Thursday, October 26, 2006
The Plagues of Egypt
For those of you who have read this story many, many times, this too familiar story might be one you read through quickly. A helpful way to go through it (again) is to pause and imagine what it must have been like for families to have only bloodwater, frogs everywhere, or monstrous hail falling. Taking time to put yourself in their shoes, and imagining the impact of such a cataclysmic event can help the story come alive. Also try and imagine how the Egyptians are reacting to Pharoh, to Moses and the people. What kind of misinformation is spreading about the cause of these problems? How is it that such amazing things can happen and people will still not turn to God? What would it take for God to get someone's attention?
There is some speculation about why God used plagues to force Pharoah to let the Egyptians go, and why there were ten of them. One popular theory is that each plague was an attack on an Egyptian god. The god of the Nile is shown to be impotent when Israel's God turns it to blood; the god of the livestock is shown to be a nothing when all the animals die, etc. There is probably some significance with the number ten, since God would give Moses the Ten Commandments (why ten, there were plenty of commandments they were given...).
Whatever the reason for these ten plagues, part of God's purpose was to reveal his superiority to the Israelites. They had not heard from him in over four hundred years (a long, long time...easy to forget your past in that amount of time.) God is about to take his people through the Wilderness to a new land...he has to show his power and care for them, and his ability to conquer their enemies. The plagues establish this...sort of...the people of God have great capacity to doubt him...especially in the face of difficult situations...even on the heels of dramatic interventions.
What do you think it will take for God to prove to you that he is strong enough, and bigger than your problems? In the work of Christ on the cross, He has demonstrated both his love for you, and his willingness to take care of your problems. If he is willing to take care of your eternal problem, he is willing to help you through your current problems.
Don't always be looking for God to do the big spectacular stuff, look for him to be doing the quiet, subversive stuff in your life. The longer the cure, the more complete the healing. Quick fixes won't cure long-term problems. Diets don't help you lose weight. Lifestyle changes do.
Where are you at these days? Stubborn like Pharoh? Following like Moses?