1 - 4 Announcement of the Second Plague
1 Then the LORD said to Moses, “Go to Pharaoh and say to him, ‘Thus says the LORD, “Let My people go, that they may serve Me. 2 But if you refuse to let [them] go, behold, I will smite your whole territory with frogs. 3 The Nile will swarm with frogs, which will come up and go into your house and into your bedroom and on your bed, and into the houses of your servants and on your people, and into your ovens and into your kneading bowls. 4 So the frogs will come up on you and your people and all your servants.”‘”
Moses is again given the task to go to Pharaoh to command him in the name of the LORD to let his people go so that they may serve Him. If Pharaoh refuses, the second plague must be announced. From the Nile will come countless frogs that will flood the land.
Frogs are considered sacred by the Egyptians and treated with respect. They should therefore not be killed. These idols now take the form of a plague under the judgmental hand of God.
5 - 7 The Second Plague: Frogs
5 Then the LORD said to Moses, “Say to Aaron, ‘Stretch out your hand with your staff over the rivers, over the streams and over the pools, and make frogs come up on the land of Egypt.’” 6 So Aaron stretched out his hand over the waters of Egypt, and the frogs came up and covered the land of Egypt. 7 The magicians did the same with their secret arts, making frogs come up on the land of Egypt.
The Pharaoh does not shrink and the plague comes. The frogs come from the Nile, the picture of natural blessings. What God has meant to be a blessing becomes a plague. The frogs are a picture of unclean spirits, especially of sexual impurity: “And I saw [coming] out of the mouth of the dragon and out of the mouth of the beast and out of the mouth of the false prophet, three unclean spirits like frogs; for they are spirits of demons, performing signs, which go out to the kings of the whole world, to gather them together for the war of the great day of God, the Almighty. (“Behold, I am coming like a thief. Blessed is the one who stays awake and keeps his clothes, so that he will not walk about naked and men will not see his shame.”)” (Rev 16:13-15).
The love between man and woman in marriage is a natural blessing that God has given to man. That blessing has become a curse. Examples for instance are homosexual relationships, non-marital or pre-marital sexual relations, pornography in magazines and via television and the Internet, sex shops and sex clubs.
This plague enters the homes of the Egyptians and also those of the Israelites. There is no division yet, for God sets that from the fourth plague. This plague overruns the world and also invades the homes of Christians. Sometimes unsolicited via advertising leaflets through the mailbox, but unfortunately also because the homes are opened for this. The impurity comes in the bedrooms, in the beds. The warning in Hebrews 13 is important and significant in this context (Heb 13:4).
The frogs come into the kneading bowls, indicating that it is mixed with the food. This is the kind of food that is passed on to the public through the mass media. The consumption of this contaminated food cannot fail. Gay marriages and their blessing in the church have become practice. He, who is not practicing it himself, justifies it. Love is from God, isn’t it?
This impurity is the result of not acknowledging God. Therefore He gives a plague like this. The application for our days is clear (Rom 1:24-28 and mind the reasoning “therefore”). Man who sidelines God calls this plague upon himself. Man who does not recognize God dishonors himself. The lusts that he seeks to be satisfy, sprout from his abandonment of God. Returning to Him is the only thing that helps to eradicate the plague.
The magicians do the same with their secret arts and also let frogs come up on the land of Egypt. They cannot remove the plague, they can only make it worse. In the application we see this with so-called Christian leaders who parrot the philosophers. What the Bible calls impurity, they call a ‘natural, healthy development’. The power of the Word of God is taken away and the plague only gets worse.
8 - 11 Pharaoh Asks for Intercession
8 Then Pharaoh called for Moses and Aaron and said, “Entreat the LORD that He remove the frogs from me and from my people; and I will let the people go, that they may sacrifice to the LORD.” 9 Moses said to Pharaoh, “The honor is yours to tell me: when shall I entreat for you and your servants and your people, that the frogs be destroyed from you and your houses, [that] they may be left only in the Nile?” 10 Then he said, “Tomorrow.” So he said, “[May it be] according to your word, that you may know that there is no one like the LORD our God. 11 The frogs will depart from you and your houses and your servants and your people; they will be left only in the Nile.”
To this plague Pharaoh does respond. He calls Moses and Aaron and asks for prayer that the frogs will disappear. He claims that he will then let the people go. It is a striking proof of grace that Moses says to Pharaoh that he may decide when he will pray. Pharaoh determines that moment on tomorrow. Perhaps he thinks that by getting a bit of a delay the frogs will disappear by themselves.
Many people who are in need will not immediately admit that it is God’s hand that weighs heavily on them. They postpone a decision for a while, hoping that the pressure ‘tomorrow’ will be a bit lighter.
12 - 15 The Prayer of Moses Answered
12 Then Moses and Aaron went out from Pharaoh, and Moses cried to the LORD concerning the frogs which He had inflicted upon Pharaoh. 13 The LORD did according to the word of Moses, and the frogs died out of the houses, the courts, and the fields. 14 So they piled them in heaps, and the land became foul. 15 But when Pharaoh saw that there was relief, he hardened his heart and did not listen to them, as the LORD had said.
