What You’ve Missed…
* We’re in the book of Exodus now, and three-hundred years after the time of Joseph, all of Abraham’s descendants, The Israelites, have become slaves in Egypt. They’re pretty pissed about it.
* About this time, Moses is born.
* Around the age of forty, Moses takes the law into his own hands, becoming the world’s first vigilante hero, when he murders an Egyptian guy who’s beating up some Hebrew dude. (I’m thinking the local papers referred to him as “The Sackcloth Sucker-Puncher.”)
* Around the age of eighty, Moses doesn’t encounter God-As-A-Talking-Tornado, but rather, God-As-A-Talking-Bush-On-Fire. (Not to be confused by The-Now-Not-So-Implausible-Singing-Bush from The Three Amigos.)
* God-As-A-Burning-Bush tells Moses He is going to rescue the Israelites from slavery, and that Moses will act as His mouthpiece. Moses goes all King’s Speech, whining about his stutter, and so God brings Aaron (Moses’ older brother) on board to announce to everyone all the things God speaks to Moses.
* Finally…God gives Moses an awesome staff that He turns into a snake from time to time. (Finally answering the question, “What do you get the man who has everything?”)
* Got all that?
Daily Reading: Exodus 7-9
Whew…let’s all take a breather, because that’s a lot to digest. Go ahead and grab some coffee or a quick smoke break or something. I’ll wait.
So old man Moses is taking direction from God on how to get the Israelites out of Egypt, and because he’s human, and because God can be confusing, he protests and questions some of God’s plan. But in the end he trusts God and does as he’s asked, providing the people of Egypt the craziest experience of their lives.
You see, God doesn’t just want to rescue His people from slavery, He also wants Pharaoh to know He is The One True God. So He puts on a little display to demonstrate His power. And we’re not talking about a mind-blowing Pink Floyd laser light show. For starters, when Pharaoh refuses to let the Israelites go, God turns the Nile River into blood. He doesn’t stop with just the Nile, but all the water in Egypt (including the water in jugs, cups, storage basins, etc.) also turn to blood. And it lasts for seven days.
Let’s just stop and imagine this for a second. You’re meeting someone for lunch, and as you take a sip of your water, you realize it’s blood. The whole restaurant realizes what’s happened at roughly the same time, and people start screaming and freaking out. Or maybe you open the washer to discover your clothes aren’t pink because you washed colors with the whites, but because they were “washed” in blood. Or perhaps you’re standing around the water cooler at work (do people actually do this in real life, or just in Dilbert?) when all of a sudden you and your co-workers find yourselves standing around the blood cooler instead. (Or think about if it happened while you were in the shower. That’s something straight out of The Shining. And that gives me the heebie-jeebies.)
I think you get the idea. This is not a normal thing. People notice when ALL of the water in their life turns to blood. That’s a pretty strong showing of power in my book. But apparently Pharaoh didn’t think so, because he didn’t let the Israelites go. In fact, his own royal magicians also turned water into blood (Exodus 7:22) which is pretty impressive.
So God moves on to Phase Two and produces a plague of frogs. Frogs start showing up everywhere, including people’s ovens (Exodus 8:3) which makes me wonder if they were instantly incinerated, or whether they were special “plague frogs” that were a lot harder to get rid of. (Also, it says that Pharaoh’s magicians summoned frogs too…which makes me wonder if they could have had the most amazing magic show Vegas has ever seen.) But again…can you imagine what that was like for everyone in Egypt? Think about the noise at night alone when millions of frogs are croaking at once. Or the fact that you’d be walking on frogs (living and squashed) everywhere you went. That would get really old, really fast.
So Pharaoh relents saying he’ll let God’s people go…but as soon as the frogs are gone, he changes his mind. This pattern of relenting and then changing his mind continues as God brings more plagues on Egypt, setting the standard for a man struggling through some very serious commitment issues. During this time God also brings on a plague of gnats, a plague of flies, a plague destroying all the livestock in the country, a plague of boils appearing on everyone and a plague of hail.
Seriously…think about if this was you. First, all your water becomes blood. Then your house, car, workplace and everyplace are covered in frogs. Then you’re constantly covered in gnats ALL THE TIME. And if that isn’t enough, later you’d be covered in flies everywhere you went. (I don’t think anyone is gettin’ “lucky” while this is happening either. Being covered in gnats and flies tend to really destroy the mood. So on top of suffering, everyone’s also in a major “dry spell” which I’m sure upped the tension in Egypt a hundred-fold.)
Later, all the animals around you die. Then you’re covered in boils and finally everything you own is destroyed by hail. That’s a rough couple of weeks right there. And what if you found out the reason for it all was because the leader of your country was acting like a complete turd? I imagine Pharaoh’s approval rating would be zero, and that the Occupy Egypt movement would be more of an Angry Violent Mob Out For Blood Movement. (Though being out for blood would be slightly ironic.)
So…yeah. Evil dictators are the worst. Also, between this and the book of Job, I think God is doing a pretty solid job of showing us that having a fairly normal life, without being covered in boils, is a pretty huge gift in-and-of itself for mankind. Welcome to the book of Exodus.