[Lesson 31: Pharaoh: Who Is the Lord?] [Table of Contents] [Lesson 33: The Passover Lamb]

Lesson 32

The Plagues

Exodus 7-10

Peace be with you, listening friends. We greet you in the name of God, the Lord of peace, who wants everyone to understand and submit to the way of righteousness that He has established, and have true peace with Him forever. We are happy to be able to return today to present your program The Way of Righteousness.

"An egg should not wrestle with a rock!" This (Wolof) proverb summarizes what we will study today in the Holy Scriptures. What happens when an egg and a rock collide? The egg breaks; the rock remains unchanged. Today we will see what happened when Pharaoh, the king of Egypt, tried to fight against the Lord God of whom the prophet Moses writes: "He is the Rock, his works are perfect, and all his ways are just." (Deut. 32:4).

Last study, we saw how God sent Moses and Aaron to Pharaoh to free the children of Israel from their slavery in Egypt. They said to Pharaoh: "The Lord, the God of Israel, says, 'Let my people go worship me in the wilderness!'" However, Pharaoh replied to them: "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!" (Exod. 5:2) In brief, God determined to free the people of Israel, whereas Pharaoh was determined to keep them as his slaves. However, "an egg should not wrestle (fight, contend) with a rock!"

Let us now return to the second part of the Torah, the book of Exodus, chapter seven, to see how Pharaoh tried to "wrestle" with God. The Scripture says:

(Exod. 7) 10So Moses and Aaron went to Pharaoh and did just as the Lord commanded. Aaron threw his staff down in front of Pharaoh and his officials, and it became a snake. 11Pharaoh then summoned the wise men and sorcerers, and the Egyptian magicians also did the same things by their secret arts: 12Each one threw down his staff and it became a snake. But Aaron's staff swallowed up their staffs.

Notice the start of the "wrestling match" {Note: wrestling is the traditional sport of Senegal} between Pharaoh and God. On one side, we see Pharaoh with his wise men and sorcerers. {Lit. in Wolof: marabouts, spiritual guides} On the other side we see Moses and Aaron. After Aaron's staff miraculously changed into a snake, Pharaoh's sorcerers {marabouts} imitated the miracle with their incantations. "Each one threw down his staff and it became a snake. But Aaron's staff swallowed up their staffs."

What can we say about all this? We know that the wonders which Moses and Aaron performed came from God. However, Pharaoh's marabouts also performed wonders. From where did they get their power? Did they get it from God? No! God does not fight against Himself. So where did their power come from? Pharaoh's marabouts relied on the art of deception and on the power that comes from Satan.

The Holy Scriptures show us that Satan is very crafty and loves to deceive people; he is also very powerful and can perform miracles. However, what is certain is that God is more powerful than Satan. Thus, Aaron's staff swallowed the staffs of Pharaoh's marabouts. However, all of this did not cause Pharaoh to repent and to listen to the word of God.

Listen to what the Scripture says:

(Exod. 7) 14Then the Lord said to Moses, "Pharaoh's heart is unyielding; he refuses to let the people go. 15Go to Pharaoh in the morning as he goes out to the water. Wait on the bank of the Nile to meet him, and take in your hand the staff that was changed into a snake. 16Then say to him, 'The Lord, the God of the Hebrews, has sent me to say to you: Let my people go, so that they may worship me in the desert. But until now you have not listened. 17This is what the Lord says: By this you will know that I am the Lord: With the staff that is in my hand I will strike the water of the Nile, and it will be changed into blood… 20Moses and Aaron did just as the Lord had commanded. He raised his staff in the presence of Pharaoh and his officials and struck the water of the Nile, and all the water was changed into blood. 21The fish in the Nile died, and the river smelled so bad that the Egyptians could not drink its water. Blood was everywhere in Egypt. 22But the Egyptian magicians did the same things by their secret arts, and Pharaoh's heart became hard; he would not listen to Moses and Aaron, just as the Lord had said. 23Instead, he turned and went into his palace, and did not take even this to heart. 24And all the Egyptians dug along the Nile to get drinking water, because they could not drink the water of the river.

25Seven days passed after the Lord struck the Nile. 8:1Then the Lord said to Moses, "Go to Pharaoh and say to him, 'This is what the Lord says: Let my people go, so that they may worship me. 2If you refuse to let them go, I will plague your whole country with frogs. 3The Nile will teem with frogs. They will come up into your palace and your bedroom and onto your bed, into the houses of your officials and on your people, and into your ovens and kneading troughs.

However, Pharaoh did not listen to the warnings from Moses. (Exod. 8) 5Then the Lord said to Moses, "Tell Aaron: 'Stretch out your hand with your staff over the streams and canals and ponds, and make frogs come up on the land of Egypt.'" 6So Aaron stretched out his hand over the waters of Egypt, and the frogs came up and covered the land. 7But the magicians did the same things by their secret arts; they also made frogs come up on the land of Egypt. 8Pharaoh summoned Moses and Aaron and said, "Pray to the Lord to take the frogs away from me and my people, and I will let your people go to offer sacrifices to the Lord."… 12Then Moses cried out to the Lord about the frogs he had brought on Pharaoh…The frogs [all] died… 14They were piled into heaps, and the land reeked of them. 15But when Pharaoh saw that there was relief, he hardened his heart and would not listen to Moses and Aaron, just as the Lord had said.

