Monday, April 29, 2013

The 8th Plague – the Locusts arrive -- Exodus 10:12-20

Then the Lord said to Moses, “Stretch out your hand over the land of Egypt for the locusts, that they may come up on the land of Egypt, and eat every plant of the land, even all that the hail has left.”  So Moses stretched out his staff over the land of Egypt, and the Lord directed an east wind on the land all that day and all the night; and when it was morning, the east wind brought the locusts.  And the locusts came up over all the land of Egypt and settled in all the territory of Egypt; they were very numerous.  There had never been so many locusts, nor would there be so many again.  For they covered the surface of the whole land, so that the land was darkened; and they ate every plant of the land and all the fruit of the trees that the hail had left.  Thus nothing green was left on tree or plant of the field through all the land of Egypt.  Then Pharaoh hurriedly called for Moses and Aaron, and he said, “I have sinned against the Lord your God and against you.  Now therefore, please forgive my sin only this once, and make supplication to the Lord your God, that He would only remove this death from me.”  And he went out from Pharaoh and made supplication to the Lord.  So the Lord shifted the wind to a very strong west wind which took up the locusts and drove them into the Red Sea; not one locust was left in all the territory of Egypt.  But the Lord hardened Pharaoh’s heart, and he did not let the sons of Israel go.
After Moses and Aaron were “driven out of Pharaoh’s presence”, God wasted no time.  He held no further discussion with His agents.  He just gave a command and Moses obeyed.  Oh what a model of pure faith in one’s Commander that describes.  Moses had had his share of arguing with God.  He lost.  And He had seen God’s power and experienced everything that God had said in advance would happen.  There was no point in disagreeing ever again.  These days we are often too encouraged to challenge God.  Blind obedience is indeed to be avoided but let us not fear it to the point where faith plays no role in our lives.
Can you imagine the feelings of the Egyptian people as the east wind blew on Egypt all that day and all that night?  Had they heard from Pharaoh and his servants, or even from Moses or Aaron or others of the children of Israel who knew, what was coming in the morning?  Can you imagine the fear they felt or the efforts they made to protect themselves?  I wonder if this is just a little foreshadowing of what it will be like when the Son of God returns to establish His Kingdom forever.
And then as promised by God, and Moses, the locusts did come in the morning.  They came in swarms.  So many in fact, that no one had ever seen such quantities before.  And the Scriptures assure us no one would ever see such quantities again.  It is worthwhile to stop here and ponder whether that assurance was only for the Egyptians or was it for all the earth, similar to the promise God had made to Noah after the flood back in Genesis – that He would never cause such flooding over the whole earth again?  So far, either position holds.
The locust swarms were so thick that although it was morning and perhaps the sun was shining, the actual land was darkened as if a great cloud had covered it.  The spiritual darkness of the nation’s leaders had led to the physical darkness of the nation.  [Are we seeing the same thing in many of our lands today?]  And the locusts did not just make buzzing noises and hop around; they went to work.  The text says they ate every plant that existed and every fruit on the trees that the earlier plague, the hail, had left.  There was nothing ‘green’ left for food or perhaps even widespread plant reproduction.
Now Pharaoh is really in a tizzy for the text says he “hurriedly” called for Moses and Aaron.  But he  gave them the same old story – “I have sinned; please ask God to forgive me; only this once; to save me from death.”  Pharaoh knew that Moses too was fed up with him.   Sometimes I wonder if “asking someone else to plead with God on your behalf when you yourself are not prepared to do so” is, among other things, a clear indication of the fact that one does not really know God.  We are indeed to ask others to pray for us, but not if we have not prayed first for ourselves on that matter.  Unless of course, we have been incapacitated or come to an extremity in our life where the prayers of others are needed because we do not how to pray for ourselves.
Nevertheless, partly because of his desire to believe him or perhaps because of his desire to get his brethren out of Egypt as quickly as possible, or was it that he himself could stand to see any more devastation befall the land of Egypt, Moses does indeed go and pray to God on Pharaoh’s behalf.  And God heeds Moses’ prayer and this time He sends a west wind – the Bible refers to it as a “very strong” wind (as compared to the east wind which had no adjectives attached) – and it literally picked up all the locusts and blew them by force into the Red Sea.  The closest thing I can relate to would be seeing my entire backyard covered with fallen autumn leaves piled up very high and then a wind coming, thrusting them into the air and then like a flying carpet blowing them away until I could see them no longer.  God had control of not only the locusts but also the winds and their direction that brought them and then took them away.  And if I am reading the text correctly, God drowned the locusts in the Red Sea.
And then this wonderful phrase, “not one locust was left in all the territory of Egypt.”  Not “one” locust “anywhere” in Egypt.  What a thorough and complete act on God’s behalf.  But is not that our God?  No matter what He decides to do for the earth, for the people of the earth, for His children – it is a whole job totally and perfectly executed.  So, it is with His plan for salvation for each of us.  It is available to all and it is perfect – including the fact that He does not force us into it but allows our “free will” to play a part.
But dear old Pharaoh, like many we know, and perhaps some of us, even though we see this incredible work on God’s part, he hardened his heart and God allowed him to exercise his free will so that he did not let the sons of Israel go.  Eight plagues and he had not learned a thing, it seems.  But God was not finished with him yet.  What would it take for him to do so?  What will it take for someone you know or you yourself to accept God as your God and Lord?  Know this, God is not finished with us yet.

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