Scripture: Then the LORD said to Moses, “Go in to Pharaoh, for I have hardened his heart and the heart of his servants, that I may show these signs of mine among them, and that you may tell in the hearing of your son and of your grandson how I have dealt harshly with the Egyptians and what signs I have done among them, that you may know that I am the LORD.” Exodus 10:1-2 ESV
Observation: The eighth plague will be the second of a one-two punch. A swarm of locusts, whose extent the Egyptians had never seen, will ravish the new crops that had surfaced since the hail storm. And Moses delivers a similar message to the prior seven plagues: let my people go to serve me. But this time, he first conveys God’s question: “How long will you refuse to humble yourself before me?” (10:3). Not waiting for a response, Moses prophesies that the locusts will consume their crops and infest their houses and summarily departs with Aaron (10:4-6).
Exasperated with Pharaoh, his magicians then reason with him in the form of two questions that bookend their plea to let the Hebrew men go and serve Yahweh: “How long shall this man be a snare to us? and “Do you not yet understand that Egypt is ruined?” (10:7) So presumptuous Pharaoh summons Moses and Aaron to negotiate the extent of God’s command. But Moses firmly reiterates the stipulations: all God’s people will go. Foolishly succumbing to his pride, Pharaoh then threatens them by swearing on Yahweh’s name if he would ever let all the Israelites leave to worship their God—as if he were in control.
The negotiation nonsense is over. Yahweh tells Moses to stretch out his hand over Egypt, and an east wind will blow all that day and night and usher in the locusts. As predicted, they arrive the next day, consume all the crops, and swarm through all the Eqyptian homes. So, as with the hail, Pharaoh superficially confesses he has sinned and pleads for forgiveness, that Moses might pray to Yahweh and remove the locusts. As before, Moses obliges, the plague ends, and Pharaoh reneges (10:12-20).
Takeaway: Ironically, 400 years earlier, Yahweh elevated Jacob to the governor of Egypt to oversee the distribution of stored grain during a seven-year drought that devasted all their crops. Here, lacking the historical knowledge of God’s favor, this Pharaoh arrogantly treats Yahweh and his people contemptuously. And the consequence is a curse that reverses the earlier blessing. At the hand of God, through the spoken word of Pharaoh’s adopted brother, Moses, locusts consume the remaining grain in Egypt (but presumably not in Goshen).
So what is the point for you and me? Tell his story. Before God sends Moses to Pharaoh, he commands Moses to tell the next generation about these signs that humbled Pharaoh so that they would know that “I am the LORD” (verses 1-2 above). Sadly, just as the Eqyptians failed to remind the next generation of the Hebrew God, so would the Israelites, which would lead to a second exile in Babylon. And it is no different for us. If we fail to tell our children and grandchildren our God-story, they may never come to know him. But if we are diligent, his blessings will flow to the next generation. And they, too, will be set free of the tyranny of sin to go and serve him.
Prayer: Father God, we thank you for those who risked life and limb through the centuries to preserve your story told in the written form of our Bible. Would you please help us read, mark, and digest Scripture and then “tell your story” to the next generation that our loved ones might come to know and serve you? Amen.
Rev. Gordon Green, M.Div., M.A. Counseling