8 And the Lord said to Moses and Aaron, “Take handfuls of soot from the kiln, and let Moses throw them in the air in the sight of Pharaoh. 9 It shall become fine dust over all the land of Egypt, and become boils breaking out in sores on man and beast throughout all the land of Egypt.” 10 So they took soot from the kiln and stood before Pharaoh. And Moses threw it in the air, and it became boils breaking out in sores on man and beast. 11 And the magicians could not stand before Moses because of the boils, for the boils came upon the magicians and upon all the Egyptians. 12 But the Lord hardened the heart of Pharaoh, and he did not listen to them, as the Lord had spoken to Moses.
Here again we have the Lord defeating Satan and more of Egypt’s false gods.
Sekhmet– goddess that was supposed to have power over bringing epidemics to an end. She was the goddess who could cure diseases. This goddess had no success here.
Serapis- was also a false god the Egyptians trusted to heal them. This god could not heal.
Imhotep– the god of medicine and the guardian of healing sciences was powerless.
1. God Shows His Power as the Plagues Intensify
8 And the Lord said to Moses and Aaron, “Take handfuls of soot from the kiln, and let Moses throw them in the air in the sight of Pharaoh. 9 It shall become fine dust over all the land of Egypt, and become boils breaking out in sores on man and beast throughout all the land of Egypt.”
The plagues are progressively getting worse. They have gone from irritating to financially devastating to now impacting the Egyptian’s health.
This plague unlike most others so far came unannounced. God did not tell Moses to go to Pharoah with His request to let His people go. Instead, God commands Moses to do something altogether unusual…throw soot up into the air.
Take handfuls of soot from the kiln-
We do not know why God told Moses to do this. There are some ideas that theologians have had throughout the years. Whatever people say is simply a guess. We are told, that the soot came from the kiln. Is there any significance in using soot from the kiln verses soot from another place?
What did they use the kiln for? The Hebrews used the kiln in the making of bricks. Again, we don’t know. It could be that Pharoah knew exactly where the soot came from and when Moses threw it up in the air in Pharoah’s sight it could be that God wanted Pharoah to know why this next plague was coming upon them…Pharoah refused to let God’s people go.
To understand how completely God humiliated not only Pharoah but even his occultic magicians, it helps to know that they had a practice of throwing sacrificial ashes into the air to show that they had done what their false god had required and the throwing of the ashes was symbolic of the blessing that the people should now expect.
When Moses throws ashes from the kiln up into the air God does a divine switch. He makes the people of Egypt cursed and blesses His people. Moses throws ashes up into the air to say that His God is about to bless His people and curse Pharoah and all the Egyptians.
The text tells us that the soot would become fine dust and be spread all over the land of Egypt and it would become boils. Maybe that’s all there was to it. Maybe there wasn’t any symbolic meaning at all. Just grab some soot and throw it up in the air and it shall become boils.
The Hebrew word for boils can mean many different skin conditions including even leprosy. Whatever the infection or disease was, it produced massive boils on all the Egyptians.
2. The Egyptians Trusted in Their gods to Cure Them
10 So they took soot from the kiln and stood before Pharaoh. And Moses threw it in the air, and it became boils breaking out in sores on man and beast. 11 And the magicians could not stand before Moses because of the boils, for the boils came upon the magicians and upon all the Egyptians.
The key here and with all the plagues is that God is attacking Egypt’s false deities. Perhaps that is part of why God hits Egypt with so many different plagues. He’s out to prove that all the Egyptian idols are nothing as He attacks each with their supposed specialty to prove they are unable to do anything to help their worshippers.
So, it wasn’t just Egypt that God was executing judgement upon but also their false gods.
Numbers 33:3–4 (ESV)
3 They set out from Rameses in the first month, on the fifteenth day of the first month. On the day after the Passover, the people of Israel went out triumphantly in the sight of all the Egyptians, 4 while the Egyptians were burying all their firstborn, whom the Lord had struck down among them. On their gods also the Lord executed judgments.
My goal here is not to open up a can of worms but to make sure we are not guilty for worshipping false gods that we think can heal us or keep us from contracting illness.
People praise the amazing strides mankind has made in modern medicine. At times medicine can be helpful. We must also realize it has shortcomings as well. Science is always changing. There is always connected with modern medicine the billions of dollars every year that the pharmaceutical companies make. Also, now we know that a tyrannical government can use it to instill fear in the masses and control their lives and livelihood.
At best, medicine can be useful as a tool but it must never be something we place any trust in…medicine cannot heal us only God does that. Medicine makes a very poor deity.
Healing comes from God. No Scripture condemns the legitimate use of doctors or medical science, but one of the names of God is Jehovah-Rapha meaning “the Lord who heals.” The Father has the power to heal the whole person. No medicine even good medicine that’s been tried and tested can heal the whole person. Then we must understand the most important healing is the healing of the spirit. God is in the business of wholistic healing and only He can do that.
Deuteronomy 32:39 (ESV)
39 “ ‘See now that I, even I, am he,
and there is no god beside me;
I kill and I make alive;
I wound and I heal;
and there is none that can deliver out of my hand.
God alone has the power to heal. No doctor or medicine can do that.
Another humiliating thing for Pharoah’s magicians is that they could not literally stand to perform the occultic duties. Then there was the aspect that the Egyptians highly valued purity and here are their priests covered with oozing sores from head to toe…clearly unclean and unable.
