every man his rod, and they became serpents: but Aaron’s rod swallowed up their rods.
- Aaron’s rod wins! Already we see God is building the faith of Moses bit by bit.
- However, Pharaoh’s heart is hard. He won’t listen.
So we come now to the first plague.
- Exodus 7:20-23
20 And Moses and Aaron did so, as the LORD commanded; and he lifted up the rod, and smote the waters that were in the river, in the sight of Pharaoh, and in the sight of his servants; and all the waters that were in the river were turned to blood. 21 And the fish that was in the river died; and the river stank, and the Egyptians could not drink of the water of the river; and there was blood throughout all the land of Egypt. 22 And the magicians of Egypt did so with their enchantments: and Pharaoh’s heart was hardened, neither did he hearken unto them; as the LORD had said. 23 And Pharaoh turned and went into his house, neither did he set his heart to this also.
- Water is turned to blood. Everything in the water dies. But Pharaoh’s heart still hard.
The second plague.
- Exodus 8:5
And the LORD spake unto Moses, Say unto Aaron, Stretch forth thine hand with thy rod over the streams, over the rivers, and over the ponds, and cause frogs to come up upon the land of Egypt.
- It is the plague of frogs. And it doesn’t take long for Pharaoh to react.
- Exodus 8:8
Then Pharaoh called for Moses and Aaron, and said, Intreat 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 do sacrifice unto the LORD.
- God is building the faith of Moses. He sees how Pharaoh reacts. But Pharaoh changes his mind after the frogs are taken away.
- God has His reasons for allowing all this to happen.
- Exodus 8:17-18
17 And they did so; for Aaron stretched out his hand with his rod, and smote the dust of the earth, and it became lice in man, and in beast; all the dust of the land became lice throughout all the land of Egypt. 18 And the magicians did so with their enchantments to bring forth lice, but they could not: so there were lice upon man, and upon beast.
- It is the plague of lice! And the magician’s finally admit they can’t replicate it, and they call it the finger of God. But Pharaoh’s heart is still hard.
- There’s progress. God has shown the weakness and fallacy of these so-called magicians. God is still building the faith of Moses. The plagues are slowly getting worse.
- Exodus 8:21-23
21 Else, if thou wilt not let my people go, behold, I will send swarms of flies upon thee, and upon thy servants, and upon thy people, and into thy houses: and the houses of the Egyptians shall be full of swarms of flies, and also the ground whereon they are. 22 And I will sever in that day the land of Goshen, in which my people dwell, that no swarms of flies shall be there; to the end thou mayest know that I am the LORD in the midst of the earth. 23 And I will put a division between my people and thy people: to morrow shall this sign be.
- This is the plague of flies! And notice that there is a separation between what is Egypt’s and what is Israel’s.
- Pharaoh finally says OK to let them go and worship but then changes his mind after the flies are taken away.
- Exodus 9:3-4
3 Behold, the hand of the LORD is upon thy cattle which is in the field, upon the horses, upon the asses, upon the camels, upon the oxen, and upon the sheep: there shall be a very grievous murrain. 4 And the LORD shall sever between the cattle of Israel and the cattle of Egypt: and there shall nothing die of all that is the children’s of Israel.
- Note that there is separation again between the cattle of Egypt and the cattle of Israel. This time Pharaoh just refuses.
- Exodus 9:8-9
8 And the LORD said unto Moses and unto Aaron, Take to you handfuls of ashes of the furnace, and let Moses sprinkle it toward the heaven in the sight of Pharaoh. 9 And it shall become small dust in all the land of Egypt, and shall be a boil breaking forth with blains upon man, and upon beast, throughout all the land of Egypt.
- Plague of boils! But Pharaoh’s heart is still hard! The Israelites are not affected by the boils – there is separation.
- Exodus 9:23-26
23 And Moses stretched forth his rod toward heaven: and the LORD sent thunder and hail, and the fire ran along upon the ground; and the LORD rained hail upon the land of Egypt. 24 So there was hail, and fire mingled with the hail, very grievous, such as there was none like it in all the land of Egypt since it became a nation. 25 And the hail smote throughout all the land of Egypt all that was in the field, both man and beast; and the hail smote every herb of the field, and brake every tree of the field. 26 Only in the land of Goshen, where the children of Israel were, was there no hail.
