Wednesday, May 28

The Judgment of Egypt: Part III

Living By Faith

We are looking at the judgment of Egypt. God used ten plagues to judge the nation of Egypt and to picture the coming judgment of this world system. Nine of them were ineffective, but necessary to show God’s power over the false gods of this world. The nine are divided into three series of three plagues each (Exodus 7:15; 8:20; and 9:13). Thus far, we have looked at two series. Today we want to look at the third.

The Third Series (Exodus 9:13):

And the LORD said unto Moses, Rise up early in the morning, and stand before Pharaoh, and say unto him, Thus saith the LORD God of the Hebrews, Let my people go, that they may serve me.

The third series begins as the others with the command, “Rise up early in the morning.” The message is the same, too: “Let my people go.” In verse 16, God states that He raised up Pharaoh for a purpose—so that He might use him to show His power. God sets up and sets down whomsoever He willeth (Psalm 75:7). Pharaoh was allowed into power, because God knew that he would refuse to let Israel go. He knew that Pharaoh would stubbornly harden his heart and refuse to repent. Since this brought judgment upon the whole land, it is good that we pray for our leaders (I Timothy 2:1-2).

Plague 7—Hail and fire:

Scripture: Exodus 9:22-26

And the LORD said unto Moses, Stretch forth thine hand toward heaven, that there may be hail in all the land of Egypt, upon man, and upon beast, and upon every herb of the field, throughout the land of Egypt. 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.

This judgment consisted of a terrible plague of hail mingled with fire. By this time, many of the Egyptians turned to God. Thus God revealed His mercy by forewarning them of the danger that would come.

Scripture: Exodus 9:19-21

Send therefore now, and gather thy cattle, and all that thou hast in the field; for upon every man and beast which shall be found in the field, and shall not be brought home, the hail shall come down upon them, and they shall die. 20 He that feared the word of the LORD among the servants of Pharaoh made his servants and his cattle flee into the houses: 21 And he that regarded not the word of the LORD left his servants and his cattle in the field.

Some believed and some did not. That is the way it always is. Those who believed were spared. Those who did not were destroyed. The lost go to hell, because they “regard not the word of the Lord.” Those who obey by placing their faith in Christ receive eternal life. God wants everyone to be forewarned. It is our obligation to warn them (Ezekiel 3:17-19).

God’s judgment is coming. That is sure. When it comes it will be far worse than what happened in Egypt. The hailstones will be much larger. Consider that the ones in Egypt were sufficient to be lethal.

Illustration: We have a difficult time comprehending this in central Ohio, because our hail is usually insignificant, rarely reaching the size of a quarter. Some years back, I had occasion to work on some houses that were damaged by hail in the south end of Columbus. The damage was amazing. Cars and trucks were totaled. Windshields were broken.

Cats and dogs left outside were killed. Shingles were knocked off roofs, and paint was knocked off of siding. You could actually see where the hail hit, because the wood was bare. The real impact came when I was asked to replace a relatively new metal shed. When I wondered at this, the homeowner took me inside and pointed up. There, in the roof, I could see holes the size of grapefruit. I was unable to duplicate the feat with an 8 lb. sledge hammer.

This plague marked a turning point for Pharaoh. In verse 27, he admitted that he had sinned. Notice, though, that even though he confessed his sin before, he only acknowledged that he sinned this time. That is telling. He was not really repentant. He was only saying that because he did not like the consequences. Verse 34 says that he sinned yet more and hardened his heart.

Scripture: Exodus 9:35—10:1

And the heart of Pharaoh was hardened, neither would he let the children of Israel go; as the LORD had spoken by Moses. 1 And the LORD said unto Moses, Go in unto Pharaoh: for I have hardened his heart, and the heart of his servants, that I might shew these my signs before him:

To this point in time, Pharaoh hardened his own heart. From this point on, God hardens his heart. This is what I refer to as “sklerokardia”. It is Greek for hardening the heart and it is a fatal disease. Each time we reject the water of God’s Word, our heart becomes more leathery and hardened. Eventually, it becomes so dried out that it is like shoe leather and will never be soft again. We may think that we can put off Christ, but that is a dangerous game (II Thessalonians 2:11-12). The author of Hebrews says, “Today, if ye will hear His voice, harden not your heart (Hebrews 3:15).” Today is the day of salvation.

Sklerokardia is a spiritual disease that afflicts the lost, but there is a similar condition that afflicts the saints. It is called bitterness. It sets in when Christians refuse to hear God’s Word and deal with their sin. Many have destroyed their lives and testimonies by it.

