Sermon for Sunday, April 25th, 2021 at First Presbyterian Church at Unionville, NY (BPC)
Old Testament reading:
[Exo 7:25 – 8:15 ESV] 25 Seven full days passed after the LORD had struck the Nile. 1 Then the LORD said to Moses, “Go in to Pharaoh and say to him, ‘Thus says the LORD, “Let my people go, that they may serve me. 2 But if you refuse to let them go, behold, I will plague all your country with frogs. 3 The Nile shall swarm with frogs that shall come up into your house and into your bedroom and on your bed and into the houses of your servants and your people, and into your ovens and your kneading bowls. 4 The frogs shall come up on you and on your people and on all your servants.”‘” 5 And the LORD said to Moses, “Say to Aaron, ‘Stretch out your hand with your staff over the rivers, over the canals and over the pools, and make frogs come up on the land of Egypt!'” 6 So Aaron stretched out his hand over the waters of Egypt, and the frogs came up and covered the land of Egypt. 7 But the magicians did the same by their secret arts and made frogs come up on the land of Egypt. 8 Then Pharaoh called Moses and Aaron and said, “Plead with the LORD to take away the frogs from me and from my people, and I will let the people go to sacrifice to the LORD.” 9 Moses said to Pharaoh, “Be pleased to command me when I am to plead for you and for your servants and for your people, that the frogs be cut off from you and your houses and be left only in the Nile.” 10 And he said, “Tomorrow.” Moses said, “Be it as you say, so that you may know that there is no one like the LORD our God. 11 The frogs shall go away from you and your houses and your servants and your people. They shall be left only in the Nile.” 12 So Moses and Aaron went out from Pharaoh, and Moses cried to the LORD about the frogs, as he had agreed with Pharaoh. 13 And the LORD did according to the word of Moses. The frogs died out in the houses, the courtyards, and the fields. 14 And they gathered them together in heaps, and the land stank. 15 But when Pharaoh saw that there was a respite, he hardened his heart and would not listen to them, as the LORD had said.
New Testament reading:
[2Th 2:9-12 ESV] 9 The coming of the lawless one is by the activity of Satan with all power and false signs and wonders, 10 and with all wicked deception for those who are perishing, because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. 11 Therefore God sends them a strong delusion, so that they may believe what is false, 12 in order that all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness.
[Luk 18:1-8 ESV] 1 And he told them a parable to the effect that they ought always to pray and not lose heart. 2 He said, “In a certain city there was a judge who neither feared God nor respected man. 3 And there was a widow in that city who kept coming to him and saying, ‘Give me justice against my adversary.’ 4 For a while he refused, but afterward he said to himself, ‘Though I neither fear God nor respect man, 5 yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will give her justice, so that she will not beat me down by her continual coming.'” 6 And the Lord said, “Hear what the unrighteous judge says. 7 And will not God give justice to his elect, who cry to him day and night? Will he delay long over them? 8 I tell you, he will give justice to them speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?”
From the Nile of Blood to the Land Full of Frogs.
We now come to the second of God’s ten plagues upon Egypt.
Seven full days had passed since the first plague. Perhaps the Lord was giving time for Pharaoh to think things over. But this time reference (of seven days) is also important for us to see that it is not time long enough for millions of frogs to develop on their own. Their appearance in great numbers is a miracle of God, not a response of natural phenomenon.
First in our text we have the request of Moses and Aaron—given from the Lord—to say to Pharaoh to “Let my people go, that they may serve me.” This is a request for the Israelites to worship God out in the desert, away from Egypt. It is a request to worship separate from this land full of false gods. Here we see that the Lord demands pure worship. He wants his people to be undefiled by foreign gods and foreign ways. No wonder Paul later says “Come out from among them and be ye separate.”
This request to “Let my people go” comes with a warning from God to Pharaoh:
2 But if you refuse to let them go, behold, I will plague all your country with frogs. 3 The Nile shall swarm with frogs that shall come up into your house and into your bedroom and on your bed and into the houses of your servants and your people, and into your ovens and your kneading bowls. 4 The frogs shall come up on you and on your people and on all your servants.
Pharaoh’s response is not recorded, but it is clear that he denied the request, for we find immediately that “Aaron stretched out his hand over the waters of Egypt, and the frogs came up and covered the land of Egypt”
There’s an old drawing of this that I’ve printed off and put in your bulletins. “The Plague of Frogs”
I. Frogs in Pharaoh’s Bed
The frogs covered the land. Remember last time how—when the Nile had turned into blood—Pharaoh escaped into the comfort of his own home. Well, the Lord is not going to let Pharaoh have peace. He sends frogs right into Pharaoh’s house. And these are not welcomed houseguests.
In one of my daughter’s books there is a frog. And he says “Wog, wog, wog, I live in a bog.” But these frogs in our story might say to Pharaoh “Wog, wog, wog, I live in your bed!” Or “Wog, wog, wog, I live in your kitchen!”
These now aren’t just Egypt’s frogs, they’re Pharaoh’s frogs.
This part of the story is recounted in Psalm 105:30 when it says “Their land swarmed with frogs, even in the chambers of their kings.”
So we learn that NO ONE can escape the reach of the Lord. God’s wrath and judgment is not kept out of any place, not even Pharaoh’s own house.
