The time has come to redeem the Israelites (by liberating them from slavery) and to judge the Egyptians. In the Exodus Plagues Part 1, we saw God prove that He was almighty by (eventually) making plagues which could not be copied by the Egyptian magicians. In the Exodus Plagues Part 2, we watched God kill all of the Egyptian livestock, afflict innocent animals with festering boils, and then kill some of the Egyptian livestock again.
The reason for this judgement against the Egyptians? The Pharaoh would not the Israelites go worship God in the desert for three days. The reason the Pharaoh wouldn't let the Israelites go? God was controlling the Pharaoh's freewill to make him refuse the request. Somehow, that is counted as sin, and so God is punishing the Pharaoh, and the entire Egyptian nation. Go figure.
Join me now as we continue studying God's prideful smiting of the Egyptians through the plagues of the Exodus.
Exodus Plagues Part 3: God's Calling Card
Part 3 of our study picks up right where Part 2 left off, covering Exodus 10. Just like before, the Pharaoh still will not let the Israelites go to worship God in the desert for three days, so God is still continuing to bestow plagues upon Egypt.
The Eighth Plague - The Plague of Locusts (Exodus 10:1-20): The first two verses show you God's true nature. God tells Moses that He hardened the hearts of the Pharaoh and his officials to justify the plagues against the Egyptians. Why? So that stories could be told to later generations about how harshly God treated the Egyptians and to prove that He is God. This is God's image, His nature, His chosen self representation, His calling card. God wants to be known as an omnipotent deity who will mercilessly torture an entire nation of people in order to make a name for Himself. Be sure to tell your kids that! :-)
Moving on, God tells Moses to ask the Pharaoh how long will he refuse to humble himself before God. That's pretty ironic because God just claimed that it was because of God's own tinkering that the Pharaoh would not let the people go. When you read this, you have to wonder just what kind of God would be amused by directing this tragic play. Anyway, Moses is to tell the Pharaoh that if he doesn't let Israelites go, God will bring a plague of locusts.
The Pharaoh refuses the request, so God has Moses stretch out his hand to initiate the locust plague. Overnight, an east wind blows in so many locust that they blacken the ground and fill the Egyptians' houses. The locusts devour the remnant of the plants and the plant-based-food which was left behind by the plague of hail.
The Pharaoh agrees to let the male Israelites go worship in order for Moses to pray to stop the locust plague. Moses prays, and so a strong west wind carries the locusts into the Red Sea. Once again, God hardened the Pharaoh's heart and he refused to let the Israelites go to worship.
The Ninth Plague - The Plague of Darkness (Exodus 10:21-29): In like manner to both the third and the sixth plague, God inflicts the plague of darkness without a pretense of another request to worship. It makes me wonder if this was supposed to be some plot device based on a three-strikes-and-you're-out philosophy. With the ninth plague, we are seeing the third strike of the third set of strikes. That sets the stage perfectly for the grand-finale tenth plague.
The way in which the plague of darkness is described suggests that no light whatsoever was seen in Egypt for three days except for where the Israelites lived in Goshen. The neat thing about this plague is that it had to be completely supernatural. Consider that not even torches could provide light and that light was not able to penetrate by reflection or radiation from Goshen and the rest of the land surrounding Egypt. From the outside, it would have appeared as though an opaque black curtain surrounded the Egyptians. It's really interesting to ponder. It would have been easier to just blind all the Egyptians for three days, which is essentially the effect of this darkness, but no deity except the one true God could pull off complete control of the physical laws of nature like this.
I've been asked before what it would take for me to believe in a god. I think that seeing this kind of control universe control would do it! :-) Of course, then there would need to be something else to prove that such a god was actually the God of the Bible...
Anyway, after stumbling around in complete darkness for three days; getting bruised up, stubbing toes, groping for any possible food (if any still existed) and water (if there was any around that was not still blood), and finding “safe” places to relieve oneself of bodily waste, the Pharaoh summons Moses and is ready to let the Israelites go to worship God. However, God still wasn't ready to let that happen, so He hardened the Pharaoh's heart yet again. In the final scene, the Pharaoh threatens to kill Moses when he next sees Moses, and Moses tells the Pharaoh that he will not appear before the Pharaoh again.
That's it for Part 3 of this four part series on the Exodus plagues. We've seen how God is afflicting the Egyptians with plagues for His tyrannical reasons; to make a name for Himself and to prove that He is a power to be feared. There is no implication that God is love at all. In Part 4 of the study, we will see the dispensation of the final plague and the beginning of the actual Exodus.