The Plagues

Today's Bible reading: Exodus:12:1-14

Moses and Aaron go forward … and confront Pharaoh … and ask him to let the people go.  However Pharaoh’s heart was hardened and he would not listen to them – which brings us to the 10 plagues.  The Lord sends 10 plagues upon the Egyptians to break Pharaoh’s stubborn will and to demonstrate His power and superiority over the pagan gods of the Egyptians.  These plagues occurred within a period about nine months, in the following order: 1. the water of the Nile was turned into blood; 2. frogs overran the countryside; 3. people and animals were infested with gnats; 4. swarms of flies cover the land; 5. disease killed the livestock of Egypt; 6. boils and sores infected the Egyptians and their animals; 7. hail destroyed crops and vegetation; 8. swarms of locusts cover the land; 9. Thick darkness covered Egypt for three days; and 10. the Egyptian firstborn - both of the people and their animals - was destroyed by God’s angel of death.

The first two plagues - water turned into blood and frogs - can be imitated by Pharaoh’s magicians. Others - gnats, flies, cattle disease, boils, hail, locusts and darkness - cannot be mimicked, but they failed to produce Israel's freedom.  After each plague has passed, Pharaoh goes back on his promise – the people remain slaves.  In this way, all the emphasis lies on the last plague: the loss of the first born.  In sending His plagues, God does battle with the gods of Egypt.  The death the Pharaoh’s own son is nothing less than the death of Egypt's god – as the Pharaoh himself was understood to be a god on earth.

The night of death for the Egyptians becomes the night in which the Israelites begin to celebrate their salvation.  The blood of the Passover lamb now becomes a continuing sign of deliverance for future generations.  As Christians, we also know that the blood of the Passover lamb looks ahead to Christ our Passover lamb, who was sacrificed on the cross for us and whose blood was shed to take away all of your sins and all of mine.  Christ’s blood is our delivery from our slavery to sin, as John the Baptist says: “Behold, the lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!”

Prayer: O Lord, I am in need of a Shepherd to seek and save me, for I am a straying sheep.  You are the Good Shepherd, who seeks and saves the lost.  Save me, O Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world.  Amen