And while the main theme of the plagues on Egypt is God’s power and sovereignty, perhaps a subordinate theme is justice. God’s justice reaches to all places. And the king is not above law. There is a good phrase for this in Latin – centuries ago they would said that Rex (the king) is not ex-lex (the King is not above the law). And this principle has been instituted in all Western nations that have been sufficiently influenced by Christianity. The king is bound by the law just as well as the subjects are bound by the law. He is to be a leader and governor, not a tyrant, cleared for crime.
No one is above the law. And in this account of frogs being sent into Pharaoh’s own quarters, we see that no one is beyond God’s reach of judgment. All told Pharaoh will find much more judgment, but this one is poignantly personal. The frogs are in his bed and in his kitchen. There is no escape from God and His justice.
This should encourage us in this world that has so much injustice. We often see people getting away with the worst of atrocities. But we should take comfort in knowing that the Lord will one day render recompense; God’s judgment awaits.
Jesus gives us this encouraging promise in Luke’s Gospel. There he says:
7 And will not God give justice to his elect, who cry to him day and night? Will he delay long over them? 8 I tell you, he will give justice to them speedily.
So we are to bear with the pains of being wronged and to not take justice into our own hands, but rather know that the Lord will bring justice.
When the frogs have been multiplied all over the land, after Moses and Aaron had performed this miracle by the power of God, then the magicians—those “wise men” of Egypt—are said to do the same.
But here it is something of a tragic comedy. The last thing Pharaoh needed was more frogs! Now imagine being Pharaoh and your own magicians add to your woes! Moses and Aaron have made the land swarm with frogs, now because of the magicians there are frogs on top of frogs. Not so wise are they.
But, note this, if the magicians wee able to add to the plague, they were not able to take it away! They couldn’t get rid of the frogs.
2. Pleading with the Lord
So Pharaoh had to ask Moses and Aaron to “Plead with the LORD to take away the frogs from me and from my people.” Then, he says, “I will let the people go to sacrifice to the LORD.”
Not only have the magicians failed, but the so-called gods of Egypt are also shown to be powerless. And the Egyptians did indeed had a frog-god named “Heqet” and whether Pharaoh first tried to pray to him or not, we’re not told. But clearly Heqet was of no help in this predicament.
Again we see that just as God is bigger than Pharaoh, and God is bigger than the Nile, so he is bigger than Heqet. And this frog-god was supposedly a god of fertility. There is perhaps something of mockery here in that Yawheh, not the fertility god Heqet, makes such a profilic increase in the number of frogs.
Now, would’t you think Pharaoh would say to Moses and Aaron “get rid of these frogs immediately!”? But instead he says “Tomorrow.” He’s in all sorts of misery and yet he says “Oh, tomorrow is fine.”
If your pipes are flooding the house, do you tell the plumber, “Tomorrow is fine.”
Or, if your house is on fire, do you tell the Fire Department, “Oh, Tomorrow is fine.”
Why not today? Why is he not in more of a hurry? Calvin says that it is “for reasons of deceit.” Pharaoh wants God to fulfill his side of the deal, but Pharaoh is not planning to respond in turn.
So Moses says,
“Be it as you say, so that you may know that there is no one like the LORD our God. 11 The frogs shall go away from you and your houses and your servants and your people. They shall be left only in the Nile.”
The plague is promised then to end. The frogs will no longer cover the land, but they will return to the river, their normal habitation.
But there is a surplus of frogs. And they die, and are gathered in piles. Great heaps of them. Stinking up the land.
You might recall in the John’s Gospel that Lazarus had been in a tomb for a number of days, and Martha warned Jesus that if they removed the stone that covered the tomb they would find that “He stinketh.”
So don’t go in the tomb!
But now, imagine that you couldn’t get away from the smell. Here we have that the whole nation “skinketh.”
And while it stinketh to our noises, the godlessness of Egypt stinketh in the eyes of God.
Throughout all of this Pharaoh remained hard-hearted.
3. Pharaoh again hardens his heart.
Pharaoh is like the criminal who begs for forgiveness, but only so that he is free to return to crime. There is no softening of the heart. No true repentance.
This is something of a counter-example for us. How Pharaoh acts is how we are not to act! And we should be warned not to be like him. The Lord helps us. He gives us reprieve. But how soon do we forget Him again? How poorly do we respond in loving Him and others?
But God is not fooled. He knew what Pharaoh’s reaction would be. The pleading and consequent reprieve have another purpose: to show Pharaoh’s character and to show God’s character.
God is not like man; for all the promises of God in Christ are yes and amen. He always comes through and fulfills his word.
The hope we have in Christ is an assured hope; it is not wishful thinking, but a promise that we trust based on the character of God. We know that He will fulfill his word.
He has done so time and time again in the Scriptures. He rescues his people from Egypt as He promised. He sent Christ to die for our sins as he promised. He has forgiven the sins of us, His people, as He promised. And one day, we shall be holy as He is holy, as He has promised.
Judgment comes on Pharaoh and all who oppose the Lord. But for those who believe in His name—though we do still sin against him—we are promised that there is now therefore no condemnation. We shall be judged, but we shall be judged holy and righteous for the sake of Jesus Christ.
We’ll see more plagues come upon the Egyptians, but throughout we’ll see that God protects his people, the Israelites. They get through this, by the grace of God.
And whatever it is that you are dealing with, trust in the grace of God to bring you through. There are many things beyond our control. But all is in God’s control. Let us take comfort in that, and reduce our worries, stress, and anxiety knowing God is in control.
He will indeed bring judgment upon His enemies and He will bring out His people though many trials shall come and pass. Let us praise the Lord that he protects us and guides, saving us through Jesus Chris. It is in his name that I pray Amen.