1. A PROTEST AGAINST SENSELESS WORSHIP
a. What was the first plague, and why was it sent? Exodus 7:14–21.
“During the plagues on Egypt Pharaoh was punctual in his superstitious devotion to the river, and visited it every morning, and as he stood upon its banks he offered praise and thanksgiving to the water, recounting the great good it accomplished, and telling the water of its great power; that without it they could not exist; for their lands were watered by it, and it supplied meat for their tables.”—Spiritual Gifts, vol. 4A, pp. 54, 55.
b. What was the second plague, and how did God choose to remove the effects of this plague? Exodus 8:2–14.
“The frog was regarded as sacred by the Egyptians, and they would not destroy it; but the slimy pests had now become intolerable. . . .
“The Lord could have caused them to return to dust in a moment; but He did not do this lest after their removal the king and his people should pronounce it the result of sorcery or enchantment, like the work of the magicians. The frogs died, and were then gathered together in heaps.”—Patriarchs and Prophets, pp. 265, 266.
2. GOD CARES FOR HIS OWN
a. How did the Lord make a distinction in those affected by the fourth plague? Exodus 8:20–24.
“Flies filled the houses and swarmed upon the ground, so that ‘the land was corrupted by reason of the swarms of flies.’ These flies were large and venomous, and their bite was extremely painful to man and beast. As had been foretold, this visitation did not extend to the land of Goshen.”—Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 266.
b. What further distinction was made by God in the fifth and ninth plagues? Exodus 9:1–6; 10:22, 23.
“A more terrible stroke followed—murrain upon all the Egyptian cattle that were in the field. Both the sacred animals and the beasts of burden—kine and oxen and sheep, horses and camels and asses—were destroyed. It had been distinctly stated that the Hebrews were to be exempt; and Pharaoh, on sending messengers to the home of the Israelites, proved the truth of this declaration of Moses. ‘Of the cattle of the children of Israel died not one.’ Still the king was obstinate.”—Ibid., p. 267.
“Suddenly a darkness settled upon the land, so thick and black that it seemed a ‘darkness which may be felt.’ Not only were the people deprived of light, but the atmosphere was very oppressive, so that breathing was difficult. ‘They saw not one another, neither rose any from his place for three days: but all the children of Israel had light in their dwellings.’ The sun and moon were objects of worship to the Egyptians; in this mysterious darkness the people and their gods alike were smitten by the power that had undertaken the cause of the bondmen.”—Ibid., p. 272.
c. What care did the Lord promise to have for His people? Deuteronomy 32:43; Psalm 103:8. How was this care later to extend to the Egyptians during the ninth plague?
“Yet fearful as it was, this judgment [during the ninth plague] is an evidence of God’s compassion and His unwillingness to destroy. He would give the people time for reflection and repentance before bringing upon them the last and most terrible of the plagues.”—Ibid.
3. THE MAGICIANS ADMIT DEFEAT
a. What was the reaction of the magicians to the third plague? Exodus 8:18, 19.
“At the command of God, Aaron stretched out his hand, and the dust of the earth became lice throughout all the land of Egypt. Pharaoh called upon the magicians to do the same, but they could not. The work of God was thus shown to be superior to that of Satan. The magicians themselves acknowledged, ‘This is the finger of God.’ But the king was still unmoved.”—Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 266.
b. How did God instruct Moses to introduce the plague of boils? Exodus 9:8–10. What was significant about the ashes coming from the furnace?
“Moses was next directed to take ashes of the furnace, and ‘sprinkle it toward heaven in the sight of Pharaoh.’ This act was deeply significant. Four hundred years before, God had shown to Abraham the future oppression of His people, under the figure of a smoking furnace and a burning lamp. He had declared that He would visit judgments upon their oppressors, and would bring forth the captives with great substance. In Egypt, Israel had long languished in the furnace of affliction. This act of Moses was an assurance to them that God was mindful of His covenant, and that the time for their deliverance had come.”—Ibid., p. 267.
c. What effect did the boils have upon the magicians? Exodus 9:11.
“As the ashes were sprinkled toward heaven, the fine particles spread over all the land of Egypt, and wherever they settled, produced boils ‘breaking forth with blains upon man, and upon beast.’ The priests and magicians had hitherto encouraged Pharaoh in his stubbornness, but now a judgment had come that reached even them. Smitten with a loathsome and painful disease, their vaunted power only making them contemptible, they were no longer able to contend against the God of Israel. The whole nation was made to see the folly of trusting in the magicians, when they were not able to protect even their own persons.”—Ibid.
4. THE EGYPTIANS ARE FEARFUL
a. How did God warn the Egyptians in mercy concerning the seventh plague, and what were the results? Exodus 9:18–21.
“Rain or hail was unusual in Egypt, and such a storm as was foretold had never been witnessed. The report spread rapidly, and all who believed the word of the Lord gathered in their cattle, while those who despised the warning left them in the field. Thus in the midst of judgment the mercy of God was displayed, the people were tested, and it was shown how many had been led to fear God by the manifestation of His power.
“Ruin and desolation marked the path of the destroying angel. The land of Goshen alone was spared. It was demonstrated to the Egyptians that the earth is under the control of the living God, that the elements obey His voice, and that the only safety is in obedience to Him.”—Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 269.
b. After God warned the Egyptians of the eighth plague of locusts, what showed that Pharaoh’s servants were afraid of God? Exodus 10:7.
“The counselors of Pharaoh stood aghast. The nation had sustained great loss in the death of their cattle. Many of the people had been killed by the hail. The forests were broken down and the crops destroyed. They were fast losing all that had been gained by the labor of the Hebrews. The whole land was threatened with starvation. Princes and courtiers pressed about the king and angrily demanded, ‘How long shall this man be a snare unto us? let the men go, that they may serve the Lord their God: knowest thou not yet that Egypt is destroyed?’”—Ibid., p. 271.
c. After all that had happened thus far, how did Pharaoh show that he was still not willing to let all of Israel go? Exodus 10:8–11.
“Pharaoh had endeavored to destroy the Israelites by hard labor, but he now pretended to have a deep interest in their welfare and a tender care for their little ones. His real object was to keep the women and children as surety for the return of the men.”—Ibid.
5. REBELLION IS A CHOICE
a. What was the effect upon Pharaoh of each successive judgment of God? Exodus 9:7, 35; 10:3.
“God speaks to men through His servants, giving cautions and warnings, and rebuking sin. He gives to each an opportunity to correct his errors before they become fixed in the character; but if one refuses to be corrected, divine power does not interpose to counteract the tendency of his own action. He finds it more easy to repeat the same course. He is hardening the heart against the influence of the Holy Spirit. A further rejection of light places him where a far stronger influence will be ineffectual to make an abiding impression.”—Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 268.
b. As Pharaoh chose to be in rebellion to God, to what is this sin likened, and what is always the result of such a choice? 1 Samuel 15:23 (first part); Proverbs 28:14.
“He who manifests an infidel hardihood, a stolid indifference to divine truth, is but reaping the harvest of that which he has himself sown. It is thus that multitudes come to listen with stoical indifference to the truths that once stirred their very souls. They sowed neglect and resistance to the truth, and such is the harvest which they reap.”—Ibid., pp. 268, 269.
PERSONAL REVIEW QUESTIONS
1. How were the gods of Egypt shown to be inferior to the God of heaven during the first and second plagues?
2. During the plagues, how did God show His care of both His people and the Egyptians?
3. How did the lice and the boils defeat the magicians?
4. How did the Egyptians show that they believed God’s Word concerning the coming plague of hail? How do we show belief in God’s Word?
5. What two attitudes lead to unbelief?