“Let my people go, that they may serve me. 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. 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. Thus I will put a division between my people and your people. Tomorrow this sign shall happen.”
Egypt was afflicted with ten plagues, and while you may think that Israel got away scot-free, they didn’t. They had a few plagues to deal with too. It wasn’t until the fourth plague—flies—that God began to spare His people the suffering to come. Therefore, the Israelites had to deal with the water turning to blood, frogs, and gnats.
The first two plagues were judgment against the gods of Egypt. Remember we talked about how God proved those gods powerless by making them pests? Israel needed to learn this lesson too.
God wanted to separate His people out from the Egyptians, and therefore, needed to rid them of any idolatry they had assumed while living in Egypt. He needed to show His own people that He was God, especially after they rejected Moses and Aaron. There was a long road ahead of Israel, and they needed to learn to trust and rely on the Lord and His chosen leader, Moses, for the hardships that were ahead.
It had been over 400 years since the time of the Patriarchs and many of the Israelites had somewhat forgotten the God of their fathers. They needed to experience God for themselves and see His power with their own eyes. This is evident in the fact that the minute things got tough, the moment Pharaoh made their work harder and their lives more miserable, they forsook the Lord. When things went from bad to worse, the people of Israel were done. Done with Moses and Aaron, and done with God’s plan of deliverance.
However, God wasn’t done with them. No matter what they felt or how quickly they quit on Him, the LORD was going to see His promise through. So the three plagues for Israel were more a refining process than a judgment. It was to test their mettle and show them Jehovah’s power.
But what about us? Are we like the children of Israel? Do we have a Christian family legacy, but need to see God’s power personally? Are we quick to forsake and forget the Lord when things get tough? Or will we be faithful and remember how God has come through in the past and trust that He is in control of the present and future?
So maybe we, like the Israelites, need some refining. Maybe God’s allowing us to experience some trials to prove His power to us and His victory over the idols we’ve set up in our lives. Often, we never know exactly what God is trying to accomplish, but we can be sure of this: He’s doing it for our good and betterment.
Therefore, let’s remember to trust God during the tough times and rest in His faithfulness and many promises. And let’s take heart and remember that just as the Israelites did not suffer through all ten plagues, so also the Lord will spare us from the full weight of suffering. He is God—all powerful and completely just. But He is also good. Let’s remember that.
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