1-2 The LORD Has Hardened the Hearts 3-6 Announcement of the Eighth Plague 7-11 Announcement of the Eighth Plague 12-15 The Eighth Plague: Locusts 16-20 Pharaoh Asks for Intercession Again 21-23 The Ninth Plague: Darkness 24-29 The Last Compromise Rejected
The LORD Has Hardened the Hearts

1Then the LORD said to Moses, “Go to Pharaoh, for I have hardened his heart and the heart of his servants, that I may perform these signs of Mine among them, 2and that you may tell in the hearing of your son, and of your grandson, how I made a mockery of the Egyptians and how I performed My signs among them, that you may know that I am the LORD.”

This plague is a special sign for the Israelites. On this basis they must tell the generations to come what God has done to Egypt. By this the Israelites will know “that I am the LORD”.

It is remarkable that the prophet Joel describes a plague of locusts and also mentions that the account of this event should be passed on to the generations to come: “Tell your sons about it, and [let] your sons [tell] their sons, and their sons the next generation” (Joel 1:33Tell your sons about it,
And [let] your sons [tell] their sons,
And their sons the next generation.
). Joel’s prophecy also shows that this plague has a prophetic meaning. In Joel 2, the plague of locusts appears to be a reference to the Assyrian army. They will overwhelm and destroy Israel and make it waste, like a swarm of locusts eat and destroy a land. It is a plague appointed by God, just as in Egypt.

In Revelation 9 locusts are connected to demonic powers (Rev 9:33Then out of the smoke came locusts upon the earth, and power was given them, as the scorpions of the earth have power.). These powers are manifesting themselves with increasing strength in the world. An example is the unprecedented success of ‘Harry Potter’ in book and film form. Through this and similar actions of today’s ‘locusts’, the last remainders of God’s truth are robbed from the hearts and these are made waste and empty. Thus hearts of people become a breeding ground for all kinds of occultism where no trace of ‘green’ can be seen anymore as the fruit of God’s work.

Making known to our children the plagues that will hit the world will warn them to keep themselves separated from the world. We must not only pass on these histories to our children as factual knowledge, but also point out to them that God is at work (cf. Psa 78:3-43Which we have heard and known,
And our fathers have told us.
4We will not conceal them from their children,
But tell to the generation to come the praises of the LORD,
And His strength and His wondrous works that He has done.
). He controls everything to attain His final goal.

Announcement of the Eighth Plague

3Moses and Aaron went to Pharaoh and said to him, “Thus says the LORD, the God of the Hebrews, ‘How long will you refuse to humble yourself before Me? Let My people go, that they may serve Me. 4For if you refuse to let My people go, behold, tomorrow I will bring locusts into your territory. 5They shall cover the surface of the land, so that no one will be able to see the land. They will also eat the rest of what has escaped—what is left to you from the hail—and they will eat every tree which sprouts for you out of the field. 6Then your houses shall be filled and the houses of all your servants and the houses of all the Egyptians, [something] which neither your fathers nor your grandfathers have seen, from the day that they came upon the earth until this day.’” And he turned and went out from Pharaoh.

