February 4 I Monday
“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
Pharaoh’s persistent refusal in letting the Hebrew people go provoked God’s judgment on both him and Egypt with ten devastating plagues. These plagues would ultimately break the will of Pharaoh and free God’s people.
There was first the water turning into blood, beginning with the Nile River, which then entered streams, canals and filled the water jugs of Egyptian homes. Then the frogs came, appearing in droves throughout their houses, their beds and even their ovens. The third plague was the gnats, infecting both animals and people, followed by dense swarms of flies, engulfing Egypt day and night. In the fifth plague, disease spread among all livestock, killing them off, and after this came the plague of festering boils. Hailstones then devastated the land, stripping trees bare and injuring and killing people. Then the locusts, devouring everything green until only dry, barren land was left. The ninth plague was three days of darkness, leaving an ominous fear of what would happen next. 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 sense of intensity that progressed from discomfort to disease to danger to darkness and ultimately to death. Along with this came growing resistance from Pharaoh. 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.