The book of Exodus opens with the Jewish people enslaved to Pharaoh and closes with them delivered from Egypt and free to worship God. While the plagues God brought upon Egypt might be viewed simply as agents of destruction, it’s important to remember that God had another purpose: to save His people and bring them into relationship with Him. God is in the business of redemption! Exodus focuses on God’s desire for His people to worship Him, and the plagues are a means to that end. The first plague, turning water to blood, shows God’s power over the River Nile, which the Egyptians worshiped. It was a judgment on idolatry.
Then comes the second plague: frogs. Why frogs? First, the water is unsustainable for river creatures once it’s turned to blood. The fish simply die, but the frogs escape the river of blood and fill the land. This, too, is God’s judgment on idolatry. Frogs were revered as a symbol of fertility, and their death became an unclean stench in every home. As with the first plague, God is answering Pharaoh’s question from two chapters earlier: “Pharaoh said, ‘Who is the Lord, that I should obey His voice to let Israel go? I do not know the Lord, nor will I let Israel go’” (Exodus 5:2).
Time and time again, God rains down plagues on Egypt so that Pharaoh will know that there is no one like Him (Exodus 7:10). With the addition of the gnats without warning, Pharaoh’s magicians recognize that “God has done this,” yet Pharaoh still reneges on his promise to let Israel worship the Creator (v. 15, 19). Pharaoh’s continued disobedience unleashes continued disorder, disintegration, and a return to dust.
If the story of Exodus were to be aired by the news media today, the emphasis probably would be on the endangered frogs or the failure of the sanitation department. But the focus of God’s story is redemption. God saved Israel out of our slavery to worship Him. And that continues to be His purpose in saving people.
People are naturally entangled, even enslaved, by whatever “gods” seem to be in power. In our society, it may be the pursuit of money in hopes that material goods will offer happiness or security. Or the seemingly sacred, yet false, idea that real freedom is doing whatever we choose. It’s easy to be conditioned by the surrounding culture and caught up in our own agendas and desires. Thank God, He bought us out of bondage to sin and self-centeredness with a price that we could never repay—the blood of Jesus, the Lamb of God.
God designed us, both Jews and Gentiles, to journey with Him in trust and obedience. Looking to Him, our Creator, the only One who brings life from dust, prompts us to do just that. Together we find that God’s promises are true and His plans prevail. He releases us into true freedom, peace, and power.
God, our Redeemer, Your Word is true, and You never fail us. You want us to be free to love You. Show us anything we might be worshiping in our hearts other than You. Please continue bringing us out of our slavery and into Your freedom. I ask this in the name of the Messiah Jesus, amen.