“Exposing the Exodus”
The First Strike – (Chapter 7 Verses 14-25)
There is yet another significance to these plagues. All who witness these events will know that God is God, the sovereign Lord (v17-18). For the Egyptians, experimentally but not submissively, not penitently. Behold, I am the Lord, I will strike the Nile. In the presence of their Pharaoh whom they deem to be in the place of God. And their river Nile, yet another god they worshipped and venerated, God will turn it to blood. Signifying death, which is sin’s wages (Romans 6:23). Their river which was a life-sustaining source to them will spread death instead, demonstrating that the river is no god at all, just an inanimate object. As the stroke is fulfilled (v19-21), it is an obvious manifestation of the presence of God, or ought to be at least. What also should be obvious to Egypt is that their religion is false. Their religion was expressed in worshipping the creature (Romans 1:25). The sun and the Nile were their chief gods which they saw as a source of life and fertility. It is against this their false, idolatrous religion that God strikes. He turns these objects into sources of death and disease. When a nation’s religion is false it equals death. The river itself was a source of good, of wealth, defence, fishing, irrigation all this and more. Egypt was dependent upon the Nile. But this is the end of taking a good thing that God gives you and turning it into an idol. Beware. Their priests, sorcerers were shown to be powerless also (v20). Now whether you attribute their power to simply slight-of-hand or occult power, their power is under God’s. They are defeated. All they can do is replicate what has been done, produce more blood. Just what Egypt needs? Note also when Pharaoh wants the plague removed, who does he ask? This climaxes with the third plague, the sorcerers cannot copy it, God puts an end to their perceived power. So their gods are defeated.
But don’t leave this without considering the practical outworking of this for ordinary, common folk. The pathetic suffering involved. The chain reaction. The fish begin to die, they decompose and the river is putrefied. How long would it have been before the food chain broke down? The river was a means of transportation, that would cease immediately, no imports or exports. The river was also an irrigation system for crops. The entirety of Egypt’s crop produce spoil in this? Alas, nobody at court, not Pharaoh himself, their prophets, their priests or their sorcerers moves to correct this obdurate folly and its effect on the people. All this is a clear sign of reprobation, an entire nation under the judgment of God. It confounds their wisdom and no nation gloried more in its wisdom than ancient Egypt. (1Corinthians (1:19-20). There is not an ounce of sound intelligence to be found amongst them, “they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things” (Romans 1:21-23). The calamity is appalling and it will get worse, a lot worse. That which they once worshipped they turn away from in utter loathing. This is the wrath of God, “for the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse” (Romans 1:18-20). Just like you and I they knew of the existence of the true and living God, but they chose to suppress that truth-knowledge, using the idolatrous religion to do so. Wrath and indignation are all that is left for such a people. When God judges a nation it is not pretty.
(© James R Hamilton, written Spring, 2015)