Getting the Message: Exodus 8:16-31By CHRIS SHELTON,
We continue our study through the plagues in Exodus. This week we see the third and fourth plagues. The plagues continued because Pharaoh remained hard of heart. During the plague of frogs (the second plague), Pharaoh promised to let Israel go, but when the frogs died, he hardened his heart and would not do as he promised.
So God told Moses to direct Aaron. “Stretch out your staff and strike the dust of the earth, so that it may become lice in all the land of Egypt.” So Aaron did so, and there were lice on man and beast all throughout Egypt. There was no warning with this plague as there had been with previous plagues.
Dust becoming a curse is no new doctrine at this point in the Bible. In Genesis 3 we read that after man sinned, God told Adam, “Cursed is the ground because of you.” Also, the sin brought death: “For you are dust, and to dust you shall return. “ There have been plagues on the earth since the day Adam sinned.
God created man good, and the earth good. Man was to be steward of the earth, over the care of it and the animals in it. When man sinned against God, the earth, being made for man, suffered the curse with him. Therefore, we live on a troubled planet. The dust rising up and becoming a plague of lice for Egypt is a reminder of how unnatural things are.
The earth (now) is not how God originally made it. It has beauty and provision but also darkness and death. It is not a strange thing to see trouble on this earth from the elements. Neither is death a strange thing. We all return to the dust. Man was not originally created to die. Death is penal; a result of sin. This is not a world to place your hopes. The days here are numbered and full of trouble.
The apostle Paul tells Christians that death has lost its sting for them. The penalty for sin is death, but Christ removed the sting by taking away the sins of his people. Death is now gain for the Christian. The Christian has an incorruptible inheritance in Christ, the promise of a resurrected body, and life in the presence of Christ on a new earth; one with no pain, plagues, sorrow, or death.
We learn what misery sin is in the fourth plague. The fourth plague is a plague of flies. Verse 24 says, “There came great swarms of flies into the house of Pharaoh and into his servants’ houses. Throughout all the land of Egypt the land was ruined by swarms of flies.”
It is interesting that the word for “great” is the same word used in one instance for the hardness of Pharaoh’s heart. It is a word that carries the meaning of “being heavy.” This is a heavy plague, and so is the sin that hardened Pharaoh’s heart. Pharaoh was evil in his sinfulness. He carried his people down with him, but he was also foolish.
Before the fourth plague, God sends Moses to confront Pharaoh “Early in the morning, as he goes out to the water.” Pharaoh rises early to do his devotions at the Nile, or we should say “to” the Nile. Incredibly, he still worships the river the Lord turned to blood. His idolatry has made him foolish and blind. In Proverbs 26 we read, “Like a dog returns to his vomit is the fool who repeats his folly.”
We have all repeated sins that lead to repeated pain the sin brings, the pain being either in our consciences or consequences. Yet, it isn’t simply the sinful acts that plague us. It is the sinful nature from whence the sin has its roots. This is why the well-known Rock of Ages hymn says of sin: “Save me from its guilt and power.”
We read the land of Egypt was “ruined” by the plague of flies. This is the same word that will be used later of Israel’s making of the golden calf. The Lord will tell Moses when he is giving Moses the tablets of the commandments on the mountain that the people down below have corrupted or “ruined” themselves. These are the same people who saw the plagues on Egypt and walked through the parting of the Red Sea. Now they are turning from the Lord to the same idols Egypt was “ruined” by.
We learn sin is the biggest plague we face. It is the reason Christ is such good news. He takes away the plague of sin. He suffered death to do it. He had no sin in him, no darkness. Yet he laid down his life for those enslaved to it. God have mercy on me, a sinner are the wisest words we can ever utter.