During the 2022 Oscar Awards, emcee Chris Rock made a joke about actor Will Smith’s wife’s bald head (due to alopecia). When his wife became upset about the joke, Will Smith walked on stage, slapped Chris Rock, and told him not to mention her name again. Although I have no interest in movie actors, it has been hard not to hear about this on just about every radio program and news report. The odd thing is that later in the program, Will Smith still received an Oscar award despite his violent action during the program. This caused some to think that he was “too big” to get in trouble.
Have you ever been wronged by someone and then wondered if the person would get away with the sin? Or you might wonder if God was going to overlook the sin and never address it in this lifetime. Sometimes it may seem that way.
In today’s chapter, we will see that God was well aware of the wrongs done against His people. And He was well aware of the idolatry of the Egyptians and the hard heart of their leader. Did God let them get away with their sin? Let us examine what happened in Exodus 9.
- Plague 5 – Livestock Pestilence
[Read Exodus 9:1-7.]
a. God’s demand (1-3)
The Lord told Pharaoh to let His people go again. But promised that if Pharaoh refused, he would send a severe pestilence on the Egyptian cattle, horses, donkeys, and sheep.
What is a pestilence or murrain?
“Pestilence is a deadly disaster, usually a disease, that affects an entire community. Pestilence is contagious, virulent, and devastating. For example, the Black Plague in Europe that killed over thirty percent of the population during the late Middle Ages was a pestilence” (Gotquestions.org).
In this case, God’s promised plague would be a pestilence/murrain that affected all the animals in the fields of Egypt.
b. God’s discrimination (4)
But God also told Pharaoh that He would spare the Israelites’ livestock from the pestilence. This would show to Pharaoh the difference between those who serve idols and those who serve the Lord.
c. God’s judgment (5-6)
ILLUS. Tomorrow, our cat Lilly has an appointment with the veterinarian in Willard. This is an appointment that we are looking forward to.
Surprisingly, the Lord made an appointment with Pharaoh for the judgment. Why did he do this? He wanted Pharaoh to know that what happened was not random chance but something that the Lord sovereignly decreed. It would show him that the Lord was in charge and not Pharaoh.
The next day, all of the livestock in Egypt died. But none of the livestock owned by Israelites died.
What was God trying to tell the Egyptians?
To the Egyptians, “many animals were sacred, particularly … the bull which represented the god Apis or Re, and the cow which represented Hathor, the goddess of love, beauty, and joy. Hathor was depicted in the form of a woman with the head (or sometimes only the horns) of a cow. Also Khnum was a ram-god” (Hannah 123).
God was showing the Egyptians that the Lord was the one, true God and that their idols were unable to help them.
d. Pharaoh’s response (7)
After suffering much loss in Egypt, Pharaoh sent messengers to see how Israel was doing. Sure enough, none of their livestock had been harmed. As promised, God had protected their livestock.
I kind of wonder if Pharaoh didn’t rustle some of their livestock at this time.
However, despite the tremendous show of the Lord’s power, Pharaoh’s heart became hard and he refused to let the people go.
- Plague 6 – Boils
[Read Exodus 9:8-12.]
a. God’s command (8-9)
The Lord told Moses to take ashes from a furnace and throw them into the air in front of Pharaoh. “The original [word] for ‘furnace’ signifies also a ‘lime-kiln’ or ‘brick-kiln;’ and as these were among the instruments of oppression to the Israelites, it was fitting that they should be converted to the means of chastisement to the Egyptians, for God oftentimes makes men to recognize their sin in their punishment” (Bush 113).
When Moses threw the ashes into the air, God said that they would become a fine dust that would cause boils to break out on people and animals.
“As one commentator says, ‘This was a poetic justice.’ They would have been illustrative of Pharoah’s harsh treatment on the Israelites. Pharaoh forced the Israelites to slave over the brick making furnaces. Hard long, excruciating days with soot covering the body and pure exhaustion, it was time for God to exact that on Pharoah… causing the furnace dust to create a far more physical problem—festering boils!” (Free Sunday School Lessons)
What are boils?
Boils are enflamed sores that bubble up on the skin. You may recall that Satan afflicted Job with boils.
“Job’s body is said to have been covered with itchy, irritating sores which made his face unrecognizable, Job 2:12, caused continual burning pain (Job 3:24; 6:4), and which were infested with maggots (Job 7:5) and exhaled a nauseous [stench] (Job 19:17)” (ISBE).
ILLUS. During junior high, I spent an afternoon swimming without sun screen and got a very bad sunburn which included blisters on my nose and back. My skin burned and the blisters eventually burst and dripped down my body. If boils are worse than that, they must be very bad.
b. God’s judgment (10-11)
Without warning Pharaoh, God sent Moses to cast the ashes into the air in front of the hard-hearted ruler. As the dust settled, boils broke out on people and animals. Even the magicians were affected by the boils and were unable to help their leader.
“The Egyptians, fearfully aware of epidemics, worshiped Sekhmet, a lion-headed goddess with alleged power over disease; Sunu, the pestilence god; and Isis, goddess of healing. Yet these deities could not deliver the people and animals from their torments” (Hannah 123).
God was once again showing Egypt who the one, true God was and is.
c. Pharaoh’s response (12)
Despite going through the painful boils of God’s judgment, Pharaoh refused to listen to Moses and Aaron. God hardened his heart just as predicted.
- Plague 7 – Severe Hail
[Read Exodus 9:13-21.]
a. God’s command (13-14)
The Lord told Moses to get up early to speak to Pharaoh. But this time, he would not only repeat his command to let His people go, but would also speak straight to Pharaoh’s hard heart.
