is no one like the Lord our God.”
It was God who sent the Children of Israel into slavery, for a time and a purpose. He revealed to Abraham; “Know for certain that your descendants will be strangers in a country not their own, and they will be enslaved and mistreated for four hundred years.” (Genesis 15:13) Their slavery would end when “... the sin of the Amorites [would have] reached its full measure.” (Genesis 15:16)
Then one day, while Moses was tending his father-in-law’s sheep on Mount Horeb (the mountain of God), he heard a voice which said to him: “I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob.....I have indeed seen the misery of my people in Egypt. I have heard them crying out because of their slave drivers, and I am concerned about their suffering. So I have come down to rescue them from the hand of the Egyptians ... And now the cry of the Israelites has reached me, and I have seen the way the Egyptians are oppressing them. So now go. I am sending you to Pharaoh to bring my people the Israelites out of Egypt.” (Exodus 3:6-9)
Pharaoh felt threatened because the population of Israelites in Egypt was swelling at a terrific pace. He feared that they would become a force to reckon with and that they would be a menace to his kingdom. God commissioned Moses to tell them that He had promised to bring them out of their misery in Egypt into a land flowing with milk and honey. (Exodus 3:17) Moses was a bit hesitant but God encouraged him. He proposed to prepare the way so that Pharaoh will be well-disposed, as His ‘mighty hand’ would compel him. (Exodus 3:19)
The battle is the Lord’s
Moses was just an envoy with a simple message to Pharaoh. “So now, go. I am sending you to Pharaoh to bring my people the Israelites out of Egypt ... When you have brought the people out of Egypt, you will worship God on this mountain.” (3:10) Pharaoh considered himself god and would not take instructions from another whom Moses introduced as the Lord, the God of Israel. He remarked: “Who is the Lord that I should obey him and let Israel go? I do not know the Lord and will not let Israel go.” (Exodus 5:2) That vexed Pharaoh and he ordered the slave drivers and foremen to make the work harder for the Children of Israel. Whereas the Egyptians were used to supplying the straw with which to make the bricks, now they had to go and get the straw themselves. For this reason, the Israelites were not happy with Moses because his intervention did not make their burden any lighter; instead it made matters worse.
Despite several appeals made to Pharaoh by Moses and Aaron, he would not relent. This did not come as a surprise, God had warned them; “You are to say everything I command you,......to let the Israelites go out of his country. But I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and though I multiply my miraculous signs and wonders in Egypt, he will not listen to you.” (Exodus 7:3-4) He warned Pharaoh before taking action. “Then I will lay my hand on Egypt ... And the Egyptians will know that I am the Lord when I stretch out my hand against Egypt and bring the Israelites out of it.” (Exodus 7:5)
That was not an empty boast! To counter Pharaoh’s disobedience and stubbornness God went into action and got Moses to turn the water of the river Nile into blood. The fish died and the stench was unbearable. Water everywhere became undrinkable. “Blood was everywhere in Egypt – canals, streams, ponds and reservoirs.” (Exodus 7:19) So it was for the second and third plagues of frogs, gnats and flies; they were everywhere. Pharaoh asked for these pests to be removed so he could change his mind; but after Moses and Aaron had removed them, he refused to honour his word. “But 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.” (verse 15)
Systematically, God would destroy all the gods that the Egyptians worshipped - the Nile, frogs and gnats - to show his omnipotence.
Something different happened when God sent the next plague of flies; they were everywhere “on officials, people and into the houses.” Not only that, but whilst that was going on, Goshen was spared. “But on that day I will deal differently with the land of Goshen, where my people live; no swarms of flies will be there, so that you will know that I, the Lord, am in this land. I will make a distinction between my people and your people.” (Exodus 8:22-23)
Egypt is indicative of pain, strife and suffering - hell on earth. The Israelites were subjected to it but only for a lapse of time; it was not permanent. God will protect His own however long the ordeal. He is not standing idle. The wickedness of this world will not prevail; at the right time God will proclaim victory over all His enemies. Our God is an awesome God! He has done it before and He will do it again. Trust him!