Strike Three: Gnats, Exodus 8:16-19

From the way Denny’s shaking his head, he’s either got an injured shoulder or a gnat in his eye. ”  – Jerry Coleman

Source: clipartpanda.com

Source: clipartpanda.com

After God strikes Pharaoh and Egypt with the plague of blood, then frogs—due to their oppression of the Israelites—God sends a plague of gnats. You may read Exodus 8:16-19 here: Bible Gateway.

I didn’t have much success in finding many gnat quotes, (as you can see in my opener), but here are some interesting—or should I say disgusting—facts about these tiny creatures (Source: I Remove Pest).

  • Gnats use fermenting or decaying substance as a medium to breed.
  • Gnats feed themselves and live on rotten or decay substances.
  • Biting female gnats require and use blood as an effective protein for reproduction. Sometimes they will travel more than 40 miles for blood to breed.
  • Female gnats lay up to 300 eggs a day.
  • A larvae will turn into an adult gnat in a week.

As with the last two plagues, the following is my short fictional narrative of this Exodus passage.

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Pharaoh swat at the swarm of gnats as though he were in the heat of battle. It was only a short while ago that he had defeated the accursed Hatti and his band of Hittites with a mighty hail fire of arrows and javelins. But his strength and glory amounted to nothing with these tiny pests, as was also the case during the plague of blood, then frogs.

This plague—pronounced by Moses from His God—erupt from the desert dust like a huge storm cloud covering his land, people, and animals. No one could keep the tiny bugs from wedging themselves under their linen clothing. The multiple bites not only stung, but also left itchy red bumps all over its victims.

Could Moses’ God, whom he referred to as Lord, really have this much power over nature?

As Pharaoh’s arms swell with blotchy red bumps, he rip his bracelets from his wrists before flinging them at the rigid magi standing before him. None of them dare flinch to attract his steel gaze. For in an instant he could untether the chain of the lion sitting at the foot of his golden throne. Fortunately for them, both the lion and Pharaoh were distracted with the biting insects.

“Why can’t you also produce gnats?” he yelled at his magi while trying to spit the bugs from his mouth.

A moment of silence only aggravated Pharaoh more, sending him into a tantrum of wild gestures. The lead magi finally spoke in a hush tone. “Surely this is the finger of God. For we can neither do nor undo this gnat infestation.”

“Nonsense!” Pharaoh hurl a quiver in their direction. A shriek filled the room as one of the magicians stumble backwards and collapse to the floor.

“Leave, you fools!”

A couple of magi rushed to grab their injured colleague before scrambling out of the throne room.

Reflect

Once again—just as God had said—Pharaoh refused to listen and hardened his heart.

Persistence is a good thing. But self-centered stubbornness, as in Pharaoh’s case, can be downright destructive.

The Life Application Study Bible summarizes: “[Pharaoh’s] stubborn disobedience brought suffering upon himself and his entire country. . . Stubbornness toward God is always disobedience. Avoid disobedience because the consequences may spill onto others.”

Thanks for taking the time to read. Have a wonderful week!

 

Strike One: Blood, Exodus 7:14-24

I hope you had a wonderful Christmas! My family and I enjoyed visiting extended family, and some downhill skiing over Christmas break. I am thankful to report no blood on that front!

Moving on with my study in Exodus, we enter the plague section which God brings upon Pharaoh and his people. I admit, I’d rather not begin the New Year writing about God’s judgment, even though it’s specific to ancient Egypt. But ultimately all nations are under God’s watchful eye and judgment (Psalm 96:10; 110:6). So it’s a good reminder not only of God’s power, but that we should also be praying for our leaders and nation(s).

The plague tragedy is a unique judgment on the Egyptians for their oppression of the Israelites.

This first plague attacks their Nile god, Hapi, who represented fertility. The following narrative is my fictional rendering based on this passage. You may read Exodus 7:14-24 here: Bible Gateway.

***

Pharaoh began his descent toward the banks of the mighty Nile. He would worship Hapi, the Nile god, this morning.

Pharaoh squinted into the early morning sun. Is that a man or a tall bird? The appearance of a man with a grizzled beard stood eerily still on the river’s bank. Moses! The crazed Hebrew nomad who spoke articulate Egyptian both intrigued and infuriated him at the same time. The man had guts. But how dare he challenge him—son of a god—to allow the Hebrews a desert leave. All in the name of worshiping some puny god he’s never even heard of!

Moses and his measly slave brother thought they could persuade him through trickery, turning a staff into a snake. Guess they underestimated my magi! They instantly replicated the same stunt, even though their snakes were swallowed by Moses’ snake.