An interesting play on words is found in this section…
V10- Moses stood before Pharoah
V11- The Magicians could not stand before Moses
God is making a mockery out of Pharoah, his magicians and all those who worshipped Egypt’s false gods.
3. Pharoah’s Continued Heart Condition
12 But the Lord hardened the heart of Pharaoh, and he did not listen to them, as the Lord had spoken to Moses.
Even after Pharoah’s god’s were proven to be fake and powerless; even after his magicians were humiliated, his heart would not yield.
Exodus 7:22 (ESV)
22 But the magicians of Egypt did the same by their secret arts. So Pharaoh’s heart remained hardened, and he would not listen to them, as the Lord had said.
Exodus 8:15 (ESV)
15 But when Pharaoh saw that there was a respite, he hardened his heart and would not listen to them, as the Lord had said.
Exodus 8:19 (ESV)
19 Then the magicians said to Pharaoh, “This is the finger of God.” But Pharaoh’s heart was hardened, and he would not listen to them, as the Lord had said.
Exodus 8:32 (ESV)
32 But Pharaoh hardened his heart this time also, and did not let the people go.
Exodus 9:7 (ESV)
7 And Pharaoh sent, and behold, not one of the livestock of Israel was dead. But the heart of Pharaoh was hardened, and he did not let the people go.
What is different in our text for today?
Exodus 9:12 (ESV)
12 But the Lord hardened the heart of Pharaoh, and he did not listen to them, as the Lord had spoken to Moses.
There are those who see this as God’s response to Pharoah’s own hardening of his heart. They say that Pharoah hardened his heart and disobeyed God and so as a result God hardened Pharoah’s heart further. So, they say, Pharoah acted first then God responded in a form of judgement to Pharoah hardening his own heart.
There is a problem with that view. Before anything took place, before Pharoah hardened his heart the first time, God told Moses that He would harden Pharoah’s heart so that he would not listen.
Exodus 4:21 (ESV)
21 And the Lord said to Moses, “When you go back to Egypt, see that you do before Pharaoh all the miracles that I have put in your power. But I will harden his heart, so that he will not let the people go.
The hardening of Pharoah’s heart was not God’s response to Pharoah, but His purpose for Pharoah. God did this to demonstrate His justice, His power, and His mercy to His own people.
Exodus 7:3–4 (ESV)
3 But I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and though I multiply my signs and wonders in the land of Egypt, 4 Pharaoh will not listen to you. Then I will lay my hand on Egypt and bring my hosts, my people the children of Israel, out of the land of Egypt by great acts of judgment.
4. What Can We Learn from Pharoah?
We realize that God’s divine decree included Pharoah’s rebellion and unyielding suborn hard heart. He was afflicted with boils and his health was greatly affected. Pharoah’s response was to exercise further rebellion. Pharaoh had been raised up for this purpose.
Romans 9:14–18 (ESV)
14 What shall we say then? Is there injustice on God’s part? By no means! 15 For he says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” 16 So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy. 17 For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, “For this very purpose I have raised you up, that I might show my power in you, and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.” 18 So then he has mercy on whomever he wills, and he hardens whomever he wills.
What should our response be? What if our health is threatened? What if we were covered with boils how should we respond? The best way to answer this is to look to God’s Word at a wonderful example of what a right response looks like.
Job…who was covered with boils like Pharoah.
The difference was that Satan afflicted Job. However, Job did not know and many of the things that happened with Job were much like the plagues.
Boils, loss of his children, loss of his wealth, herds etc.
What was Job’s response?
Job 1:13–22 (ESV)
13 Now there was a day when his sons and daughters were eating and drinking wine in their oldest brother’s house, 14 and there came a messenger to Job and said, “The oxen were plowing and the donkeys feeding beside them, 15 and the Sabeans fell upon them and took them and struck down the servants with the edge of the sword, and I alone have escaped to tell you.” 16 While he was yet speaking, there came another and said, “The fire of God fell from heaven and burned up the sheep and the servants and consumed them, and I alone have escaped to tell you.” 17 While he was yet speaking, there came another and said, “The Chaldeans formed three groups and made a raid on the camels and took them and struck down the servants with the edge of the sword, and I alone have escaped to tell you.” 18 While he was yet speaking, there came another and said, “Your sons and daughters were eating and drinking wine in their oldest brother’s house, 19 and behold, a great wind came across the wilderness and struck the four corners of the house, and it fell upon the young people, and they are dead, and I alone have escaped to tell you.”
20 Then Job arose and tore his robe and shaved his head and fell on the ground and worshiped. 21 And he said, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.”
22 In all this Job did not sin or charge God with wrong.
Job 2:7–10 (ESV)
7 So Satan went out from the presence of the Lord and struck Job with loathsome sores from the sole of his foot to the crown of his head. 8 And he took a piece of broken pottery with which to scrape himself while he sat in the ashes.
9 Then his wife said to him, “Do you still hold fast your integrity? Curse God and die.” 10 But he said to her, “You speak as one of the foolish women would speak. Shall we receive good from God, and shall we not receive evil?” In all this Job did not sin with his lips.
God is worthy of our worship regardless of the situation…
We must not harden our hearts but practice the acknowledgement that God gives and God takes away and He is to be blessed by us.
The truth is, we will probably experience trials in the life. How do you respond?
Our prayer should not be that we are exempt from trials but that God will be with us through them. It is far better to struggle and have the divine presence than comfort as a pagan.