The Egyptians were a religious people. The problem was that they worshipped the wrong gods instead of the true God. Because of Pharaoh’s refusal to grant the request of Moses and Aaron, God sent a series of plagues against him and his people. These plagues attacked the deity of those so-called gods.
Among the gods that the Egyptians worshipped was the Nile River. After the second meeting with Pharaoh, God instructed Moses to return to the king and inform him that he would strike the waters of the river and all of the other rivers, streams, ponds and other water containers and turn the water into blood. This bloody water continued for seven days before clearing. Because of the bloody water all of the fish died and the waters stank. Pharaoh still would not let the Israelites go.
The next plague that the Lord used against Pharaoh was frogs coming out of the river—another affront to their river god. Frogs invaded the houses and everything in them. This was too much for Pharaoh. Or was it? He called Moses and asked that they entreat the Lord to take the frogs away and, “I will let the people go, that they may sacrifice to the Lord.”
In order to further show the power of God, Moses allowed Pharaoh to set the time for the frogs’ removal. He said, “Tomorrow.” Accordingly, the frogs died the next day and the land stank again. “But when Pharaoh saw that there was relief, he hardened his heart and did not heed them…”
Lice were and still are an abomination to people. The Egyptian priests kept themselves clean and shaven to prevent lice infestations from defiling their idol worship. Imagine how the people felt when the dust of the ground was turned into lice. The magicians had been able through some means to imitate the first two plagues, but failed to duplicate the lice. They stated to Pharaoh, “This is the finger of God.” Again he refused to let the people go.
The fourth plague to happen to Egypt was an invasion of flies. One fly can be a major annoyance, but imagine swarms of them everywhere with no way of escaping or destroying them. Again, Pharaoh relented and said that the people could go sacrifice, but to stay in the land.
Moses pointed out that would not be acceptable because, “we would be sacrificing the abomination of the Egyptians to the Lord our God.” The animals that the Israelites would be sacrificing were considered sacred by the Egyptians.
Pharaoh then 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.” As before, when the plague was lifted, Pharaoh refused to let the Israelites go.