Exodus seven begins the story of the 10 plagues in Egypt. God is about to bring an incredible judgement on the Egyptian people and on Pharoah. Each plague is a little more devastating, and more intense, brought by God as a just response to the horrible slavery and oppression of the Hebrews. And Pharoah’s response to each of the plagues is the same, to harden his heart toward God and Moses, until the last plague leaves Pharoah broken and at the end of himself.
But why would God bring such a terrible thing on these people? Simply put, God is demonstrating exactly who He is! You see, Pharoah and the Egyptian people were very proud people. They had all sorts of gods, but those gods were there to uphold the pride and prestige of the Egyptian people. The pride of the Egyptians led them to hold the Hebrews as slaves and do terrible things to these people.
By sending these plagues, God accomplishes many things. First of all, He demonstrated His power over men. God shows that He is able do whatever He wants to do, and no man, not even the Pharoah could stop Him. In the first couple of plagues, Pharoah in his pride believes that anything Moses can do, he can do better. At the end of the plagues, Pharoah realizes that he was messing with the true God. God leaves him totally broken and at the end of himself.
Second, God demonstrated His power over other gods. Each of the ten plagues dealt with one of the Egyptian gods. For example, the first plague of blood in the water demonstrated that God was sovereign over the waters, which was the Egyptian god “Hapi’s” domain. In each of the plagues, the God of the Hebrews overcomes one of the Egyptian gods, leaving the belief in these gods empty.
Third, God demonstrated His power over nature. The Egyptians form of worship really focused on worship of nature. Their gods were nature oriented, and the Egyptians believed that their source of power came from the natural world around them. God used nature to accomplish His plan, and in the end, nature served the true God.
God also demonstrated His power for the Hebrews. Through all of the plagues, the Hebrews realized that the one, true God was on their side and was fighting the battle for them. He was doing this because of His promise with Abraham, and He was keeping the promise.
Finally, God demonstrated His power over sin. Pharoah and the Egyptian people were arrogant, sinful people. They demonstrated that sinful nature in their dealings with God’s people. Now God was judging that sin and dealing with their pride. When the plagues are over, Pharoah and the Egyptian people will be left with nothing.
Why the plagues? Because God was demonstrating His power. When they are done, everyone… Pharoah, the Egyptians, the magicians, Moses, the Hebrews… will know that there is only one true God, and Jehovah is His name.