Exodus: Journey to Freedom – Plague #7 – Something to Tell Your Grandchildren (Exo. 10:1-20)
Something to Tell Your Grandchildren
In the summer of 2021, Rachel and I went to Minnesota for a vacation. While we were there, we stayed in the Minneapolis / St. Paul area. Then we took a day to drive over to Walnut Grove, which was one of the homes of Laura Ingalls Wilder, the author of the book series Little House on the Prairie.
In one book, she writes about a plague of locusts…
Grasshoppers beat down from the sky and swarmed thick over the ground. Their long wings were folded and their strong legs took them hopping everywhere. The air whirred and the roof went on sounding like a roof in a hailstorm.
Then Laura heard another sound, one big sound made of tiny nips and snips and gnawings.… The grasshoppers were eating.… You could hear the millions of jaws biting and chewing.… Day after day the grasshoppers kept on eating. They ate all the wheat and the oats. They ate every green thing—all the garden and all the prairie grass.… The whole prairie was bare and brown. Millions of brown grasshoppers whirred low over it. Not a green thing was in sight anywhere.
PHARAOH REFUSES TO HUMBLE HIMSELF - 10:3-6:
10:3-6 - God promises here that He will destroy the land of Egypt. Notice that the destruction is described in devastating terms. God says in verse 5 that the locusts are going to eat everything that was left from the hail. They are going to eat every tree and the devastation is going to be worse than they’ve seen since they were born!
In this paragraph, we see that God is specifically targeting Pharaoh’s pride: “How long will you refuse to humble yourself before Me?” God has struck Pharaoh with seven plagues so far. How long is Pharaoh going to remain prideful and arrogant toward God?
The word for “humble” was used earlier in Exodus, at 1:11-12. The NASV reads that Pharaoh “afflicted” the Israelites with hard labor. That’s the same verb we have here. Pharaoh “humbled” the Israelites, so God is going to “humble” Pharaoh. He could do it himself, or he could allow Jehovah God to do it. The choice was his: humility or humiliation.
You and I have the same choice. “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble” (1 Peter 5:5). Then Peter tells us the same thing that Moses tells Pharaoh, basically: “Humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God that He may exalt you in due time” (5:6). How long are you going to keep living in sin? How long are you going to keep putting off repentance? How long are you going to keep refusing to submit to the gospel of Christ? How long? Jesus is stretching out His nail-pierced hand, asking you: “How long will you refuse to obey My word?”
TELL THE NEXT GENERATION - 10:1-2:
10:1-2 - Among the reasons God brought the plagues on Egypt was so that Israel would have something to share with the next generation! Israel would have something to tell the next generation.
Notice the word God uses: “I made a mockery of the Egyptians.” God did not want the little children and grandchildren to know that God won the battle. He wanted Israel’s little boys and little girls to know that God skunked the Egyptians. God obliterated the Egyptian gods and goddesses.
So far, the score is: Jehovah God - 7; Egyptian theology - 0.
The exodus out of Egypt makes for great story telling. It’s the kind of stories that we have told and retold to our children in Bible class and VBS for decades! I hope our study together has shown how the story also has something to tell us adults.
Again, notice in verse 2, God says He is doing this: “so that you may know that I am the Lord.” Israel had the stories - I strongly believe - that are recorded in our book of Genesis. They knew about Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. They knew that Joseph had become leader in Egypt and had saved Israel in Egypt from the famine that hit the Mediterranean word. They knew God had created the world. But they did not yet have a relationship with Jehovah God. They were not yet in a covenant relationship with God, which they will receive once they get to Mount Sinai. So, through the plagues, God is introducing Himself to Israel in a very visible way: His glory, His power, His holiness, His justice.
Not only did Moses tell His children - and he has two boys, Gershom and Eliezer - but Moses also told his father-in-law once they got out of Egypt. The meeting is recorded in chapter 18 and after Moses’ father-in-law heard the account, He stated: “Now I know that the Lord is greater than all the gods; indeed, it was proven when they dealt proudly against the people” (18:11).
Notice what Moses tells Israel about 40 years later from the exodus, right before they cross over into the Promised Land: Deuteronomy 6:20-25. There are also a number of songs that God composed for Israel to sing about the exodus: Psalm 78 & 105. We love stories, especially stories about us or about our family. The exodus was a story that was to be told as long as the Bible is preached and taught throughout the world.
Just like the life, teachings, miracles, death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. One of the purposes of the Lord’s Supper is to teach our children what the death and resurrection of Christ means. All of us who are parents have had to answer questions about the Lord’ Supper - most of those questions come while we’re taking the Lord’s Supper!
The story of Christianity is supposed to be passed down from generation to generation from father to son and mother to son, from mother to daughter, and from father to daughter. A Dutch theological, Abraham Kuyper (1837–1920) wrote: “A Church which does not teach her youth can never hope to retain a confession, but relinquishes it, cuts off all contact with the past, divorces herself from the fathers, and forms a new group.… If you desire to confess, you must learn.”