Moses calls to the LORD, and the LORD does according to the word of Moses. Because Pharaoh himself has determined the time of the disposal of the frogs, and it also happens at that time, it must be clear to him that he has to do with the LORD. Therefore, he is fully accountable that he hardens his heart again when the plague is taken away.
That is how man is by nature. Those who resist the clear speaking of God are even more difficult to convince in the next speaking of God. God has spoken in judgment, but also in grace at the prayer of Moses. There is nothing, however, that Pharaoh’s heart brings to excite pity.
For the awake Christian, these things are signs that show that God brings His judgments to the world. The coming of the Lord is near.
16 - 19 The Third Plague: Gnats
16 Then the LORD said to Moses, “Say to Aaron, ‘Stretch out your staff and strike the dust of the earth, that it may become gnats through all the land of Egypt.’” 17 They did so; and Aaron stretched out his hand with his staff, and struck the dust of the earth, and there were gnats on man and beast. All the dust of the earth became gnats through all the land of Egypt. 18 The magicians tried with their secret arts to bring forth gnats, but they could not; so there were gnats on man and beast. 19 Then the magicians said to Pharaoh, “This is the finger of God.” But Pharaoh’s heart was hardened, and he did not listen to them, as the LORD had said.
The third plague comes, this time without any further announcement, because Aaron stretches his staff and strikes the dust of the earth. The plague affects all people and animals. The magicians try to imitate this plague, but they don’t succeed. When life is brought forth from the dead dust, the power of satan ends. The magicians must recognize that this is the work of God.
The expression “the finger of God” is also found in Luke 11 (Lk 11:20). The parallel text in Matthew 12 (Mt 12:28) shows that “the finger of God” means the Holy Spirit. The law states that it is “written by the finger of God” (Exo 31:18; Deu 9:10). There, “the finger of God” shows the authority of His Word. In Psalm 8 God’s creative power is described as “the work of Your fingers” (Psa 8:3).
Only God the Holy Spirit is able to give new life in the heart of a dead sinner, a man made from the dust of the earth’s surface. He will also “give life” to the “mortal bodies” of the believers “through His Spirit” Who dwells in them (Rom 8:11). That will happen at the return of the Lord Jesus to take the believers to Himself. He will do this by changing the living believers and by the resurrection of the deceased believers: “Behold, I tell you a mystery; we will not all sleep, but we will all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet; for the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed” (1Cor 15:51-52).
The gnats come out of the dust. In Psalm 22, dust is linked to death (Psa 22:16b). After man has sinned, God pronounces the judgment of death: “For you are dust, and to dust you shall return” (Gen 3:19b). The dust becomes gnats, which are animals that suck out blood, life, from man. Our complicated society is full of gnats. Countless people are anxious, confused, nervous, suspicious. The psychiatric institutions are becoming increasingly full. Spiritual tensions are increasing hand over hand. Many are driven to suicide. Life no longer makes sense for them, it no longer offers a view. The gnats do their destructive work.
Here, too, there is no distinction between Egypt and Israel. Many believers are swept away in the maelstrom of life. For them, life becomes an agitated existence with nerve-wracking, excessive efforts and torments. The peace and quiet have disappeared. Here too, the gnats do their destructive work.
There is a way to prevent the gnats from feasting on our blood. On that the Lord Jesus points when He says: “He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in him” (Jn 6:56). Those who find their daily rest and calmness in the death of the Lord Jesus, who take the time to occupy themselves with Him and His work on the cross, remain beyond the reach of the gnats. This also requires a certain form of effort: you have to make time for it on your agenda and put yourself into action to be with Him Who said: “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest” (Mt 11:28).
20 - 21 Announcement of the Fourth Plague
20 Now the LORD said to Moses, “Rise early in the morning and present yourself before Pharaoh, as he comes out to the water, and say to him, ‘Thus says the LORD, “Let My people go, that they may serve Me. 21 For if you do not let My people go, behold, I will send swarms of flies on you and on your servants and on your people and into your houses; and the houses of the Egyptians will be full of swarms of flies, and also the ground on which they [dwell].
Moses is ordered to go to Pharaoh early in the morning. He will be found near the water as usual. Moses must stand before Pharaoh, he must block him on his godless way, without any fear of this mighty man. Again he must command him on behalf of the LORD to let His people go to serve Him. If Pharaoh does not do this, it will result in a new plague.
That the LORD sends Moses early in the morning to the Nile to stand there before Pharaoh, means that not only Moses gets up early, but also Pharaoh. Pharaoh undoubtedly does this to perform idolatrous worship at the Nile. People of the world are sometimes also disciplined when it comes to performing all kinds of rituals to which they attach their happiness. They sometimes make efforts, by which believers, those who say they know the Lord, can take an example.
Again and again Pharaoh finds Moses and Aaron on his way. He will certainly have seen them as people who plunge Egypt into misfortune. This is also how Ahab later looks at Elijah (1Kgs 18:17). Ahab and Pharaoh both forget that they themselves drag the people they are responsible for into ruin.
