One More Night With the Frogs (Part 1)

God promised Abram in Genesis 12 (and following) that his descendants would be a great nation, that they would possess a great land, & that all the world would be blessed through his Seed. As the book of Exodus begins, God has made them a numerous people. Although they are enslaved in Egypt, God has a plan to raise up a deliverer (Moses) who would free them and guide them into both a covenant relationship with God and the promised land of Canaan. Moses is reluctant to embrace God's call, but eventually responds and does a masterful job over a forty year period. God's plan is for Moses to levy ten plagues against the hard-hearted Pharaoh to eventually force him to let the Israelites go. After the first plague of blood is completed, we are then brought to Exodus 8:1-15, which reads:

"And the LORD spoke to Moses, 'Go to Pharaoh and say to him, "Thus says the LORD: 'Let My people go, that they may serve Me. But if you refuse to let them go, behold, I will smite all your territory with frogs. So the river shall bring forth frogs abundantly, which shall go up and come into your house, into your bedroom, on your bed, into the houses of your servants, on your people, into your ovens, and into your kneading bowls. And the frogs shall come up on you, on your people, and on all your servants'"' Then the LORD spoke to Moses, 'Say to Aaron, "Stretch out your hand with your rod over the streams, over the rivers, and over the ponds, and cause frogs to come up on the land of Egypt."' So Aaron stretched out his hand over the waters of Egypt, and the frogs came up and covered the land of Egypt. And the magicians did so with their enchantments, and brought up frogs on the land of Egypt. Then Pharaoh called for Moses and Aaron, and said, 'Entreat the LORD that He may take away the frogs from me and from my people; and I will let the people go, that they may sacrifice to the LORD.' And Moses said to Pharaoh, 'Accept the honor of saying when I shall intercede for you, for your servants, and for your people, to destroy the frogs from you and your houses, that they may remain in the river only.' So he said, 'Tomorrow.' And he said, 'Let it be according to your word, that you may know that there is no one like the LORD our God. And the frogs shall depart from you, from your houses, from your servants, and from your people. They shall remain in the river only.' Then Moses & Aaron went out from Pharaoh. And Moses cried out to the LORD concerning the frogs which He had brought against Pharaoh. So the LORD did according to the word of Moses. And the frogs died out of the houses, out of the courtyards, and out of the fields. They gathered them together in heaps, and the land stank. But when Pharaoh saw that there was relief, he hardened his heart and did not heed them, as the LORD had said."

This historical narrative is not difficult to comprehend, but I would like to elaborate on it a bit. God gave instructions to Moses, which included a demand of Pharaoh & a threat. Can you imagine frogs in your bed? In your kitchen? Your bathroom? I suppose some would not be troubled by this, but I believe most people would!

God carries out the threat since Pharaoh is not anywhere near budging at this point. Although his magicians are able to replicate the event in some small way with deception, they are not able to stop the frogs so Pharaoh asks for mercy. Moses then demonstrates a proof of God's power by allowing the Egyptian leader to determine when the frogs should be taken away.

Surprisingly, Pharaoh does not say: "Remove the frogs immediately!" Instead he says: "Tomorrow." In other words, "We'll spend one more night with the frogs!" It's hard to fathom. Why did he not say "now"? Was it pride? Was he hoping for another solution besides Jehovah?

The frogs die at the appointed time and there is a great stench in the land. As soon as Pharaoh saw relief, he again rebelled! The Israelites themselves, as a nation, acted similarly many times throughout the period of the judges (e.g., cycles of sin, suffering, sorrow, & salvation; cf. Jud. 2:11-19).

In our next lesson, we'll use this narrative as a background to offer some important lessons for all today.