How many of you study History in school? How many of you have use a History book? Did you know that we study History at church too? When we talk about stories from the Bible we are talking about real events that happened to real people who live a long time ago. We are talking about history!
Most of what we talk about happened before the History you study in school.
Like our story today. This happened long before Christopher Columbus, or George Washington.
Before I tell you more about what happened in history, I want to show you something that happened in the news just recently.
This man lives in Egypt and is mad about something that happened a long time ago. In fact he is mad at exactly the events we are going to talk about today.
This man is upset because the country of Egypt had some plagues, some terrible punishments, happen to them and those plagues destroyed much of their country.
So in March of 2014, this guy got so mad about the plagues that happened a long long time ago in Egypt that he is trying to sue Israel for lots of money to repay some of the damage.
Now let’s talk about what happened that made this guy so mad.
When our story takes place there was no California, there was no United States, and there was no America. What we call home was just a bunch of land that no one knew anything about.
In ancient times, when our story takes place, one of the most important places in the world was Egypt. Egypt had money and power and if you lived in Egypt you lived in one of the most powerful countries in the world.
Egypt at that time had a king, or a Pharaoh.
And since Egypt was a powerful city, if you were the king or the pharaoh of Egypt you had lots of power. In fact, you were one of the most powerful people in the whole world. Whatever you decided, happened. If you were the Pharaoh there was pretty much no one that would tell you “no”.
Not only that, but if you were the Pharaoh people believed that you were a living god. Everyone believed that your dad was a god, and after he died you were left in charge.
So not only were you in charge as a Pharaoh, but you were worshipped as a god. People held ceremonies every year in your honor. There were parades and festivals telling you how great you were. You could do no wrong. After all, you were a god.
Let’s go back a little bit and see…how many of you remember Moses?
God spoke to him through a burning bush and told him to go ask Pharaoh, the guy we just talked about, to let the Israelite slaves he was holding go.
And that is where we pick up the action in the Bible.
Afterward Moses and Aaron went to Pharaoh and said, “This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: ‘Let my people go, so that they may hold a festival to me in the wilderness.’ ” Exodus 5:1
So Moses does what God asked him to do at the burning bush. He goes to Pharaoh in Egypt and asks him to let the slaves go.
And you know what Pharaoh does?
Hahahaha! (like you are laughing)
Here is what he says:
Pharaoh said, “Who is the Lord, that I should obey him and let Israel go? I do not know the Lord and I will not let Israel go.” Exodus 5:2
Pharaoh tells Moses, ‘I don’t know who your god is. I’ve never even heard of him before. And you want me to listen to your God and let the slaves go?’
Pharaoh, who believes he is god in the flesh thinks it is absolutely ridiculous that Moses would ask him to let the slaves go so they can worship a god he has never heard of before.
You see in ancient Egypt there were lots of gods, and Pharaoh thought he knew about all of them. Not only that Pharaoh thought he was one of the most powerful gods.
Look at this:
These are just a few of the hundreds of Gods they had in Egypt.
You see the cow up on the top row.
That isn’t an accident.
They actually believed cows were sacred. They worshipped cows.
In fact, if you hurt or killed one you were in big trouble. You were probably thrown in prison and could even be put to death.
They believed certain cows were like gods. And you were not allowed to hurt them.
Just look at all these gods. They had one for everything. There were gods for preventing sickness and disease, there were gods for storms and evil. There were gods for crocodiles, children, the moon, and evil spirits. There were gods for the sun, the earth, and the air.
The more you learn about ancient Egypt, the more gods you find! There was a god for everything!
Pharaoh knew about all these Egyptian gods and respected and worshipped them all. Pharaoh was very serious about honoring them and was quick to punish anyone who didn’t obey them.
But when Moses walks in and announces to Pharaoh that a god he’s never heard of wants all the slaves in Egypt to go free Pharaoh isn’t that interested.
Not only is he not interested but he gets irritated at this request and makes the slaves work harder!
The slaves then talk to Moses and they say, ‘Moses, you are making the problem worse! You went and talked to Pharaoh and now our work is even harder than before!’
So Moses meets Pharaoh one morning, on his way to the Nile river.
Now before we talk about the Nile, I have question…
Right! It’s a desert.
This is what Egypt looked like. It was a dry and hot desert.
If you were put in the middle of a desert you couldn’t survive very long. There is no water to drink, nothing really grows in the desert, so there is no food to eat. And it is really really hot in the desert every single day.
In other words, the desert isn’t made to live in.
But one thing was different about Egypt.
Even though it was a desert, it had an amazing river running through it called the Nile river.
This river provided all the water Egypt needed to survive and to become an amazing city.
