“So I will stretch out My hand and strike the Egyptians with all the wonders that I will perform among them. After that, he will let you go.” —Exodus 3:20
After Moses’s encounter with God at the burning bush, he returned to Egypt and did what God instructed. He went to Pharaoh and said, “This is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says: “Let My people go…” But Pharaoh responded “Who is the LORD, that I should obey Him and let Israel go? I do not know the LORD and I will not let Israel go” (Exodus 5:1-2). Pharaoh persisted in this refusal, which provoked God’s judgment on both Pharaoh and Egypt with ten devastating plagues.
There was first water turning into blood, beginning with the Nile River but reaching even to the jugs in Egyptian homes. Then came three plagues of animals infesting Egypt: frogs, gnats and flies. In the fifth plague, disease spread among all livestock, killing them off, and after this came the plague of festering boils. Next, hailstones devastated the land, stripping trees bare and injuring and killing people. Then locusts devoured everything green until only dry, barren land was left. The ninth plague was three days of darkness, and finally, death swept over Egypt, killing the firstborn of every animal and Egyptian family, including Pharaoh’s son.
The plagues followed relentlessly, one after another, each with a growing intensity that progressed from discomfort to disease to danger to darkness and ultimately to death. Yet, these plagues also held a spiritual purpose. Most aspects of Egyptian life were attributed to any of over 700 gods. There were gods associated with the Nile, animal gods, a crop god, a sky god, various sun gods, and Pharaoh himself was even said to be divine. The plagues God poured down were not random attacks but were strategically targeted to undermine the gods in which the Egyptians placed their trust.
Throughout God’s dialogue with Moses, He never refers to these attacks as plagues, but as “wonders” or signs. Signs point to something. Not only were the plagues designed to break the will of Pharaoh and undermine the gods of Egypt, but they pointed to the God of Israel, bringing people into submission to Him as the one true God.
God will sometimes strip us of things in our lives that tend to replace Him, including our own self-sufficiency. This is not the actions of a vindictive God, but quite the reverse. As hard as it may seem at the time, God may undermine what we have become dependent upon, not to leave us bereft of confidence, but that we may find our confidence in Him. God is love and He does not violate His character. His wrath and judgment are always an expression of His love to bring us in conformity with Him and His will for us.
PRAYER: Sovereign Lord, You are the fixed point in my life. Strengthen my trust and confidence in You so that nothing undermines it. Thank You, Lord.