A Child's Lenten Meditation-Day 6
Bricks Without Straw
1 Afterward Moses and Aaron went to Pharaoh and said, "This is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says: 'Let my people go, so that they may hold a festival to me in the wilderness.' " 2Pharaoh said, "Who is the LORD, that I should obey him and let Israel go? I do not know the LORD and I will not let Israel go." 3 Then they said, "The God of the Hebrews has met with us. Now let us take a three-day journey into the wilderness to offer sacrifices to the LORD our God, or he may strike us with plagues or with the sword." 4 But the king of Egypt said, "Moses and Aaron, why are you taking the people away from their labor? Get back to your work!" 5 Then Pharaoh said, "Look, the people of the land are now numerous, and you are stopping them from working."6 That same day Pharaoh gave this order to the slave drivers and overseers in charge of the people: 7 "You are no longer to supply the people with straw for making bricks; let them go and gather their own straw. 8 But require them to make the same number of bricks as before; don't reduce the quota. They are lazy; that is why they are crying out, 'Let us go and sacrifice to our God.' 9 Make the work harder for them so that they keep working and pay no attention to lies."
19 The Israelite overseers realized they were in trouble when they were told, "You are not to reduce the number of bricks required of you for each day." 20When they left Pharaoh, they found Moses and Aaron waiting to meet them, 21 and they said, "May the LORD look on you and judge you! You have made us obnoxious to Pharaoh and his officials and have put a sword in their hand to kill us."
God Promises Deliverance22 Moses returned to the LORD and said, "Why, Lord, why have you brought trouble on this people? Is this why you sent me? 23 Ever since I went to Pharaoh to speak in your name, he has brought trouble on this people, and you have not rescued your people at all."
1 Then the LORD said to Moses, "Now you will see what I will do to Pharaoh: Because of my mighty hand he will let them go; because of my mighty hand he will drive them out of his country."
The Plague of Blood14 Then the LORD said to Moses, "Pharaoh's heart is unyielding; he refuses to let the people go.15 Go to Pharaoh in the morning as he goes out to the river. Wait on the bank of the Nile to meet him, and take in your hand the staff that was changed into a snake. 16 Then say to him, 'The LORD, the God of the Hebrews, has sent me to say to you: Let my people go, so that they may worship me in the wilderness. But until now you have not listened. 17 This is what the LORD says: By this you will know that I am the LORD: With the staff that is in my hand I will strike the water of the Nile, and it will be changed into blood. 18 The fish in the Nile will die, and the river will stink; the Egyptians will not be able to drink its water.' " 19 The LORD said to Moses, "Tell Aaron, 'Take your staff and stretch out your hand over the waters of Egypt--over the streams and canals, over the ponds and all the reservoirs--and they will turn to blood.' Blood will be everywhere in Egypt, even in the wooden buckets and stone jars." 20 Moses and Aaron did just as the LORD had commanded. He raised his staff in the presence of Pharaoh and his officials and struck the water of the Nile, and all the water was changed into blood. 21 The fish in the Nile died, and the river smelled so bad that the Egyptians could not drink its water. Blood was everywhere in Egypt.22 But the Egyptian magicians did the same things by their secret arts, and Pharaoh's heartbecame hard; he would not listen to Moses and Aaron, just as the LORD had said. 23 Instead, he turned and went into his palace, and did not take even this to heart. 24 And all the Egyptians dug along the Nile to get drinking water, because they could not drink the water of the river.
The Plague of Frogs25 Seven days passed after the LORD struck the Nile.
1 Then the LORD said to Moses, "Go to Pharaoh and say to him, 'This is what the LORD says: Let my people go, so that they may worship me. 2 If you refuse to let them go, I will send a plague of frogs on your whole country. 3 The Nile will teem with frogs. They will come up into your palace and your bedroom and onto your bed, into the houses of your officials and on your people,and into your ovens and kneading troughs. 4 The frogs will come up on you and your people and all your officials.' " 5 Then the LORD said to Moses, "Tell Aaron, 'Stretch out your hand with your staff over the streams and canals and ponds, and make frogs come up on the land of Egypt.' " 6So Aaron stretched out his hand over the waters of Egypt, and the frogs came up and covered the land. 7 But the magicians did the same things by their secret arts; they also made frogs come up on the land of Egypt. 8 Pharaoh summoned Moses and Aaron and said, "Pray to the LORD to take the frogs away from me and my people, and I will let your people go to offer sacrifices to the LORD." 9 Moses said to Pharaoh, "I leave to you the honor of setting the time for me to pray for you and your officials and your people that you and your houses may be rid of the frogs, except for those that remain in the Nile." 10 "Tomorrow," Pharaoh said. Moses replied, "It will be as you say, so that you may know there is no one like the LORD our God. 11 The frogs will leave you and your houses, your officials and your people; they will remain only in the Nile." 12 After Moses and Aaron left Pharaoh, Moses cried out to the LORD about the frogs he had brought on Pharaoh. 13 And the LORD did what Moses asked. The frogs died in the houses, in the courtyards and in the fields. 14 They were piled into heaps, and the land reeked of them. 15 But when Pharaoh saw that there was relief, he hardened his heart and would not listen to Moses and Aaron, just as the LORD had said.
Pharaoh doesn't see any reason why he should obey the God of the Hebrews. After all, if the God of the Hebrews were strong they wouldn't have ended up as his slaves. That's the way he thought.
Notice, they haven't yet asked Pharaoh to set them free and let them leave Egypt forever, they just want to leave for 3 days to worship their God in the desert.