To this point, Pharaoh had been resisting the Lord. The plagues were merely inconveniences, but now God would do something that would get his attention and cause him to repent … even if for only a few moments.
b. God’s reasoning (15-17)
The Lord told Pharaoh that He could have destroyed the stubborn ruler with a pestilence and be done with him. But he did not do this because He had a purpose for him and the plagues. Through Pharaoh’s stubborn rebellion, the Lord’s power would be seen in Pharaoh and be heard around the world.
This would be possible because Pharaoh continued to exalt himself, fight against God’s people, and not let them go. Because of this, God would send another plague that would demolish the land of Egypt.
Why did God reason with Pharaoh?
Doesn’t it seem odd that God would not only warn Pharaoh about the coming plagues and also reason with him? From our perspective, Pharaoh has been given too many chances already. Six plagues have been unleashed against him and he still refused to let God’s people go. Enough is enough.
We know that God is merciful and wants people to repent. But in this case, I think Pharaoh was a lost cause. God was not reasoning with him to bring him to repentance, but to show him over and over again the reasons he was guilty and was being judged by God.
c. God’s warning (18-21)
Once again, the Lord announced when the plague would begin. At the same time the next day, He would send a heavy hail storm unlike anything Egypt had ever faced. The Lord promised that any animal or person in the field would be killed by the hail.
Where did these animals come from after the pestilence?
“Skeptics and critics of the Bible like to point to Exodus 9:6 and 20 as an example of a contradiction in the Bible. However, there is a reasonable explanation for how the Egyptians could have their livestock destroyed and then possess livestock again in the same chapter. … There could have been a significant amount of time in between some of the plagues. … They could have imported (or forcefully acquired) animals from neighboring countries. The animals could also have been taken from the Israelites, whose livestock were spared from the fifth plague. The Israelites were slaves, after all” (GotQuestions).
After six plagues, some of the Egyptians were beginning to listen. They heard what Moses said and brought their livestock and workers in from the fields. It makes me wonder if some of them (like Nebuchadnezzar or the people of Nineveh) truly turned from their idols to the Lord.
d. God’s judgment (22-26)
[Read Exodus 9:22-26.]
At God’s command, Moses stretched out his hand toward the sky to call hail on Egypt. Huge chunks of hail mixed with fire fell from the sky and decimated the land where the Egyptians lived. Any person, animal, or crop left in the field was struck by the hail storm.
What did this show to the idolatrous people of Egypt?
“Clearly the abilities of several Egyptian gods were again being challenged. Nut, the sky goddess, was not able to forestall the storm; and Osiris, the god of crop fertility, could not maintain the crops in this hailstorm; nor could Set, the storm god, hold back this storm” (Hannah 123).
But God’s people were not under judgment at this point. As Egypt was being decimated by the hail and fire, the Israelites were safe and unaffected by the storm.
e. Pharaoh’s response (27-35)
[Read Exodus 9:27-35.]
This plague seemed to have a profound affect on Pharaoh. He actually seemed to repent this time. He admitted his sin, that the Lord was righteous, and that he and his people were wicked. Then he asked Moses to call on the Lord to stop the terrible storm. He even promised to let the people go.
Moses responded to Pharaoh. He promised to ask the Lord to end the storm. But he knew (finally believing what the Lord has said repeatedly) that Pharaoh would not keep his promise.
With half of the Egyptian crops destroyed, Moses left the city to intercede for Pharaoh. He prayed and the Lord caused the storm to cease.
Sadly, as soon as the storm was over, Pharaoh once again hardened his heart and changed his mind. So did his servants. Despite his former promise, this hard-hearted Pharaoh would not let God’s people go.
Does it seem to you that the Lord is letting Pharaoh get away with his sin? Does it seem that the Lord will never put a stop to this arrogant king’s stubborn rebellion against God?
Or do you see God’s plan amidst the plagues and Pharaoh’s poor responses?
In this chapter, the Lord did two things: (1) He showed Egypt that their idols were unable to protect them from the Lord’s powerful plagues. (2) He showed Pharaoh the reason why He even allowed the ruler to continue living. He was not impressed or distressed about Pharaoh’s hard heart. Instead, the Lord used his stubbornness to show the world His power over the once powerful nation of Egypt.
“Be not deceived. God is not mocked. For whatsoever a man soweth that shall he also reap.”
I would like you to recognize that God is in control of your life as well. First, you cannot exalt yourself above God and get away with your sin. Pharaoh, the great leader of Egypt, could not escape from God’s judgment and neither can you. Second, if someone has sinned against you, the Lord will take care of it in His time. Leave it to God. While you are waiting for God to do His work, pray that God will bring that person to repentance. But if He does not, know that God is the righteous Judge who will take care of each situation in His perfect timing.
• “What is the meaning of pestilence in the Bible?” as viewed at https://www.gotquestions.org/pestilence-in-the-Bible.html on 4/2/2022.
• “How could there be livestock in Exodus 9:20 when all of Egypt’s livestock had been destroyed by the plague in Exodus 9:6?” as viewed at https://www.gotquestions.org/Exodus-plagues-Egypt-livestock.html on 4/2/2022.
• George Bush, Notes on Exodus, (Minneapolis: James & Klock, reprint 1976), 111-120.
• F. B. Meyer, Studies in Exodus, (Grand Rapids: Kregel Publications, 1978), 122-23.
• John D. Hannah, “Exodus” in Bible Knowledge Commentary Old Testament, (USA: SP Publications, 1985), 123-24.
• “Boil” in International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, as viewed at https://www.blueletterbible.org/search/dictionary/viewtopic.cfm?topic=IT0001592 on 4/2/2022.
• “The Plagues of Egypt: Lesson 9: The Plague of Boils,” as viewed at https://www.freesundayschoollessons.org/biblical-theology/the-plagues-of-egypt-lesson-9-the-plague-of-boils/ on 4/2/2022.