I. God strikes the Egyptian livestock (1-7)
II. The plague of boils (8-17)
III. The plague of hail (18-26)
IV. Pharaoh lies to Moses again after Moses stops the plague of hail (27-35)
I. God strikes the Egyptian livestock (1-7)
Why do you think God continued to warn Pharaoh before sending the plague?
Did God change His command at all?
Are threats good? Is a boss or parents making threats a good thing?
Why do you think God chose this plague? What impact would have on the Egyptians?
Would this plague affect the Israelites? Why do you think God allowed the Israelites to suffer through the first three plagues then? What was God’s purpose for protecting the Israelites during this plague? What can we can learn from this, both the fact that they suffered the first three and the fact they were immune to the fourth one?
What is the significance that not one of the the livestock of the Israelites died?
Did this miracle convince Pharaoh? Why do you think it didn’t? What justifications might he have made for why the Israelites weren’t affected?
1. God doesn’t change His request at all. He is as firm and resolved as ever. He is a rock that will not change.
2. He threatens Pharaoh. Obviously threatening in and of itself is not bad since God did it. We should note that God had both the authority to do it and the right to do it. In addition, He had the power to do it and the plan to follow through. Finally, He had the reason to do it and it was a moral one. From this we can learn that if we follow these same principles threatening can be used with care. Examples? A parent to tell their kids they will be disciplined if they disobey. A boss telling an employee frankly that he will be fired if he breaks the company rules. A government who tells its citizens the death penalty will be applied to murderers. All of these are cases of people with authority and with the right motivation using their power properly. If parents threaten to abandon their children or do other sinful things if they disobey, this is wrong. Or if a boss continually threatens his employees with firing for perhaps not doing favors for him or not being willing to work extra overtime (above the country’s requirements) this would be wrong. Or if it is an idle threat because then it is like a lie. Or if a government threatens its citizens to punish them to do something wrong this would be wrong as well. God does give authority to certain institutions and as long as that authority is used correctly we should not be afraid to use it.
3. There was another difference with this plague from the first three to highlight the fact that it was miracle, that He was responsible for it, that He could control it, and that it was not a coincidence. This time He said that the people of Israel in the land of Goshen would not have to go through this plague. There would be an invisible line something like an electrical force field fence keeping dogs in the yard between Goshen and the rest of Egypt. Pestilence would descend on the Egyptians’ livestock, but not on the Israelites. In addition to proving again His power, this miracle demonstrated God’s love for the Israelites. Although He didn’t save them out of all the plagues (it doesn’t appear), He did deliver them from the worst ones. This is very typical of God’s nature in the Bible. Can you give other examples where God saved His people from destruction (Lot, Noah, Rahab, Daniel and his friends, Rapture)? Why did God protect the Israelites from this plague? I think there are many reasons. One was to show Pharaoh clearly that it wasn’t just a coincidence, but that God was in complete control of the plague.
But beyond that, it would have taught the Israelites through very real experiences God’s love and care for them. If they did have to go through all of the plagues they likely would have complained a lot more to Moses and Aaron, but seeing that they were delivered would have given them faith and confidence. We can also take an important lesson from this to apply today. That is that God does deal differently with us than He does with unbelievers. Praise the Lord for this. We will not be punished together along with unbelievers. God does not dole out wrath without regard to who receives it. Everything He does is carefully calculated and done with a plan. This means we don’t have to go through the worst of the punishments the world will face. We can be saved out. This is the essence of the salvation God offers. God doesn’t destroy the righteous along with the wicked. He is merciful and loving and we should enthusiastically take His offer if we want to escape judgment. Malachi 3:16-18. We should take note that God does treat the righteous and wicked differently, BUT it doesn’t mean that the righteous will never die in natural disasters or the like. It means that GENERALLY when God judges a group of people, He first removes the righteous from that group or at least spares them from the judgment.
4. Like many of the other plagues, this plague focuses on some of the Egyptians sacred objects of worship. Some of the Egyptian gods supposedly appeared with cow heads of took the form of a bull. Cows were even worshiped in some Egyptian cities. In this instance it is like God is killing two birds with one stone. Firstly, He is judging Egypt. Secondly, He is proving the inferiority of the Egyptian gods and sacred symbols. Even their gods cannot defend themselves from God’s plagues. This should have shown the Egyptians who the real God was.
5. Not even one of the Israelites’ livestock died. You would expect with that many cattle and sheep raised by two million people, that at least one would have died for SOME reason, even if not because of the pestilence. But none of them died. This in itself was a miracle that not one of all of those cattle died.
6. Pharaoh sent people to check out the Israelites’ livestock, naturally hoping that many had died so they could justify their own religion. However, although he didn’t find the evidence he hoped to, he still refused to believe. This is typical of the hard hearted. People who are hard hearted towards God will not change no matter what evidence or proof they see. They search and search for any proof to validate their own beliefs and normally can cherry pick the evidence they like. But even if all the evidence is against them, they will find more reasons not to believe. Pharaoh’s heart was once again hardened to the truth, and he did not let the people go.
