It’s the warm season in Mexico now, and it seems like the bugs want to get in from the heat as well. Do you all know that buzzing you hear when a fly or mosquito is close by your ear? Well, I’ve heard that lately as I lay in bed trying to fall asleep. I seem to be a bug magnet and will often swat and the “invisible” pests in the dark. I can’t imagine having a swarm of them as in today’s reading. In general, I am not a fan of bugs. God’s sense of humor is clear in that we live in Mexico now where the bugs all seem so much bigger and more in love with me than ever before.
But for the people in Egypt, these pests were nasty. First gnats and then flies. What struck me is that the magicians couldn’t replicate the gnats, and it never said whether they tried flies or not. I loved how they told Pharaoh that the gnats were the “finger of God.” But Pharoah didn’t listen. God’s hardening was still at work. Interesting that the magicians recognized God at least.
Then came the flies. This plague was different in so many ways. Moses met Pharaoh on his way to the river. This time the Israelites would be spared. It was yet another way God used to show his power. These buzzing, swarming pests were surely not pleasant. And the flies arrived causing chaos for the Egyptians.
Pharaoh seemed to be softening a little when he called for Moses and Aaron. He gave in to the extent that he would let the people offer their sacrifices to God so long as they didn’t leave. But Moses believed the Egyptians would detest this practice and asked again to go into the wilderness. Pharaoh agreed. I’m sure Moses and Aaron thought that was fantastic.
Another surprising turn of events is when Pharaoh asked them to pray for him. What do you think that was all about? Pharaoh didn’t even know who this God was? Was he curious? I think we have all known people who have seen our devotion and are curious. Or maybe they’ve seen how we can stay positive in the face of adversity. How can we do that? The joy of the Lord is our strength. When we focus on what God has done for us, it is so much easier to get through the tough spots.
As Moses left Pharaoh that day, he agreed to pray right away and told him that God would remove the flies the next day. But Moses didn’t trust Pharaoh to keep his word, did he? “But I’m warning you…” Moses told the Pharaoh, “don’t lie to us again and refuse to let the people go.” God was faithful to Moses’ request, but just as Moses had feared, fickle Pharaoh changed his mind again.
We don’t hear here how the Israelites felt. Maybe they didn’t even know that Moses had had a small victory. They probably shouldn’t have waited a day. Have you experienced that when someone changes their mind at the last minute? Those changes can really disrupt a plan. What’s the result? Frustration. Disappointment. Anger perhaps?
How long was God going to keep this going? Who was he testing? Pharaoh’s strength as a leader? Moses’ obedience as a child of God? The Israelites trust? What do you think?
Let’s pray. Lord, help me to see you at work in my life. Help me to step out of my own way so that I can be exactly who you made me to be. I want to be a shining light for you. Ignite in me the fire I need. May I rest in your peace when things don’t go the way I expect. In Jesus’ name. Amen.