There are five valuable lessons we can learn from the plagues. But before we go there, let’s review what happened.
God sent Moses and Aaron one more time to Pharaoh with the command to let his people go. Pharaoh asked for a sign, and Aaron’s staff turned into a snake. The king’s magicians were able to do the same with their “secret arts.” But Aaron’s quickly sallowed up the snakes of the magicians. The serpent was their symbol of power and authority. It was the featured emblem on Pharaoh’s headpiece. But Exodus 7:13 says, “Yet Pharaoh’s heart became hard and he would not listen…”
Moses and Aaron confronted Pharaoh in the early morning on the banks of the Nile. He was there to pray and worship the holy waters. The Nile River was not just a body of water, but the physical manifestation of a god. When its banks flooded each year, fertile, beautiful, black soil for planting crops was left behind. It was their source of life, providing water, fish, food, and beauty. It was the wellspring of their civilization in the middle of the desert.
While Pharaoh watched, Aaron struck the river, and it turned to blood. All the fish died, releasing a horrible odor throughout the land. Pharaoh’s magicians were able to duplicate the miracle, but this was of no help. It only made the situation worse. Exodus 7:23 says that Pharaoh, “…turned and went into his palace, and did not take even this to heart.”
God waited for seven long days, and with no response, he sent the frogs. The frog was the manifestation of Heqet, the fertility goddess. Now frogs filled every home in Egypt. Can you imagine the noise at night as all those frogs belched into the morning hours?
Again, the magicians were able to do the same with their “secret arts” but could do nothing to fix the issue. To everyone’s surprise, Pharaoh asked for prayer and promised to let the Israelites go. Moses interceded, and the frogs croaked. The people piled the toads in outride heaps throughout the land. But when he saw relief, he hardened his heart again and refused to listen.
Then, God told Moses to tell Aaron to strike the ground with his rod. When he did, the dust in the land of Egypt turned to gnats or lice. The Hebrew word ken is not clear. The King James Version uses the latter. The Egyptians were obsessed with cleanliness and order. Now they had a lice infestation in their hair, all over their bodies, and on their animals. This was the first miracle the magicians were unable to duplicate. Outdone, they went to Pharaoh and said in Exodus 8:19, “This is the finger of God.” But Pharaoh’s heart was hard and he would not listen.