1 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. 2 If you refuse to let them go, I will send a plague of frogs on your whole country. 3 The Nile will teem with frogs. They will come up into your palace and your bedroom and onto your bed, into the houses of your officials and on your people, and into your ovens and kneading troughs. 4 The frogs will come up on you and your people and all your officials.”’
5 Then the Lord said to Moses, ‘Tell Aaron, “Stretch out your hand with your staff over the streams and canals and ponds, and make frogs come up on the land of Egypt.”’
6 So Aaron stretched out his hand over the waters of Egypt, and the frogs came up and covered the land. 7 But the magicians did the same things by their secret arts; they also made frogs come up on the land of Egypt.
8 Pharaoh summoned Moses and Aaron and said, ‘Pray to the Lord to take the frogs away from me and my people, and I will let your people go to offer sacrifices to the Lord.’
9 Moses said to Pharaoh, ‘I leave to you the honour of setting the time for me to pray for you and your officials and your people that you and your houses may be rid of the frogs, except for those that remain in the Nile.’
10 ‘Tomorrow,’ Pharaoh said.
Moses replied, ‘It will be as you say, so that you may know there is no one like the Lord our God. 11 The frogs will leave you and your houses, your officials and your people; they will remain only in the Nile.’
12 After Moses and Aaron left Pharaoh, Moses cried out to the Lord about the frogs he had brought on Pharaoh. 13 And the Lord did what Moses asked. The frogs died in the houses, in the courtyards and in the fields. 14 They were piled into heaps, and the land reeked of them. 15 But when Pharaoh saw that there was relief, he hardened his heart and would not listen to Moses and Aaron, just as the Lord had said.
The plague of gnats
16 Then the Lord said to Moses, ‘Tell Aaron, “Stretch out your staff and strike the dust of the ground,” and throughout the land of Egypt the dust will become gnats.’ 17 They did this, and when Aaron stretched out his hand with the staff and struck the dust of the ground, gnats came on people and animals. All the dust throughout the land of Egypt became gnats. 18 But when the magicians tried to produce gnats by their secret arts, they could not.
Since the gnats were on people and animals everywhere, 19 the magicians said to Pharaoh, ‘This is the finger of God.’ But Pharaoh’s heart was hard and he would not listen, just as the Lord had said.
The plague of flies
20 Then the Lord said to Moses, ‘Get up early in the morning and confront Pharaoh as he goes to the river and say to him, “This is what the Lord says: let my people go, so that they may worship me. 21 If you do not let my people go, I will send swarms of flies on you and your officials, on your people and into your houses. The houses of the Egyptians will be full of flies; even the ground will be covered with them.
22 ‘“But on that day I will deal differently with the land of Goshen, where my people live; no swarms of flies will be there, so that you will know that I, the Lord, am in this land. 23 I will make a distinction[b between my people and your people. This sign will occur tomorrow.”’
24 And the Lord did this. Dense swarms of flies poured into Pharaoh’s palace and into the houses of his officials; throughout Egypt the land was ruined by the flies.
25 Then Pharaoh summoned Moses and Aaron and said, ‘Go, sacrifice to your God here in the land.’
26 But Moses said, ‘That would not be right. The sacrifices we offer the Lord our God would be detestable to the Egyptians. And if we offer sacrifices that are detestable in their eyes, will they not stone us? 27 We must take a three-day journey into the wilderness to offer sacrifices to the Lord our God, as he commands us.’
28 Pharaoh said, ‘I will let you go to offer sacrifices to the Lord your God in the wilderness, but you must not go very far. Now pray for me.’
29 Moses answered, ‘As soon as I leave you, I will pray to the Lord, and tomorrow the flies will leave Pharaoh and his officials and his people. Only let Pharaoh be sure that he does not act deceitfully again by not letting the people go to offer sacrifices to the Lord.’
30 Then Moses left Pharaoh and prayed to the Lord, 31 and the Lord did what Moses asked. The flies left Pharaoh and his officials and his people; not a fly remained. 32 But this time also Pharaoh hardened his heart and would not let the people go.
Pharaoh’s obstinacy opens a can of worms. More precisely, of frogs, gnats and flies. It would be a comical story if this were not headed for human tragedy for ordinary Egyptians.
Even Pharaoh’s magicians know they’re beaten: ‘This is the finger of God!’ they tell Pharaoh (verse 19). No more tricks up their sleeves. Pharaoh has lost his back-up.
Moses hasn’t. He’s emboldened: ‘But I am warning you, Pharaoh, don’t lie to us again…!’ (verse 29). Lying to Parliament or before judge Zondo’s commission is one thing. Lying to Moses is lying to the Lord. Ask Ananias and Sapphira about that.
‘You will know that I am the LORD and that I am present even in the heart of your land’ (verse 22).
You can’t shut the Creator out of His world by closing your mind to His reality.
Many people in Cape Town are busy doing that. Gangsters in Hanover Park, the wealthy in Bishopscourt, and the more in-between.
Prayer: Lord, we have the freedom to worship You right where we are. We don’t need to walk for three days into the Tankwa Karoo for that. So fill us with the joy of forgiveness this Sunday when we gather to worship You in spirit and in truth, the way that Jesus has made it a reality for us.