Book of Exodus Chapter Eight Commentary by
Pastor Ron Beckham
Between Chapters 7 and 8, seven long days have passed since the waters of Egypt turned into blood, and now the second plague on the country is seen in Verses 1-4: "the Lord said to Moses, 'Go to Pharaoh and say to him, ‘Thus says the Lord, Let My people go, that they may serve Me. But if you refuse to let them go, behold, I will smite your whole territory with frogs. The Nile will swarm with frogs, which will come up and go into your house and into your bedroom and on your bed, and into the houses of your servants and on your people, and into your ovens and into your kneading bowls. So the frogs will come up on you and your people and all your servants.'" At first glance this can seem like something of a mild judgment on the Egyptians. Frogs are, after all, little things, but it actually was going to be a major problem.
In Verses 5-6, The "Lord said to Moses, 'Say to Aaron, ‘Stretch out your hand with your staff over the rivers, over the streams and over the pools, and make frogs come up on the land of Egypt.' So Aaron stretched out his hand over the waters of Egypt, and the frogs came up and covered the land of Egypt." The Egyptians considered certain animals to be "sacred," regarding them as "gods" of just about everything. One of them was Heka, the frog-headed goddess of fertility...and it was against religious law for frogs to be killed. The streets were now covered with these slimy little creatures, which were actually more like toads, except they didn't hop, they crawled. Their endless croaking sounds made a noise that would have been maddening to all. Now imagine that your home is filled with them, in every room, in cooking pots, in your shoes and in your bed...and you couldn't do anything about them. The frogs were in Pharaoh's bedroom, just like it was for everybody else.
Gifts exist that are beyond most people, some done by the Lord directly and through His prophets, and even unbelievers are allowed certain abilities for the Lord's ultimate purposes...and so in Verse 7 we find "The magicians did the same with their secret arts, making frogs come up on the land of Egypt." It's not so different with atomic energy. You and I can bang two pieces of uranium together all day long and nothing much will happen, but a few know how to use uranium to generate electrical energy or perhaps build something destructive. Notice that the magicians would have rid the country of frogs if they could, but the Lord only permitted them to bring MORE frogs up from the river, onto the land and people of Egypt. In Verse 8, "Pharaoh called for Moses and Aaron and said, 'Entreat the Lord that He remove the frogs from me and from my people; and I will let the people go, that they may sacrifice to the Lord.'" This stubborn Pharaoh was beginning to see that he and his country were in big trouble.
God does not need Pharaoh's permission or anybody else's—He can do whatever He wants, but notice in Verse 9 the gentle response given through Moses and Aaron: "Moses said to Pharaoh, 'The honor is yours to tell me: when shall I entreat for you and your servants and your people, that the frogs be destroyed from you and your houses, that they may be left only in the Nile?'" Just as Pharaoh received a mild response from God, we for the most part have been gently treated. Pharaoh was given the right to choose and in Verse 10, "he said, 'Tomorrow,'" and in Verses 10-11, "he (Moses) said, 'May it be according to your word, that you may know that there is no one like the Lord our God. The frogs will depart from you and your houses and your servants and your people; they will be left only in the Nile.'" Moses and Aaron boldly told the man that the frogs would be gone—tomorrow—which took a lot of courage and faith for these Hebrew brothers.
"Then Moses and Aaron went out from Pharaoh, and Moses cried to the Lord concerning the frogs which He had inflicted upon Pharaoh. The Lord did according to the word of Moses, and the frogs died out of the houses, the courts, and the fields." Verse 12 is the prayer of Moses and Verse 13 is God's answer, but there were still problems—the frogs were not gone...just dead, which might have been even worse. In Verse 14, "they piled them in heaps, and the land became foul." You would expect Pharaoh would let the Hebrews go free out of desperation, but he was not a reasonable man. Verse 15—"when Pharaoh saw that there was relief, he hardened his heart and did not listen to them, as the Lord had said." How often have we agreed to something like Pharaoh did, but then changed our minds when things looked better?
