A. The eighth plague: Locusts.
1. (1-6) God tells Moses to bring another warning to Pharaoh.
Now the Lord said to Moses, “Go in to Pharaoh; for I have hardened his heart and the hearts of his servants, that I may show these signs of Mine before him, and that you may tell in the hearing of your son and your son’s son the mighty things I have done in Egypt, and My signs which I have done among them, that you may know that I am the Lord.” So Moses and Aaron came in to Pharaoh and said to him, “Thus says the Lord God of the Hebrews: ‘How long will you refuse to humble yourself before Me? Let My people go, that they may serve Me. Or else, if you refuse to let My people go, behold, tomorrow I will bring locusts into your territory. And they shall cover the face of the earth, so that no one will be able to see the earth; and they shall eat the residue of what is left, which remains to you from the hail, and they shall eat every tree which grows up for you out of the field. They shall fill your houses, the houses of all your servants, and the houses of all the Egyptians; which neither your fathers nor your fathers’ fathers have seen, since the day that they were on the earth to this day.’ “ And he turned and went out from Pharaoh.
a. I have hardened his heart: Here the Lord says that He hardened Pharaoh’s heart, yet in Exodus 9:34 it says that he [Pharaoh] hardened his heart. Both were true, and one does not deny the other. In hardening Pharaoh’s heart, God allowed him to have what he sinfully desired - a hard heart against the Lord and His people.
b. That you may tell in the hearing of your son and your son’s son the mighty things I have done in Egypt: God’s work was not only for the sake of the generation of Moses and Pharaoh; it was also for your son and your son’s son. God does mighty works among us so that we can encourage generations to come.
c. How long will you refuse to humble yourself before Me? Getting to the heart of the matter, God warned Pharaoh to humble himself or the worst plague of locusts ever seen would come upon Egypt. Pride was at the heart of Pharaoh’s problem; he simply didn’t want to give into God.
i. It’s an important question that God would ask to anyone: How long will you refuse to humble yourself before Me?
2. (7-11) Pharaoh seems to relent - with qualifications.
Then Pharaoh’s servants said to him, “How long shall this man be a snare to us? Let the men go, that they may serve the Lord their God. Do you not yet know that Egypt is destroyed?” So Moses and Aaron were brought again to Pharaoh, and he said to them, “Go, serve the Lord your God. Who are the ones that are going?” And Moses said, “We will go with our young and our old; with our sons and our daughters, with our flocks and our herds we will go, for we must hold a feast to the Lord.” Then he said to them, “The Lord had better be with you when I let you and your little ones go! Beware, for evil is ahead of you. Not so! Go now, you who are men, and serve the Lord, for that is what you desired.” And they were driven out from Pharaoh’s presence.
a. How long shall this man be a snare to us? These men, known as Pharaoh’s servants hardened their hearts before (Exodus 9:34). Yet even they relented in light of the destruction that came upon Egypt; but Pharaoh’s heart was harder still!
b. Who are the ones that are going? Pharaoh again wanted to bargain with God and Moses. He wanted to allow some to go into the wilderness to worship, but to keep the women and children home as hostages.
i. Pharaoh offered a compromise in Exodus 8:25-26, suggesting that they could have a day to sacrifice to the Lord while still in Egypt. Moses rejected that compromise, and would reject this one also. God would not make this bargain, because He didn’t need to. This time, and every time, God holds all the negotiating leverage.
ii. What Pharaoh wanted is what many of us want in the flesh: a way to “give in” to God, without fully submitting to Him. Sometimes we look for a way to bargain with God as an equal, instead of submitting to Him as Creator and Lord.
iii. When Moses first came to Pharaoh, Pharaoh said: Who is the Lord, that I should obey His voice to let Israel go? (Exodus 5:2). The fact that Pharaoh still would not submit to the Lord showed that he didn’t know who the Lord was yet. This was despite the fact that the Lord God had made it clear that He was:
Š Greater than the god Khnum (the guardian of the Nile)
Š Greater than the god Hapi (the spirit of the Nile)
Š Greater than the god Osiris (who had the Nile as his bloodstream)
Š Greater than the goddess Heqt (the frog-goddess of fertility)
Š Greater than the goddess Hathor (a cow-like mother goddess)
Š Greater than the god Imhotep (the god of medicine)
Š Greater than Nut (the sky goddess)
Š Able to stop the whole worship of the Egyptian gods with loathsome lice and swarms of insects
iv. Despite all this, Pharaoh showed he still did not know the Lord God. Therefore, God would show him more.
3. (12-15) The plague of locusts comes.
Then the Lord said to Moses, “Stretch out your hand over the land of Egypt for the locusts, that they may come upon the land of Egypt, and eat every herb of the land; all that the hail has left.” So Moses stretched out his rod over the land of Egypt, and the Lord brought an east wind on the land all that day and all that night. When it was morning, the east wind brought the locusts. And the locusts went up over all the land of Egypt and rested on all the territory of Egypt. They were very severe; previously there had been no such locusts as they, nor shall there be such after them. For they covered the face of the whole earth, so that the land was darkened; and they ate every herb of the land and all the fruit of the trees which the hail had left. So there remained nothing green on the trees or on the plants of the field throughout all the land of Egypt.
a. They ate every herb of the land and all the fruit of the trees which the hail had left: Yahweh showed Himself greater than the Egyptian god Set, thought to be the protector of crops.
b. There remained nothing green on the trees or on the plants of the field: God did for Pharaoh what He will do in our lives – expose and topple every false god. When we trust in these gods it hurts to see them fall, but it is always best to have them exposed.
