The Plague On Livestock

Introduction

In Exodus 7-12, Moses through the power of God releases 10 plagues of different sorts on the land of Egypt which included, turning all the water to blood, plagues of insects, boils, and hail. Finally, the death of every first-born son included the death of Pharaoh’s eldest who would someday inherit the kingdom of Egypt.

We will see that they were delivered not just to let Pharaoh know who God was but also to let the Israelites know who God was. Because they have been enslaved for 430 years, they didn’t know God, they have become used to being enslaved and used to being around the idol gods of Egypt. And so not only did God have to convince Pharaoh who He was, but He also had to convince the Israelites who He was.

THE MIRACLES

Some people question if the miracles recorded were actually miracles, note the following thoughts.

1. In each case they were accurately foretold, as to the time and place of occurrence.

2. The intensity of such things as the frogs and lice was beyond all possibility of what could have been expected naturally.

3. Both their occurrence and their ending were demonstrated to be under the control and subject to the Word of God through Moses.

4. There was discrimination, some of the plagues afflicting the Egyptians and yet at the same time sparing the Israelites.

5. There was orderliness in their appearance, each event more severe than the one that preceded it, concluding with the most devastating of all, the death of the firstborn.

6. Also, there was progression in relation to the reaction of Pharaoh’s servants. At first, they could do anything that Moses did, but at last, admitted their failure and affirmed that ‘This is the finger of God!’

7. Over and beyond all this, there was a moral purpose in the plagues, they were not mere freaks of nature.

Now, remember that the ten plagues were actually ten disasters sent upon Egypt by God to convince Pharaoh to free the Israelite slaves from the bondage and oppression they had endured in Egypt for 430 years.

When God sent Moses to deliver the children of Israel from bondage in Egypt, He promised to show His wonders as confirmation of Moses’ authority, Exodus 3:20.

This confirmation was to serve at least two purposes, firstly, to show the Israelites that the God of their fathers was alive and worthy of their worship and secondly, to show the Egyptians that their gods were nothing.

The Egyptians worshipped a wide variety of nature gods and attributed to their powers the natural phenomena they saw in the world around them. There was a god of the sun, of the river, of childbirth, of crops, etc.

Events like the annual flooding of the Nile, which fertilized their croplands, were evidence of their god’s powers and goodwill. When Moses approached Pharaoh, demanding that he let the people go, Pharaoh responded by saying “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.” Exodus 5:2. And so from that point onwards, the challenge was on to show whose God was more powerful.

THE PLAGUE ON LIVESTOCK

‘Then the LORD said to Moses, “Go to Pharaoh and say to him, ‘This is what the LORD, the God of the Hebrews, says: “Let my people go, so that they may worship me.” If you refuse to let them go and continue to hold them back, the hand of the LORD will bring a terrible plague on your livestock in the field—on your horses, donkeys and camels and on your cattle, sheep and goats. But the LORD will make a distinction between the livestock of Israel and that of Egypt, so that no animal belonging to the Israelites will die.’” The LORD set a time and said, “Tomorrow the LORD will do this in the land.” And the next day the LORD did it: All the livestock of the Egyptians died, but not one animal belonging to the Israelites died. Pharaoh investigated and found that not even one of the animals of the Israelites had died. Yet his heart was unyielding and he would not let the people go.’ Exodus 9:1-7

As Pharaoh continues to harden his heart and refuses to let God’s people go, Exodus 5:1 / Exodus 7:2 / Exodus 7:7 / Exodus 7:16 / Exodus 8:1 / Exodus 8:20, God, continues to bring judgment against Egypt.

Here we find the fifth plague, the death of livestock. This was a judgment on the goddess ‘Hathor’ and the god ‘Apis’, who were both depicted as cattle. As with the previous plague, God protected His people from the plague, while the cattle of the Egyptians all died, Psalm 78:48.

God was steadily destroying the economy of Egypt while showing His ability to love, protect and provide for those who obeyed Him. As we go through these plagues we see that God was slowly demonstrating not only to Pharaoh but to His people that He controls everything.

There is no way the Israelites could avoid witnessing the power of God as their livestock lived in Goshen but in Egypt, they all died. And if you were an Israelite living during this time, wouldn’t you be thinking to yourself, what on earth is going on here? Remember they have never witnessed anything like this before.

We don’t know what this disease was which the livestock suffered, the point is it was only the Egyptian’s livestock not the Israelites. This should have been a clear declaration to Pharaoh that God was protecting the Israelites.

Notice that Pharaoh did some investigating into the matter, but his heart remained hard and he wouldn’t allow God’s people to go. In the seventh plague, Exodus 9:20-21, we read that the livestock was further afflicted.

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