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— Exodus 7-12

The Ten Plagues Cause the Idols of Egypt to Crumble

In the Book of Exodus we see the great confrontation between Moses and Pharaoh. This is the Old Testament counterpart to the confrontation between Christ and Pilate, the representative of the pagan Roman Empire, with Pharaoh being the representative of the pagan empire of Egypt.

Here is a classic confrontation between good and evil, Christ and Satan. It is the high point in the Old Testament. It is that point to which the Jews looked for centuries afterward, remembering the great acts of God.

Now these ten plagues are not simply punishments upon Pharaoh and the people of Egypt. They are also a concerted effort on the part of Jehovah to destroy the idolatry of the Egyptian people and to bring to naught their many gods. And so, in the plagues, we have a systematic, cumulative crescendo of attacks on the gods of Egypt before the watching Egyptians.

Take, for example, that the first plague God made was upon the Nile River, which was a great god to the Egyptians because it was the source of all their lives. Egypt, of course, is a huge desert with the Nile River running down it, giving about a fifty-mile-wide swath of greenery and life. Without the Nile that nation would dry up and blow away. And so, first of all, God attacked the great god of the Nile.

God alone is to be worshipped, and not any false idols.

The second plague was an attack of frogs. The frogs were one of the many gods of Egypt. It was the goddess Heket, which is a form of the Egyptian word Hathor, who is the goddess of love, mirth, and joy. It’s this goddess Hathor from which the Greeks got the name of their goddess Aphrodite, the goddess of love, mirth, and joy.

By the time that those frogs were hopping over everything—in their houses, into their ovens, into their food, and into their beds—it wasn’t quite as mirthful and joyous as they would have liked it to be. And then when they all died and the nation stank, they were not too thrilled, I believe, with the goddess Heket, or Hathor.

The third plague saw gnats all over the land. The word used for this plague refers to lice or perhaps ticks or probably fleas. Now one of the gods of the Egyptians was the god of earth, Seb, the earth god, and they worshipped the earth. We can picture those gnats popping up all over the place. Given the Egyptians’ reverence for the ground, having it covered with trillions of gnats or lice would no doubt cool their amorous desires for that earth god, Seb.

The fourth plague involved the flies. The Hebrew word means “swarms.” Scholars say they probably were not flies as much as they were the beetles common to that area, called the scarabaeus, from which we get the word scarab, which is a black beetle. A black dung beetle is worshipped to this day, I suppose, by some Egyptians. I am sure after they had a couple hundred thousand of those in every home in Egypt, they were not too thrilled with the god of Scarabaeus.

The fifth plague was a disease of the livestock. The cattle Apis was the sacred bull. You may have seen many figures that have the head of a bull in Egypt that they worship. He supposedly was engendered by a moonbeam. He was the chief god of Memphis, one of the chief cities of ancient Egypt.

Sixthly, there was the god Typhon. This plague brought the dust that caused the breaking forth of boils and blisters. Typhon was a magical genie worshipped in ancient Egypt. Here was a god who was connected with the magicians, who were the priests of the Egyptian religion. We find here that the magicians could not stand before Moses because of the boils, for the boils were upon the magicians and upon all of Egypt. So their power was broken.

The seventh plague was hail that came down from the sky. One of the gods of the Egyptians was the god Shu, who was the god of the atmosphere. Now it is hard to go out to worship the god of the atmosphere when you are being pounded with large hailstones.

And then there were the locusts that swarmed all over the land. This was a rebuke of the god Serapis, who supposedly was the protector against locusts. The Egyptians’ prayers to him were of no avail, as the whole country was black with locusts.

Next came the darkness that fell upon the land for three days, which was an assault upon the chief god of the Egyptians, Ra. Ra was the sun god, the principal deity of ancient Egypt, and here this deity was blocked.

And finally, in the last plague upon Pharaoh himself, who was supposedly descended from the sun god Ra, his firstborn was killed. This was God’s attack upon Satan and Egypt. Egypt here is a picture of the world—an unbelieving, godless, pagan world. Pharaoh was a picture of Satan, who is the god of this world. Moses was a representative of the living God, who took on all of the gods of Egypt.

In the obdurate hardness of his heart Pharaoh had defied the almighty God. So God had sent onto the land of Egypt plague after plague with ever-increasing severity. This tenth plague was the most severe. It is this one that gave rise to the Feast of Passover.

At God’s instruction the Hebrews were to take a bunch of hyssop, dip it in the blood from an unblemished lamb, and strike the lintel and the doorposts of their houses. They were not to go out the door of the house until the morning, because at midnight the Lord would send His angel to destroy the firstborn children throughout all Egypt. But when He saw the blood upon the doorposts and the lintels, He would pass over those homes.

As the Hebrews waited, eventually they heard a shriek and then another. Moaning and crying went up all over Egypt as the angel of death passed over. They waited until they would hear some sound close to their own houses, but seeing the blood upon the doorposts and lintels, the angel of God passed by.

The Passover celebration continued down through the centuries until Christ our Savior came. All of the lambs of God slain before, all the lambs of the Israelites were but types of that reality that should come. When John the Baptist saw Jesus, he said He was the Lamb of God. Our Passover Lamb has been slain for us. When God sees our sin, He passes over it if we are in Christ.

In the ten plagues God shows the world for all time that He alone deserves our worship.