I won’t put myself above the rest. If I’d been an Israelite at the time of the Exodus, there’s a good chance I’d have purchased a few Egyptian gods for my shelf. As there were plenty to choose from. Perhaps eighty or so, with a few more popular than the others. Like Hapi, god of the flood. Khnum, guard of the Nile. Osiris, god of the underworld.
Devotional Scripture: Exodus 7:14-25
Key Verse: “To you it was shown, that you might know that the LORD is God; there is no other besides him.” Deuteronomy 4:35
Then there was Hathor the goddess of love, represented as a cow. (Interesting choice in my opinion.) Heqt, the god who helped with childbirth, represented by a frog. (Hmmm…) And Amon-Re, the sun god, a favorite of many in Egypt’s hot sunny climate.
But seeing as Israel had been enslaved for hundreds of years, with heavy burdens, and no sign of the LORD’s favor. Yet Egyptians were living the high life, prosperous and successful, why not try out a few of their gods? Maybe there was something to it. Couldn’t hurt, right?
This the mindset of an Egyptian influenced Israel, God had some work to do. But he was up for the challenge. Bringing a one-two punch with just the first plague by turning the Nile to blood. Their life source and greatest asset, the Nile offered not only food and transportation, but fertile ground, and need I say it, water.
The only reason the first plague didn’t destroy Egypt is because God lifted his hand after seven days. But it sure would have rocked their world. The equivalent is us going to the gas station only to realize we’d just pumped 20 gallons of blood into our mini vans. I can hardly fathom the crippling effect, but let’s try.
First, we’d be walking home AND staying there. Second, no tractors could run. Trucks would be unable to make deliveries. Crops would rot in the fields. Grocery store shelves would go empty. (You get the idea.) But then imagine you get the smart idea of siphoning the gas out of your lawn mower only to realize it too had been turned to blood.
I’m picturing some very confused mamas the morning of the first plague. Because it wasn’t just the Nile that reeked of blood. It was every bit of water in the land. Canals, ponds, pools, and even the vessels of wood and stone at home on the counter. (I know they probably didn’t have counters – just go with me here.) Up early to make pancakes and want does mom find? Blood.
How much do you want to bet kids all over Egypt got in trouble that morning for filling their mother’s pots with blood? “But mom, I promise I didn’t do it!” (Evidence this was a miraculous event and not just from natural causes like red silting of the Nile.)
Realizing the catastrophe at hand, Egypt would have turned to their Nile associated gods. And seeing as the Nile was so loved and adored, there were lots! Yet all of them were rendered powerless by one simple act of God because while Pharaoh’s magicians had no trouble mimicking the sign, they were not able to undo it.
The people were stuck. No matter how long or hard they called on their so-called gods, the water remained contaminated. It’s believed that Egypt’s priests daily washed their idols with water. Yet for seven days, there only choice was to wash them with blood.
The LORD was sending a loud and clear message to Israel and Egypt alike, that He alone is God and there is no other. To believe in the power of idols. To set your hope in something made of stone or wood, carved by human hands, with no power to save, no life, was to set your hope on death. Blood.
Yet to hope in the LORD God, to worship Him, is to hope in the One who made, sustains, and holds life. Is it any wonder then that God’s initial display of sovereignty in Egypt, a land full of idols, was to turn water to blood? While Jesus’ initial display of sovereignty in Israel, a land He filled with his awesome presence, was to turn water to wine!
In Christ, there is life in abundance. In anything else, there is death.
Yet did they understand? Did they take the warning to heart? We know Pharaoh didn’t. Did Egypt? By the end, with nothing left to their name, bearing the loss of their firstborn, I’m sure there were some. But what of Israel? Did it sink in that God was God and there was no other?
In Deuteronomy 4 toward the end of their 40-year hiatus in the wilderness, Moses urged Israel to remember how blessed there were because of what they’d seen and heard and experienced saying, “Or has any god ever attempted to go and take a nation for himself from the midst of another nation, by trials, by signs, by wonders…all of which the LORD your God did for you in Egypt before your eyes? To you it was shown, that you might know that the LORD is God; there is no other besides him” (v. 34-35).
To you it was shown Israel that you might know there is none besides HIM. The blood, the frogs, the gnats, the flies, the livestock, the boils, the hail, locusts, and darkness. And then the Passover. The riches of Egypt in their possession. The cloud by day the fire by night. God’s presence ever with them. Guiding them. Protecting them. Providing for them.
It should have been more than enough. Yet God’s made himself evident to us as well but has it been enough for us to turn from our idols? (It’s getting personal now.) The money we cling to. The dreams we worship. The people we idolize. The stuff we covet. The television we mediate on.
Still top priority, after all God’s done for us…
The cross. The tomb. The resurrection. The redemption. The gift of God. The adoption as sons and daughters. The inheritance. The hope. The Helper. The promise of His presence forever. “The riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth” (Eph. 1:7b-10).
But is it enough for us to know and believe the LORD is God and there is no other? To leave our idols behind? To seek His glory? To seek His face? (Yes, it’s more than enough.)
God did wonders in Egypt that they might know. And God’s done wonders in us that we might too. So let’s set the other stuff aside. Let’s leave it where it belongs – in His hands, for His purposes. And let’s raise our hands to Jesus. Who proved himself worthy long ago by redeeming Israel and then proved it again by redeeming us.
Contemplate and Evaluate:
How did God prove himself to Israel? How has God proved himself to us? How has God proved himself to you personally? Are there idols you need to set aside, things you’ve allowed on the shelf just in case God falls through? Ask the LORD and seek to set them aside, because it’s He alone who is God.