Are we being plagued today?

Sigh. I am trying not to be too troubled and press forward, and so far I feel okay, but I am still disappointed. I was turned down for one of the three jobs I interviewed several weeks ago.

I wallowed in pity for a few minutes on my way to church, but as soon as I got there, I all but forgot about it. I am trying to adjust my attitude about this job search, but it is a slow process. My goals are simple–I want an entry-level job where I can build up on my education and experience, something challenging yet rewarding. My second goal is to be able to help provide for my family. I do not like having to struggle.

I am beginning to wonder what the candidates who get the jobs have that I do not. My guess would be more experience, because no one wants to train anyone anymore. As I mentioned on this blog several days ago, there are very few entry-level jobs that are willing to take a fresh-face in who may have a decent foundation and work with them. No, most of these jobs expect someone to already have been trained to use their computer programs or do the job. So basically, they may as well keep a lot of their job postings internal.

I also wonder if my education is hindering me. At most of my interviews over the past several years, the hiring manager who has interviewed me has made note that most people with Master’s degrees do not consider themselves to be entry-level candidates. In their eyes, I suppose, I am going to take my Master’s degree, get into a job, and leave as soon as I get the chance. That, more than anything, angers me. Whenever I have gotten a job, I have been devoted to that job, despite the pay, despite my health, despite everything. At the end of the day, I am just happy to be working and earning my keep. I am tired of assumptions possibly being made about me that are unfounded.

My question to those who are luckily in a position to determine who is worth hiring and who is not are is as follows:

How is one supposed to get experience when every job wants someone who already has experience?

It is a catch-22 with considerable ramifications. Let’s take my credit and housing situation, for example. The only way my credit will improve is if I get the right job that will enable me to pay down some of my debts. I really do not have many, but yet I cannot manage them without cash flow. Without that good credit score, my husband and I will not be getting a home anytime soon. I do not apply to employers who expect a credit check for employment, as I think that is ridiculous, but in the financial industry in particular I understand that is important. Yet, that credit score can even keep you from getting the job that can get you financially healthy! It is just stupid.

However, yours truly is a trooper and I went ahead and submitted resumes for several jobs just minutes before I began to write this post. There was one in particular that I would really like, for a word processor for a pathology department. Not only do I love anything that has to do with typing, preparing correspondence, blogging (naturally), I type very quickly and am good at it! But we’ll see what comes of my query.

Where did I leave off? I am excited to have a bit of free time to get into the Word. I wish I had more time to devote to Exodus because it is fascinating from start to finish, but it is what it is (shrugs). Babies are pretty time-consuming little people, I tell you.

Ahh… the nasty bloody river (shudders). The first plague is the plague of blood in the Nile River.

Imagine the stench? Of course everything that was living in the Nile died. And since people need water to live, the Egyptians could have died as well, without their number one source of fresh water. The waters and soil of the Nile were involved in the cultivation of many Egyptian crops. Therefore, turning it into blood could have spelled economic disaster for the Egyptians as well. Additionally, the Nile was considered a god and a source of their worship. God was showing them how effective this “god” really was.

Unbelievably, Pharaoh’s heart remains hard, and God allows for the Nile to be bloody for seven days. This is absolutely baffling to me–the idea of seeing a beautiful, clean body of water flowing freely being turned into blood within a matter of minutes (or even seconds, who knows? God can do it all!). How can you not believe after seeing such a sight??

I wonder how many people died during those seven days? The Bible makes no mention of any deaths from dehydration, and it’s not important, it is just my curiosity again 🙂

The next plague is the plague of frogs. I don’t mind frogs…to a certain extent. I can go to a nature center and see them hopping around and even hold them myself, but the very thought of having hundreds or thousands of them hopping all over the place makes me cringe. Again, Moses and Aaron are sent to Pharaoh to warn him of this plague, he calls their bluff, the plague hits, Pharaoh’s magicians replicate the plague, but this time something is different. I suppose Pharaoh doesn’t like frogs too much either, because he calls Aaron and Moses back and begs them to ask the Lord to remove the frogs, and he will let the people go. The time is set for tomorrow.