Without the Nile river Egypt would have been nothing but an empty desert with no people around. Because without water in the desert people can’t live. But since the Nile river was there the people of Egypt could use the water to drink and grow food. The Nile river provided a way for people to live in the desert…in Egypt! Egypt became what it was because of the Nile river.
And the people of Egypt knew the Nile was important. In fact, they loved the Nile so much that they worshipped it!
Here is an actual hymn they used to sing to the Nile!
We don’t have to read the whole thing, but just look at the first line, “Hail to thee, O Nile!”
They would actually sing to the water!
They were worshipping and praising a river!
As funny as it sounds to us, the people took the worship of the Nile very seriously.
In fact, they believed one of their gods was alive because of the Nile river.
This is Osiris. The god of the underworld. In ancient Egypt he was highly respected and worshipped. And they believed that he lived because of the Nile. They believed the Nile ran through his body.
All this to say, the Nile river was SUPER important to Egypt. It was their prized possession.
So one morning Moses meets Pharaoh, who is on his way to the Nile river.
And it’s time for a little competition.
Moses and Pharaoh are going to see which god is stronger. All the gods that Pharaoh and the people of Egypt worship, or the God of Moses, the God that we talk about every Sunday.
So Moses says to Pharaoh, because you will not listen to God and let the slaves go I am going to change the Nile river.
Moses holds out his rod over the water in the Nile and it changes to…blood!
Not only did Moses turn the Nile river to blood, but Moses also tells us in Exodus that the river started to stink, and all the fish in the river died.
The Nile river that everyone worshipped was now full of stinky blood and dead fish.
Pretty gross, huh?
Moses’s God, and our God, had insulted the power of the gods of the Nile river (like Osiris), by turning the river into blood.
So after a few days Pharaoh has enough and calls Moses back. The water in the Nile river turns back into normal water but Pharaoh isn’t ready to let the slaves go.
So this time Moses tells Pharaoh there are going to be frogs everywhere.
Now that may sound bad already, but there is something even greater at work here.
The Egyptians thought frogs were sacred. They thought frogs were like gods.
In fact, everyone say the word ‘Heket’
Heket was a god in Egypt, and her head looked like a….frog!
So God and Moses, make fun of Heket and the gods of Egypt by sending frogs everywhere.
Moses who wrote the book of Exodus, tells us that hundreds of thousands of Frogs started coming out of the Nile river.
Can you imagine that? Out of this river starts to jump frog after frog after frog. It was like an army of frogs coming up out of the water.
They got into people’s houses, into people’s beds. Everywhere there were people there were also lots of frogs.
Not only that…but do you know how they cooked food?
Remember this happened before electricity so they didn’t have nice oven ranges or stoves.
What they did was dig a hole in the ground, which was probably sand. They’d dig a hole in the sand and then put a pot in the hole. They’d fill the pot with uncooked food, put the lid on, cover the whole thing with sand and let the hot sand cook the food.
Well when you have frogs everywhere, it makes this process a LOT harder. They would dig a hole, put the pot in the hole and guess what would jump inside?
Every time they tried to cook food, the frogs were there to mess things up. How gross is that!?! Imagine frogs jumping in your oven every time your mom tried to open it!
So after all this happens Pharaoh comes back to Moses and asks him to please get rid of the frogs.
[pullquote cite=”BetterBibleTeachers.com” type=”left, right”]The very animal that they worshipped, the frog, Pharaoh now begs Moses to get rid of![/pullquote]
The very animal that they worshipped, the frog, Pharaoh now begs Moses to get rid of!
So Moses asks Pharaoh, when would you like the frogs to go away?
And in the morning every last frog disappeared. The real God showed his power again by bringing all the frogs to Egypt and then removing them all in a flash.
But Pharaoh still isn’t convinced. So the terrible, terrible plagues continue.
It started with the Nile turning to blood, and then came the frogs. Then god sent lice to cover everything. Then flies.
Did you know the Egyptians had a god named ‘Re’ that was actually a ‘fly’ god? This plague of flies, like all of these plagues was a direct insult to the gods of Egypt. Each plague was specifically designed by the real God to show how much more power He had than these made up Egyptian gods.
After the plague of flies, God destroyed their cattle, their cows. The same animals that the Egyptians worshipped because they thought they were sacred, God completely wiped out.
Then, here is one plague that we get a little more information on from what Moses tells us in Exodus. The next plague caused everyone to be covered in boils. There were sores all over their bodies.
And Exodus tells us that it affected everyone. So when Pharaoh and the people in his court tried to stand up to talk to Moses they couldn’t, because of all the boils on their feet!
After the boils, God sent hail. And this wasn’t just any hail storm. God sent the worst one Egypt had ever experienced.
