Today there's something in the wind. I can feel it. In our story, we open with the Lord's orders to Moses. As we observe His words, it's clear to see that His righteous anger is building. He begins by telling Moses to go to Pharaoh. But He quickly adds that He's already hardened his heart. This is just like at the beginning of the the story. Moses already knows that his pleas won't work, but he trusts God and goes anyways. When he gains Pharaoh's audience, Moses' patience is waning. "Thus says the Lord, 'How long will you refuse to humble yourself before me? Let my people go that they may serve me. For if you refuse to let my people go, behold, tomorrow I will bring locusts into your country, and they shall cover the face of the land, so that no one can see the land. And they shall eat what is left to you after the hail, and they shall eat every tree of yours that grows in the field, and they shall fill your houses and the houses of all your servants and of all the Egyptians, as neither your fathers nor your grandfathers have seen, from the day they came on earth to this day.’" Then he turned and went out from Pharaoh." (Exodus 10:3-6) Moses wasn't going to sit around and wait for this hard-hearted Pharaoh. He gave his speech, turned around, and walked out. So there.
Next we heard from Pharaoh's servants for the first time. Their interesting (and unusually bold) advice to the king of Egypt went like this. "How long shall this man be a snare to us? Let the men go, that they may serve the LORD their God. Do you not yet understand that Egypt is ruined?" (Exodus 10:7)
So Moses and Aaron were sent for again. Pharaoh clearly took his servants' advice and promptly agreed to let the people of Israel go. Now this agreeing of Pharaoh's was very different from his previous ones, for, this time, the promised plague had not yet been sent
. Pharaoh had a one way ticket to freedom. He could have easily bypassed Plague #8 - locusts - by simply letting the Israelites go.
"Go serve your God," said Pharaoh, but then a measure of trepidation suddenly entered his voice. "But which ones are to go?" (Exodus 10:8) I can hear Moses' matter-of-fact answer. "Why, everyone of course! Young, old. Sons, daughters. Flocks, herds. Everybody!" Pharaoh's angry now. This is ridiculous. "The LORD
be with you, if ever I let you and your little ones go!" he snapped. "Look, you have some evil purpose in mind. No! Go, the men among you, and serve the LORD
, for that is what you are asking.” (Exodus 10:10-11a) Then, "they were driven out from Pharaoh's presence." (Exodus 10:11b) So, needless to say, everybody's pretty keyed up right about now. But what's to happen next?
"So Moses stretched out his staff over the land of Egypt, and the LORD
brought an east wind upon the land all that day and all that night. When it was morning, the east wind had brought the locusts. The locusts came up over all the land of Egypt and settled on the whole country of Egypt, such a dense swarm of locusts as had never been before, nor ever will be again. They covered the face of the whole land, so that the land was darkened, and they ate all the plants in the land and all the fruit of the trees that the hail had left. Not a green thing remained, neither tree nor plant of the field, through all the land of Egypt." (Exodus 10:13-15) Ah! I thought something was in the wind! Locusts! And in the east wind. Yes, Pharaoh's "gracious" offer to let the Israelite men go was really not so gracious at all. He was only giving a half-hearted answer, revealing that he really didn't care about the Israelites or their cause; he simply hoped to appease Moses and get him out of his hair.
"Then Pharaoh hastily called Moses and Aaron and said, “I have sinned against the LORD
your God, and against you." (Exodus 10:16) I find that verb there so interesting: "hastily
." No lolly-gagging for this Pharaoh! He had no time to lose! He called Moses as quickly as possible. "Now therefore," he said, "forgive my sin, please, only this once, and plead with the LORD
your God only to remove this death from me.” So he [Moses] went out from Pharaoh and pleaded with the LORD
. And the LORD
turned the wind into a very strong west wind, which lifted the locusts and drove them into the Red Sea. Not a single locust was left in all the country of Egypt. But the LORD
hardened Pharaoh's heart, and he did not let the people of Israel go." (Exodus 10:17-20)
Well the wind has changed. Literally. Moses called out to the Lord, so He sent a west wind which picked up all the locusts and blew them deep into the Red Sea. "Not a single locust was left in all the country of Egypt," we read. "But the LORD
hardened Pharaoh's heart, and he did not let the people of Israel go." It's the same old story, but we're nearing the end. Two more plagues left and then everything will change dramatically, and life as everyone knows it will never be the same. But what are the last two plagues? And what's to come? Well, you'll just have to wait and see. In the mean time, I encourage you to meditate on this plague, our great God's power, and this perturbed Pharaoh's actions, keeping this Psalm in mind,
"Ascribe power to God, whose majesty is over Israel, and whose power is in the skies." Psalm 68:34