Moses cries to the Lord for the frogs to be removed, and it happens–all of the frogs die, and I can imagine how bad that smelled. (I can also imagine the process of removing all of the dead frogs from the homes, streets, etc… GRODIE). Now that Pharaoh has gotten his way, he hardens his heart again.

Pharaoh is definitely not an Israelite, but this instance provides a great example of how I used to live my life. Selfishly. In my time of need, I would cry out to God for help. When he gave it to me, I would forget about him. When I was going through times of bereavement, depression, or failure, I was quick to run up under God. I would go to church, pray, cry, and search for Scriptures to help me through my situation. Then, when the storm cleared, I was back doing the exact same things I had been doing. I would not go to church until the next storm surfaced, I would not pray unless I felt I needed to for something to placate my own self-interests, and I definitely didn’t read the Bible. Notice I said I would “search for Scriptures”. Meaning I would only pick out ones that uplifted me in that particular time. I did not read or study the Word. SMH @ myself. Boy was I stupid.

I was stupid, but Pharaoh was a flat-out fool (Psalm 14:1 says, “The fool says in his heart, ‘There is no God'”). So on to the third plague--the plague of gnats.

Here is what is absolutely frightening about this plague. God says in Exodus 8:16:

“…Tell Aaron, ‘Raise your staff and strike the ground. The dust will turn into swarms of gnats throughout the land of Egypt'”.

Do you know how many dust particles there are????? Can you imagine all of those tiny particles turning into gnats?? We’re not talking about a few thousand particle-gnats here, folks. We’re talking millions of tiny little pests, and they were unavoidable! The Egyptians did not have energy-efficient windows they could shut and keep them out of their homes. They did not have hardwood floors. The floors of their homes were probably particle-gnats.

The Egyptian magicians are unable to duplicate this plague. Now, even they tell Pharaoh: “This is the finger of God!” Inconceivably, Pharaoh’s heart is still hardened, even as he is probably swatting away at gnats himself. But that is okay, because God has more coming.

As if the gnats weren’t bad enough, next is the plague of flies.

Moses and Aaron are commissioned to approach Pharaoh yet again and warn him of the impending plague if he will not let the people go. The formula here is the same–Pharaoh refuses, and on come the flies. The flies do affect the Israelites. Pharaoh agrees to let the people offer sacrifices to God on one condition–that they do it in his land. This is unacceptable. We cannot let others put conditions on our duty to serve God, and Moses refused the offer. Pharaoh agrees to let the people go, but look at what he says in Exo. 8:28:

“… Now hurry and pray for me”.

Newsflash Pharaoh–if you would only believe, you can pray for yourself.

No doubt Moses is a very important Biblical figure–every name that is in the Bible is in there for a reason, but again, these were all ordinary people who God used to do extraordinary things. Pharaoh was so far removed from anything godly that he could not even comprehend the fact that he had as much access to God if he believed. The same is the case today. God is no respecter of persons–he can answer my prayers just as he can answer the prayers of millions of other believers. Does my prayer go to God before another person’s? Does he rank them in terms of their importance? Nope. God hears the cries of his children and responds according to his will.

As I’m sure you already know, once the flies have been removed, Pharaoh changes his mind.

God sends Moses and Pharaoh back and this time with a plague against the livestock. The cattle, donkeys, horses, sheep, and goats were all struck down. Think of the purposes that the livestock served, and how this was damaging to the Egyptians. The livestock provided wealth, food, milk, transportation, and other amenities to the Egyptians. Imagine how devastating it was to lose their livestock. Imagine how it felt to see their livestock struck down, while the livestock of the Israelites continued to thrive. Pharaoh sends his officials to investigate, and even after they see that the livestock belonging to the Hebrews are okay, Pharaoh still refuses to let them go.

Now the plagues get more personal. God tells the brothers (Exo. 9:8-9):

“Take handfuls of soot from a brick kiln, and have Moses toss it in the air while Pharaoh watches. The ashes will spread like fine dust over the whole land of Egypt, causing festering boils to break out on people and animals throughout the land”.

Would you like to take a guess as to what happened next?

You guessed it. The plague sets in. The magicians are so affected by it that they cannot even attempt to duplicate it. When one thinks of boils, they may think of just little sores or scabs, but I do not think God was as clean with it. I think these were oozing, painful open sores. The impurity associated with these boils were a direct reflection of the impurity of the souls of the Godless Egyptians.

