Exodus 9:11 (HCSB)
11 The magicians could not stand before Moses because of the boils, for the boils were on the magicians as well as on all the Egyptians.
The sixth plague, like the third, does not record any exchange between Moses and Pharaoh, it simply records God’s command to Moses and the carrying out of the command, and occurrence of, the plague. Interestingly, there is a return to human agency in this plague, via Moses’ throwing the soot into the air. Although all the previous plagues impacted the Egyptians, this is the first plague to directly impact their body. This plague is not merely an inconvenience, or an impact on livestock, but it is directly bore by the Egyptians.
Of note is the fact that Moses and Aaron “stood before Pharaoh” as they tossed the soot into the air. Contrast this with the next verse, Exodus 9:11, where the afflicted magicians “could not stand before Moses.” God is continuing to confirm His supremacy. The visual of Moses and Aaron, God’s prophets, standing powerfully, the sixth plague of boils resulting from the toss of soot, versus the magicians, who previously had mimicked God’s works until they were no longer able, not even able to stand, is striking and symbolic of God’s comparison to Pharaoh.
Also of note, Exodus 9:12 closes the pericope for the first time attributing the hardening of Pharaoh’s heart to God. Not only are Pharaoh and his cronies unable to demonstrate the same power as God, but Pharaoh is now unable to even make the decision, in a way, of where his heart will lean. God is in complete control! And perhaps, since the verse closes with the phrase “as the Lord had told Moses,” this demonstration is as much for Moses, Aaron, and the Israelites, as it was for Pharaoh and the Egyptians. Perhaps it is a reminder for us today, that when God is leading us, and things stall out, or are difficult, or just seem to be stuck, that God is in complete control.
Lord, thank You for being in complete control! I thank You for softening my heart, for rescuing me from myself. I pray that we can be strong, and stand tall, just as Moses and Aaron did, continuing on the path You have for us, despite whatever obstacles are in the way, assured in the knowledge that You have it all under control. Amen.