Exodus 7-9: The Ten Plagues (pt. 1)

Thus begins the 10 plagues.

1.  The hardening of Pharoah’s heart (Exodus 7:1-13)

2.  The Ten Plagues, plagues 1 – 7 (part 1 – Exodus 7:14- Exodus 9)

1.  The hardening of Pharoah’s heart (Exodus 7:1-13)

The thing with the 10 plagues is that there has been much interpretation behind it; some say it is just the LORD showing his sovereignty over the Egyptians; others say that the plagues are a direct response to the Egyptian gods to show God’s control over these mock-representations of their gods… but I think that behind the plagues, something can be said about Christ.

Before moving onto the plagues though, something interesting to note is that God had planned to harden Pharoah’s heart, but He doesn’t do so till much later, after Pharoah has been hardening his own heart.  We will be tracking his behavioural pattern, but we know in Exodus 7:3-4 already that the Pharoah will not listen to Moses as he hardens Pharoah’s heart and use the Pharoah as a tool for his judgment on Egypt.

For example, in verse 13-14, Pharoah’s heart was hardened – note, the LORD is not involved in this hardening.  This continues in v.22; chapter 8:15, 19, 32; chapter 9:7… so not until after the SIXTH time, does the LORD finally harden Pharoah’s heart in chapter 9:12.

Some people say this is an example of the LORD’s injustice; how can anyone obey God if God has ‘predetermined‘ that they should sin against Him?  But this is an entirely philosophical and unbiblical understanding of God’s sovereignty over the Pharoah’s decision to harden his heart.  Rather, in Romans 1:21-32, we are told that God does this with people who choose wickedness – that they are given over to their sins.

Each plague has been an opportunity for Pharoah to repent; in chapter 8:9, Pharoah actually agrees to let the Israelites go “tomorrow“; question is, why not TODAY?  Psalm 95:11 speaks some truth into this – “Today if you hear His voice do not harden your heart”!

So let’s go through the plagues mentioned in chapters 7-9.

2.  The Ten Plagues, plagues 1 – 7 (part 1 – Exodus 7:14- Exodus 9)

Remember that the Plagues are not there to be a mere sign and wonder for the Egyptians to release themselves from the bondage of their own gods and attach to the God of Israel; it is also a demonstration of the great judgments the LORD must exercise to redeem us from slavery – in chapter 6:7, the LORD is constantly finding ways to make His Name known to the Israelites, in chapter 7:17 to the Pharoah, in chapter 9:16 to the earth, and to the Israelite descendants to come in chapter 10:2.  These Israelite descendants does not refer to the physical descendants, but the spiritual descendants of Israel – us.

Plagues

Scripture

Christological interpretation

1.  Water into blood

7:14-25

This plague comes from the striking of the Nile by the same staff which turned into a serpent; this is the same place where the Hebrew babies were slaughtered, the same place where Moses would have been slaughtered. I have mentioned that the turning of water into blood is a prophecy of Christ’s work on the cross, especially the symbolism given by the staff which Moses held and its striking of the water of the Nile – a picture of judgment rather than redemption, the staff striking akin to Christ striking the wicked (Psalm 2) on Judgment Day; and the river stank and the fish died as a result of this. Christ’s blood is for everyone, but it depends on the person’s choice. If the person remains condemned for not standing in Christ, then he is like fish in the water, choking on the blood of Christ which does not give him life. As fishers of men, we are commissioned to bring fish to dry land, the gospel shown from day 2 to day 3, day 5 to day 6 of creation. We are called to bring the fish to dry land, and await the new bodies which we as fish will inherit when we go to the new land of New Jerusalem so we can live in the presence of the LORD, rather than choke and die.

A full seven days passed between this and the next plague, the same length of time needed for creation – 7, which is a picture of God’s divinity; 7, which is the day of Sabbath. Perhaps this number is to show that God is still in control, and that the Exodus is at hand.

2.  Frogs

8:1-15

Aaron had stretched his staff over the waters of Egypt to produce frogs, a plague from the water. In Revelation 16:13-14, there is a symbolic connection between demons and frogs – and the symbolism of the frogs as a plague out of water displays the punishment which the water represents; the punishment which filthy waters witness to, the festering of demons which thrive in the waters of judgment, displaying a possibility of Egypt being over-run by demons living in the very same waters which the people drank from. They did not thirst from the Holy Spirit, but they had been drinking from waters which bred the demons.

3.  Gnats/lice

8:16-19

The gnats/lice were produced from the dust of the ground, and this is the first plague which the magicians cannot replicate by their ‘secret arts’, and there is an admittance of the plague being a finger of God (v.19). Note that Aaron had to strike his staff for this as well. These gnats being made of dust is reminiscent of Adam being made of dust as well; and to what ends do these gnats and lice reach? The magicians are incapable of producing the gnats/lice out of dust, because their ‘secret arts’ had been magic tricks of some sort before; but the role of creation out of dust lies in the Father alone.

4.  Flies

8:20-32

Israel and Egypt are seriously segregated during this incident, to display that the light cannot mix with the dark, to display the great sign that the two nations should stand as enemies to one another if indeed Israel is truly saved. Indeed, the Egyptians should by now understand the strength of God’s power through the light and wish only to stand in the Light of lights; the message preached in 8:23 is that even Egypt is given a choice to believe in Jesus Christ, or to continue to live unprotected as displayed through this picture.

5.  Death of livestock

9:1-7

The severity and impact of the plagues has increased, to the point of dead livestock, the very bread on which the people feed. Only those who did not heed the word of the LORD had their livestock killed.

6.  Boils

9:8-12

Now, humans begin to suffer from the plagues; and the soot which Moses threw from a furnace into the air into fine dust is a picture of judgment. In the situations of judgment, the Bible has only used the word “furnace” more sparingly, once in Genesis 19:28; secondly in Exodus 19:18.

7.  Hail

9:13-35

This time, it is Moses using his staff to bring down hail. He stretched his hands with his staff toward heaven. Note that Moses’ reliance on his brother has decreased drastically; and even more drastically when the golden calf was made in Exodus 33. This action of stretching is akin to the period when Joshua was fighting against the Amalekites when Moses rose up a hill to stretch his arms, in the shape of the cross.

So those are the preliminary views of the 7 of the 10 plagues.  Three more next time and we round up their overall significance in Scripture.  Note the number of times the staff has been used prior to the respective plagues; as well as the number of times the hand of Moses is stretched; and the number of times neither have been used.

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Exodus 7-9: The Ten Plagues (pt. 1)

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