Unification Sermons and Talks
by Reverend Joy Pople
God Prepares His People
Exodus 5:1 - 12:30
After telling the people God's plan, Moses and Aaron went to Pharaoh and said, "The Lord God of Israel says, 'Let My people go and hold a festival to Me in the desert.'"
Pharaoh said: "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."
Moses and Aaron answered: "The God of the Hebrews has met with us. Now let us take a three-day journey into the desert to offer sacrifices to the Lord our God. If we don't He may strike us with plagues or with the sword."
Pharaoh: "You are keeping the people from their work." The Israelites had to make bricks out of mud and straw. Pharaoh ordered the Israelites to find their own straw for making bricks. Even though they had to look for straw, the people were still supposed to make the same number of bricks each day. Of course they couldn't do it.
The Egyptians put some Israelites in charge of the work crews. These foremen complained to Pharaoh that although they were not given any straw, they still had to make the same number of bricks.
Pharaoh said: "You people are lazy. That is why you keep asking to go and sacrifice to your Lord."
These Israelites went Moses and Aaron and said, "May the Lord judge you! Because of you we stink in front of Pharaoh. They will kill us."
Moses prayed to God: "Did You send me here to cause trouble for the Israelites? Ever since I went to speak to Pharaoh, the people have become more miserable, and You have not rescued them."
God answered Moses: "Watch what I will do to Pharaoh. Because of My mighty hand, he will let the people go. Tell the people, 'I am the Lord God who appeared to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and promised to give them the land of Canaan. I have heard you groaning in slavery, and I will free you with mighty acts. You will My people and I will be your God. I will give you the land which I promised to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.'"
Moses reported this to the Israelites, but they did not listen to him because they were suffering and had become discouraged.
God said to Moses: "Go back and tell Pharaoh everything I have told you."
Moses said to God: "If the Israelites will not listen to me, Pharaoh won't listen either."
God said to Moses: "I have made you like God to Pharaoh, and your brother Aaron will be your prophet. Your brother Aaron is to tell Pharaoh to let the Israelites go. I will harden his heart and he will not listen, but after I lay My mighty hand on Egypt, the Egyptians will know that I am the Lord. When Pharaoh asks for a sign, have Aaron throw down the staff and it will turn into a snake."
Then Moses and Aaron went to Pharaoh and did exactly what the Lord commanded. Aaron threw the staff down in front of Pharaoh and his officials, and it became a snake. [In Egypt, the snake was a symbol of the Pharaoh's ruling power.] Pharaoh called for his magicians, and each of them threw down his staff and it became a snake. Then Aaron's staff swallowed up all their staffs. But Pharaoh's heart became hard and he would not listen to Moses and Aaron, just as the Lord had said.
Plague of blood
God said to Moses: "Go to meet Pharaoh early in the morning by the Nile River and hold the staff over the water, and it will changed into blood. The fish in the river will die, and the water will stink so bad that the Egyptians will not be able to drink it. All the water in the land, even the water in buckets and jars, will turn to blood."
Moses and Aaron did just as the Lord commanded. [The Nile River is the source of life in Egypt, the people of ancient Egypt worshipped the god of the Nile River.] Now all its water turned to blood. The fish died, and everything stank. But the Egyptian magicians did the same things by using their secret powers, and Pharaoh's heart was hardened.
Plague of frogs
Seven days after the water turned to blood, the Lord told Moses to go to Pharaoh and say, "If you refuse to let My people go, I will plague your whole country with frogs. Frogs will fill the river, come into your palace and your bedroom and jump onto your bed. Frogs will climb on you and all your people."
Moses went to Pharaoh and gave him the message. [When the water turned to blood, the fish died and the frogs jumped out of the river to escape the rotting fish. The Egyptians worshipped a frog-god, but the huge number of frogs became unbearable.] The Egyptian magicians could make frogs too, but they couldn't make them go away.
Pharaoh said to Moses and Aaron: "Pray to the Lord to take the frogs away from me and my people, and I will let your people go to offer sacrifices to the Lord."
Moses said to Pharaoh: "I will give you the honor of choosing the time for all the frogs except those in the river to be gone. When do you want me to pray for God to get rid of all the frogs?"
Pharaoh said to Moses: "Tomorrow."
