This chapter is about annoyance. God sends three plagues in chapter 8; a multitude of frogs, gnats, and flies. I actually think my daugther, Alex, would like the frogs part, but maybe not so much if there were like fifty in her room. I’ve been to places where gnats just seemed to swarm everywhere, and it was impossible to find a way to escape. And, we’ve all eaten in a restaurant that had flies buzzing around dinner. Imagine if it were hundreds. These things are all very annoying.
Yet, there is another storyline unfolding in this chapter that is more subtle, but is interesting, that of the Egyptian magicians. These are not guys like Penn & Teller or David Copperfield. The magicians were actually a sort of priest for Egyptian gods who served in the courts of Pharoah. Sort of his personal spiritual advisors, kind of like Eckhardt Tolle for Oprah. These guys would use occultic magic to do miracles in the name of the various Egyptian gods, which seemed to be proof of their power. As the story of the plagues begins, these magicians are able to reproduce the first two plagues using their magic. Imagine how frustrating it was for Moses and Aaron to walk in to Pharoah and announce that God was sending the plague of frogs, only to see the Egyptian pull off the same trick.
During the course of my life I have heard (and actually seen a few myself) some crazy stories involving people and the occult. During this season, around Halloween, the emphasis on witch craft, occultism, and satanism is heightened. Stories range from kids smashing pumpkins all the way to bizarre rituals and even some miraculous events in the name of rituals. I remember several times when I would hear stories about bizarre things that took place in some dark ritual, and I would get this feeling that God was somehow inadequate to deal with these things.
In this story, this may have been how Moses and Aaron felt, as the magicians were able to duplicate the first two plagues. Wasn’t the point that their God was the true God and the other gods would lose? How could the magicians use their powers to replicate what God was doing? But then the gnats came. Pharoah wanted his spiritual magicians to duplicate this event, and they tried. Read Exodus 8:18-19 again. They were incapable of reproducing this plague, and had to acknowledge that the God of Moses and Aaron was the true God. Interesting, though, that Pharoah still hardened his heart, even when his spiritual advisors admit that their spirituality is insufficient.
I guess the point here is that there are times in life when we will wonder if the God we worship is sufficient. It will seem that other spirituality seems to put God in his place. We can have crisis of faith because it will appear that evil is winning, and that those who worship through some kind of dark spirituality have powers that cannot be explained. Often, these powers are very real. Satan can give people powers, but the magic they do will not trump God. Keep trusting God and turning to Him. He will prove Himself to be able and sovereign in your life.