Ever walked into a swarm of gnats? If you live in Texas and have spent any time outdoors, the answer is yes! I’m sure at some point you have squeezed your eyes shut and held your breath so as not to swallow a gnat or two while walking through a cloud of the pesky creatures. I can’t imagine what it must have been like for the Egyptians to watch Aaron strike the earth with the staff of God, causing the very dust to become swarms of gnats. With each plague, the Lord was systematically destroying a different mythological god that the Egyptians held in high esteem.
- Is there anyone or anything that you are holding in such high esteem that it is diminishing your view of God?
READ THE WORD: EXODUS 8:16-32 (ESV)
16 Then the Lord said to Moses, “Say to Aaron, ‘Stretch out your staff and strike the dust of the earth, so that it may become gnats in all the land of Egypt.’” 17 And they did so. Aaron stretched out his hand with his staff and struck the dust of the earth, and there were gnats on man and beast. All the dust of the earth became gnats in all the land of Egypt. 18 The magicians tried by their secret arts to produce gnats, but they could not. So there were gnats on man and beast. 19 Then the magicians said to Pharaoh, “This is the finger of God.” But Pharaoh’s heart was hardened, and he would not listen to them, as the Lord had said.
20 Then the Lord said to Moses, “Rise up early in the morning and present yourself to Pharaoh, as he goes out to the water, and say to him, ‘Thus says the Lord, “Let my people go, that they may serve me. 21 Or else, if you will not let my people go, behold, I will send swarms of flies on you and your servants and your people, and into your houses. And the houses of the Egyptians shall be filled with swarms of flies, and also the ground on which they stand. 22 But on that day I will set apart the land of Goshen, where my people dwell, so that no swarms of flies shall be there, that you may know that I am the Lord in the midst of the earth. 23 Thus I will put a division between my people and your people. Tomorrow this sign shall happen.”’” 24 And the Lord did so. There came great swarms of flies into the house of Pharaoh and into his servants’ houses. Throughout all the land of Egypt the land was ruined by the swarms of flies.
25 Then Pharaoh called Moses and Aaron and said, “Go, sacrifice to your God within the land.” 26 But Moses said, “It would not be right to do so, for the offerings we shall sacrifice to the Lord our God are an abomination to the Egyptians. If we sacrifice offerings abominable to the Egyptians before their eyes, will they not stone us? 27 We must go three days’ journey into the wilderness and sacrifice to the Lord our God as he tells us.” 28 So Pharaoh said, “I will let you go to sacrifice to the Lord your God in the wilderness; only you must not go very far away. Plead for me.” 29 Then Moses said, “Behold, I am going out from you and I will plead with the Lord that the swarms of flies may depart from Pharaoh, from his servants, and from his people, tomorrow. Only let not Pharaoh cheat again by not letting the people go to sacrifice to the Lord.” 30 So Moses went out from Pharaoh and prayed to the Lord. 31 And the Lord did as Moses asked, and removed the swarms of flies from Pharaoh, from his servants, and from his people; not one remained. 32 But Pharaoh hardened his heart this time also and did not let the people go.
English Standard Version, copyright 2001 by Crossway Bibles. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
- This was the first feat that Pharaoh’s magicians were unable to replicate (vss. 16-19). What did they start to realize because of it? How did Pharaoh respond to the magicians’ failure? What does this tell us about God’s sovereign control over both nature and the heart of man?
- What was God’s ultimatum to Pharaoh in verse 21, and why do you think God excluded the land of Goshen from the ultimatum?
- Verse 24 says “the land was ruined by the swarms of flies.” What did God want Pharaoh to know about the one true God?
- When Pharaoh felt the heat from God (vs. 28), he tried to compromise with Moses by allowing the Israelites to perform their sacrifices “within the land.” Do you ever try to compromise with God, subconsciously hoping that partial obedience will be enough?
RESPOND TO GOD
The Lord was one-by-one destroying the Egyptians’ notions of divinity. He had already shown preeminence over the Egyptian god of the Nile and their esteemed frog-headed god, Heket. With these plagues, he eradicated their earth-god and their god of sorcery. In addition to their belief in these gods, the pharaohs of Egypt also believed that they themselves were gods, sent to protect and lead the people. How might Pharaoh have protected his people, established the kingdom, and secured a legacy if he had believed that God was God? How might you live and work and love differently today if you truly believed that God is God?
- Thank God that he has allowed your heart to be softened to the fact that he is the only true God.
- Pray that he will give you the courage to commit to full obedience so that your life will reflect the God you serve.