"This is what the LORD says: By this you will know that I am the LORD: With the staff that is in my hand I will strike the water of the Nile, and it will be changed into blood." "Then the LORD said to Moses, "Go to Pharaoh and say to him 'This is what the LORD says: Let my people go, so that they may worship me. If you refuse to let them go I will plague your whole country with frogs." (Ex. 7:17; 8:1-2)
I wonder what the average Egyptian thought about the sorcerers duplication of Moses' first two plagues. Great, more bloody water . . . and more frogs. It would have certainly been more impressive to return the water to its original state than to make more bloody water. Or to make the frogs disappear rather than cause the frogs to multiply more rapidly.
And what about the third plague? "When Aaron stretched out his hand with the staff and struck the dust of the ground, gnats came upon men and animals. All the dust throughout the land of Egypt became gnats. But when the magicians tried to produce gnats by their secret arts, they could not." I bet there were plenty of Egyptians thanking God that the power of their sorcerers was unequal to that of the Living God! Only God creates from dust. Try as they might they couldn't create life. Thankfully God establishes limitations for mankind or we would abuse our power and self-destruct in the process.
While the magicians sought to perpetuate their influence before Pharaoh with their seemingly impressive displays of power, God's miracles through Moses reveal God's power and His redemption. Later in chapter nine the Lord explains the use of His power through the various plagues: "For by now I could have stretched out my hand and struck you and your people with a plague that would have wiped you off the earth. But I have raised you up for this very purpose, that I might show you my power and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth" (9:15-16).
The real purpose of God's power is to display His glory throughout the earth. His power changes people by making new creatures out of old. You can be involved in demonstrating God's power by making His name known to your neighbors and to the nations.
Questions for today's Chronological Bible reading:
- How does Pharaoh's decision affect his own people?
- What does God do to make a distinction between the Egyptians and His people?
- At what point was Pharaoh willing to allow the Israelites go and offer sacrifices to the LORD in the dessert?
- Why is Pharaoh willing to make this concession?
- What does Pharaoh do when Egypt is struck with a terrible plague on its animals?
- What does God do to humble the magicians?
- What do some of the Egyptians (and the Israelites) realize about God through the plague of hail?
- What does this story tell you about God? About man?
Where do you see man abuse his power (albeit limited) today? Ask the Lord to humble the proud and exalt the humble.