As expected, Pharaoh is still unmoved.

The seventh plague is the plague of hail. Out of curiosity, I researched how big hail typically is in diameter. In approximately 99% of the time, according to The Hail Reporter (http://www.hailreporter.com/hail-statistics/), hail is 3 inches or less in diameter. In this situation, God gives the Egyptians fair warning that the hailstorm is coming, and that it will be devastating. By now, some of the people believe in God and heed his warning to take their livestock indoors.

And now we are presented with what appears to be a huge contradiction in the Bible. Let’s examine it.

Recall that the plague of livestock was supposed to have eliminated all of the Egyptian livestock. Now we read that the people are warned to take their livestock indoors. How is this possible?

1. We do not know how much time has elapsed between plagues. With my 21st century mindset, I would like to have assumed that these plagues occurred in rapid succession, but the Bible does not say that.

2. We also do not know where the livestock came from. My assumption would be that the Egyptians may have taken some of the livestock from the Hebrews when theirs died.

3. God is very specific as to which livestock was struck down in the previous plague. Perhaps the livestock being referred to in this plague of hail is a different set of animals.

4. I also believe that there were some believers in Egypt and that their livestock was spared.

There you have it. Another contradiction vanquished.

So, on comes the hailstorm. See how the Bible describes this event (Exo. 9:23-26):

“So Moses lifted his staff toward the sky, and the Lord sent thunder and hail, and lightning flashed toward the earth. The Lord sent a tremendous hailstorm against all the land of Egypt. Never in all the history of Egypt had there been a storm like that, with such devastating hail and continuous lightning. It left all of Egypt in ruins. The hail struck down everything in the open field—people, animals, and plants alike. Even the trees were destroyed. The only place without hail was the region of Goshen, where the people of Israel lived”.

Do you think that 3″ hail could have done that much damage? Well, of course it could have, considering what God is capable of. I am merely speculating that this hail may have been much bigger. My reasoning comes from the mention of hail being aware of how God will use hail in the future. Look no further than the Revelation 16:19-21:

“The great city of Babylon split into three sections, and the cities of many nations fell into heaps of rubble. So God remembered all of Babylon’s sins, and he made her drink the cup that was filled with the wine of his fierce wrath. And every island disappeared, and all the mountains were leveled. There was a terrible hailstorm, and hailstones weighing as much as seventy-five pounds fell from the sky onto the people below. They cursed God because of the terrible plague of the hailstorm.”

There are other instances in the Bible where God uses hail, and as far as I can remember, he usually does so when he is pouring out his wrath upon a group of people. We’ll encou

What can you think of off-hand that weighs 75 pounds? My six-year-old son is getting heavy, and he only weighs around 55 pounds. (He’s thin). My estimate is that by ten or eleven years, he will be 75 pounds. So imagine hail the size of a ten- or eleven-year-old boy furiously raining down from the sky (smile). We are not talking about a gentle, relaxing May shower. God is mad here, remember? I’ll bet that hail was coming down fast.

There are other instances in the Bible where God uses hail, and as far as I can remember, he usually does so when he is pouring out his wrath upon a group of people. We’ll encounter hail again as we move forward in the Word.

Pharaoh comes to Moses and Aaron and for the first time, appears to show some humility. “I have sinned,” he confesses. “The Lord is the righteous one (ya think??) and my people and I are wrong” (Exo. 9: 27).

Pharaoh asks for the plague to be removed and agrees to let the people go, but I am sure you know it does not end here.

The plague of the locusts ensues. Just for maximum ick factor, I looked up several pictures of locusts:

Locusts and grasshoppers are similar in appearance, so I tend to equate the two. I do not mind grasshoppers, but as with frogs, I do not like them in overabundance! This time Pharaoh’s officials confront him (Exo. 10:7): …” How long will you let this man hold us hostage? Let the men go to worship the Lord their God! Don’t you realize that Egypt lies in ruins?”

Pharaoh agrees to let the Hebrews go on one condition: That only the men go. When Moses disagrees with this request, Pharaoh throws them out of the palace. Bad decision–on come the locusts. The Bible declares, “…It was the worst plague in Egyptian history, and there has never been another one like it” (Exo. 10:14). The locusts devoured the plants and trees. Again Pharaoh summons Moses and Aaron, agrees to let them go, and reneges.