4. (16-20) Another false repentance by Pharaoh.
Then Pharaoh called for Moses and Aaron in haste, and said, “I have sinned against the Lord your God and against you. Now therefore, please forgive my sin only this once, and entreat the Lord your God, that He may take away from me this death only.” So he went out from Pharaoh and entreated the Lord. And the Lord turned a very strong west wind, which took the locusts away and blew them into the Red Sea. There remained not one locust in all the territory of Egypt. But the Lord hardened Pharaoh’s heart, and he did not let the children of Israel go.
a. I have sinned against the Lord your God and against you: Pharaoh did the same thing in Exodus 9:27-28. He said the words of repentance but did not follow through with the actions. His heart was only hardened more after God relented and showed mercy.
i. “Once again comes the easy confession of sin, and the shallow repentance that springs only from a desire to avert the consequences.” (Cole)
B. The ninth plague: Darkness.
1. (21-23) A plague of darkness comes without warning.
Then the Lord said to Moses, “Stretch out your hand toward heaven, that there may be darkness over the land of Egypt, darkness which may even be felt.” So Moses stretched out his hand toward heaven, and there was thick darkness in all the land of Egypt three days. They did not see one another; nor did anyone rise from his place for three days. But all the children of Israel had light in their dwellings.
a. Stretch out your hand toward heaven, that there may be darkness over the land of Egypt: As was the pattern with the previous plagues, the third in this set of three came without warning.
b. Darkness which may even be felt: This was no normal darkness, it had a supernatural element to it that could be felt. Light is not only a physical property; it is an aspect of God’s character (God is light and in Him is no darkness at all, 1 John 1:5). In judgment, God can withdraw His presence so significantly that the void remaining is darkness which may even be felt.
i. Seemingly, God did not even allow artificial light sources to work. The Egyptians attempted to use candles and lamps but were unable to produce light. This was dramatic show of greatness over the prominent Egyptian god Ra, thought to be the sun god.
c. All the children of Israel had light in their dwellings: We don’t know if this was because God spared them the plague or because God granted them His unique presence, bringing a supernatural light.
2. (24-29) Pharaoh’s last attempt at a compromise with Moses.
Then Pharaoh called to Moses and said, “Go, serve the Lord; only let your flocks and your herds be kept back. Let your little ones also go with you.” But Moses said, “You must also give us sacrifices and burnt offerings, that we may sacrifice to the Lord our God. Our livestock also shall go with us; not a hoof shall be left behind. For we must take some of them to serve the Lord our God, and even we do not know with what we must serve the Lord until we arrive there.” But the Lord hardened Pharaoh’s heart, and he would not let them go. Then Pharaoh said to him, “Get away from me! Take heed to yourself and see my face no more! For in the day you see my face you shall die!” And Moses said, “You have spoken well. I will never see your face again.”
a. Go, serve the Lord; only let your flocks and your herds be kept back: With this, Pharaoh made his last offer to Moses. All the children of Israel could go into the wilderness for three days of sacrifice unto the Lord God, but they must leave their livestock behind.
i. Undoubtedly, Pharaoh felt God was a hard bargainer and made the best deal for Himself that He could. Pharaoh still saw things as someone who thought he could bargain with the Creator. This shows that he still didn’t really know who the Lord God was, because He still had not submitted to Him.
b. Not a hoof shall be left behind: The Lord God, and the prophet Moses representing Him, was absolutely unwilling to compromise on these points. God wanted deliverance for all of Israel and for all that belonged to Israel, and was not willing to deal on the point.
i. This reflects the response of God to every attempt we make to surrender less than everything to Him, or to willingly leave some things in bondage. He says, “Not a hoof shall be left behind.”
c. Get away from me! Take heed to yourself and see my face no more! In exasperation, Pharaoh ordered Moses out and told him to never come back. Moses assured Pharaoh, “You have spoken well. I will never see your face again” - but this was not good news for Pharaoh.
i. “Pharaoh was now beyond reason, and God did not reason with him.” (Morgan)
ii. This ends the account of the nine plagues, and though there is one yet to come - the plague upon the firstborn - it is so unique that it must be considered by itself.
iii. The Bible tells us there were several reasons why God sent these plagues upon Pharaoh and Egypt.
Š To answer Pharaoh’s question, Who is the Lord? (Exodus 5:2). In the plagues, God showed Himself greater than any of the false gods of Egypt
Š To show the power of God through Moses (Exodus 9:16)
Š To give a testimony to the children of Israel for future generations (Exodus 10:2)
Š To judge the false gods - demons, really - of Egypt (Exodus 12:12, Numbers 33:4)
Š To warn the nations - more than 400 years later, the Philistines remembered the Lord God of Israel as the one who plagued the Egyptians (1 Samuel 4:8)
Š As a testimony of the greatness of God to Israel (Exodus 15:11, Deuteronomy 4:34)
©2012 David Guzik - No distribution beyond personal use without permission