These small group studies of Exodus contain outlines, cross-references, Bible study discussion questions, and applications. Visit our library of inductive Bible studies for more in depth inductive studies on this and other books of the Bible you can use in your small group.
Exodus 10 Inductive Bible Study
I. Another encounter between Moses and Pharaoh (1-11)
II. The plague of locusts (12-20)
III. The plague of darkness (21-29)
I. Another encounter between Moses and Pharaoh (1-11)
How was Pharaoh’s heart hardened this time?
What reasons does God give this time for hardening his heart?
What benefits would this have for the Israelites (and other God fearing people) across the generations?
What can we learn about Moses and Aaron from their repeated encounters with Pharaoh?
What else did Moses tell Pharaoh this time? What was the root of Pharaoh’s problem?
What ways do you see people’s pride against God manifested in society today? Why does God not deal with them just as harshly as He did with Pharaoh?
What threat was leveled against Pharaoh this time?
How would the plague of locusts effect the land of Egypt?
Would any Egyptian, such as royal officials, be safe from this plague?
What was unique about the extent of this plague?
What counsel did Pharaoh’s advisers give him? Was this good counsel? Did Pharaoh make any attempt to follow their counsel?
How did Pharaoh attempt to exert his own authority (and save his face) this time around? Why do you think he had this requirement?
Did Moses compromise at all? Why do you think Moses didn’t compromise?
What do verses 10-11 tell us of Pharaoh’s attitude toward Moses and the Israelites at this point?
1. Once again, we see that God is uncompromising. We can also see that by this time Moses and Aaron have apparently grown a lot. No longer do we see any doubting, any questioning, or any complaining. We don’t see any fear or hesitation. Whatever God tells them to do, they do it immediately and as He told the to. We should remember that what they were doing was very dangerous. At any moment (from the world’s perspective) Pharaoh could have ordered their death and soldiers in the palace could have killed them instantly. Also, they had been at this for months probably and so far Pharaoh hadn’t budged. Their patience could have been wearing thin. It is likely some Israelites were complaining about the long time period to free them and wondering why the results weren’t coming quicker. Yet we see that Moses and Aaron are bold. They don’t mince words or sugarcoat things. They are in this until the very end no matter how long it takes and how many times they are rejected first. What can we learn from them? On boldness: Deut 31:6, Psalms 27:1, Isaiah 41:10.
2. We can learn to persevere. Good things don’t always come easily. God may allow us to go through a lot of obstacles or perhaps the same obstacle again and again. We might face failure many times over before we get success. We might face opposition from authorities such as boss, parents, or teacher. Yet we must remember that we answer to a higher authority. Whatever God asks us to do we must do diligently with all of our heart and persevere to the very end. It could be God asking us to share the gospel with a relative. We know we should share with them, but they are so cold and easy to offend. It might be starting a study. It might be disciplining a child. It might be doing a project at work. It might be someone is already married to an unbeliever and God calls you to be a testimony to your spouse. Whatever the case, be bold, be obedient, and don’t give up. Verses… On perseverance: Hebrews 10:26, James 1:12, 1 Cor 13:6-7.
3. This was an object lesson not only to teach the Egyptians and the countries influenced by them (as we learned last week), but also to teach the Israelites. And it was not only to teach the present generation, but it was a lesson to teach all generations. Deut 6:6-8. A sidepoint of this is that throughout history God has done certain things as a lesson to future generations. He has written things down in the Bible so that people from every era can learn from the mistakes or successes of the saints and from how God worked Himself. This is an important reminder that we should study the things God has done in the past so that we can learn in the present and avoid the same pitfalls others have fallen into. So what was the lesson? The lesson was three-fold. Firstly, it was to show how severely He dealt with the Egyptians. This was to show how severe sin and ignoring God’s command is. God wants to teach all generations to hate sin and to be heed His warnings against it so that we will not be punished. Secondly, He showed them His miracles. And thirdly, the purpose for showing these miracles, was to teach them that He alone is the LORD. Learning to believe in and follow the one true God is the most important lesson anyone can learn. So we see from last week and this week that God had multiple reasons for judging the Egyptians as He did. He probably has many more that He never even told anyone about.