Plague 8—Locusts:

Scripture: Exodus 10:3-7

And Moses and Aaron came in unto Pharaoh, and said unto him, Thus saith the LORD God of the Hebrews, How long wilt thou refuse to humble thyself before me? let my people go, that they may serve me. 4 Else, if thou refuse to let my people go, behold, to morrow will I bring the locusts into thy coast: 5 And they shall cover the face of the earth, that one cannot be able to see the earth: and they shall eat the residue of that which is escaped, which remaineth unto you from the hail, and shall eat every tree which groweth for you out of the field: 6 And they shall fill thy houses, and the houses of all thy servants, and the houses of all the Egyptians; which neither thy fathers, nor thy fathers' fathers have seen, since the day that they were upon the earth unto this day. And he turned himself, and went out from Pharaoh. 7 And Pharaoh's servants said unto him, How long shall this man be a snare unto us? let the men go, that they may serve the LORD their God: knowest thou not yet that Egypt is destroyed?

By this time Pharaoh stood alone. The magicians long ago recognized this as the finger of God (Exodus 8:19). Then, even his servants begged him to let Israel go. We might ask, “What caused this bold defiance of Pharaoh?” The answer is just one word: locusts.

They have heard the word locust and have seen the other judgments. What has preceded is like nothing compared to this, for locusts are the most dreaded of all natural disasters in the Middle East. We have no real appreciation for the horror of this word to the Egyptians. They knew and were terrified.

Here in the Midwest we have something which we call a locust.

It is actually from a different family of insect. Our locust emerges every thirteen or seventeen years, makes a lot of noise, and does some damage to crops and trees. It is more of a pest than a terror. In contrast, the locust of Bible lands is related to the grasshopper and is ferocious.

Locusts have voracious appetites that so strip the ground of vegetation that the earth appears scorched by fire. The prophet Joel likens them to a mighty army of horsemen. Indeed the head of the locust resembles that of a horse.

As an army, they are nearly invincible. If struck by a vehicle at 50-60 mph, they will merely bounce off and fly away. Airline pilots have spotted swarms at 8,000 feet. African swarms have flown as far as the Carribbean islands. To fight them, countries resort to military type operations.

When all vegetation is gone, locusts will eat the bark of trees and the wool off of sheep. They have been known to eat the handles of shovels. At night they cover the ground to a depth of 4-5 inches. When stepped on, they make an awful stench. They leave famine and utter desolation in their wake.

The pleading of the servants caused Pharaoh to offer a third compromise.

Scripture: Exodus 10:11

Not so: go now ye that are men, and serve the LORD; for that ye did desire. And they were driven out from Pharaoh's presence.

Pharaoh said, “only the men shall go.” The picture is that of a man who develops his own spiritual life but fails to provide spiritual leadership for his home. Many a pastor, missionary, or deacon has been laid aside because he failed to lead his family out of Egypt. Men, we need to point our families to a life of faith and trust in Christ rather than give them up to worldliness.

Moses rejected this compromise. God said, “Stretch out thine hand (vs. 12).” The east wind brought the locust (vs. 13). It did not take long for Pharaoh to call for Moses (vs. 16).

Scripture: Exodus 10:16-17

Then Pharaoh called for Moses and Aaron in haste; and he said, I have sinned against the LORD your God, and against you. 17 Now therefore forgive, I pray thee, my sin only this once, and intreat the LORD your God, that he may take away from me this death only.

Pharaoh confessed his sin, asked for forgiveness, and pleaded for an end. God graciously sent a west wind to take the locusts away. “But the Lord hardened Pharaoh’s heart (vs. 20).”

Plague 9—Light turned to darkness:

Scripture: Exodus 10:21-23

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: 23 They saw not one another, neither rose any from his place for three days: but all the children of Israel had light in their dwellings.

Illustration: My wife and I once visited Mammoth Cave in Kentucky. After going down hundreds of steps into a deep cavern, the guide bunched us together and turned out the lights. It was so dark that I could not see my own hand placed directly in front of my face.

What the Egyptians experienced was a little taste of hell. For three days (vs. 22), they were totally isolated from one another by the thick darkness (vs. 23). A few moments in a darkened cave was bad. Three days would be terrible. Imagine what eternity will be like!

Through the darkness God showed His power over the Sun god, Ra. He also demonstrated the awfulness of darkness. John said, “And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil (John 3:19).” Once again, God says, “If you want darkness, then here is darkness.”

Pharaoh then offered the fourth compromise (vs. 24). Pharaoh said, “Go and serve. Take your families, too, but leave your possessions behind.” The devil wants us to compartmentalize our lives into secular and spiritual. He wants us to straddle a barbed-wire fence. Go ahead and give God Sunday and even a tenth of everything, but do not give Him everything. But what does God say, “For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s (I Corinthians 6:20).”


Scripture: Psalm 97:7-9

Confounded be all they that serve graven images, that boast themselves of idols: worship him, all ye gods. 8 Zion heard, and was glad; and the daughters of Judah rejoiced because of thy judgments, O LORD. 9 For thou, LORD, art high above all the earth: thou art exalted far above all gods.

”The Lord reigneth; let the earth rejoice (Psalm 97:1)” Hallelujah!!!

Next time: The Death of the Firstborn

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