Listen to this:
Hail fell and lightning flashed back and forth. It was the worst storm in all the land of Egypt since it had become a nation. Exodus 9:24
Can you imagine how scary that storm must have been?
Not only was it scary, but it destroyed all the plants and any animals that were outside. It was an awful storm.
But still, Pharaoh refused to let the slaves go. Pharaoh refused to admit that Moses’ God, that our God, has all the power.
So next came locusts. And there were lots of them.
In fact it says there were so many locusts that they covered the whole ground.
Imagine looking down at the floor and not seeing carpet. Imagine looking down at the floor and all you can see are hundreds and thousands of locusts!
This is what happened in Egypt.
But still Pharaoh wasn’t giving in.
So God sent the next plague.
Now let me explain a little about this next plague because it was directed specifically at Pharaoh.
Remember, Pharaoh was the king over all of Egypt.
But he wasn’t just a king, he was also…a god.
In fact, they believed that Pharaoh was born into Ra’s family.
Ra was the sun god. That meant when the people of Egypt woke up in the morning and looked outside and saw a beautiful sunny day they would give thanks to Ra.
The believed Ra controlled the sun, and that Ra was the one to thank for it.
The Egyptians believed that the moon was one of the oldest gods, but they believed the sun, and the sun god Ra was the most powerful one of them all.
Ra was one of the most important and most powerful gods they had in all of Egypt.
And every day they saw the sun they thanked Ra for it.
So God, Moses’s God, and our God, sent the 9th plague on Egypt.
Moses reached out his hands over the land, and everything went dark.
The sun, disappeared!
And for 3 days, it was so dark, that Moses tells us in Exodus that you could ‘feel’ the darkness.
Even though everyone had their eyes open, they couldn’t see someone who was sitting right beside them. It was completely dark.
God was directly insulting and taunting Pharaoh, the most powerful person in Egypt and one of the most powerful people on earth at that time.
God was showing Pharaoh, in a very obvious way, who was really in charge.
For 3 days, the sun didn’t show up.
For 3 days everyone was reminded that Ra wasn’t actually in charge. Everyone realized that Pharaoh could do nothing about the sun.
As we finish up, let me ask you a question.
[pullquote cite=”BetterBibleTeachers.com” type=”left, right”]Why did God send these 9 plagues on Egypt?[/pullquote]
Why did God send these 9 plagues on Egypt? Why did God turn the Nile into blood, send locusts, and lice, and hail, and boils on the Egyptians?
It would be easy to say the plagues were sent to free the slaves from Pharaoh. But that wasn’t the main reason God did all this.
Remember, God can do whatever he wants.
If he wanted Pharaoh gone he could have simply snapped his fingers and Pharaoh would have disappeared.
If God wanted Pharaoh to go away, all He had to do was say the word and Pharaoh would have left.
But he didn’t do that. Instead he sent plague, after plague, after plague. Why?
The plagues seem like a lot of effort to go through when you could just snap your fingers and have it all be over with.
Let me show you this verse and explain the reason behind all this:
For if by now I had put forth My hand and struck you and your people with pestilence, you would then have been cut off from the earth. But, indeed, for this reason I have allowed you to remain, in order to show you My power and in order to proclaim My name through all the earth.
Look at first part: “For if by now I had put forth My hand and struck you and your people with pestilence, you would then have been cut off from the earth”
In other words, “I could have gotten rid of you really easily. It would not have been hard for me to overpower you very very quickly’
So this wasn’t about God persuading Pharaoh or about God having to ‘warm up’ before He could take Pharaoh out.
No, the reason God sent the plagues was: “…. in order to show you My power…”
God did all this because He wanted to prove who the real God is and who actually has all the power.
God wanted Pharaoh, the ruler and king of one of the greatest nations on earth, to feel and understand exactly who He was and exactly who had all the power.
In other words, God sent 9 reminders to Pharaoh of just how powerful He was. God faced off with the gods of the Nile and won. God faced off with the Frog god Heket and won.
God faced off with the gods of Egypt and He won, every time. It goes on to say in Exodus chapter 10 that God sent the plagues so that Moses would tell his children, and they would tell their children, and they would tell their children, about just how strong and powerful God is.
God sent each of these on Egypt plagues, so that we can talk about His power, today.
You see, God isn’t interested in being one of the people you like. God isn’t interested in being your second favorite behind television. God doesn’t want you to only pay attention to Him on Sunday.
God says, I am first. I am more important than your stuff. I am more important than your friends. I am more important than the best things in life.
Isaiah 40:28 talks about how great God is.
As we close let’s all say this verse together and declare how big, how powerful, and how important God is.
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The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. Isaiah 40:28