Verses 16-17—"Then the Lord said to Moses, 'Say to Aaron, ‘Stretch out your staff and strike the dust of the earth, that it may become gnats through all the land of Egypt.' They did so; and Aaron stretched out his hand with his staff, and struck the dust of the earth, and there were gnats on man and beast. All the dust of the earth became gnats through all the land of Egypt." It's a little uncertain whether these were "gnats" or something else like lice, but it's especially interesting in this third plague on Egypt how the Lord brought them into being. It's not stated they came OUT of the dust, but instead that "the dust of the earth BECAME gnats." It's important to see that these were not insects that rose up out of something like the dead frogs as a natural occurance, but instead this was a miracle sent from God. It's also very important in Verses 18-19, that the Lord utterly stopped the magicians from duplicating His acts and they would not succeed again: "The magicians tried with their secret arts to bring forth gnats, but they could not; so there were gnats on man and beast. Then the magicians said to Pharaoh, 'This is the finger of God.' But Pharaoh’s heart was hardened, and he did not listen to them, as the Lord had said." The magicians spoke the dangerous words to Pharaoh: "We can't do it," but Pharaoh was no longer listening to them. His focus was on the Hebrew people.
In Verses 20-24, we glimpse how specific the Lord's leading can be: "Now the Lord said to Moses, 'Rise early in the morning and present yourself before Pharaoh, as he comes out to the water, and say to him, ‘Thus says the Lord, “Let My people go, that they may serve Me. For if you do not let My people go, behold, I will send swarms of flies on you and on your servants and on your people and into your houses; and the houses of the Egyptians will be full of swarms of flies, and also the ground on which they dwell. But on that day I will set apart the land of Goshen, where My people are living, so that no swarms of flies will be there, in order that you may know that I, the Lord, am in the midst of the land. I will put a division between My people and your people. Tomorrow this sign will occur.' Then the Lord did so. And there came great swarms of flies into the house of Pharaoh and the houses of his servants and the land was laid waste because of the swarms of flies in all the land of Egypt." Pharaoh would not miss the point of God's love for His own people and His judgment on the pride of Egypt because God would not let him. Disasters are present in this world all the time and some of them are to make a statement from God about our attitudes and conduct, but others are not. It takes the Holy Spirit to reveal the difference.
Compromise...When someone is losing a contest, compromise is what they want to do. In Verse 25, "Pharaoh called for Moses and Aaron and said, 'Go, sacrifice to your God WITHIN the land.'" He was attempting to compromise with God, "But Moses said" (in Verses 26-27) "'It is not right to do so, for we will sacrifice to the Lord our God what is an abomination to the Egyptians. If we sacrifice what is an abomination to the Egyptians before their eyes, will they not then stone us? We must go a three days’ journey into the wilderness and sacrifice to the Lord our God as He commands us.'" Have you tried to make deals with God?..."If You do this for me, I will do that for You?" Such "deals" don't work out well for us at all. We need to do the revealed will of the Lord and NOT try to manipulate the outcome like Pharaoh did.
"Pharaoh said" (in Verse 28), 'I will let you go, that you may sacrifice to the Lord your God in the wilderness; only you shall not go very far away. Make supplication for me.'" Here was Pharaoh, reluctantly giving in to God's demands, and note, as so many do, he was now asking for "supplication," which is to say he was asking God's men to pray for him. "Then Moses said (in Verse 29), 'Behold, I am going out from you, and I shall make supplication to the Lord that the swarms of flies may depart from Pharaoh, from his servants, and from his people tomorrow; only do not let Pharaoh deal deceitfully again in not letting the people go to sacrifice to the Lord.'"
Verse 30—"So Moses went out from Pharaoh and made supplication to the Lord." We all need prayer, but all too often prayers have been offered "deceitfully," merely looking for an "out" to our predicament. The good news in all this is Moses, who was becoming a prayerful man who faithfully sought to do the will of God. And note that God does answer prayer, as seen in Verse 31—"The Lord did as Moses asked, and removed the swarms of flies from Pharaoh, from his servants and from his people; not one remained." The bloody water might still be around and dead "critters" remained as problems, but because Pharaoh asked and Moses prayed, "the swarms of flies" were now gone. God answers prayer. But don't be like Pharaoh, who, in Verse 32, "hardened his heart this time also, and he did not let the people go." Yes, the people continued to suffer, but the real problem here was about him and his country—he stood against God, which can seem superficially brave, but when we do such things, we lose the contest as Pharaoh was about to do; he and his Egyptian people would suffer.
Father, all too often we have stood against You in one way or another. We confess our sin, dear God and ask for Your forgiveness. Please heal our inmost being, make us clean in Christ Jesus and grow our faith as You did with Moses. Thank You. In Jesus Name. Amen.