“Exposing the Exodus”
Gnats That’d Drive Ya Bats – (Chapter 8 Verses 16-19)
This is strike number three, gnats. They are mosquito type insects which leave an incredible, unbearable itch behind. They were fairly common in Egypt but this is something else. Swarms which covered the entire ground. This is an event that is naturally inexplicable but not, of course, to unbelief. It is God’s doing, just as the blood and the frogs. They are everywhere and on everyone. Except on God’s people. For they alone are exempt from these judgment acts of God. In fact, these judgments are the means God uses to save his people. This is what we are dealing with here, the mighty acts of God, displaying the power of God. It’s not hard to imagine the physical and emotional effects of these gnats. In the people’s hair, clothing, food and on animals too. With no respite. This, for a proud people who are paranoid about cleanliness, is their worst nightmare. There is no advance warning (v16-17). But this is often the case, “while people are saying, “There is peace and security,” then sudden destruction will come upon them” (1 Thessalonians 5:3). It is not, however, to the discerning. But when it does come , God is vindicated (Genesis 18:21). This plague reminds man what he is, dust (Genesis 2:7). It is the dust that is turned gnats here. Dust which scripture often associates with death, “you lay me in the dust of death” (Psalm 22:15). It is from the dust that man originates and is destined to return to. Puny, proud little man, a speck of sinful dust on the horizon of God’s universe, consumed with his own self-importance. He thinks he rules the universe, the world, and his own destiny. A speck of dust picked up by the divine hand and made into the image of God (Genesis 2:7). In spite of man’s pride and arrogance, he is never more than this, dust. The dust of death is upon him, clings to him all his life long, as the result of one man’s sin (Romans 5:12). He lives tormented by the fear of this death (Hebrews 2:15). He has no power over it, no control. The pall of death hangs over Egypt, the world. The dust thus testifies.
This strikes at the heart of Egypt’s idolatrous religion (v16-17). Remember they have a variety of so-called deities. This judgment renders their priests useless. It utterly humiliates them. The priests of Egypt were apparently noted for their physical purity, especially so when it came to any religious rites. They would be circumcised, washed, and dressed to perfection. Here they too are inflicted with these gnats, therefore, rendered useless in any priestly functions. But there is more to these men, they were powerful under Pharaoh, and not just in religious terms. In terms of politics and economics also. They controlled the minds of the people. But this is the power of false religion, the control factor. You find it in the cults also. Remember that Satan is a spirit being, he needs flesh and blood people to carry out his work on the earth. The false, controlling religions and cults are but some of the means he uses to control, keep men and women captive. And God’s command in all generations is the same, “let my people go.” He sent his Son to set us free, “so if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed” (John 8:36), “he has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives” (Luke 4:18). God works here in power breaking the control of Egypt’s religious system on his people Israel. There is no freedom, no salvation to be found in the religious systems of men and nations, whatever the brand. There is but one means by which men and women held in Satan’s snare can escape (2Timothy 2:26). The everlasting gospel. “The power of God for salvation to everyone who believes” (Romans 1:16). The power to break the chains of idolatrous religion, to liberate from the fear of death. The sufficiency of Christ and his atoning work needs to be presented to men and women the world over, in every generation. The only of hope the nations. “Go, therefore” (Matthew 28:19).
(© James R Hamilton, written Spring, 2015)