PHARAOH WANTS TO NEGOTIATE AGAIN? - 10:7-11:
First, Pharaoh’s servants turn against him: 10:7. Notice their question was the same as Moses’ to Pharaoh: “How long…?” They also flat-out state that Egypt was destroyed! “How long…?” It sounds like they are begging Pharaoh to let Israel go!
Pharaoh brings Moses and Aaron back into his audience and tells them: “GO!” (10:8). Then he asks a silly question: “Who are the ones that are going?” Who do you want to go to heaven? Everybody over whom I have any influence. Who is going to worship Jehovah God? Everyone who wants to be saved!
Moses answered Pharaoh in verse 9. Notice that Moses emphasizes everyone is going: young & old, sons & daughters, flocks, and herds.
But notice Pharaoh’s sarcastic reply in verse 10. I don’t believe Pharaoh really meant what he was saying, even if it was the truth: “May the Lord be with you, if ever I let you and your little ones go!” But notice his next sentence: “Take heed, for evil is in your mind!”
Then Pharaoh offered yet another compromise: “Go now, the men among you…” He had offered a compromise back in 8:28. So, will Israel go and leave their wives and children behind?
First, did Pharaoh believe that taking women and children to worship was not important? But God did not want just the men. His message was: “Let My people go!” Worship is for every person, men and women, and children.
Second, had Pharaoh not yet learned that there is no negotiating with God? You negotiate with someone who is basically on equal terms with you. We are so far below God in our nature that there is no negotiating with God. God does not offer concessions. God dictates the terms. In the case of Pharaoh, it was an unconditional surrender!
When it comes to the teachings of the NT, there is no verse that we can set aside and say, “I don’t feel like obeying that verse.” We can’t say, “Well, I’m 90% in agreement with Jesus, I can be saved.” There is either total surrender to the gospel of Christ or there is no surrender at all. He commands and we obey. That is Christianity.
THE PLAGUE OF LOCUSTS - 10:12-15:
Because Pharaoh refused to humble himself and obey God, yet another plague was coming… 10:12-15.
A locust can eat its own weight in food every day! That may not be much but imagine what a swarm of locusts could eat, one that covers several hundred square miles - 100-200 million locusts per mile!?
In the 1920s and 1930s, I read of a locust swarm that swept across Africa and destroyed an area nearly twice the size of the United States. In another swarm of locusts reported in 2001, one that was in Central Asia, it said there were 10,000 locusts per ten square feet!
There was some vegetation left from the plague of hail - but then the plague of locusts wiped it out! You can imagine that this led to famine, which would cause starvation. Notice in verse 17 that Pharaoh asked (for the fourth time) that Moses pray that Jehovah God would “remove this death from me.”
The Egyptians worshiped Min, the god of the crops. They also worshiped Isis, the goddess of life, Nepri (the god of grain), Anubis (the guardian of the fields), and Senehem (the god who protected against pests). But Senehem was not to be found - not this time - the Egyptians learned that they could not trust their gods to provide their bread!
“FORGIVE MY SIN” - 10:16-20:
Just as we saw in the last plague, in 10:16-17, Pharaoh admits he has sinned and he asks Moses to pray for him. But we’ve already discussed how Pharaoh’s behavior shows that his repentance does not go very deep. It really appears that Pharaoh was repenting because he did not like the consequences of his choices; he wasn’t repenting because he was sinning against God. There is a big difference!
Eventually, this plague would end in the same way that the prior seven plagues had ended. Verse 20. As one writer wrote, Pharaoh kept “repenting of his repentance” (Ryken). Pharaoh surely thought that Jehovah God, like all the other gods in Egypt’s pantheon, could be manipulated with just the right words! But Jehovah God is a not a puppet on a string!
God could have left the results of all the plagues on Pharaoh, one after another. But, by His grace, as He did previously, God took away the locusts (10:18-19). The wind shifted and blew the locusts into the Red Sea. It is ironic, isn’t it, that in 14:21-28, Pharaoh’s own army would be drowned in the very same Red Sea.
Also, as we have seen before, in Revelation 9, God will use the plague of locusts as a metaphor for His destruction and punishment on the Roman Empire for, like Pharaoh, they were abusing God’s people. You never want to find yourself fighting against God!
Let me draw a line for you relative to locusts… When King Solomon dedicated the temple in 1 Kings 8:37-40, he prayed that if God sends a plague of locusts on God’s people, then the people would repent, then God would forgive His people and restore Israel into His fellowship. Israel, of course, falls into idolatry and immorality and, sure enough, God sends locusts on them in the days of Joel, the minor prophet. Well, Joel uses that swarm of locusts as a metaphor for an invading army into the land of Israel. We do not know if that invading army were the Assyrians or the Babylonians. But Joel will tell Israel that one day, God will send His Spirit upon all flesh and they all - men and women, slaves and freemen - will receive the Word of God and will become faithful to God. That promise is found in Joel 2:28-32. The apostle Peter quotes that passage in Acts 2:14ff to show that the church of Christ is the fulfillment of God turning His heart to the peoples of the earth, through Jesus Christ!
Despite all the destruction, God had promised Israel that He would bring them into a land flowing with milk and honey. But they would also have to trust and obey.
Take home message: In Jesus Christ, there is nothing ahead of us but the promise of a good land, in the presence of Jehovah God.