Moses prayed to God and the frogs died in the houses, in the courtyards and in the fields. There were great piles of dead frogs, and the land stank. But when Pharaoh saw that the plague was over, he hardened his heart and would not listen to Moses and Aaron, just as the Lord had said he would.
Plague of gnats
Then the Lord told Moses and Aaron to stretch out the staff and strike the dust. All over the land, dust turned into gnats. [Insects multiply quickly when there are many dead animals such as fish and frogs.] The little insects crawled over the people and the animals.
The magicians tried to produce gnats but they could not. They told Pharaoh, "This is the finger of God." But Pharaoh's heart was hard.
Plague of flies
The Lord told Moses to go to Pharaoh early the next morning and tell him, "If you do not let My people go, I will send swarms of flies and all the houses will be filled with flies and the ground will be covered with flies. But I will make a distinction between My people and your people. In the land of Goshen, where My people live, there will be no swarms of flies. Then you will know that I am the Lord in this land."
When this happened, Pharaoh called Moses and told him: "Go and sacrifice to your God here in this land."
Moses answered Pharaoh: "The Egyptians would not like to see us making sacrifices of our cattle. They would stone us. [The Egyptians worshipped cows.] We must take a three-day journey into the desert to offer sacrifices."
Pharaoh said to Moses: "I will let you go into the desert, but you must not go very far away. Now pray for me."
Moses prayed and the flies were gone, but again Pharaoh hardened his heart.
Plague on livestock
Then the Lord told Moses to go to Pharaoh and say, "If you refuse to let My people go, the hand of the Lord will bring a terrible plague on your horses, donkeys, camels, cattle, sheep and goats. But no animal belonging to the Israelites will die." [This plague attacked animals that were sacred to the ancient Egyptians. The cattle became sick because of diseases carried by the frogs and insects.]
The next day Pharaoh sent investigators who found that the animals belonging to the Egyptians died, but none of the Israelites' animals died. Still he did not let the Israelites go.
Plague of boils
Next the Lord said to Moses, "Take handfuls of soot from a furnace and toss it into the air in the presence of Pharaoh. It will become fine dust over the whole land and boils will break out on people and animals throughout the land."
Moses did this. The magicians could not do anything because they too had sores all over their body. The people and animals suffered from skin infections [caused by the insects and frogs that had been all over the land]. Again the Lord hardened Pharaoh's heart.
Plague of hail
Then the Lord told Moses to get up early in the morning and tell Pharaoh, "I could have wiped you and your people off the earth, but I raised you up so I could show you My power and so people all over the earth would know about Me. Since you still will not let My people go, at this time tomorrow I will send the worst hailstorm that has ever fallen on Egypt. Have all the people and animals stay under shelter or they will die."
Some people were beginning to take Moses' warnings seriously. The officials who feared the word of the Lord hurried to bring in their people and animals. But those who ignored the word of the Lord left their people and animals in the field.
Then the Lord told Moses, "Stretch out your hand toward the sky." The Lord sent thunder, hail and lightning. Throughout Egypt hail struck the people, animals, and plants. The crops growing in the fields were destroyed. The only place where hail did not fall was in the land of Goshen, where the Israelites were.
Then Pharaoh called Moses and Aaron and said: "I have sinned. The Lord is right, and I and my people are wrong. Pray to the Lord, for we have had enough thunder and hail. I will let you go."
Moses answered Pharaoh: "When I have left the city, I will spread out my hands and pray to the Lord, and the thunder and hail will stop. But I know that you and your officials still do not fear the Lord." Moses prayed and the hail stopped, but again Pharaoh's heart was hardened.
Then the Lord said to Moses: "I have hardened the hearts of Pharaoh and his officials in order to perform these miraculous signs, so you can tell your children and grandchildren about Me."
Plague of locusts
Moses and Aaron went to Pharaoh and said: "The Lord says, 'How long will you refuse to humble yourself before the Lord? If you refuse to let My people go, I will bring locusts into your country. They will cover the ground and eat all the plants that were not destroyed by the hail. They will fill all your houses.'" Then Moses turned and left.
Pharaoh's officials said to him: "How long will this man bother us? Let the people go and worship the Lord their God. Don't you realize that Egypt is ruined?"