For the seventh time there is a call: “Let my people go, that they may serve Me” (Exo 5:11And afterward Moses and Aaron came and said to Pharaoh, “Thus says the LORD, the God of Israel, ‘Let My people go that they may celebrate a feast to Me in the wilderness.’”; 7:1616You shall say to him, ‘The LORD, the God of the Hebrews, sent me to you, saying, “Let My people go, that they may serve Me in the wilderness. But behold, you have not listened until now.”; 8:1,201Then the LORD said to Moses, “Go to Pharaoh and say to him, ‘Thus says the LORD, “Let My people go, that they may serve Me.20Now the LORD said to Moses, “Rise early in the morning and present yourself before Pharaoh, as he comes out to the water, and say to him, ‘Thus says the LORD, “Let My people go, that they may serve Me.; 9:11Then the LORD said to Moses, “Go to Pharaoh and speak to him, ‘Thus says the LORD, the God of the Hebrews, “Let My people go, that they may serve Me.; 10:33Moses and Aaron went to Pharaoh and said to him, “Thus says the LORD, the God of the Hebrews, ‘How long will you refuse to humble yourself before Me? Let My people go, that they may serve Me.). In case of refusal there will be locusts, in unprecedented numbers. A single locust is insignificant, makes no impression at all, and can be easily trampled to death. The Israelites in their unbelief felt so in comparison with the giants in Canaan (Num 13:3333There also we saw the Nephilim (the sons of Anak are part of the Nephilim); and we became like grasshoppers in our own sight, and so we were in their sight.”). But in large numbers locusts are overwhelming and devastating (cf. Jdg 6:55For they would come up with their livestock and their tents, they would come in like locusts for number, both they and their camels were innumerable; and they came into the land to devastate it.; 7:1212Now the Midianites and the Amalekites and all the sons of the east were lying in the valley as numerous as locusts; and their camels were without number, as numerous as the sand on the seashore.).

After Moses has delivered his message, he turns around resolutely and leaves Pharaoh. He is not waiting for an answer.

Announcement of the Eighth Plague

7Pharaoh’s servants said to him, “How long will this man be a snare to us? Let the men go, that they may serve the LORD their God. Do you not realize that Egypt is destroyed?” 8So Moses and Aaron were brought back to Pharaoh, and he said to them, “Go, serve the LORD your God! Who are the ones that are going?” 9Moses said, “We shall go with our young and our old; with our sons and our daughters, with our flocks and our herds we shall go, for we must hold a feast to the LORD.” 10Then he said to them, “Thus may the LORD be with you, if ever I let you and your little ones go! Take heed, for evil is in your mind. 11Not so! Go now, the men [among you], and serve the LORD, for that is what you desire.” So they were driven out from Pharaoh’s presence.

It seems as if Pharaoh must be persuaded to avert this plague, so much is his heart hardened. He listens to his servants, and lets Moses and Aaron pack up. Pharaoh wants to let them go, at least that’s how it seems. However, he imposes an unacceptable condition on the departure of the Israelites. This condition also shows how cunning he is.

Pharaoh is not waiting for an answer to his offer. He let Moses and Aaron be chased away. He knows that his proposal would be rejected by them without any form of protest. This chasing away shows that there is no trace of sincerity in him. The judgment that has been announced is therefore rightly carried out.

This trick of Pharaoh, his third one, has to do with the relationship between parents and children. He wants to let the men go, but keep the children as hostages in Egypt. If the parents have celebrated the feast in the wilderness, they will return to Egypt because of their children. His proposal also comes down to the fact that he drives a wedge between parents and children.

Satan is doing the same now. He wants to allow the parents to occupy themselves with the things of the Lord and the Word and go to meetings where God’s Word is preached. But the children are not allowed to participate. But God wants the believers and their children to serve Him in the wilderness. If satan succeeds in holding the children, there is a good chance that the parents will return to the world and to the search for worldly things.

If satan gets the youth in his grip, the testimony of God is lost. However, if serving God and the meetings, wherever they are held, are really a feast, as Moses says here, then we will gladly take our children with us and they will also be glad to be there.

The Eighth Plague: Locusts

12Then the LORD said to Moses, “Stretch out your hand over the land of Egypt for the locusts, that they may come up on the land of Egypt and eat every plant of the land, [even] all that the hail has left.” 13So Moses stretched out his staff over the land of Egypt, and the LORD directed an east wind on the land all that day and all that night; and when it was morning, the east wind brought the locusts. 14The locusts came up over all the land of Egypt and settled in all the territory of Egypt; [they were] very numerous. There had never been so [many] locusts, nor would there be so [many] again. 15For they covered the surface of the whole land, so that the land was darkened; and they ate every plant of the land and all the fruit of the trees that the hail had left. Thus nothing green was left on tree or plant of the field through all the land of Egypt.

