Exodus 8:20-32 Flies
Each plague escalates in it’s impact on the people. But from now on, the plagues will affect only the Egyptians, God is going to set apart the Israelites from the rest of the plagues. This underscores the fact that God set the Israelites apart from the other nations, but it also should serve to let Pharaoh see that there is a divine hand behind the plagues that can direct them. If Pharaoh was really god incarnate on earth, he should have been able to do something about the plagues, but he couldn’t. God is showing Pharaoh that God is Sovereign and Pharaoh is not. So many of the new agers today spout off words about how they are so in control of their lives, but the fruit of their lives testifies otherwise about their control. We kid ourselves, and it is only when we finally realize that God is God and we are not, that our lives begin to make sense.
Exodus 8:20 And the LORD said to Moses, “Rise early in the morning and stand before Pharaoh as he comes out to the water. Then say to him, “Thus says the LORD: “Let My people go, that they may serve Me. Or else, if you will not let My people go, behold I will send swarms of flies on you and your servants, on your people and into your houses. The houses of the Egyptians shall be full of swarms of flies, and also the ground on which they stand. And in that day I will set apart the land of Goshen, in which My people dwell, that no swarms of flies shall be there, in order that you may know that I am the LORD in the midst of the land. I will make a difference between My people and your people. Tomorrow this sign shall be.
There are some truths to consider. The Israelites were God’s favorites, and they still had to live through some pretty horrific plagues, lice, frogs, blood, etc. Sometimes being a child of God does not stop the troubles from coming, it just means that we walk through the troubles with God by our side. But there are other times when being a child of God insulates us from what bugs others. Pharaoh and his people are going to be bugged big time. But they are going to observe that the Israelites will not have the problem of flies. It has to indicate a divine hand, because we know that no matter how careful we are, when we open our doors in the summer flies get in. These flies are going to land on the people of Egypt, their floors, their houses, their things. For the fastidious Egyptians, and the priests who are so concerned about purity, this is going to be a major problem.
It is true, when God comes into our lives, He makes a difference in them. We are set apart from the world and Egypt is symbolic of the world. We become people who walk IN the World, but not OF the World. We are going to see Pharaoh try and convince Moses to go a bit out to sacrifice, but not stray too far from the world. I think you remember how Abram and the other patriarchs tended to go where God told them, but to stay at the border of the land. That always ended up getting them into trouble. God wants us to whole-heartedly follow Him, not hang around on the edge.
You may notice in your Bibles that the words “of flies” is in italics. That is because those words are added to make the passage make more sense. Sometimes the words are accurate, other times they aren’t. In this case we aren’t certain exactly what the swarms are, but it is assumed flies of some sort. But what kind of flies? It could have been the scarab – also called the dung beetle because the scarabs would roll up their eggs into cocoons made of dung, and then the babies would emerge from these balls of dung, so it represented life. The scarab beetle had mandibles that could saw through wood and destroy property much like a termite. The creator god amon-ra had the head of a scarab.
It might be the gadfly, a blood sucking fly that tended to hang around the eyes and caused a lot of blindness. And we, by now, have seen that the Egyptians and the Pharaoh were spiritually blind. Others say it could be a dog fly which fastened itself to the human body. One thought crossed my mind is that beelzebub was called the lord of the flies, so there is an element of satan in this too.
Sometimes I wonder how dumb Pharaoh was. When he saw all the signs and wonders, didn’t he figure out that he was not god? Didn’t he realize that something was nudging him to make a decision. Moses has come through. But this is part of God’s plan to restore what satan meant for harm. When the Egyptians finally walk out of Egypt, they will walk out wealthy, having received 400 years of back pay for their slavery.
Please note that today people are acting as dumb as Pharaoh. God is showing that He is true to His word, the Bible, and people are still choosing to ignore the prominent signs and wonders that are here on earth, they cling as tenaciously as these flies to their sins, to their false beliefs, figuring that if they believe it hard enough God will change His mind. God will not change. We can choose not to believe in gravity, but if we step off of a building, we will fall to the ground regardless of our beliefs. People could save themselves a lot of grief by accepting God at His word.
Exodus 8:24-25 And the LORD did so. Thick swarms of flies came into the house of Pharaoh, into his servants’ houses, and into all the land of Egypt. The land was corrupted because of the swarms of flies. Then Pharaoh called for Moses and Aaron, and said, “Go, sacrifice to your God in the land.”
