Exodus 10:21-29 (ESV)
Then the LORD said to Moses, “Stretch out your hand toward heaven, that there may be darkness over the land of Egypt, a darkness to be felt.” So Moses stretched out his hand toward heaven, and there was pitch darkness in all the land of Egypt three days. They did not see one another, nor did anyone rise from his place for three days, but all the people of Israel had light where they lived. Then Pharaoh called Moses and said, “Go, serve the LORD; your little ones also may go with you; only let your flocks and your herds remain behind.” But Moses said, “You must also let us have sacrifices and burnt offerings, that we may sacrifice to the LORD our God. Our livestock also must go with us; not a hoof shall be left behind, for we must take of them to serve the LORD our God, and we do not know with what we must serve the LORD until we arrive there.” But the LORD hardened Pharaoh's heart, and he would not let them go. Then Pharaoh said to him, “Get away from me; take care never to see my face again, for on the day you see my face you shall die.” Moses said, “As you say! I will not see your face again.”
At last we get to the best known Egyptian god – the sun god Ra.
Will Durant’s The Story of Civilization notes, “Always Ra, or the sun, was the Creator: at his first rising, seeing the earth desert and bare, he had flooded it with his energizing rays, and all living things—vegetable, animal and human—had sprung pell-mell from his eyes, and been scattered over the world.”
This plague doesn’t do much damage, but to the Egyptians it must feel like Ra has been kidnapped. The point of this plague is its blatantly supernatural nature and its power over Ra.
The take-down of the Egyptian gods is now complete. The plagues have done to the Egyptian religion what Augustine’s City of God did to the Roman religion – turned it into a joke. Meanwhile, Pharaoh has burned all his bridges with Moses. There’s no going back after a good-bye like that. The stage is set for the final plague – the Passover.
But Moses doesn’t know that. At this moment everything looks like a failure. Not only has he gotten nowhere with Pharaoh, their relationship is now trashed. This is a major trial for Moses.
Moses will have many more trials, but the lessons he learns in the early ones will help get him through the later ones. That’s one of the central themes of Exodus – showing how God fits the pieces together.
This should encourage us. In Exodus, we get to see the reason behind all the disasters. That rarely happens in our own lives. Even when it does, we normally don’t see the reason until much later.
So we’re left with examples such as the events in Exodus to give us hope that things are actually under control, even when they look anything but. That’s why studying Exodus is so important.
But there’s something else just as important – to know the ways God has worked in our own lives. Any time you see God fit the pieces together, don’t keep it to yourself. People need to hear what He did.
The weekly study guides, which include discussion questions, are available for download here: