The plagues of Egypt show us a glimpse of the sinfulness of sin, and warn human beings to not strive with their Maker. Pharaoh had pretended to humble himself after the hail and fire had been stopped, but he was not sincere; and so the plague of locusts was threatened next. This would be much worse than any invasion of locusts which had ever been known before. When Pharaoh’s attendants heard this, they begged him to come to terms with Moses before the whole land of Egypt was destroyed. Thereupon, Pharaoh decided to allow only the Hebrew men to go and worship the Lord – falsely pretending that this was all that they had desired from the beginning. He swore that they would not take their families with them; for he wanted to ensure that the men would return, by retaining their wives and children in captivity. Alas! Satan does all he can to the servants of God from bringing their children to serve the Lord also. The Bible’s counsel is to “remember thy Creator in the days of thy youth,” but Satan’s counsel is to keep children in a state of slavery to sin and the world.
The Lord would not accept anything less than the terms that He Himself had proposed: a complete liberation of every Hebrew slave. So he told Moses to stretch out his hand, and the locusts came upon the land the next morning. Who is able to stand before the great God? The locusts covered the face of the earth, and ate up all the vegetation – even the remaining crops that had not been damaged by the hail. Here we see how vain it is for us to spend all our time and ener-gy upon earthly food which may be so easily destroyed; rather, let us labor to ob-tain the bread which endures to eternal life.
Ironically, in the midst of this plague, Pharaoh begged Moses and Aaron to pray for him. Some people, when they are in distress, seek the help of other people’s prayers; but they have no mind to pray to God themselves. Thereby, they show that they have no true love for the Lord, nor any delight in communion with Him. Pharaoh only desired to get rid of the plague of locusts, and not the plague of a hard heart – which was far more dangerous. And when the locusts were removed, it should have encouraged Pharaoh to repent; for it clearly showed that the Lord is ready to forgive, and swift to show mercy! The goodness of God ought to lead sinners to repentance. But sadly, Pharaoh returned again to his resolution to not let the Hebrews go.
The plague of darkness was brought upon Egypt without warning, and it was a dreadful plague indeed. It was darkness that was so thick that it could be felt. It astonished and terrified the Egyptians; and it continued for three days and three nights, although it would have seemed like six long nights all in one. Pharaoh certainly had plenty of time now to consider his ways, if only he would have made use of it. Spiritual darkness is spiritual bondage; for while Satan blinds men’s eyes so that they do not see, he also binds their hands and feet so that they do not work for God or move toward heaven. So they sit in darkness.
The most moving and interesting portion of the description of this last plague is the simple declaration that at the same time there was thick darkness over all the land of Egypt, “all the children of Israel had light in their dwellings.” At this time, who would not have preferred the poor cottage of a Hebrew slave over the fine palace of an Egyptian? What a beautiful instance of the tender compassion and distinguishing love of our heavenly Father; and how often it is manifested, even in the present day! In times of great commercial trial, or of dark and dreary afflictions, the houses of unbelievers are filled with darkness and consternation. The earthly light that guided their course has failed them, and they do not know where to turn for comfort. On the other hand, no matter what kind of external darkness may be brought upon the children of God, they have “light in their dwellings!” They have the lantern of the written Word, the lamp of the Father’s unfailing love, and the light of the Sun of righteousness – all shining around them with calmness and hope! Why should they despond? All is dark on the outside, but all is bright within. And although there may be momentary exceptions and transient clouds, their light shall continue until the joy and peace of the Christian’s home on earth is exchanged for the far brighter light, the holier joy, and the more enduring peace which awaits him in the many mansions of his Father’s house!
Pharaoh again renewed his negotiations with Moses and Aaron. He now consented for them to take their families, but they must leave their cattle behind. Moses refused to agree to his terms; and Pharaoh broke off the discussion abruptly, and resolved to discuss it no more. In fact, he told Moses to never come into his presence again, upon pain of death. How ridiculous for him to threaten to kill the man who was armed with so much Divine power that he had called down total ruin upon his whole nation in the space of a short month! What an awful picture of the hardness of the human heart in its natural fallen state!
Blessed Lord! I will record Your praises, and I will speak of all the signs and wonders which You have done as You worked out the redemption of the souls of all Your people from the place of spiritual bondage! You have subdued and scattered all our spiritual enemies with Your mighty hand. Lord, may we always remember that it is not by any might or power in ourselves that You have brought us out; but by it is only by Your right hand, Your own arm, and the light of Your face. Truly, salvation belongs unto You, O Lord; and Your blessing is upon Your people! Amen.
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