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May 18 – God commands the dust and the flies to afflict Egypt

The magicians tried by their secret arts to produce gnats, but they could not. So there were gnats on man and beast. Then the magicians said to Pharaoh, “This is the finger of God.” But Pharaoh’s heart was hardened, and he would not listen to them, as the LORD had said. – Exodus 8:18-19

Scripture reading: Exodus 8:16-32; Psalm 66

In the third and fourth plagues, the LORD chose small and seemingly trivial bugs to make a serious point: the Egyptians were being confronted by the LORD of heaven and earth. The gnats (or lice) were taken from the dust of the earth to afflict the Egyptians. The flies were taken from the skies to drive the Egyptians mad. These plagues testified that the LORD’s power was incredible. It’s almost amusing that the magicians – who had created snakes, blood, and frogs through their dark secret arts – are now stumped by the most insignificant of critters – the gnat! These demonically empowered men now confront the truth: “This is God’s doing!”

But Pharaoh refuses to heed the Word of the LORD. He tries to trap the Hebrews by offering them a chance to make sacrifices in Egypt. He tries to twist God’s commands and keep the Hebrews in a place of compromised loyalty to God. Yet what do we see? Moses and Aaron confront Pharaoh’s lies and attempts to cheat them. God was bringing the powers of Egypt to its knees and humbling every refuge, every so-called god that they turned to, by displaying His absolute power over them.

Charles Spurgeon explains, “God’s demand is not that his people should have some little liberty, some little rest in their sin, no, but that they should go right out of Egypt… Christ did not come into the world merely to make our sin more tolerable, but to deliver us right away from it.”

Suggestions for prayer

Pray that our Father, as He instructs us as His children, gives us discernment to see the temptations which are placed in our path to turn aside from Him or to offer compromised sacrifices to Him.

This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Norman Van Eeden Petersman is the pastor of the Vancouver Associated Presbyterian Church in BC.

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