I guess the flies bugged Pharaoh enough that he now wants to play “Let’s make a deal” with God. This is a game I think we all attempt to play with God, but God does not play Let’s make a deal. He knows what is best for us and guides us to that. The land was corrupted by the swarms. Remember flies are dirty creatures that spread disease, and also makes it impossible for the priests to maintain their “purity”. So the first deal Pharaoh tries to make is to allow the people to sacrifice to your God (notice it is your God), in the land. Pharaoh is not acknowledging God as God for himself. We fool ourselves, I sure did, thinking that I could pick the god I wanted to worship. That all gods are the same, it didn’t matter, but that the Christian God was not my god. How wrong I was, God is God is God. We can pretend not, God won’t force Himself on us, but there is only one God. Pharaoh wants Moses to stay in Egypt (in the flesh, in sin, in the world) and do the motions of sacrifice. But that is not what God has called Moses or us to do. God wants a total commitment, we can’t give ourselves halfway to God, he wants us all. He will take us, clean us up, and help us, but He can’t do that unless we are willing to die to ourselves, to die to our flesh.
Exodus 8:26-27 And Moses said,”It is not right to do so, for we would be sacrificing the abomination of the Egyptians to the LORD our God. If we sacrifice the abomination of the Egyptians before their eyes, then will they not stone us? We will go three days’ journey into the wilderness and sacrifice to the LORD our God as He will command us.”
Three days journey, Jesus was in the tomb for three days. God’s plan was not to have the Israelites leave for three days and then come back, no, God was planning on total liberty for His people. But first God wanted to show how unreasonable Pharaoh was being, that He would not allow this short respite in work. The three days into the wilderness is a way of separating oneself from the World. Remember when Joseph’s family first came into Egypt to escape famine, Goshen was given to them as a good place to raise sheep. But shepherds were an abomination to the Egyptians, they wanted nothing to do with shepherds. It was God’s way of keeping the Israelites from commingling with the Egyptians and becoming corrupted by their ways. God used Egypt to preserve the Israelites, even though their life was hard. But now God is going to separate His people for Himself, and the first step was to separate the people from the plague on Egypt. It serves as a not so subtle reminder to the Israelites that sin stinks (the frogs), and that there is no good reason to spend time with the Egyptians. Swatting flies is a good deterrent.
Exodus 8:28 So Pharaoh said, “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. Intercede for me.
Pharaoh is still trying to get Moses to compromise. Satan will do that. How many of us have made a resolution, and then the next thing we know we are tempted to make a tiny compromise? Over time those tiny compromises add up. Moses will not bite into Pharaoh’s plan for compromise. Notice, Pharaoh has told Moses, “Intercede for me.” It is a command. I think Pharaoh is a bit above himself, thinking he can order God around. God may choose to remove a plague, but it is not because Pharaoh ordered him to do so.
Exodus 8:29 Then Moses said, “Indeed I am going out from you, and I will entreat the LORD, that the swarms of flies may depart tomorrow from Pharaoh, from his servants, and from his people. But let Pharaoh not deal deceitfully anymore in not letting the people go to sacrifice to the LORD.
And of course we know the outcome of this entreaty by Moses. I think Moses really wanted Pharaoh to deal honorably. Remember, Moses was raised with this man, they probably played and studied together as children. I am certain Moses would rather have Pharaoh make the right decision, to repent, and save himself from all this distress.
Exodus 8:30-32 So Moses went out from Pharaoh and entreated the LORD. And the LORD did according to the word of Moses. He removed the swarms of flies from Pharaoh, from his servants, and from his people. Not one remained. But Pharaoh hardened his heart at this time also, neither would he let the people go.
Notice, who hardened Pharaoh’s heart – Pharaoh did. There was no attitude of thankfulness for a plague removed, there was no gratitude to God. Pharaoh just hardened his heart.
Notice something that is missing from this plague. NO ROD. The first three plagues were brought about using Aaron’s rod. Here it is speaking forth. There is also a progression. Plagues 1-3 dealt with the people’s comfort. Plagues 4-6 their possessions, and then the last three is death and destruction. In Revelation the plagues also progress in severity. It is as if God is holding back His hand, wanting people to repent. But if they don’t then He increases the pressure to change. Kind of like when I deal with my kids when they are disobedient. The first repercussions might be a word in season, but if the behavior persists it results in loss of privileges.
I am hoping you have a great Friday. We are having a Thanksgiving Pot Luck before Bible study, and I am looking forward to the fellowship.
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