Pharaoh’s education was a gradual progression from one basic concept to the next. First, God taught Pharaoh Jehovah appeared to Moses and then taught him Jehovah is Lord. He added to that knowledge that there is no one like Jehovah. Now Pharaoh will learn that Jehovah is not just any Lord, but he is Lord in the midst of Pharaoh’s Egypt. Pharaoh, the shepherd of Egypt, knows the truth. Even the religious leaders of Egypt told Pharaoh the finger of God is in the land. Yet, Pharaoh refused to grant Israel the freedom to worship their God “just as the Lord had said.”
The phrase “just as the Lord had said” is constantly repeated throughout the story of Israel’s deliverance. Jehovah knew the truth about Pharaoh but Jehovah’s people didn’t know the truth about Pharaoh. If Pharaoh and his people were free to worship the gods they chose, why wasn’t Israel granted the same freedom? The time had come to separate Pharaoh’s people from Jehovah’s people. God sent Moses and Aaron to Pharaoh with Lesson #4 – Jehovah is Lord in Egypt.
20 And the Lord said to Moses, “Rise early in the morning and stand before Pharaoh as he comes out to the water. Then say to him, ‘Thus says the Lord: “Let My people go, that they may serve Me. 21 Or else, if you will not let My people go, behold, I will send swarms of flies on you and your servants, on your people and into your houses. The houses of the Egyptians shall be full of swarms of flies, and also the ground on which they stand.
Have you noticed that whatever comes upon the leader of a people also comes upon his followers? Whatever Pharaoh gets, everyone gets. Everyone had to dig around the Nile looking for clean water to drink when Jehovah turned it to blood. Everyone had frogs in their house. Everyone combed lice out of their hair and now everyone will have a house full of files.
Take heed who you follow. If that person does not obey God, your life will be affected with the same consequences your leader’s disobedience produces. Following Jesus is a good idea. He proved in the Garden of Gethsemane that he will obey God even when he does not want to. If Pharaoh had done the same, Egypt would have been spared a lot of misery.
Pharaoh told Moses he would let Israel worship Jehovah if Jehovah removed the frogs. As long as Pharaoh was miserable, he was sincere. When his misery departed so did his sincerity which promoted God to send swarms of flies. While many translations of the Bible call this plague flies, a more literal translation is “a swarm of flying insects that bite.”
22 And in that day I will set apart the land of Goshen, in which My people dwell, that no swarms of flies shall be there, in order that you may know that I am the Lord in the midst of the land. 23 I will make a difference between My people and your people. Tomorrow this sign shall be.”‘” 24 And the Lord did so. Thick swarms of flies came into the house of Pharaoh, into his servants’ houses, and into all the land of Egypt. The land was corrupted because of the swarms of flies.
Pharaoh learned Jehovah is Lord in the midst of Egypt when flies swarmed all over him and his people but not on the Israelites. Jehovah could have sent the flies “today”, but he promised to send them “tomorrow”, giving Pharaoh one more day to change his mind and stop the misery, but Pharaoh refused to grant Israel religious freedom.
The following day, Jehovah did exactly as he had promise. Every Egyptian from Pharaoh to the lowest Egyptian servant were swatting insects and scratching bite marks.
25 Then Pharaoh called for Moses and Aaron, and said, “Go, sacrifice to your God in the land.” 26 And Moses said, “It is not right to do so, for we would be sacrificing the abomination of the Egyptians to the Lord our God. If we sacrifice the abomination of the Egyptians before their eyes, then will they not stone us? 27 We will go three days’ journey into the wilderness and sacrifice to the Lord our God as He will command us.” 28 So Pharaoh said, “I will let you go, that you may sacrifice to the Lord your God in the wilderness; only you shall not go very far away. Intercede for me.”
Pharaoh was tired of being miserable and ready to compromise. He granted Israel permission to worship their God in the land of Egypt. Moses rejected Pharaoh’s offer because there worship would be offensive to the Egyptians. It is important to note that Jehovah never demanded Egypt to forsake their gods and worship him. Jehovah demanded religious freedom. Egypt did not have to see or even hear Israel worship Jehovah.
The Egyptians were so intolerant of other religions; they would have stoned the Israelites for worshipping Jehovah in their presence. Pharaoh knew Moses was right, but he was afraid if Israel left they would not come back so he compromised. Israel could worship their Jehovah if they didn’t travel too far into the desert, certainly not three days. Pharaoh had come far since he announced to his servants Moses is a liar. The weight of truth has softened his heart, and he may even be ripe for true repentance, BUT
29 Then Moses said, “Indeed I am going out from you, and I will entreat the Lord, that the swarms of flies may depart tomorrow from Pharaoh, from his servants, and from his people. But let Pharaoh not deal deceitfully anymore in not letting the people go to sacrifice to the Lord.”
What did Moses say? He would pray for the swarms of files to depart TOMORROW! Truly, there is no one like Jehovah. Pharaoh said tomorrow, God said tomorrow, now Moses gets in on the action and says tomorrow, but he fell far short of his God. Moses was no better than Pharaoh, in fact, he was worse.
When Pharaoh said tomorrow it gave him and his people one more day of misery in the frogs. When Moses said tomorrow it gave Pharaoh and all his people one more day of misery in the flies. Pharaoh only hurt himself and his people. Moses left the Egyptians in filth one more day while he went home and enjoyed a pleasant evening without one fly to annoy him.
Moses was not as good as the God he served, and no servant of God will ever be as good as God because there is no one like Jehovah. Why did Moses leave Egypt in filth until tomorrow when he could have prayed today? His judgments were not merciful like Jehovah’s. Jehovah never used Pharaoh’s tomorrow to prolong misery; he used it to delay misery in the hope Pharaoh would relent and stop misery.
30 So Moses went out from Pharaoh and entreated the Lord. 31 And the Lord did according to the word of Moses; He removed the swarms of flies from Pharaoh, from his servants, and from his people. Not one remained. 32 But Pharaoh hardened his heart at this time also; neither would he let the people go.
When Moses got around to praying for Pharaoh, Jehovah removed every fly, not one remained. Jehovah acted according to the word of Pharaoh, when he said tomorrow and he acted according to the word of Moses when he said tomorrow. God acted according to their words so everyone could know Jehovah. Now we know that God’s word is always better than a man’s word even God’s man.
After the abusive way Moses treated Pharaoh, calling Pharaoh deceitful when he was trying to be reasonable, and refusing to help him today, Pharaoh hardened his heart and refused to let Israel worship their God.
I wonder what would have happened if Moses had prayed to relieve Pharaoh’s misery today instead of tomorrow? We will never know, but we do know that Moses never did it again. The next time Pharaoh asked for prayer, Moses prayed as soon as he was out of the city and after that as soon as he left Pharaoh’s presence.
If Moses had seized the opportunity to reach for Pharaoh’s hand, and led him in prayer to the God of Abraham in the presence of Pharaoh servants. I wonder what would have happened. I wonder if the sight of Pharaoh praying to Moses God would have saved them all. I wonder how many people we have driven away from God, because we don’t like the way they act and judged them worthy to suffer one more day.