Saturday, April 06, 2013

The 5th Plague: Disease on Beasts -- Exodus 9:1-7


Then the Lord said to Moses, “Go to Pharaoh and speak to him, ‘Thus says the Lord, the God of the Hebrews, “Let My people go, that they may serve Me.  For if you refuse to let them go, and continue to hold them, behold, the hand of the Lord will come with a very severe pestilence on your livestock which are are in the field, on the horses, on the donkeys, on the camels, on the herds, and on the flocks.  But the Lord will make a distinction between the livestock of Israel and the livestock of Egypt, so that nothing will die of all that belongs to the sons of Israel.”’”  And the Lord set a definite time, saying, “Tomorrow the Lord will do this thing in the land.”  So the Lord did this thing on the morrow, and all the livestock of Egypt died; but of the livestock of the sons of Israel, not one died.  And Pharaoh sent, and behold, there was not even one of the livestock of Israel dead.  But the heart of Pharaoh was hardened, and he did not let the people go.
 
Have you ever had one of those moments where you know God is directly speaking to you?  And not only that, but you know He is saying, “Go to person x and speak to him or her.”  And then He tells you exactly what to say.  By this point in the story of Moses we know God did that with him on several occasions.  It was pretty much a way of life for Moses these days when God had asked him to lead the children of Israel out of their bondage in Egypt.
And when it is God who really sends us to someone, He gives us a most compelling story to share.  In this case, if Pharaoh were to refuse to let the Israelites go, a severe fatal pandemic would come to all his livestock, horses, donkeys, camels, herds, and flocks. And as the messenger, Moses knew that God would deliver.   In fact, deep down in his heart, Pharaoh knew the same thing but his pride would not allow him to admit it.
Once again God decides to treat the Israelites differently than He was prepared to treat Pharaoh’s people – no livestock that belonged to the Hebrews would be inflicted with the pestilence.  He had done this before with the 4th plague – that of swarms of insects when God prevented them from afflicting the Israelites (Exodus 8:20-24).  Last time it was primarily for the purpose of showing Pharaoh that God was in the midst of the land.  This time it may well have had a dual purpose – to show the Egyptian ruler that the Lord was indeed Lord and to preserve the livestock of the Israelites for their future use as they exited Egypt.  God is always able to see today with tomorrow in mind.
God also set His own definite schedule on this plague telling Moses to say to Pharaoh, “Tomorrow the Lord will do this thing in the land.”  And then we read, “So the Lord did this thing on the morrow….” And it happened just as God had said.  All the livestock of the Egyptians died and all the livestock of the Hebrews lived.
Pharaoh, of course, wanted to check this all out just in case God relented.  He sent his servants to verify what he was hearing and sure enough, it was as Moses had told him God would do.  But instead of having a sincere change of heart and repenting of his rebellion against God, our text tells us once more that Pharaoh’s heart was hardened and he did not let the people go.
As I read the account of this particular plague, I see a picture of mankind represented by both the Children of Israel and Pharaoh.  God gives us an opportunity to be part of His Plan for us.  He assures the Hebrews of their position and He warns those opposing them of the consequences of their sin against Him.  He gives them a chance to change their hearts’ attitude towards Him.  He uses men and women to pass on His message.  The rest is up to them.
What’s the meaning we can take from all this?  I think it is fairly clear.  We are either one of God’s children, or we are a type of Pharaoh – blocking the children of God from worshipping Him and hardening our heart towards them and God.  For those of us who have read ahead, we know the “rest of the story”.

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