Lord Over the Heavens
We have come to the seventh plague; the first of the third group of three. Plagues seven, eight and nine are hail, locust and darkness. These all come from the sky with the locusts being carried into the land by wind.
We have been considering how the various plagues show God’s judgment on the various Egyptian gods. However, we have also been considering how each plague called for Pharaoh and his people to repent. God was educating the Egyptian people about His nature and persuading them to turn away from their meaningless, empty religion.
Slavery comes in many forms, physical slavery to a human master, while evil, is not the worst form of slavery. Egypt was in slavery to false gods and false religion, and it was under the power of the evil one. Truly, Egypt’s slavery was worse than Israel’s slavery was.
We must train ourselves to think in terms of the eternal and not limit our thinking, plans and ambitions to this physical world. God calls us to fix our minds on heavenly things.
God is working to save the Egyptians from their slavery to false gods, and we see this happening in the case of the seventh plague. In Exodus 9:20, Moses tells us:
Then whoever feared the word of the Lord among the servants of Pharaoh hurried his slaves and his livestock into the houses... ()
Some among the servants of Pharaoh feared the word of the Lord. This is part of God’s purpose in the plagues. God is working to deliver His people, and at the same time He is working to deliver the Egyptians. For this reason, God is pointing out the powerlessness of the Egyptians deities.
In preparation for this seventh plague, God addresses Pharaoh through Moses and says:
Let My people go, that they may serve Me, for at this time I will send all My plagues to your very heart, and on your servants and on your people, that you may know that there is none like Me in all the earth. ()
In Exodus 9:14, God says, “I will send all My plagues to your very heart.” Pharaoh has hardened his heart against God and now God is zeroing in on Pharaoh’s heart. God is also warning that from this point the plagues are going to take on an increased intensity.
God states His purpose in doing this. He says, “...that you may know that there is none like Me in all the earth.”
At this point, God also makes it clear that Pharaoh and Egypt were entirely at God’s mercy, and at any time God could destroy Egypt. He says:
For by now I could have put out my hand and struck you and your people with pestilence, and you would have been cut off from the earth. ()
God is not learning as He goes. He stated at the outset that Pharaoh would not let the people go. Pharaoh is the one who is learning as he goes. Part of the Egyptian religious system was the teaching that Pharaoh was a god who maintained the order of his kingdom.
God says to this man who declared himself a god:
But for this purpose I have raised you up, to show you my power, so that my name may be proclaimed in all the earth. You are still exalting yourself against my people and will not let them go. ()
First, God declares that it was God who raised Pharaoh up or kept him alive. Second, God declares that He did this to show His power so that the Lord’s name would be proclaimed in all the earth.
The proclamation of the Lord’s name in all the earth is so that all men might come to a knowledge of the truth and be delivered from their slavery to false gods and religion.
However, the problem is that Pharaoh was still exalting himself. He continued to maintain his identity as a god.
Egypt had many gods. These gods were all born or created from one god who existed in waters of chaos. This first god created “Shu” and “Tefnut,” the god of air and the god of light respectively. These two were the parents of “Nut” and “Geb.” “Nut” (pronounced Newt) was the goddess of the sky, and “Geb” was the god of earth. Variations of these names and details abound so that it is unclear what was actually taught. However, let’s compare this with what God tells us happened.
Genesis 1:1-8 says:
In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters. And God said, "Let there be light," and there was light. And God saw that the light was good. And God separated the light from the darkness. God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, the first day. And God said, "Let there be an expanse in the midst of the waters, and let it separate the waters from the waters." And God made the expanse and separated the waters that were under the expanse from the waters that were above the expanse. And it was so. And God called the expanse Heaven. And there was evening and there was morning, the second day. ()
In the years after the flood, the Egyptians had replaced the Genesis account with their own made up fables. Their gods were like people and behaved like people. So much so, that Pharaoh was considered a god. Even in their apostasy and deceit, there was some truth. Genesis 1 describes the cosmos as water and chaos before God brought order. And, God did create light first and then established the sky.
We also have replaced the Genesis account with fables of our own making. In the name of scientific observation, we have posited impossible scenarios. With our magical thinking, we have leapt form bird’s beaks changing to birds developing from fish. What is worse is we tell each other that we are gods, and each of us needs to get in touch with our inner god.
When Paul spoke to the Athenians, the smart people of his day, he said,
The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man, nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything. And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place, that they should seek God, and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him. Yet he is actually not far from each one of us, for "'In him we live and move and have our being'; as even some of your own poets have said, "'For we are indeed his offspring.' Being then God's offspring, we ought not to think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone, an image formed by the art and imagination of man. The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent, because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed; and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead." ()
This passage says, “...now he commands all people everywhere to repent.” This is the message that Moses had for Pharaoh. Pharaoh needed to repent, stop exalting himself and recognize that the Lord is God and there is no other. This is the message that Jesus preached. “Repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” (Matthew 4:17)
God told Pharaoh and his servants what would happen. Those who feared the Lord took action and protected their livestock and servants. Those who had no regard for the Lord left their livestock and servants exposed and whatever was in the field or out in the open died.
It will be the same for us.
God has warned us what is coming. He has told us that it is appointed unto man once to die and after that comes judgment. (Hebrews 9:27)
In Exodus 9:21 it says:
but whoever did not pay attention to the word of the Lord left his slaves and his livestock in the field. ()
This phrase “did not pay attention” is literally “did not give heart” in the Hebrew original. Like Pharaoh who closed his heart, these people closed their hearts. They quite literally had to ignore reality. I cannot help but wonder at those who will not acknowledge the reality of what is going on after six devastating plagues, but this is common. The Scripture warns us:
Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. ()
As the Plague takes place, Pharaoh panics as he sees the great destruction. He sent and called Moses and Aaron and said:
Pharaoh seems to recognize that he is in the wrong, but we soon see that he has not changed his mind. He still hardens his heart and will not let the people go.
God sends His messengers to both educate and call Pharaoh to repentance, but Pharaoh refuses and in refusing Pharaoh remains enslaved to false gods that cannot deliver him.
God confronted many false gods. This time He is confronting Nut, the goddess of the sky. She should have been able to deliver or protect Egypt, but God demonstrated that He is Lord over the heavens. There is no one like the Lord in all the earth.
God confronts the false gods in our lives as well. Some of us trust more in our bank accounts than in God. Money would be our false god. Some of us trust more in our doctor than in God. Health would be our false god. Some of us seek relationships more than God. Love would be our false god.
In our trusting in our false gods, we go through terrible devastating trials, but we refuse to repent. We love our sin and will not give it up, just as Pharaoh loved his sin and would not give it up.
If you have a sin that you are choosing over God, you know it, and He is talking to you right now about it. Do you fear the word of the Lord? Why not pay attention and repent? Until we repent and acknowledge God as Lord, we will remain in slavery to our sins and our false gods, but God is waiting and willing to deliver us if we turn to Him and ask.