4. This time M and A went a step farther to rebuke Pharoah for his hardness of heart and teach him that he needs to be more humble. Before God kept demanding that He let His people go, and this part did not change. But now God also uses His prophets to teach Pharaoh about his sin. This will take away any more excuses Pharaoh might have. Once again, God also warned Pharaoh about the coming plague ahead of time. On Pride: Psalms 119:21, Proverbs 3:34, Proverbs 21:4
5. We see again the progression of the plagues. The previous plague, hail, destroyed half of the crops. This plague would destroy all the remainder so the Egyptians would have nothing left.
6. For the first time we see Pharaoh’s advisers giving him good counsel and suggesting that he give in. Common sense showed them that God was winning and that the entire country was being destroyed by Pharaoh’s reckless pride. In this case, God didn’t harden their hearts so that they would be a word of wisdom in Pharaoh’s ear. This word of wisdom increased Pharaoh’s culpability even more since even his own people, unbelievers, were telling him to obey God. Their word also gives us an insight into how severely Egypt was affected by these plagues. The land was devastated.
7. Pharaoh appears to listen to his counselors. He takes a step of action to call in M and A and appears willing to give in when he commands them (note that he is still trying to show his authority by giving commands) to “Go, worship the LORD your God.” However, his pride couldn’t let it go at that. He had to try to save face and negotiate so he added the question who would be going. In fact, he knew the answer already since Moses had made it clear. But he wanted to show his authority to his people and maintain the illusion that he was in control and could not be bullied. Also, he naturally was suspicious that if everyone went, they would leave and not come back. Leaving the women and children would leave hostages to ensure the return of the men. On counsel: Proverbs 11:14
8. Pharaoh was unwilling to let everyone go. This declaration from M that everyone would go angered Pharaoh. He made some strong statements that he would never let all the people go, at the same time again mocking YHWH. We see in the word “driven” just how angry Pharaoh was. He wasn’t showing the any court politeness, but once again wanted to exert his authority by driving them out.
II. The plague of locusts (12-20)
What method did God use to bring about the plague of locusts? What does this teach us about the methods God uses to do miracles? Does using natural forces make His miracles any less miraculous? What is the word for how God arranges situations and circumstances for His people today (providence)? Explain providence. Is providence miraculous?
How devastating was the plague of locusts?
How did Pharaoh respond to the plague of locusts? Was his apology genuine? How do you know? When might it be helpful to know if someone’s apology is genuine? How can you tell if someone’s apology is genuine? What ingredients do you think are necessary for genuine repentance?
Why do you think Pharaoh called this plague “death”? What does this show us about the severity of the plague?
Did God answer his appeal? In what way did God remove the plague?
What is significant about the fact that not one locust remained in the land of Egypt?
This passage does not say if the Israelites were affected by this plague. Do you think they were?
How was Pharaoh’s heart hardened this time?
1. God used a strong east wind to bring the locusts. The locust swarm already existed somewhere. God had already prepared them and increased their numbers exponentially. God made use of the world’s natural forces (wind and locusts) to force the whole swarm to descend on Egypt. Then and today, God often used/uses natural forces to accomplish miracles. Examples? While I was doing some research about the plagues, I noticed that some atheists have posted natural explanations/causes for all the plagues. Some of them are a bit farfetched, but some of them do make sense. For example they say that a natural algae turned the water red and made it uninhabitable. This drove the frogs onto the land and eventually killed them since they were out of the natural environment. Since all the frogs died, the flies and gnats didn’t have any predators and increased rapidly. These then carried diseases which killed the livestock and caused the boils. A volcanic eruption caused ash in the sky which caused the hail. This made the ground wet attracting locusts and also darkened the sky. This disease also poisoned the food source and since the Egyptians made the first born a big priority they ate the little food there was and died, but those who didn’t eat it survived. The Israelites ate different food that was prepared quickly so it wasn’t infected.
