This is the third plague God sends on Egypt; gnats. This time Pharaoh is given no warning or opportunity for avoiding it. More striking though is that his magicians recognize the hand of God.
This is the first time Pharaoh wasn’t given warning of what was to come. God speaks to Moses and has him command Aaron alone to do this miracle. Originally I thought Moses and Aaron did this outside of Pharaoh’s presence but on further consideration I’m assuming this took place when Moses and Aaron went to inquire about the promise Pharaoh had made regarding the lifting of the plague of frogs. He went back on his promise so Moses commanded Aaron to take the next step. Pharaoh is still unconvinced and asks his magicians if they can replicate what is going on. They can’t. THIS is the work of God. Pharaoh can’t fake it.
I don’t know if you have ever had to deal with gnats or not, but I have. NOT on the scale Egypt did though, thank God! Where I grew up we had these little green bugs we called “green midgies.” They were like a gnat in size and annoyance. They came out in the summer season at night in the THOUSANDS! They would get in your nose, mouth, ears, and eyes. Whatever opening they could find they would fly there. The only way to combat them was a bug zapper light to draw them away from you. I remember MANY times hurrying between the car and the store with my mouth closed tight to avoid “having a light snack.” They weren’t plenty enough to invade houses if the windows and doors were shut in the evening but they were a menace anyway. Egypt got this 100 fold! Let’s join Moses and Aaron in their “adventure” with God and Pharaoh.
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It has been three days since the last of the frogs were all removed from the land. The smell is gone and the Egyptian slave masters are “hard at work” oppressing the Hebrews again. Moses tells Aaron “It is time to go see about Pharaoh’s promise. We already know what his answer is going to be, especially since the Lord told me last night what to do. This time Pharaoh gets no warning or chance to repent. You will be called upon to act directly. Have your staff ready.”
“As always brother. My staff and I are at your and the Lord’s command. It continues to amaze me how the Lord uses such a simple piece of wood.”
“It’s not just the wood He is using. It is our obedient hearts. Never forget that. ALWAYS follow exactly where He leads. One more thing; bring a covering for your face. We are going to need them.”
Moses and Aaron arrive at the palace gates and the guard looks apprehensive as they greet him and request an audience with Pharaoh. He has begun to associate their presence with trouble. “At least someone is making the connection” Moses thinks with a smile on his face.
The guard announces their presence and escorts them to the throne room as usual. Moses and Aaron stand before Pharaoh.
“Pharaoh, you asked me to plead to the Lord to remove the frogs from Egypt. In exchange for His mercy you promised to let the Hebrews go to worship Him. It has been four days since the last of the frogs were removed from the land. It is time to fulfill you portion of the agreement.”
“I am the god of all of Egypt. I have the right to change my mind. The Hebrews are much better off serving me here than wandering aimlessly around in the wilderness. They will stay and serve me! I am their god. And if not their god than at least their master!”
Aaron’s jaw drops at Pharaoh’s arrogant statement. He and Moses had already resigned themselves to the fact that he was not going to honor his word but to put himself in the Lord’s place was MORE than he could have imagined.
Moses’ eyes burn with anger at Pharaoh’s words. “You will regret your decision and especially your arrogance Pharaoh.”
Both men turn and walk out of Pharaoh’s throne room without another word. As soon as they exit the building Moses halts Aaron. They are in plain view of Pharaoh’s court and Moses is certain Pharaoh is watching. Moses speaks loud and clearly to Aaron so any who are observing can hear the Lord’s every word.
“Stretch out your staff and strike the dust of the earth. So that it may become gnats in all the land of Egypt” (verse 16b).
Moses and Aaron quickly wrap their scarves over their faces and Aaron immediately follows Moses’ command. Gnats swarm up from the dust in a cloud that quickly reaches into the sky. From sky to ground the cloud is dense enough to hinder vision. Moses and Aaron left as soon as the gnats were at knee level.
Pharaoh had gotten into the habit of summoning his magicians immediately every time Moses and Aaron were announced. He turned to them as soon as the swarm of gnats began to rise. “Your god commands you to make gnats rise also.”
The magicians try every incantation, herb and dance they know for about an hour; all the while trying to protect themselves from the ever growing presence of the gnats. They have NO success. Finally they turn to Pharaoh and announce that this MUST be the hand of the Hebrew God.
Pharaoh is steaming but there is NO WAY he is going to go after Moses and Aaron. “This will pass, just like everything else they have done.” Pharaoh has one of his servants bring him a cloth to cover his face with. He is resolved to NOT give in to such tactics!
The gnats swarm all of Egypt for four days. No one in the land has any rest. The whole of Egypt is in misery! At least the Hebrews dress allows them more protection than the Egyptians.
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Father God Thank You for all You do. Even when what You do is to get my attention through some kind of action. I’m SO glad You don’t send the plagues of Egypt on me to make me pay attention. The little things in my life are enough for me to run back to You. I am AMAZED at how You have grown me over the last few years! You didn’t use plagues but my everyday life instead. This morning was one of those great examples. I’m PRAYING the opportunity You used will continue to resolve itself in a FULLY satisfactory condition by the end of the day. I honestly don’t want to stretch that lesson any further. I KNOW I have MUCH MORE room for improvement in the patience area but today was a surprise to me how much work You have already done. Please remind me to show that same kind of patience with my husband on a daily basis. The little day to day things seem to still hang me up.
I want to have joy in my heart all the time. YOUR JOY. Not the worlds. I need to start singing more! That seems to be the spigot for my garden. Keep me well watered Lord. I wouldn’t even mind if You broke the handle off in the FULLY OPEN position. Keep me singing even if my mouth is filling with gnats!