Monday, February 18, 2013

Bring on the Frogs -- Exodus 8:1-7


Then the Lord said to Moses, “Go to Pharaoh and say to him, ‘Thus says the Lord, “Let My people go, that they may serve Me.  But if you refuse to let them go, behold, I will smite your whole territory with frogs; And the Nile will swarm with frogs, which will come and go into your house and into your bedroom and on your bed, and into the houses of your servants and on your people, and into your ovens and into your kneading bowls.  So the frogs will come up on you and your people and all your servants.”’”  Then the Lord said, to Moses, “Say to Aaron, ‘Stretch out your hand with your staff over the rivers, over the streams and over the pools and make frogs come up on the land of Egypt.’”  So Aaron stretched out his hand over the waters of Egypt, and the frogs came up and covered the land of Egypt.  And the magicians did the same with their secret arts, making frogs come up on the land of Egypt.

Chapter 7 of Exodus ends with Egypt experiencing the first plague for a whole week.  Its entire surface water had been turned to blood.  But still no change of heart by Pharaoh.  So chapter 8 begins with God giving Moses more instructions.  In those instructions He identifies His next plague to be inflicted on Egypt if His people are not freed to serve Him.  Based on the knowledge of Moses’ former behavior in terms of obedience, we can assume that he did exactly what God told him to do this time – he told Pharaoh what God would do.
God had promised the entire territory would be smitten with frogs.  The River Nile would teem with them.  This diverse and largely carnivorous group of short-bodied, tailless amphibians would get into Pharaoh’s house and impact his daily life.  They would get into his bedroom and his bed and impact his intimacy with his wife as well as his ability to rest.  They would inhabit the houses of his servants and thus symbolic and practically affecting industry and commerce in the land.  And the frogs would be found in Pharaoh’s ovens and in the bowls they used for making bread affecting his ability to gain nourishment.  It is one thing to see a frog or two hop out of the pond in your backyard and visit your porch steps; it is another thing to have frogs simply engulf you, your family, and your servants.  From the instructions God gave Moses to pass on to Aaron, we know that this went way beyond Pharaoh’s own household over the entire land of Egypt.
And the text says that Aaron did exactly what he was told by his brother, which tells us that Moses had done what he was told by God.  And God delivered what He promised to deliver – frogs, the Scripture says, covered the land of Egypt.
The same waters that were turned into blood were now being called upon again, at God’s command, to yield up sufficient frogs to cover Pharaoh’s land.
The last sentence of this passage is, I must admit, puzzling.  At its simplest level, it informs us that Pharaoh’s magicians or sorcerers were able to replicate the miracle or the plague of the frogs.  But just what exactly did they do?  Where did God’s supernatural act end and theirs begin?  Or as some may well ask, “Whose frogs were who’s?”
Again, for the magicians to be able to do this indicates that a supernatural occult power was present.  But alas, it could only make things worse.  It was not able to cause the frogs to retreat to the depths of the Nile River.  As for all of our questions pertaining to what exactly these magicians did, we will have to settle for not knowing for sure.
But what does this passage say to you and me?  I noticed that neither Moses nor Aaron complained about God’s instructions this time.  They had learned to rely on His authority and wisdom and power.  They just did what they were told by God and left the response of man to Him.  Are you and I there yet?
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