22 - 23 Division Between God’s People and Egypt
22 But on that day I will set apart the land of Goshen, where My people are living, so that no swarms of flies will be there, in order that you may know that I, the LORD, am in the midst of the land. 23 I will put a division between My people and your people. Tomorrow this sign will occur.”‘“
This plague has a peculiarity that is missing with the previous plagues. From this plague God sets apart His people from Egypt (verse 22). The setting apart is a salvation or liberation. God calls this setting apart a “sign” (verse 23). If satan hates anything, it is that God’s people keep to the separation God has made for His people from the world.
24 The Fourth Plague: Flies
24 Then the LORD did so. And there came great swarms of flies into the house of Pharaoh and the houses of his servants and the land was laid waste because of the swarms of flies in all the land of Egypt.
The flies, possibly a mixture of all kinds of vermin, transmit all kinds of diseases. This pollutes and corrupts people’s lives. As an application for our time we can think of all kinds of irritations, jealousy, harassment, thwarting each other in all possible ways. These things destroy the atmosphere between people and make life unbearable, like hard music at the neighbors, traffic misbehavior, challenging behavior in the shop and so many other things to get in someone’s hair.
Believers will not suffer from if they really behave as God’s people, as God’s children. Unfortunately, how often do we participate in slander talk about others, do we say things behind someone’s back?
Pharaoh sees that this plague makes the society of his people very difficult. It is with it as with senseless violence. Everyone is calling out ‘it shouldn’t happen again’ and they organize protest marches to indicate that this ‘plague’ must stop. But no man puts his hand into his own bosom, where the real evil is.
25 - 27 Moses Rejects the Compromise
25 Pharaoh called for Moses and Aaron and said, “Go, sacrifice to your God within the land.” 26 But Moses said, “It is not right to do so, for we will sacrifice to the LORD our God what is an abomination to the Egyptians. If we sacrifice what is an abomination to the Egyptians before their eyes, will they not then stone us? 27 We must go a three days’ journey into the wilderness and sacrifice to the LORD our God as He commands us.”
For the first time Pharaoh makes an offer to let the people go to serve God. However, he does attach a condition to this. That condition means that the people serve God in his land, Egypt. He wants to keep the distance between him and the people of God as small as possible. He says as it were: “Serve me and God.”
If a believer takes seriously the separation from the world, satan comes with his proposals, as Pharaoh does here. He wants to talk about that. Four times he proposes a compromise (verses 25.28; Exo 10:7-9.24). He will discuss every centimeter of space. But God and Moses, and everyone who belongs to God through faith in the Lord Jesus, is satisfied with nothing but clear separation from the world.
This compromise is unacceptable to Moses. Whoever is truly a child of God cannot possibly stay in the world. By baptism he wants to be free from it. Only then is he really free to serve God. He then, in the picture, is passed through the Red Sea and has come into the wilderness.
The answer of Moses speaks of the death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus: the people must go into the wilderness a three days’ journey. The service that the people want to keep before their God is an abomination for the world. If the Egyptians would see the Israelites slaughter a bull or cow, animals that they consider sacred, they would stone the Israelites. Any sacrifice to God that a believer makes, but what the unbeliever claims for himself because he finds it valuable for himself, arouses that person’s anger.
28 Second Compromise Proposal
28 Pharaoh said, “I will let you go, that you may sacrifice to the LORD your God in the wilderness; only you shall not go very far away. Make supplication for me.”
Pharaoh then comes up with a second cunning offer. They may go into the wilderness, but not too far. They must remain under his sphere of influence. So not the three day trips into the wilderness. In picture it means: not a service to God in connection with and based on the death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus.
As long as a believer does not live in accordance with the judgment on the cross over his sins and in the power of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, satan will let him go. As believers, we must ask ourselves: Is the world really crucified for me and I for the world? For Paul this is so (Gal 6:14).
After his offer, Pharaoh asks for the second time whether Moses wants to pray for him.
29 - 32 Moses prays again for Pharaoh
29 Then Moses said, “Behold, I am going out from you, and I shall make supplication to the LORD that the swarms of flies may depart from Pharaoh, from his servants, and from his people tomorrow; only do not let Pharaoh deal deceitfully again in not letting the people go to sacrifice to the LORD.” 30 So Moses went out from Pharaoh and made supplication to the LORD. 31 The LORD did as Moses asked, and removed the swarms of flies from Pharaoh, from his servants and from his people; not one remained. 32 But Pharaoh hardened his heart this time also, and he did not let the people go.
Moses does not respond to Pharaoh’s proposal, he doesn’t pay attention to it. We must also serve God without any compromise and without any influence from the world. The trip of three days in the wilderness must be made.
Moses is prepared to pray for Pharaoh again. With this he is on the line of the great patience of God. Once again he appeals to the conscience of Pharaoh. More and more it becomes clear how adamant his heart is. If there really is no left of the plague, showing how effective the prayer of Moses is and how complete the answer by the LORD is, Pharaoh still dares not let the people go.