Next is the plague of darkness. There is so much significance with this one.

God says to Moses (Exo. 10: 21):

“Lift your hand toward heaven, and the land of Egypt will be covered with a darkness so thick you can feel it.”

Wow. Darkness you can feel. When we are in the world, we can definitely feel the darkness we are living in when we live in sin. I can think back to my own time when I was living according to the world’s standards, and how empty, lonely and depressed I felt. Satisfaction was fleeting, and true joy was unattainable.

Darkness stretches across Egypt for three days (there is the number three again. Could this be an instance of foreshadowing the three days of spiritual darkness that stretched across the land after Jesus was crucified, before He rose again?). The Bible says that during that time, no one could see each other, and no one moved. Yet, there was light in the land the Hebrews occupied. Believe it or not, Pharaoh still tries to present Moses with an offer–the Israelites can go worship their God but must leave their flocks and herds behind.

Why do you think Pharaoh kept presenting Moses with these conditions? Is it because he knew that was a way to make sure the Israelites would come back? I believe so. Pharaoh was not yet fully committed to letting the people go. He wanted to make sure they had a reason to come back, which is why he offered to only let the men go, and now in this instance, only let the people go. He knew they needed their animals if they were leaving for good.

When Moses refuses, Pharaoh gets ticked and yells at Moses to get out, and warns Moses that if he ever sees him again, Moses will die. This is the final refusal. God has saved the best (worst) for last with the death of the firstborn in Exodus 11, the culmination of the nine plagues.

God tells Moses that this indeed will be the final blow. After this, Pharaoh will almost force the Israelites to leave. At this point, the Egyptians are convinced of God’s power and that the Hebrews are his people, and look favorably upon them and Moses as God’s appointed Israelite leader). God instructs the Israelites to ask the Egyptians for their articles of silver and gold. Moses goes to Pharaoh and tells him of the things to come (Exo. 11:4-8):

“Moses had announced to Pharaoh, “This is what the Lord says: At midnight tonight I will pass through the heart of Egypt. All the firstborn sons will die in every family in Egypt, from the oldest son of Pharaoh, who sits on his throne, to the oldest son of his lowliest servant girl who grinds the flour. Even the firstborn of all the livestock will die. Then a loud wail will rise throughout the land of Egypt, a wail like no one has heard before or will ever hear again. But among the Israelites it will be so peaceful that not even a dog will bark. Then you will know that the Lord makes a distinction between the Egyptians and the Israelites. All the officials of Egypt will run to me and fall to the ground before me. ‘Please leave!’ they will beg. ‘Hurry! And take all your followers with you.’ Only then will I go!” Then, burning with anger, Moses left Pharaoh”.

“Burning with anger”… Not saying that I do not understand, but here again is another showing of Moses’ temper.

It is absolutely unbelievable that even after all these things Pharaoh does not heed the warning.

This brings us to the first Passover.

The Israelites are still in Egypt, but the time has come for their rescue. God has very specific instructions as to how this will play out. We have to keep in mind that these plagues were designed to show his power, the futility of the Egyptian “gods”, and to prove to the Israelites that they were his chosen people. Everything has to be done decently and in order.

God gives the following instructions to Moses and Aaron (Exo. 12:2-11):

“From now on, this month will be the first month of the year for you. Announce to the whole community of Israel that on the tenth day of this month each family must choose a lamb or a young goat for a sacrifice, one animal for each household. If a family is too small to eat a whole animal, let them share with another family in the neighborhood. Divide the animal according to the size of each family and how much they can eat. The animal you select must be a one-year-old male, either a sheep or a goat, with no defects.

Take special care of this chosen animal until the evening of the fourteenth day of this first month. Then the whole assembly of the community of Israel must slaughter their lamb or young goat at twilight. They are to take some of the blood and smear it on the sides and top of the doorframes of the houses where they eat the animal. That same night they must roast the meat over a fire and eat it along with bitter salad greens and bread made without yeast. Do not eat any of the meat raw or boiled in water. The whole animal—including the head, legs, and internal organs—must be roasted over a fire. Do not leave any of it until the next morning. Burn whatever is not eaten before morning.
These are your instructions for eating this meal: Be fully dressed, wear your sandals, and carry your walking stick in your hand. Eat the meal with urgency, for this is the Lord’s Passover.”
 
