Exodus 8 Devotional
by Pastor David Groendyk
Creation itself is being used by God to show Pharaoh and Egypt the supreme power and authority of Yahweh over everything. Today’s chapter describes the second, third, and fourth plagues brought upon Egypt. Over the course of these three plagues, Egypt’s situation gets more and more desperate, and the rulers start to recognize more and more the power of Yahweh.
The second plague is frogs that infest the land (vv. 1–15). Scholars have pointed out that each of the ten plagues can correspond to a specific god that the Egyptians worshiped, which aligns with the testimony of Scripture that God was pouring out judgment on the Egyptian gods as well as the Egyptians themselves in the ten plagues (Ex. 12:12; Num. 33:4). The frog plague is a judgment against Heket, a goddess of fertility and birth who had the head of a frog. How does God show himself superior to Heket and all other gods in this plague? By showing his control over the frogs by sending them and then taking them away. It’s interesting that the Egyptian magicians are able to repeat the phenomenon of making frogs appear, as they did with the staff-to-snake miracle (7:11–12) and water-to-blood miracle (7:22). That might seem troubling. But remember this: none of those magicians could make any of the plagues disappear. Whatever “secret arts” they were using to make frogs appear, they prove they don’t really have the power over the frogs by not being able to get rid of them. Moreover, they only exacerbate the problem by adding more frogs! Not so powerful or intimidating after all, if you ask me. Pharaoh knows this. That’s why he pleads with Moses to plead with Yahweh to end their suffering (v. 8). And Yahweh does take away the frogs. Why? “So that you may know that there is no one like the Lord our God” (v. 10).
The third plague is gnats (or lice) that swarm the land (vv. 16–19). This plague is a judgment against Geb, the god of earth and dust, or perhaps Set, the god of dust, deserts, and storms. How does God show himself superior to Geb and Set and all other gods in this plague? For the first time, the magicians cannot replicate what Yahweh has done (v. 18). The magicians have utterly exhausted their ability, while Yahweh is just getting started. Even these men who are loyal to Pharaoh have no choice but to admit that the gnats have come from the finger of God (v. 19).
The fourth plague is flies that swarm the land (vv. 20–32). This plague is a judgment against Uatchit, the goddess of flies who is also known as the Lady of the Marshes. How do we see God’s superiority to Uatchit and all other gods in this plague? For the first time, he puts a division and separation between Israel and Egypt (vv. 22–23). While it may come as a shock that the first three plagues also came upon Israel, the emphasis here is that only the Egyptian-occupied portion of the country would now suffer the plagues. The Israelites had lived in a separate region of the country because Egypt considered their living practices detestable (see Gen. 43:32 and Gen. 46:34). But what a reversal. The Egyptians are detestable in God’s sight; Israel is precious. No longer will the whole country suffer, but only the enemies of Yahweh.
God shows his power in these three plagues so fully and exhaustively so that Pharaoh and his people have no excuse not to believe in this God. He has the power both to give and take away anything at his will; he has an inexhaustible power and authority that cannot be replicated by any other man or any other god; he has such mastery over creation that he can discriminate between his children and his enemies. After each of these plagues, Pharaoh’s situation grows ever more desperate, but every time he hardens his heart after a respite (v. 15). I pray that none of us would ever have this kind of response to God. Pharaoh’s half-hearted wavering is the kind of religion you see in movies and TV shows—when things are good, no mention of God; but when things go bad, all of a sudden people start praying. Let’s learn to have a right view of who God is all the time, not just when we need rescuing. Remember, stand in awe of, pray to, and worship God continually.