Exodus 7-10 - The Plagues
We saw last time that the LORD is a God of Promise. Read Exodus 6:6-8 to remind yourself of His seven-fold “I will” to the people.
From chapter 7 we see how the LORD’s promises of redemption relate to those who are opposed to God and His people.
Read Exodus 7:1-6:
What “will” happen to the Egyptians?
I will HARDEN (v3)
He will not LISTEN (v4)
I will LAY MY HAND on Egypt (v4)
I will BRING OUT MY DIVISIONS (v4)
The Egyptians will KNOW that I am the LORD (v5)
Those who find themselves on the wrong side of the God of Promise will be on the wrong side of His promises.
How does God’s judgement relate to God’s salvation?
They are completely tied up together. To bring out the Israelites He must bring a mighty hand against the Egyptians.
Split into 3,4 or 5 groups and take on a couple of plagues each. (For the purposes of this exercise, we’ll consider ‘Aaron’s staff’ as one of the mighty judgements/signs).
Skip over the Plague of Hail as we’ll study it all together as a representative plague.
For each plague/sign answer the following four questions:
Who does the plague affect?
Can the Egyptian magicians replicate it / reverse it?
What is Pharaoh’s response?
What happens to Pharaoh’s heart?
- Exodus 7:8-13 – Aaron’s Staff
- Exodus 7:14-24 – Plague of Blood
- Exodus 8:1-15 – Plague of Frogs
- Exodus 8:16-19 – Plague of Gnats
- Exodus 8:20-32 – Plague of Flies
- Exodus 9:1-7 – Plague on Livestock
- Exodus 9:8-12 – Plague of Boils
- Exodus 9:13-35 – Plague of Hail – SKIP THIS ONE FOR NOW
- Exodus 10:1-20 – Plague of Locusts
- Exodus 10:21-29 – Plague of Darkness
Feed back your answers to the group and discuss.
Discussion topic – Pharaoh’s hardness:
Sometimes Pharaoh is described as hardening his heart, sometimes it’s the LORD who is said to harden his heart, sometimes it’s just stated that his heart was hard. What do we make of the interplay of the LORD’s hardening and Pharaoh’s?
See hardening verses at end
Some things to consider:
The word for ‘hardening’ is a word meaning ‘strengthening’ – the LORD strengthens Pharaoh’s disposition (just as Pharaoh strengthens his own disposition).
Read Romans 1:21-28:
How does the judgement of ‘handing over’ relate to the desires of the people?
Read Acts 4:26-28:
Who wanted Jesus killed?
How was the Lord’s will for salvation served by His hard-hearted enemies?
Focus on the Plague of Hail:
Read Exodus 9:13-35:
What reasons are given here for the plagues?
To show Pharaoh God’s power and proclaim His name in all the earth (v16)
What is the response to this plague from the officials? From Pharaoh?
Those who feared the word of the LORD sought shelter! (v20)
Pharaoh had another false-repentance turn (v27) but by v34 both officials and Pharaoh harden their hearts.
How does Moses stop the plague? Remind you of anything?
Moses prays/intercedes by stretching out his hands. (v33) Just like Jesus.
Discussion topic – The Purpose of the Plagues:
Break up into groups and discuss: What is the purpose of these plagues?
- Exodus 3:18-19;
- Exodus 7:3-5
- Exodus 10:1-4
All (and not just some) of these...
Pharaoh’s unwillingness to acknowledge the LORD
Pharaoh’s hard heart – see above discussion
To set the people free
So that the Egyptians will know the LORD (cf 5:2)
So that the Israelites will know the LORD
So that the whole earth will know the LORD (9:16; cf Josh 2:9f)
To humble Pharaoh and the Egyptians (cf Amos 4; Rev 15-16!)
In Revelation chapters 15 and 16 it speaks about the time we live in now – between Christ’s first and second coming. It says that there are judgements on the whole earth which it describes as “plagues”, “but people refused to repent of what they had done.” (e.g. Rev 16:11)
How do we apply what we have learnt about the plagues of Egypt to our lives today?
The LORD doesn’t simply let the world get on with it. Disasters etc are meant to drive us to repentance and faith in Jesus. As CS Lewis says “Pain is God’s megaphone to rouse a deaf world.”
What have we learnt about judgement?
What have we learnt about the human heart?
Next time we will consider the final plague – the plague on the firstborn. The only place of shelter – for Egyptian or Israelite – was under the blood of the lamb. This reminds us that judgement is something that faces us all. And it is only escaped by sheltering under the sacrifice of the LORD Jesus.
Now that we’ve seen the backdrop of the plagues, how do we view the cross – the fulfilment of the plague on the firstborn?
Jesus endures the ultimate plague for us to provide us with refuge. He’s like the shelter from the hail, or like Moses with his arms stretched out, or like the Lamb slain.
“I know that the king of Egypt will not let you go unless compelled by a mighty hand.” (3:19)
The LORD will harden/strengthen Pharaoh’s heart. (4:21)
I will harden Pharaoh’s heart (same word as for ‘hard labour’) (7:3)
Pharaoh’s heart was hard/strong (7:13)
Pharaoh’s heart was heavy / unyielding (this is also the word for ‘glory’) (7:14)
Pharaoh’s heart was hard/strong (7:22)
Pharaoh made heavy his heart (8:15)
Pharaoh’s heart was hard/strong (8:19)
Pharaoh made heavy his heart (8:32)
Pharaoh’s heart was heavy (9:7)
The LORD hardened/strengthened the heart of Pharaoh (9:12)
Pharaoh made heavy his heart (9:34)
Pharaoh’s heart was hard/strong (9:35)
The LORD made heavy Pharaoh’s heart (10:1)
The LORD hardened the heart of Pharaoh (10:20)
The LORD hardened the heart of Pharaoh (10:27)
The LORD hardened the heart of Pharaoh (11:20)
There is an interplay of Pharaoh’s hardening and the LORD’s. But the LORD does not hand Pharaoh over to anything which he does not actually want himself. It is a hardening of Pharaoh’s disposition, a strengthening (same word) of Pharaoh’s own desires.
This pattern of hardening is seen supremely at the cross where God makes His enemies serve His saving purposes even as they do what is most in their own wicked hearts to do! (Acts 4:26-28) It is poetic justice for God’s enemies to be handed over to the very things they want (Rom 1:24,26,28) and it is a glorious redemption for God to use the worst designs of His enemies to bring about the greatest victory for His people.