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Wednesday, April 20, 2011
God to Pharaoh: Listen up, or else
The Seventh Plague (John Martin, 1823)
Sometimes God gives us a tap on the shoulder in order to get our attention.When that doesn’t work, perhaps a poke in the ribs…One way or another, when God says things like “Let my people go,” it’s time to listen up.
At least that’s what the Pharaoh found out when one
Exodus-encouraging plague after another began closing
in.First there was blood.Not just in the arteries where it belongs, but in the very artery of the nation – the Nile River…Then there were frogs.One or two of them might seem cute from a human perspective, but loads of them leaping into salad bowls could take slimy to a whole new level.The gnats that followed were no less annoying (think black-fly season in the Adirondacks).
Next came the swarms of lions, tigers, bears and other such oh-my beasts.After that (for those who were still standing), came disease.For the livestock, a “plague of pestilence” – for the humans, outbreaks loosely translated as “boils…”Then came the hail – the worst Egypt had ever seen (could be the fire that it was intermingled with).Locusts with aptitude (appetite plus attitude) were not far behind.Darkness that mocked Ra’s sunny powers then blanketed whatever was left of Egypt.
Still the Pharaoh wouldn’t relent – exhibiting a stubborn resistance that inevitably resulted in the Passover saga.When the first nine plagues went unheeded, God resorted to the tenth and final one. Exodus 11:1-12:36 tells us that the firstborn of every Egyptian would then be killed, but the Israelite offspring would be spared.How so? God would “pass over” the Israelite homes that were marked with the blood of their sacrificial lambs.
Exodus 12:1-11 gives specific instructions for how and when these lambs are to be sacrificed. The Exodus and Passover stories therefore greatly overlap, as do the Passover and Holy Week stories.