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.
God was a long way from being finished with Pharaoh. He knew that it would take much hardship for the king to let the Israelites go. As has been stated earlier, the Egyptians worshipped their cattle. The fifth plague showed God’s power over this object of their worship. He sent a fatal disease upon the cattle that killed vast numbers of them. Not one of the cattle of the Hebrews died. That also showed the power of God that He could be selective of what died and what lived. “But the heart of Pharaoh became hard, and he did not let the people go.”
God instructed Moses to take ashes from a furnace and scatter them toward heaven. They became fine dust that settled upon the Egyptians and caused boils to break out on them. That sixth plague of ulcerous sores formed on man and beast, but still did not convince Pharaoh to free the Israelites.
For the seventh plague, God sent a giant hail storm upon the land. The people had an option that would prevent damage to themselves and to their cattle. Moses instructed them to bring everything inside with them and they would be protected. Everything and everybody left outside would be subject to the storm. Also the land of Goshen would be spared.
The hailstorm and its destruction really got Pharaoh’s attention. He called for Moses and said, “I have sinned this time. The Lord is righteous, and my people and I are wicked.” After the hail stopped, he again refused to release the children of Israel.
Locusts are destructive creatures. Before sending the eighth plague, Moses informed Pharaoh, that God would send locusts to cover the land and eat everything that the hail had not destroyed. At that point, Pharaoh’s servants confronted him. They stated, “How long shall this man be a snare to us? Let the men go, that they may serve the Lord their God. Do you not yet know that Egypt is destroyed?”
Pharaoh proposed to allow only the men to, “Go, serve the Lord your God.” Moses refused to go without everyone and their flocks and herds. He and Aaron were then driven out of Pharaoh’s presence.
After the locusts came, Pharaoh again stated that he had, “sinned against the Lord your God and against you.” At his pleading, Moses asked God to remove the locusts from the land. Once they were gone, Pharaoh did not free the Israelites.
God sent a ninth plague against Pharaoh. Darkness so thick that it could be felt was sent over Egypt for three days. This was an affront to their sun god, Ra. Again, the land of Goshen was spared. They had light.
The king again tried to compromise with God and Moses. He offered to let everyone go, but leave their cattle behind. With Moses’ refusal before him, Pharaoh said, “Get away from me! Take heed to yourself and see my face no more! For in the day you see my face you shall die!”