Now, some of these ideas are far fetched, but perhaps God did use some of these natural forces to cause the plagues. This, however, doesn’t make the plagues any less miraculous. Consider that Moses predicted the time the plagues would come ahead of time. Consider that God miraculously spared the Israelites. Consider that Moses declared these plagues were coming on Pharaoh ahead of time. Consider that whenever Moses asked God to remove the plague it was removed immediately. If God did use natural forces, it just shows us that He is in complete control of nature. It doesn’t make His miracles any less spectacular or amazing. Too imagine that God didn’t have a hand in these plagues and they were all natural occurrences and complete coincidence relating to Israel’s slavery and Moses’ announcing and removing would be even harder to believe and even more miraculous, in much the same way that believing the world is here by chance is even more difficult to believe and needs more faith than just believing God made it. So to bring this back to. God is a God of miracles. He uses many methods. Even today He will do mini-miracles on our lives by controlling our circumstances and through divine providence. Discuss the word providence and what it means.
2. The locusts plague was severe. Pharaoh even referred to it as “death”. Why? They ate up almost all the remaining food source of the Egyptians. That world climate was very different from today. Today if there is a local famine you can quickly import goods from other areas and other countries. Not so then. A local food shortage meant a lot of people would die from not having enough food. The locusts are like a rampaging army. They devour everything that can be eaten in their path. I’ve watched National Geographic about modern day locusts swarms. They descend on an area and wreak havoc. The best of modern technology normally has little success to keep them away from crops and drive them away. At that time they would be even more hopeless to stop the onslaught. Even a normal locusts swarm is devastating, but the passage makes it clear it wasn’t a normal swarm. It was the largest swarm ever in the history of the earth. They were everywhere and no one escaped. In addition to the shortage of food it would have caused great annoyance to hear them chirping and grinding their teeth, to step on them and crush them under your feet every movement, for them to get into your clothes and into your water, in your bed.
3. Pharaoh once again calls for Moses. This time he apologizes again and asks forgiveness. Moses kept his end of the bargain, but in verse 20 we see Pharaoh again didn’t let the people go. In some cases today it is quite helpful to see if an apology is true. For example, a father disciplining his kids. If the father/mother knows that the child is truly repentant it will help him to know how to deal with and discipline the child. He might be more merciful. However, if the father can tell that the child is just saying the words, but is still hard hearted, this will also give him clues how to deal with it. Body language is one important indicator as with tone of voice. Most importantly, if someone’s apology is truly genuine, their behavior will change. They might not be perfect, but at least the effort will be there. What ingredients are necessary for true repentance? Confession (no excuse making, no blaming, no justifying, no hiding), remorse, initiative, restitution, taking responsibility, changed behavior. On repentance: Proverbs 28:13, 2 Cor 7:9-10, Acts 8:22, Matthew 3:7-8
4. Once again we see God use natural forces to drive the locusts away, this time bringing a strong west wind to drive them into the Red Sea. This is another reminder not to complain about the weather because God controls it.
5. Not a single locusts was left. This is abnormal. From what I have read and seen about locusts swarms, normally when they leave the area some are left behind and they gradually leave. In this case, there wasn’t one left. You can imagine that even with a strong wind some sick or old locusts would stick to the trees and grass and not fly in the air and get caught in the wind. But that didn’t happen. God drove them all into the Red Sea. This once again proved the miracle was genuine. God was faithful even when Pharaoh wasn’t.
III. The plague of darkness (21-29)
Was there any warning before the next plague? Why do you think most of the time God announced the plagues first, but did not 3 times? Is there any significance in this? Does God always announce coming judgment before He brings it? List times in the Bible when God did and times when He didn’t (did: Isaiah, Jeremiah, the flood, Ninevah, Eli, Saul’s death. Didn’t: Sodom and Gomorrah, Ark of the Covenant to the Philistines, Haman).