So Moses and Aaron were brought back to Pharaoh. Pharaoh said to them: "You may go and worship the Lord your God, but who are you planning to take with you?"
Moses answered Pharaoh: "We will go with our young people and old people, with our sons and daughters, and with our flocks and herds."
Pharaoh said to Moses: "If I let you take your women and children, you will do something evil. Only the men may go and worship the Lord." Then Moses and Aaron were driven out of Pharaoh's sight.
The Lord said to Moses: "Stretch out your hand over Egypt so locusts will swarm over the land." [The winds sometimes bring locusts to Egypt, but this was an unusually large number.] The Lord made an east wind blow across the land all day and night. In the morning the wind brought locusts, and they covered the ground until it was black. They ate everything that the hail did not destroy. Nothing green remained on trees or plants in all Egypt.
Pharaoh quickly called Moses and Aaron and said: "I have sinned against the Lord your God and against you. Now forgive my sin once more and pray to the Lord to take away this plague."
Moses left Pharaoh and prayed to the Lord. And the Lord changed the wind to a strong west wind which caught up the locusts and carried them into the Red Sea. But the Lord hardened Pharaoh's heart, and he would not let the Israelites go.
Plague of darkness
Then the Lord said to Moses: "Stretch out your hand toward the sky so darkness will spread over Egypt. It will become so dark that people can feel the darkness."
Moses stretched out his hand toward the sky, and total darkness covered all Egypt for three days. It was so dark that the Egyptian people could not see each other. No one left home for three days. Yet in Goshen, all the Israelites had light. [Sometimes sandstorms come from the desert, and a huge sandstorm can darken the sky. The Egyptians worshipped the sun-god, and the Lord wanted them to know that He was greater than the sun.]
Then Pharaoh called Moses and said, "Go, worship the Lord. Even your women and children may go with you. But you must leave your animals behind."
Moses told Pharaoh, "You must allow us to bring animals to sacrifice to the Lord. We must bring our animals with us, because we won't know which ones we are supposed to offer until we get there."
Again the Lord hardened Pharaoh's heart. Pharaoh said to Moses: "Get out of my sight and do not come before me again. The day you see my face you will die."
Plague on the firstborn
Moses then told Pharaoh: "It will be just as you say. I will never appear before you again. This is what the Lord says, 'About midnight I will go throughout Egypt. Every firstborn son in Egypt will die, from the oldest son of Pharaoh to the oldest son of the slave girl. Even the firstborn of the cattle will die. There will be loud crying throughout Egypt, worse than anyone has ever heard in the past or will ever hear again. But among the Israelites not even a dog will bark.' Then you will know that the Lord treats Egypt and Israel differently. All your officials will come and bow down to me and ask me and my people to leave. After that I will leave." Moses walked away from Pharaoh, full of anger.
[God didn't want to destroy all the Egyptians, but by striking the first-born he was striking the strength and inheritance of its people.]
The Lord told Moses: "On the tenth day of the month, have each family in Israel choose a one-year old male lamb that has no spots on it. Have them take care of the lamb and then at sunset on the fourteenth day kill the lamb and put some of its blood on the sides and tops of the doors of their house. They should roast the whole animal over a fire and eat it with bitter herbs and bread made without yeast. They should eat with their coats tucked into their belts, their sandals on their feet, and their staff in their hand. That night I will pass through Egypt and strike down every firstborn, both people and animals. I will bring judgment on all the gods of Egypt. But I will pass over every house that has blood around the door."
Moses called the elders of Israel and told them God's instructions. [For many years the people had been slaves and owned no money.] God told Moses to have the people ask their Egyptian neighbors for jewels of silver and gold, and the Egyptians opened their treasure boxes to the Israelites. Moses gave them instructions for preparing and eating their last meal there and asked that no one leave their house while the angel of death was in the land.
The Israelites bowed down and worshipped God and then went to do what the Lord commanded.
At midnight, all the firstborn in Egypt, from the firstborn of Pharaoh to the firstborn of the prisoner in the dungeon and the firstborn of all the livestock, died. There was loud crying everywhere in Egypt.
Joy Pople (firstname.lastname@example.org) wrote this Bible story from the standpoint of the Divine Principle.
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