Exodus 9:7 (HCSB)
7 Pharaoh sent messengers who saw that not a single one of the Israelite livestock was dead. But Pharaoh’s heart was hardened, and he did not let the people go.
All the plagues up until this point have been irritating, inconvenient, and, at most, just a major hassle, to the Egyptian people and Pharaoh. But the fifth plague turns quite a bit more serious and destructive.
Again we see there is no human agency in the fifth plague, God is in complete control and handles the initiation of it. Again Pharaoh is given a period of time before the plague is put in effect, along with the conditions that would avert it, not only displaying the mercy and long-suffering of God, but also so that the plague cannot be deemed random and haphazard natural events.
Two things to really note:
- Back in Exodus 8:26, before the fourth plague, Moses speaks about it being “not right” for the Israelites to perform their sacrifices before the Egyptians because it would be “detestable” to the Egyptians: the animals that would be sacrificed would be sacred animals to the Egyptians. Now note the list of animals that are the targets of the fifth plague in Exodus 9:4 – it includes “herds and flocks”. These would be the same animals that the Israelites would sacrifice, the sacred animals of the Egyptians are part of the victims of the fifth plague. Perhaps this is God flexing His might and truth against false gods? Perhaps it was simply an added pressure meant to spur Pharaoh to turn to Him, and change his ways?
- In Exodus 9:7, Pharaoh checks up on God and what He said would happen. I really find this interesting. It wasn’t enough that he could see all the livestock around him die, he had to make sure this plague really met all the conditions of God’s prophecy. And it was after this confirmation that Pharaoh’s heart was further hardened. It seems to me that Christians, the church, are under the scrutiny of the world. The world is looking for the slip up, looking for the hypocrisy, looking for the failed prophecy. The world is checking up on God. And the beautiful and amazing this is this: for some who doubt and question God, checking up on Him brings a realization of who He is and regeneration. But, there are some that are just like Pharaoh, and are not actually seeking to know if God is who He says, but are looking for God to slip up, and are hardened to Him further. And although we, as believers, fail all the time, God continues His work, unfalteringly.
Lord, thank You for continuing forward with Your plan. And praise God that it does not solely depend on us, Your people, for its success, because we are a bunch of screw ups. But You work through us, through all our messed-up-ness, and You hold it all together, pouring Your mercy, grace, glory, and love out on us and over the world. I pray that those who check up on You would be convinced of who You truly are and turn to You, not because of us, but because of You. Amen.