16Then the Lord said to Moses, "Tell Aaron, 'Stretch out your staff and strike the dust of the ground,' and throughout the land of Egypt the dust will become gnats." 17They did this, and when Aaron stretched out his hand with the staff and struck the dust of the ground, gnats came upon men and animals. All the dust throughout the land of Egypt became gnats. 18But when the magicians tried to produce gnats by their secret arts, they could not. And the gnats were on men and animals. 19The magicians said to Pharaoh, "This is the finger of God." But Pharaoh's heart was hard and he would not listen, just as the Lord had said.

Did you see what happened with the sorcerers, Pharaoh's marabouts? We already saw how they had a certain power, which they received from Satan. That is why, through their secret arts, they managed to imitate God's power and change a little water into blood, and make a few frogs appear (as if the Egyptians needed more blood in their water and frogs in their beds!). However, their power was limited. Pharaoh's marabouts were unable to remove the plagues which Almighty God had brought down upon the land of Egypt. After Aaron struck the ground with his staff and the dust became gnats, the sorcerers performed their secret arts, trying to change the dust into gnats, but they could not. Thus, they told Pharaoh, "This is the finger of God!"

Clearly, the sorcerers' power was limited. Certainly, Satan has power and can give man certain powers, but those powers will never exceed the limits that God has fixed. God alone is the All-Powerful One. Only He can do all things! He alone is the One without limitations! Pharaoh's marabouts were beginning to learn about the unlimited greatness of God, but Pharaoh still refused to submit to God. Pharaoh continued to harden his heart and think that he could wrestle with the God of Israel and win!

Thus, the Scriptures tell how God brought upon Pharaoh and upon the land of Egypt another seven plagues, by the hands of Moses and Aaron. Unfortunately, we do not have time to read about each plague. We can only name them.

The fourth plague consisted of clouds of flies which filled the land, even the people's houses, causing much destruction. In the fifth plague, a terrible sickness fell on the livestock, and many died. However, not one died among the herds of the children of Israel. Nevertheless, Pharaoh hardened his heart and refused to let the people of Israel go. Next, terrible boils broke out on men and animals. And the Scripture says: "The magicians could not stand before Moses because of the boils that were on them and on all the Egyptians." (Exod. 9:11) In the seventh plague a terrible hailstorm, of proportions never before seen in Egypt, rained down and ruined all the fields. After that was over, the land was filled with locusts, which ate all that the hailstorm had left. This was the eighth plague.

In the ninth plague, God said to Moses, "Stretch out your hand toward the sky so that darkness will spread over Egypt-darkness that can be felt." (Exod. 10:21) Thus, for three days no one could see anything. However, in the district where the children of Israel lived, there was light. Not one plague broke out on them. Yet all of this did not cause Pharaoh to repent and let the people of Israel go. The Scripture says: "Pharaoh said to Moses, "Get out of my sight! Make sure you do not appear before me again! The day you see my face you will die." (Exod. 10:28)

There is one more plague that God brought down on Pharaoh and the Egyptians, but we will wait until next time to look at it, because our time is almost gone.

How can we summarize our lesson today? Perhaps like this: Pharaoh tried to fight with the Lord God. Did Pharaoh and his marabouts overcome the Almighty One? Could they overpower Him? No! No one can grapple with God and overpower Him! An egg does not fight with a rock and win!

What does God want to say to us through what we have read today? The Scripture says: "These things happened to them as examples and were written down as warnings for us." (1 Cor. 10:11) God wants to warn us. God wants us to take a good look at ourselves and to heed His warnings.

You who are listening today, are you paying attention to the Word of God? Are you obeying it? Or, are you, like Pharaoh, fighting with God? Let your own heart answer. Are you submitted to the Word of God? This does not mean, are you submitted to the customs of your ancestors and their religion-but have you received with humility the Word of the Lord God? Or are you attempting to fight with God?

"An egg should not wrestle with a rock!" Man is like a fragile egg and the Word of God is like a solid rock. The Scripture says: "All men are like grass, and all their glory is like the flowers of the field; the grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of the Lord stands forever!" (1 Pet. 1:24,25) The Word of the Eternal God is a solid Rock and everyone who builds his life upon this Rock has placed his life on a solid foundation. However, if you refuse to build your life on that rock-one day the Rock of the Word of God will fall on you and crush you. An egg cannot fight with a rock and win. Neither can man contend with God's eternal Word and escape punishment.

This is where we must stop. Thank you for listening. God willing, in our next study, we will see what the Lord did to cause Pharaoh to allow the children of Israel to leave Egypt.…

God bless you as you think about what the prophet Moses wrote in the Torah, saying:

"The Lord God is the Rock, His works are perfect, and all His ways are just. A faithful God who does no wrong, upright and just is He." (Deut. 32:4)