The LORD commands Moses to stretch his hand over Egypt. Then Moses stretches out his staff. Not his hand, but the staff of God in his hand makes the plague come. An east wind brings an unequalled number of locusts over Egypt. It is the army of the LORD (Joel 2:1111The LORD utters His voice before His army;
Surely His camp is very great,
For strong is he who carries out His word.
The day of the LORD is indeed great and very awesome,
And who can endure it?
). Everything that has not yet been destroyed by previous judgments is now being eaten. In all of Egypt there is no green left.

Pharaoh Asks for Intercession Again

16Then Pharaoh hurriedly called for Moses and Aaron, and he said, “I have sinned against the LORD your God and against you. 17Now therefore, please forgive my sin only this once, and make supplication to the LORD your God, that He would only remove this death from me.” 18He went out from Pharaoh and made supplication to the LORD. 19So the LORD shifted [the wind] to a very strong west wind which took up the locusts and drove them into the Red Sea; not one locust was left in all the territory of Egypt. 20But the LORD hardened Pharaoh’s heart, and he did not let the sons of Israel go.

This time Pharaoh is in a hurry to summon Moses and Aaron. Again the confession comes over his lips: “I have sinned.” He even asks for forgiveness. He sees that death has entered his country. But the time for repentance is over. His incorrigibility has already proved itself. He has let his appointed time pass by (Jer 46:1717“They cried there, ‘Pharaoh king of Egypt [is but] a big noise;
He has let the appointed time pass by!’
). He did not acknowledge the time of his visitation (Lk 19:4444and they will level you to the ground and your children within you, and they will not leave in you one stone upon another, because you did not recognize the time of your visitation.”).

God is perfectly righteous in the judgment of the hardening. Yet He takes the plague away on the basis of Moses’ prayer. All locusts will die in the Red Sea, where later Pharaoh and his riders will also die. There are no locusts left. What a testimony of His power!

The Ninth Plague: Darkness

21Then the LORD said to Moses, “Stretch out your hand toward the sky, that there may be darkness over the land of Egypt, even a darkness which may be felt.” 22So Moses stretched out his hand toward the sky, and there was thick darkness in all the land of Egypt for three days. 23They did not see one another, nor did anyone rise from his place for three days, but all the sons of Israel had light in their dwellings.

Like the third and the sixth plague, the ninth plague, the darkness, comes without announcement. Like other plagues, this plague is also a revelation of God’s power against the idols of Egypt. Here the principal god, the sun (Ra), the source of light, warmth and life, is completely overpowered by God’s power and shrouded in darkness. The darkness is so great that it is impossible to see anyone else; it is not even possible to move. In complete darkness, there is no orientation at all.

This plague also occurs in the final judgments on the world (Rev 16:1010Then the fifth [angel] poured out his bowl on the throne of the beast, and his kingdom became darkened; and they gnawed their tongues because of pain,). It is the plague that strikes the wicked (Job 18:5-65“Indeed, the light of the wicked goes out,
And the flame of his fire gives no light.
6“The light in his tent is darkened,
And his lamp goes out above him.
) and to which, if he dies in his wickedness, there will be no end. He will be endlessly “in the outer darkness” (Mt 8:1212but the sons of the kingdom will be cast out into the outer darkness; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”; 2Pet 2:1717These are springs without water and mists driven by a storm, for whom the black darkness has been reserved.; Rev 20:1010And the devil who deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are also; and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.).

In this plague we have an illustration of man without God, for he is darkened in the mind (Eph 4:1818being darkened in their understanding, excluded from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the hardness of their heart;). Also his “foolish heart was darkened” (Rom 1:2121For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened.). A man without God goes his way by groping. He doesn’t know where he comes from or where he is going. However God can still shine in his heart “to give the Light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ” (2Cor 4:66For God, who said, “Light shall shine out of darkness,” is the One who has shone in our hearts to give the Light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.). When the church is raptured, man will be completely delivered to satan and his demons, the powers of darkness.