Pharaoh's response is angry and cruel. He requires them to make the same amount of bricks as they have before, but now they must gather straw to do it. It's twice as much work to do in the same amount of time.
This is how the plagues begin. One by one God will show Pharaoh that he is stronger than all of Egypt's gods. The God who IS is really in control.
He starts with the Nile. You see it doesn't rain in Egypt, not very often. It rains far, far away in the mountains of Ethiopia and the rain swells the river and eventually the water from Ethiopia travels down the Nile and floods Egypt. The Egyptians built canals to catch all of this water and water their crops with it. Without the Nile flooding, they would have nothing to eat out in the desert where they were. They called this annual flood of the Nile "The coming of Hapi".
Hapi was the name of the Nile flood. They worshipped Hapi because he brought them water, so they thought. They also threw all of the Hebrew babies into the Nile when they killed them. (It may have been because Moses was found in the river that Pharaoh's daughter saved him. He would have been seen as a gift of the god.)
God turns the Nile into blood. What has once been a source of life to the Egyptians is now a stinking, disgusting, frightening source of death. God is stronger than Hapi. That's what He is showing the Egyptians.
Every year when the Nile flooded thousands of frogs would appear. The Egyptians began to associate the frogs with fertility. They even had a goddess name Heqet who they believed was in charge of whether women were able to have children and was there during the last stages of labor.
What do you think they thought about having too many frogs?
What would that tell them?
Again the point was that God was in control. They had to ask the God of the Hebrews to take the frogs away.
Think how disgusting it must have been to have piles and piles and piles of dead frogs heaped up everywhere.
Life was getting uncomfortable and disturbing for the Egyptians. But Pharaoh would still not let the Israelites go.
Moses told people what was going to happen before it did, and people in Egypt started to believe him. Those who did did what they could to protect themselves from the plagues.
18 Therefore, at this time tomorrow I will send the worst hailstorm that has ever fallen on Egypt, from the day it was founded till now. 19 Give an order now to bring your livestock and everything you have in the field to a place of shelter, because the hail will fall on every person and animal that has not been brought in and is still out in the field, and they will die.' " 20 Those officials of Pharaoh who feared the word of the LORD hurried to bring their slaves and their livestock inside. 21 But those who ignored the word of the LORD left their slaves and livestock in the field. 22 Then the LORD said to Moses, "Stretch out your hand toward the sky so that hail will fall all over Egypt--on people and animals and on everything growing in the fields of Egypt." 23 When Moses stretched out his staff toward the sky, the LORD sent thunder and hail, and lightning flashed down to the ground. So the LORD rained hail on the land of Egypt; 24 hail fell and lightning flashed back and forth. It was the worst storm in all the land of Egypt since it had become a nation. 25 Throughout Egypt hail struck everything in the fields--both people and animals; it beat down everything growing in the fields and stripped every tree. 26 The only place it did not hail was the land of Goshen, where the Israelites were.
But the plagues never touched the Israelites.
There would be 10 plagues in all. Each of them would show the Egyptians, and the Israelites because they needed to be reminded as well, that it was the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob who was really in charge.
At any point Pharaoh could have stopped it by obeying God, but over and over he promised to let them go, begged Moses to ask God to take away the plague, and then changed his mind and went back on his word once the plague has passed.
These were the 10 plagues.
Wild animals attacking
Sickness of the cattle
Death of the First born
Not only would they show that God was stronger than the Egyptian gods, but they would destroy Egypt.
The hail destroyed their crops. The sickness killed their cattle. The crops that survived the hail were devoured by the locusts. The Egyptians got sick, covered in big yucky sores, and bitten by lice.
But the darkness would have been the scariest thing yet. The most strong and revered Egyptian Gods had to do with the sky. There was Ra, the sun god, and Horus, the god of the sky. This scared Pharaoh enough that he almost let everyone go.
Exodus 10-The Plague of Darkness21 Then the LORD said to Moses, "Stretch out your hand toward the sky so that darkness spreads over Egypt--darkness that can be felt." 22 So Moses stretched out his hand toward the sky, and total darkness covered all Egypt for three days. 23 No one could see anyone else or move about for three days. Yet all the Israelites had light in the places where they lived. 24 Then Pharaoh summoned Moses and said, "Go, worship the LORD. Even your women and childrenmay go with you; only leave your flocks and herds behind." 25 But Moses said, "You must allow us to have sacrifices and burnt offerings to present to the LORD our God. 26 Our livestock too must go with us; not a hoof is to be left behind. We have to use some of them in worshiping the LORD our God, and until we get there we will not know what we are to use to worship the LORD."27 But the LORD hardened Pharaoh's heart, and he was not willing to let them go. 28 Pharaoh said to Moses, "Get out of my sight! Make sure you do not appear before me again! The day you see my face you will die." 29 "Just as you say," Moses replied. "I will never appear before you again."
But it was the final plague that finally changed Pharaoh's mind.
We'll talk about that tomorrow.
What kinds of things make you feel comfortable and safe? What do you think would happen if they were taken away? How do you think the Egyptians felt?
Many years we have just read the whole book of Exodus. Since I'm trying to show the connections between things this year there isn't time to go through it verse by verse, but please feel free to do it on your own. There is something about just reading the actual text to children, rather than summarizing. They deserve more than the dumbed down version we usually give them.
I've been using Torahtots.com for years as a feast day reference. Here is a link to their free coloring pages for Passover.