The Purpose of the Plagues – Part 3

June 17, 2011

Doctrine, Exodus, God, Scripture, Sin

This is the final instalment in a three part series on how God confronts idols so that He might be exalted high above false gods. In Part 1 and Part 2 I discussed how God directly confronts the idols of Egypt via plagues 1 through 8. Through plagues 9 and 10, we see God’s purpose for the plagues confirmed as a judgement against the idols of Egypt.

Exodus 10:21-29: Darkness

The plague of darkness would have been particularly devastating to the Egyptian idol worship as the sun god Ra was one of the most powerful and highly revered deities in Egypt. This darkness however, was more than just the absence of the sun or an extended night. Secular scholars have attempted to explain the darkness by way of solar eclipse, sand storm, volcanic ash, and swarms of locusts dense enough to blot out the sun. Exodus 10:23 states that the Egyptians didn’t see one another for three days and that they were unable to move about because of the darkness. Yet we read in the same verse that the Israelites had light in their dwellings. Any of the aforementioned phenomena may have caused darkness yet they would not have impeded the Egyptian’s ability to move by torchlight in that darkness. These causes would also have been unable to discriminated between the houses of the Egyptians and the dwellings of the Hebrews. This was a supernatural darkness. No light from the sun, moon, stars, or fire. The sun god Ra, the moon god Thoth, Horus the god of light, and Sekhmet the goddess of fire were all shown to be unable to meet the needs of the Egyptians during the three days of darkness.

Idols confronted: Ra, Sekhmet, Thoth, Horus, Atum, Khepri, Sopdet, Bastet, Nut, Khonsu, Iah, Aker

Exodus 11:1-12:32: Death of the first born

Though there are specific deities such as Bes, a demigod associated with the protection of the household, or Meskhenet, the goddess of child birth, that we can say are directly attacked by the death of the first born, the Bible broadens the attack greatly.

“For I will go through the land of Egypt on that night, an will strike down all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and against all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgments – I am the Lord.” –Exodus 12:12

On that night all of the gods of Egypt were shown to be false gods in the face of the Lord’s judgment. It didn’t matter who the Egyptians prayed to, how hard they prayed, or how often they prayed. Any house that was not covered by the blood was judged by God. The entire pantheon of Egyptian gods were shown to be false and powerless before the Lord.

Idols confronted: All the gods of Egypt

Exodus 14: God destroys the armies of Egypt in the Red Sea

Even after God judged all the gods of Egypt, Pharaoh’s heart was yet again hardened against the Hebrews. Pharaoh gathered his army and pursued the Israelites, pinning them between his forces and the Red Sea. More likely than not Pharaoh was banking on the power of Petbe, the god of revenge, and a number of other Egyptian gods of war including Horus and Wepwawet. Yet again the Lord showed Himself strong on behalf of Israel by parting the red sea so that they could cross on dry ground. As the Egyptians attempted to follow, God brought the waters of the Red Sea crashing down on them, putting to shame the Egyptian gods of war and revenge.

Idols confronted: Petbe, Horus, Wepwawet, Sekhumet, Monthu, Menhit, Ankt, Anhur


God confronts all idols.  The human heart is an idol factory, constantly looking for new things to put our hope in.  Sometimes these things begin as good things, possibly from the Lord. Take for instance the bronze serpent that the Lord had commanded Moses to make when the Israelites were afflicted by venomous snakes. If they looked to the bronze serpent after they had been bitten, they would be saved. This was also a foreshadowing of Jesus Christ who in much the same way would be lifted up on the cross so that whoever looks to Him would be saved to everlasting life in the presence of God. The bronze serpent was a good thing. The problem is that Israel made it a God thing.  Speaking of King Hezekiah, 2 Kings 18:3-4 states:

He did right in the sight of the Lord, according to all that his father David had done. He removed the high places and broke down the sacred pillars and cut down the Asherah. He also broke in pieces the bronze serpent that Moses had made, for until those days the sons of Israel burned incense to it; and it was called Nehushtan.

We still have our own idols that we rely on. These are the things that we turn to for comfort. The things that we turn to for security. Maybe it’s money. Maybe it’s a relationship. Maybe it’s success or personal achievement. Whatever it is, if we turn to it in times of trouble instead of turning to God for our support, it’s an idol. God confronts idols. Violently. God says:

I am the Lord, that is my name; I will not give My glory to another, nor My praise to graven images.” –Isaiah 42:8

What are the idols in our lives? God will be glorified in the end. It is better for us to seek out and destroy the idols in our own lives like Hezekiah, than to have the Lord confront them like He did with the Egyptians. Either way, God will be glorified and shown to be truer and more satisfying than those things which by nature are not gods at all. [Acts 19:26]

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About Brandon Cantello

Husband to Nicole, Lover of God, Dependent on the Spirit, Passion for His Church. My name is Brandon. I love Jesus. For more visit My Blog

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2 Comments on “The Purpose of the Plagues – Part 3”

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  1. The Purpose of the Plagues – Part 2 | Brandon Cantello - June 17, 2011

    […] To Part 3 —> […]

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