Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Hop to it! Exodus 8

Frogs. Lots of frogs. All over the place, bouncing about and make a nuisance of themselves. It's enough to make the biggest Kermit fan go a little crazy. That's where the Egyptians find themselves in Exodus 8 (link). Covered up in toads, which is different for Pharaoh. Like many government leaders, he's probably more used to toadies. Yet I digress..

The plague of frogs is on the Egyptians. You might not think frogs are that bad, but think about this: in your house? In your cooking pots and kneading bowls? That's just crazy. It's filthy, too, because the frogs leave frog waste behind. As well as dead frogs.

Meanwhile, Exodus 8:7 gives the magicians of Egypt their due, that they were able to bring up frogs as well. Except for an important, to me, detail: there were already frogs everywhere. It can't have been that hard. Just clear off some space, say some mumbo-jumbo and then watch the frogs come.

The plague of gnats, followed by the plague of flies, round out the happenings of this chapter. It's enough to make Pharaoh pay a little lip-service to God and the idea of allowing the people of Israel to go out and sacrifice, but it's not a heart change. In fact, one of the sadder places of Scripture is found in Exodus 8:32: Pharaoh, again, hardens his heart.

This is where we come into the story. It is quite easy for us to be just like Pharaoh in this story. When our backs are against the wall, we start talking about the good things we need to do. We fess up to needing to confess sins, be open and honest about past issues, or make better plans going forward.

We do all of this in hope that, once we've gotten out of this mess, perhaps we can find some wiggle room in our commitment. Maybe there's a loophole we left ourselves, a gap in the wall around our given word.

Once the frogs are gone, though, we cannot turn our back on our promises. This is why it matters a great deal that we consider our means and methods for accomplishing our desires and consider our promises along the way. We cannot say whatever it takes to get our way and then back out.

This is true no matter what our goals are. Even good goals should not be accomplished with false promises. Neither should bad things that can be stopped honestly be defeated with lies and deceit. On this, I know that the ethics run differently if you're lying about the Jews in your attic in 1942. However, in a modern situation such as a church effort or political campaign there is no compelling reason for deception and untruth.

Be careful: a hardened heart on one issue becomes a hardened heart on many issues. That's not a road to go down.

Today's nerd note: The Ten Plagues of Egypt have been the subject of many studies. First of all, there are some serious questions about the plagues. There are no records in the Egyptian Hieroglyphs about the plagues. It's hard to pin down: it's entirely possible that the Egyptians just did not want to remember the situation.

Further, there are efforts to explain the causes of the Plagues. The most recent one to gain acclaim was the eruption of a volcano that led to most of these events. Other attempts to create a natural explanation have been made. The real question is about how God worked, though, because otherwise you're looking at a heap of coincidences that cannot be explained.

Finally, there are some attempts to identify each of the plagues as an assault on specific Egyptian deities. That's entirely possible, though not necessary for our understanding. The point here is not just that Yahweh exceeds Amenophis. It's that Yahweh is the only God, and the story is about Him.

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