II. The plague of boils (8-17)
Why throw dirt in the sky instead of just saying some words or using another way? (It seems in the Bible God liked His prophets using visible symbols such as Jeremiah shattering a clay pot to signify that Judah would be shattered. Basically it is a stronger teaching method.)
What was the difference between this and previous plagues (this was the first that targeted human health) directly? Why do you think there was this progression of severity?
What is significant about the magicians’ reaction to this plague? What does this show us about the power of their pagan religion?
What is different about how Pharaoh’s heart was hardened this time? (The Lord hardened it.)
Who hardened it previous times?
Is this fair? Wouldn’t God want Pharaoh to repent and relent? Why harden his heart so that would be impossible?
Why did God say He was launching these plagues against the Egyptians?
Why not kill them all immediately and be done with it?
1. I’ve noticed while reading a lot in the OT the past few months that God likes His prophets to use graphic symbols to teach His people. Jesus did this in many of His parables (He probably saw a person sowing seeds either right before His parable about the sower or not long before. He used fig trees, grape vines, mustard seeds, oil lamps, sheep, and shepherds in His parables). The prophets often did this, such as Jeremiah shattering the pot or God telling Jeremiah to observe the potter. Other examples included burying pots or eating scrolls, etc. In this case, and also with the flies, Moses throws dirt up in to the air. God then miraculously used this very dirt to turn into a fine dust which descended over the land and caused boils on people’s skin. This kind of visible symbol could show people clearly that this was a miracle from God and that Moses caused it to happen (through God’s power). It was a graphic symbol of God’s power. I guess the application we can get is for those of us who teach the word, using visual symbols is a good teaching tool. So I’m going to get some dirt out of a pot on the balcony and show you how Moses threw it to the sky…
2. This marked a progression in the severity of the plagues. It was the first one that targeted human health. And this is when things start to get really personal. You can deal with trouble to get water (especially if you are Pharaoh or the nobles you will just command others to get it for you), you can blockade your houses from the frogs, gnats and flies are a big nuisance and caused a lot of annoyances, but they didn’t do serious damage to people’s health. Cattle dying represent a loss of property. But boils on the skin go a step further. Now people are in very real pain, even in agony. Think back to Job. Review what Satan said to God before attacking Job’s health. This pain would prevent people from sleeping and working hard. They would cause 24/7 agony. God is escalating the plagues because Pharaoh simply won’t listen. All of the previous plagues had had little effect against Pharaoh personally since his slaves would deal with the problems (even fanning the flies off of him). But now, Pharaoh himself contracted boils. He couldn’t escape the results anymore.
3. Now we see the magicians again. Their plight is pitiful. No longer are they trying to show the power of their religion or convince Pharaoh that their gods are as powerful as YHWH. They are such pain that they cannot stand up (this could mean they could no longer perform their public duties). This verse serves to highlight the pathetic weakness of the Egyptian gods and religion, while showing the power of the true God. The magicians could not only not reverse this plague on others. They couldn’t even save themselves. In the end, this is the true state of all other beliefs. Those who believe in other religions will end up like the magicians. Preachers of these other religions can not only not save others, but they cannot even save themselves. This is also true of the demons. Although demons have some supernatural powers, they can’t save anyone from God’s judgment, and they themselves will be judged by God.
4. In the latter part of verse 11 we see that the boils were on ALL Egyptians. It is a subtle indicator that the boils were NOT on the Israelites. While even the most devout and high up believers of the Egyptian religion were struck with boils, even the most common Israelites were spared.
5. In verse 12, the normal refrain “And pharaoh’s heart was hardened.” is changed. This time it tells us that the Lord hardened Pharaoh’s heart. This should not come as a surprise. We already learned way back in chapter three that God would harden Pharaoh’s heart. But in between chapter 3 and chapter 9, we have seen something interesting. See for example 9:7, 8:32, 8:19, 8:15, 7:22, and 7:13. In each of these cases it either says that Pharaoh’s heart was hardened or that he hardened it. In other words, all the previous times, it was his own choice. It doesn’t appear that God took any special action to harden Pharaoh’s heart before now. What can we learn from this?
We learn that Pharaoh was already hard hearted and stubborn. He is responsible for his own decisions and his own response to God’s commands. He himself chose to disobey God’s command and rebel time and time again. It is not like Pharaoh desperately sought to obey God and save His people and God laughed at Him and hardened his heart. It is not like in his mind he wanted to say to the Israelites “Go!”, but only “No!” came out. In English we have an idiom. That is. He made his bed. Now he needs to lie in it. In other words, he got into this situation by his own pig headedness. At this point when God does harden his heart it is only after repeated self-hardenings. We should take a warning from this. What warning? The warning is that if you willfully sin or reject God’s commands many times, you might cross a line of no return. You might harden yourself to the point where you are unable to turn back to God again. We learn of similar judicial hardening in Romans 3. See also Hebrews 6:4-6 for a warning to believers. We