Now within fifty feet—with Pharaoh enshrined in royalty—Moses still didn’t flinch. But his knuckles paled from grasping his staff in his right hand. Even from this distance, Pharaoh couldn’t miss the fiery intensity in Moses’ eyes.

With clenched jaw Moses boomed, “God, the God of the Hebrews, sent me to you with this message, ‘Release my people so that they can worship me in the wilderness.’ So far you haven’t listened. This is how you’ll know that I am God. I am going to take this staff that I’m holding and strike this Nile River water: The water will turn to blood; the fish in the Nile will die; the Nile will stink; and the Egyptians won’t be able to drink the Nile water,’” (Ex. 7:15-18 MSG).

Aaron struck the water with the rod. Splinters of red first reflect in a dazzling pattern. But then streams of crimson flowed together until all of Hapi’s water seeped a thickening blood red, threatening to strangle her life flow. It wasn’t long before bloated fish surfaced. The air permeated with the foul smell of death.

Pharaoh’s servants scurried to him from all directions. “Blood is everywhere! The rivers, canals, ponds, even in pots and pans—they’ve all turned to blood!”

“Nonsense!” Pharaoh bellowed while glaring at Moses. “Magi, replicate this trick at once!”

Reflect

When Moses’ snake had previously gobbled up the Egyptian snakes, one would think Pharaoh would have reconsidered his stance toward Moses and the Israelites since the serpent was considered sacred in Lower Egypt where that confrontation took place.

But true to God’s word, Pharaoh’s heart remained hardened.

Most of Egypt’s people lived along the banks of the Nile’s 3,000 mile waterway. Egypt couldn’t exist without this life source for farming, fishing, bathing, and drinking. Sandy soil near the river’s bank filtered the water. But literal blood would fail to filter by the sand. Now the Egyptians had to dig along the Nile to get drinking water (v. 24).

God later gave a prophecy in Ezekiel 29:2-6 that concludes all of Egypt would know He is the Lord by this miracle.

Moses, Aaron and God’s People: Exodus 6:14-7:13

Now the LORD spoke to Moses and Aaron about the Israelites and Pharaoh king of Egypt, and He commanded them to bring the Israelites out of Egypt.” –Exodus 6:13

You may read Exodus 6:14-7:13 here: Gateway Bible.

Genealogy of Moses and Aaron

God’s chosen team to lead His people out from slavery is introduced in this first section. Even though only four generations are recorded during the Israelites 400 year period in Egypt, God’s faithfulness shines in the preservation of Moses’ and Aaron’s family line. This family tree also identifies Moses’ and Aaron’s identity more firmly.

Many scholars believe that the Egyptian names recorded here—like Putiel and Phinehas—show the close connection the Israelites would always have with Egypt.

Aaron: Moses’ Mouthpiece

God likens Moses’ relationship with his brother Aaron to God and His prophet. Aaron would speak for Moses in part because of Moses’ doubt in his own communication skills. Moses will realize later the frustration this relationship can render (chapter 32).

Instead of requesting a temporary desert leave to commune with God—as last time—Aaron is to increase the demand to Pharaoh: Release the Israelites from Egypt.

A Hardened Heart and Slithering Snakes

Both God and Pharaoh play a big role in Israel’s deliverance story. God foretells Moses that Pharaoh will harden his heart, which will lead to the Egyptians’ sorrow, destruction and defeat at the Red Sea.

God gives Moses and Aaron the miracle of turning the staff into a snake. This demonstrates not only His power, but also the appointing and anointing of Moses. Although Pharaoh’s sorcerers copy this miracle, God shows who holds the greater power and authority when Aaron’s staff swallows all of their staffs.

Now that would be a sight to see!

Even though God made Moses a powerful person who deserved his audience, Pharaoh—who considered himself a god—refuses Moses’ request, just as God had said.

great-god-ps-7713Reflect

Pharaoh’s focus was on the miracle instead of the message. While miracles help us believe, it’s dangerous to rely solely on them. Satan can copy some parts of God’s work and lead people astray. However, Satan’s imitations are inferior to God’s work and power. Satan—a copycat and liar—is a master of disguising himself as light (2 Cor. 11:14). But his works eventually lead to disharmony, chaos, and eternal death.

Fortunately, we have God’s Word as a foundation for our faith. Any message or miracle that contradicts God’s teaching from His Word is not endorsed by Him. His final Word, recorded in the Bible, is His Son.

Hebrews 1:1-2 says, “In the past God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days He has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom also he made the universe.”

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Thanks for the visit. Have a wonderful weekend!