In one place there is light today and that is with the people of God. That was also the case in Egypt. “But all the sons of Israel had light in their dwellings.” Spiritually, Christ was that light as the Passover Lamb. During the three days of darkness the Israelites had a lamb in their house (Exo 12:33Speak to all the congregation of Israel, saying, ‘On the tenth of this month they are each one to take a lamb for themselves, according to their fathers’ households, a lamb for each household.). This reminds us of Revelation 21, where the new Jerusalem says: “Its lamp [is] the Lamb” (Rev 21:2323And the city has no need of the sun or of the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God has illumined it, and its lamp [is] the Lamb.). How good it is when Christ, the true Passover (1Cor 5:77Clean out the old leaven so that you may be a new lump, just as you are [in fact] unleavened. For Christ our Passover also has been sacrificed.), is central in the homes of God’s children.

The Lord Jesus is “the light of the world” (Jn 8:12a12Then Jesus again spoke to them, saying, “I am the Light of the world; he who follows Me will not walk in the darkness, but will have the Light of life.”). Thus He came into the world. Whereas normally darkness disappears when light comes, the arrival of the Light of the world has proven how great the darkness is, for light has been rejected! However the individual who believes in Him will not abide in darkness (Jn 12:4646I have come [as] Light into the world, so that everyone who believes in Me will not remain in darkness.). Children of God are also children of light and are therefore called to walk “as children of light” (Eph 5:88for you were formerly darkness, but now you are Light in the Lord; walk as children of Light).

The Last Compromise Rejected

24Then Pharaoh called to Moses, and said, “Go, serve the LORD; only let your flocks and your herds be detained. Even your little ones may go with you.” 25But Moses said, “You must also let us have sacrifices and burnt offerings, that we may sacrifice [them] to the LORD our God. 26Therefore, our livestock too shall go with us; not a hoof shall be left behind, for we shall take some of them to serve the LORD our God. And until we arrive there, we ourselves do not know with what we shall serve the LORD.” 27But the LORD hardened Pharaoh’s heart, and he was not willing to let them go. 28Then Pharaoh said to him, “Get away from me! Beware, do not see my face again, for in the day you see my face you shall die!” 29Moses said, “You are right; I shall never see your face again!”

Pharaoh calls to Moses again. He has another proposal. They are all allowed to go, only they have to leave their flocks and their herds. Moses doesn’t let himself be deceived this time either. How could they sacrifice to God if they did not take their livestock? He is not prepared for the slightest compromise: there will not even be a hoof of the livestock left in Egypt.

Christ has redeemed us and thereby has a right to all that we are and possess. This total possession must be for His praise and for His service. He must have free access to it all. We must not leave anything of it in the world. This is only possible if through the death and resurrection of Christ we have truly entered a new world where we are aware of what service to Him is all about.

If there is no other way, satan wants us to go and serve God. But what is service to God worth if in our lives no spiritual sacrifices of praise and thanks are found and also our possessions are not sacrificed to Him (Heb 13:15-1615Through Him then, let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that give thanks to His name.16And do not neglect doing good and sharing, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.)? Many Christians believe that the highest service to God is charity or the preaching of the gospel. If, however, no spiritual sacrifices of praise and thanks are made, satan has succeeded in his deceit.

We do not read that the Father seeks all kinds of Christian activity, although He appreciates and will reward it. We read that He seeks worshippers who worship Him in spirit and truth (Jn 4:23-2423But an hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for such people the Father seeks to be His worshipers.24God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.”). Above all, his heart desires that our hearts go out to Him and his gift in Christ.

Pharaoh is at the end of all his tricks. He bursts into anger against Moses. He never wants to see Moses again. “This will happen,” says Moses in peace and quiet. If Pharaoh later calls to Moses and Aaron again (Exo 12:3131Then he called for Moses and Aaron at night and said, “Rise up, get out from among my people, both you and the sons of Israel; and go, worship the LORD, as you have said.), it is in a completely different situation and relation.

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