Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Why Did God Send Plagues?

"Locusts" Image courtesy of
Can you imagine swarms of flies covering every surface, swatting away clouds of gnats, or taking the lid off a pot of water and finding out it had turned to blood? I’ve been reading in Exodus about the plagues God sent on Egypt; they give me the heebee-geebees just thinking about them!

When Pharaoh stubbornly refused to allow the Israelite slaves to go and worship God, why didn’t God just whisk away the Israelis to a new place, like he did with Philip in Acts 8:26-40? Why did He feel the plagues were necessary?

Exodus 9:13-16 gives two reasons why: “Go to Pharaoh and tell him, 'The LORD, the God of the Hebrews, says: I will prove to you that there is no other God like me in all the earth. . . I could have killed you all by now. I could have attacked you with a plague that would have wiped you from the face of the earth. But I have let you live for this reason -- that you might see my power and that my fame might spread throughout the earth.’”

First of all, God cared about the Egyptian people and His desire was for them to know Him. Second, He wanted them to see for themselves that He was the One and Only, All-Powerful God, as opposed to all the false gods they worshiped.

While those thoughts astounded me, I wondered if perhaps the plagues were also for the benefit of the Israelis.

After years and years under cruel slavery, the Israelis were not sure God even existed, let alone answering their pleas for deliverance. The plagues proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that their God did exist and did indeed hear their cries.

The plagues also showed the Israelis that God was in control of ALL things—reptiles, bugs, weather, water, angels, even the all-powerful Pharaoh.

The fact that the plagues never touched the Israelis or their land or their animals demonstrated firsthand how God could protect them in the midst of disaster. By the time the Israelis left Egypt and crossed the Red Sea, they had a clear picture of God's power.

Might our own sufferings and disasters do the same for us? When we have come through on the other side, do we see God’s hand at work and say, “Ah, yes! He cares! This is what He wanted me to learn.”

Twice during the 38 years Dick and I have been in the pastorate, we have felt overwhelmed and burdened by discouraging and hopelessly unchanging situations in our work environment. We were frustrated, stymied, and just plain stuck. But each time, God revealed His love and care for Dick and I by unexpectedly intervening and rekindling our passion for ministry with the fuel of new opportunities. He taught us that with God there is always hope for change; with Him, we are never without options.

My prayer is that God will enable each one who is trudging though one of life’s dark valleys or who is beaten down and discouraged by trials and disappointments to be able to see His hand of mercy.

What plagues in your life has God used to demonstrate His love and power? What lessons has He taught you through it all?


©2014 Pamela D. Williams