- Plague of hail comes down from heaven on Egypt. And there is separation yet again – Israelites are not affected by the hail. This time Pharaoh has false repentance. He says they can go, but as soon as the hail is taken away, he changes his mind.
- God is so merciful and patient with Pharaoh. He is doing all that He can to save him. He doesn’t bring the worst plague on Egypt first. It is gradually getting worse. You know that is how God is with us. He gradually turns up the heat and tries to help us to see the need to change and repent. And we are either softening our hearts by following him and applying it or our hearts are gradually getting harder and God needs to send something stronger just to get out attention.
- Exodus 10:12
And the LORD said unto Moses, Stretch out thine hand over the land of Egypt for the locusts, that they may come up upon the land of Egypt, and eat every herb of the land, even all that the hail hath left.
- The plagues of locusts.
- Pharaoh has false repentance again. Look at what happens.
- Exodus 10:16
Then Pharaoh called for Moses and Aaron in haste; and he said, I have sinned against the LORD your God, and against you.
- He realises his error and admits that he has sinned against God! But after the locusts are removed he changes his mind yet again!
- Exodus 10:21-22
21 And the LORD said unto Moses, Stretch out thine hand toward heaven, that there may be darkness over the land of Egypt, even darkness which may be felt. 22 And Moses stretched forth his hand toward heaven; and there was a thick darkness in all the land of Egypt three days:
- The plague of darkness. Once again there is separation. The Israelites had light whilst the rest in Egypt were in darkness.
- Pharaoh finally says to Moses, after the darkness is lifted, that if he sees Moses again he will kill him. He is not even repentant anymore!
- Moses would not actually tell Pharaoh about this last plague but he would found out about it from experience. There would be no more warning as Pharaoh himself told them that if he saw them again he would kill them.
- This is where the Passover is instituted. This is where for the first time, the children of Israel would actually have to do something in order to be free from this plague. All the previous plagues they didn’t have to do anything to be kept safe. There was separation between those in Egypt that them.
- The Israelites were instructed to kill a lamb (Exodus 12) and there were some specific instructions in regard to it. It had to be male and without blemish. They had to kill it and take the blood and paint it on to the door posts – sides and top – basically the door frame. They also had to eat the flesh of that lamb that night with unleavened bread and couldn’t let it remain until the morning. And whatever remained that they could not finish had to be burnt.
- This was the first time it was required for them to obey and follow instructions if they didn’t want to be affected by this plague. All the other plagues they were protected from simply by the providence of God. But this one, it required them to do something.
- NOTE! It required faith, not just for Moses but for all the children of Israel. They needed faith to apply what God had told them to do.
Without faith it is impossible to please God.
- Without faith, Jesus cannot live in us to will and to do of His good pleasure.
- Without faith the children of Israel would not have killed the lamb and pasted its blood all around their door posts.
- Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God. And the word of God had told them to do something that they had never done before. There was no historical context for this. There was nothing they could point back to understand the reason why they were taking blood from a lamb and smearing it all over the door frame to their house. We’re not sure if they understood all the symbolic meaning behind it like we do today. But they believed. And because they believed, their faith took hold of the word of God and God gave them the strength to obey. And not only obey, but it was faith that saved the first born of every family that stood behind the blood stained door posts when the angel of death came to look for those that weren’t covered by the blood of the lamb!
27 By faith he forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king: for he endured, as seeing him who is invisible. 28 Through faith he kept the passover, and the sprinkling of blood, lest he that destroyed the firstborn should touch them.
- Moses saw the God behind the plagues.
- Pharaoh saw the plagues, but never repented.
There is nothing we can do to bring us into acceptance with God except we come through faith.
- Faith in His word.
- Faith in His promises.
As for Moses, God was building his faith to trust in Him implicitly. If it wasn’t for the 40 years spent in the wilderness, Moses may not have clung to God’s word as closely as he did but may have leaned more heavily on his own wisdom from Egypt.
Today, God may not give us the reason why. We may not see the end from the beginning. But certainly God does not expect us to run before we can even walk. Each day He gives us chances to build our faith. Whether that is through experiences to lead us to trust Him through His word, or us spending time in our devotions each day to strengthen our faith.
No matter which group you find yourself in today, may God help you to either see your need to depend more on Him and not on your own wisdom and to also see the need to starting your personal devotions each day with Him. And for those that are walking with Jesus already, may God help you to see your need of a deeper experience with Him daily!