the magicians said to Pharaoh, “This is the finger of God.” But Pharaoh’s heart was hard and he would not listen, just as the LORD had said. (Exodus 8:19)
The first of the ten plague started in chapter seven. Chapter 8 records the second, third and fourth plauges, i.e. the plagues of frogs, gnats and flies. Even after these first four plauges, Pharoh refused to let Israelites to leave Egpyt for worshipping God.
I am sharing a few thoughts below:
1 … ‘This is what the LORD says: Let my people go, so that they may worship me. 2 If you refuse to let them go, I will … 20 … ‘This is what the LORD says: Let my people go, so that they may worship me. 21 If you do not let my people go, I will … (Exodus 8:1-2, 20-21)
First, God shows mercy to Pharoh. He gave Pharoh a lot of opportunties to repent. Even Pharoh was so evil, God gave him freedom to choose. God is able to send the greatest plague immediately to Egypt without asking anyone, to push Pharod for releasing Israelies. However, God starts with small ones, giving Pharoh opportunities again and again. Even Pharoh made wrong decisions, God still used Moses to pray for Pharoh and other Egyptians (8:13, 30). The plagues would not come if Pharoh agreed to release Israelites. Plagues came upon them one after another, only because Pharoh was so determined to refuse God’s words. Sin brings judgement, repentence is the only way out. We need to pay attention to God’s love, let our hearts be softened by God’s word, return to God whenever God reveals to us that we are in the wrong path (Rom 2:4).
Then the LORD said … ‘This is what the LORD says … just as the LORD had said. … Then the LORD said … just as the LORD had said … Then the LORD said … And the LORD did this. … the LORD did … (Exodus 8)
Second, God reveals Himself to Egpytians that He is the only one true God. He revealed Himself through words and deeds. Egyptians worship many different idols and creatures, e.g. River Nile, frogs. With these plagues, God revealed Himself as the creator, who rules over all creatures, even River Nile, frog, gnats, flies, etc.
Even Egyptian magicians repeated the first two plagues (7:22; 8:6), that only proved the powerless of those magicians. No one can work against the words of God. God decreed the plagues and no one can change it. God may allow them to repeat a bit for a while, but no one can revese the plagues. We can imagine that Pharoh or other Egpytians want those magicians not to repeat the plagues, which added to them suffering, but to reverse them. To those requests, those magicians can only admit that they are powerless. From the third plague onwards, God even disallow them to repeat the plagues. They finally admitted publicly in verse 19 that “This is the finger of God.”
22 “ ‘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. 23 I will make a distinction between my people and your people. This sign will occur tomorrow.’ ” (Exodus 8:22-23)
From this two verses above, we can see that God used another special method to reveal Himself. In the midst of plagues, God did not forget Israelites, who were still living in Egypt. He loves them and provided special protection to them, “so that you will know that I, the LORD, am in this land. (8:22)”
We need to put our trust in God’s words and work, not unreliable idols in the world. In face of difficulties, people seek worldly help first, even Christians may put God as the last resort. For example, we are now in the midst of a worldwide virus outbreak. We know that there is yet to be a medicine to cure. Some Christians recommend their friends not Jesus but some so-called secret medicines promoted in some unreliable media sources. Do not believe in lies. Do not let our eyes be drifted away from the Lord. Do not live in fear out of spiritual ignorance. God loves His people. No matter how the world changed or will change, the Lord’s love and protection will never leave us.
Then Pharaoh summoned Moses and Aaron and said, “Go, sacrifice to your God here in the land.” (Exodus 8:25)
Finally, we can learn from this chapter that we must follow God wholeheartedly. From verse 25, we may think that Pharoh changed a bit, but actually he intended to change a part of what God had said. He tried to lay a trick to Israelites. He suggested Israelites to stay in Egypt to worship the Lord. Moses knows God’s heart and refused to compromise. Eygpt here symbolizes the world, our old lives under the bondage of sin. Satan often suggests God’s people to stay in old sinful life to be a Christian. We need to follow God wholeheartedly without compromise. By the power of Holy Spirit, we can live a new life following Jesus as our example.