What effects would this plague have on the people of Egypt? This plague doesn’t seem nearly as destructive as most of the others, so what do think was God’s purpose in sending it? What distinction was there between the Egyptians and the Israelites? What does verse 23 tell us about the severity of the plague in Egypt (even their artificial lights such as candles or oil lamps apparently didn’t make light)?
Was Pharaoh any closer to meeting God’s demands than the previous time? Why do you think Moses didn’t compromise considering that the people still could have escaped and God could have made other ways to provide for them besides their herds?
How did this encounter end? What can we learn of Pharaoh from his response this time?
1. This time there was no warning first. Out of His abundant mercy, God does generally give a warning to the wicked. However, He does not always do so nor does He promise always to do so. In this case Pharaoh had been warned many times already. Perhaps God didn’t warn Pharaoh the 3 times because he wanted to spur Pharaoh to action. Knowing that a plague could come at any time, and without warning, this could cause Pharaoh to be more anxious and on edge. In any case, we should take this as a warning that God will not always make an announcement directly before He does something major. In our case, the Rapture could come at any time. Therefore we need to be always ready. Serve God faithfully all the time and you don’t need to fear the unknown. Matthew 25:24-30
2. Many have attempted to explain this darkness by natural causes, such as an eclipse or sandstorms. We have learned that God does use natural causes, but not necessarily exclusively. We see several interesting things about this darkness. One, it lasted for three days. Eclipses don’t last that long (although God could have caused a supernatural three day eclipse). The number three often occurs in the Bible and generally denotes completeness.
Two, the darkness was so thick it could be felt. This again shows us the supernatural aspect of the plague. It wasn’t just like night time. Nor was it even like pitch black. It must have caused terror. Each person was completely alone with his thoughts, his sin, and his guilt. There was no escape. This plague reminds me of the darkness of hell, where each person will forever be in utter darkness alone and in terror to contemplate his sin and rejection of the one true God. And I think the three day plague of darkness gave the Egyptians just a little taste of what hell would be like.
Third, we learn that the sons of Israel had light in their dwellings. We don’t know if this was artificial light such as candles or lamps or if the sun shone there. The fact that it says “in their dwellings” makes me think it is the first one. In other words, in their homes they could shine lights, but outside was dark. If this is the case, it implies that the Egyptians could not even have artificial light in their dwellings. The fact that each Egyptian could not see another and they stayed wherever they were supports this idea. This once again highlights God’s mercy towards the Jews.
Fourth, this plague was a direct indictment of the Egyptians’ chief god, Ra. The Egyptians worshiped the sun. Previous plagues showed the ineptitude of the Egyptians’ secondary gods. Now they have built up to showing the complete pathetic weakness of their chief deity. Their god was powerless against the Might of Jehovah. This plague perhaps also is a symbol of the spiritual darkness that hung over the entire nation of Egypt.
3. Pharaoh once again tries to negotiate and save face by offering to let the people go but keep the animals there. Step by step he is giving in to what God wants and we see again God does not compromise. When we stand on what is right, we should not compromise one inch either. The partial obedience Pharaoh was willing to give, was not acceptable.
4. Moses makes it clear that it was unacceptable by pointing out that they would not leave one single hoof behind. Once again we see that the Lord hardened Pharaoh’s heart.
5. Pharaoh was angry at the end of the previous plague. Now he is livid and has completely lost control. This time he threatens to kill Moses if Moses dares to show his face before Pharaoh again. Again, Pharaoh overestimates his own power. He views himself as in authority and having graciously heard Moses’ complaints before this. A common manifestation of pride is to overestimate one’s own abilities and underestimate others. We should look at ourselves and abilities through God’s eyes. If we are talented or do have power or might or riches or authority, recognize that it comes only from God and that He can take it away in an instant.
6. Moses agrees that he will not see Pharaoh’s face again either. In other words, negotiations have ceased and he would not take the initiative to go to the throne to negotiate or warn Pharaoh again. Taking place right before the tenth and most devastating plague, it was like saying “Your chance is over. The coming doom is on your own head.”
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