I’ve read the story of ten plagues that God levied on Egypt many times. I’ve heard the stories in Sunday School classes and from pulpits. I’ve even seen them displayed in stunning lo-definition, 2D on a flannel-graph board. But there was a new wrinkle that I’d never thought about until yesterday.
But the magicians did the same by their secret arts and made frogs come up on the land of Egypt.
This verse has a sibling in the first plague, water turned to blood, where the Egyptian magicians managed to duplicate Moses and Aaron’s feat. But it wasn’t until I read this second instance that it occurred to me just how stupid this was. The issue here is simple, you have a nation full of bloody water that is undrinkable, and then you have a nation whose bedrooms, kitchens, courthouses, work-places, and schools are filled with frogs – what does the Egyptian braintrust come up with as a solution to these problems? Make more of both.
The Bible says that the Egyptians were forced to dig for more water to have something clean to drink, whatever they would have come up with from those expeditions was then promptly turned to blood not by Moses, Aaron, or Yahweh but by Larry, Mo, and Curly the Egyptian enchanters. After the end of the blood plague there came frogs, a group of frogs like the world had never seen. What was the Egyptian reply? That’s right, they got together and made more frogs to go along with the epic toad trial that was already in session. The whole thing has a very Mark Twain feel when you consider just what’s going on.
The point, I think, is very simple. The issue for us is not that we cannot successfully “play God” at times. We can be very convincing when things go right. History is not lacking in men who were considered gods, and many of them embraced the office gladly to detriment of themselves and the world. There really are people who with their words or abilities can cause awe and elicit praise. Our problem is not lack of innovation, imagination, or organization. Our problem is that when the roles are reversed, when God is not honored as supreme and someone else tries to prove their own ascendant ability, the result is always more problems, not less.
There has never been one solitary instance where the world became a better place when God was not honored as God. It’s never happened on the grand, global stage of world history nor has it happened on the somewhat smaller, but no less important stage of the human heart. We have the ability to choose any direction we want for our lives, just like God has chosen a direction for us, but when we are choosing based on our own power and wisdom we are doing little more than adding blood and frogs to an already devastated world.
The issue for the Egyptian magicians is the same one we face today: submission. God does overwhelm with His power at times in history, but far more often He chooses not to use power but love. He could have immediately wiped every Egyptian off of the earth without trouble, but instead He chose to suffer-long with them, giving them chance after chance to submit to His will. The choice was their’s, and ours. Will we see Him as supreme or attempt to duplicate His works to show Him how strong we are?
I would think friends, that we would be wise to stop trying to “do” the work of God. At some point we will either submit to Him or we will find that our best efforts at being god ourselves result in a situation twice as difficult as it needed to be. There is an easier way to deal with hard times, and it rarely if ever includes us as the source of power, but it always finds us in the place of humble submission and willing service.
(if there are any typos, spelling mistakes, or theological errors I am home with sick son today and he is quite adept at diverting my concentration 🙂