 
Where to begin with the importance of this event?
 
How about the fact that God implemented a new calendar for the Israelites? This shows he had an entirely new life planned for the Israelites. They were leaving everything behind.
 
Just as the Israelites were to have a sacrificial lamb, with no defects, so do we as Christians have our own Sacrificial Lamb–Jesus. Those of us who believe in Him are covered with His blood, and thus when judgment time comes, God will pass us over in the sense that we are judged differently from non-believers.
 
Why was it necessary to roast the meat over the fire? Perhaps because of the cleansing property of fire. The fire removed any remaining impurity.
 
Why not leave any of it for the morning? This was before refrigerators and preservatives. The food would corrupt if left out. The meal had to be pure. There is also further significance here, if we think of how we are to partake of Jesus. We can have no “leftover” here–either we partake fully of Jesus, or we do not partake at all.
 
The blood on the doorposts was the sign for the Lord to pass over the house when he struck down Egypt’s firstborn. God goes on to tell the people that they shall remember this day and commemorate it each year with a special festival. I will have to research, but I think this may be the first time God has used the word law: ““This is a day to remember. Each year, from generation to generation, you must celebrate it as a special festival to the Lord. This is a law for all time. For seven days the bread you eat must be made without yeast. On the first day of the festival, remove every trace of yeast from your homes. Anyone who eats bread made with yeast during the seven days of the festival will be cut off from the community of Israel.” (Exo. 12: 14-15).
 
What is important about whether bread is unleavened or had yeast? It doesn’t seem like it should make a huge difference, but it does. Leaven is likened to sinful pride. When added to dough, even in small amounts, leaven “puffs” it up. Even though the Israelites were God’s chosen people, they were not to be puffed up because of their status. They were intended to be the example for the world to follow, so pride had no place there.
 
The regulations put forth regarding the Passover and Festival of Unleavened Bread applies to Israelites and non-Israelites residing with them alike.
 
Moses calls the elders of Israel together the relay the information he has received, and the preparations begin. The people bow down and worship when he finishes speaking. The people do as told, and of course, the Lord does exactly what he said he was going to do (Exo. 12: 29-30):
 
“And that night at midnight, the Lord struck down all the firstborn sons in the land of Egypt, from the firstborn son of Pharaoh, who sat on his throne, to the firstborn son of the prisoner in the dungeon. Even the firstborn of their livestock were killed. Pharaoh and all his officials and all the people of Egypt woke up during the night, and loud wailing was heard throughout the land of Egypt. There was not a single house where someone had not died”.
 
Finally, Pharaoh has had enough. He orders the Israelites to leave, and this time gives them no conditions. The other Egyptians rush the Israelites to leave as well, as they are very afraid (understandably so!). The Israelites took their unleavened dough, wrapped their kneading boards in cloaks, and prop them up on their shoulders. The Egyptians, who probably would have done anything to get the Israelites out of there at this point, gladly hand over their clothing and articles of silver and gold. The Bible says “they stripped them of their wealth!”. 600,000 men, plus the women and children, leave Egypt for Succoth. A remnant of Egyptians accompany them, and there are also livestock and other animals. They use the bread to make flat cakes, since they had not had time to prepare the bread properly before they left. They did not waste time worrying about minor things or looking back when they should have been looking forward–do we do that when we first become saved, or do we continue to look back to our past sinful life? I’m partially guilty. No, I do not ever want to be in the clubs again drinking or anything like that, but sometimes I get tired of my routine (that does not mean I ever want to go back to being the way I was, though).
 
We learn that the Israelites have been in Egypt for a total of 430 years.
 
Chapter 12 concludes with more instructions for the Passover:
 
1. Outsiders cannot partake of the Passover meal.
2. Slaves who have been circumcised can partake of the Passover meal, but temporary residents and servants may not.
3. Each Passover lamb must be eaten in one house. The meat cannot be taken outside and its bones cannot be broken (remember on the cross how our Sacrificial Lamb’s bones were not broken, fulfilling a prophecy in Psalm 22:17? You gotta love this stuff!!!).
4. The entire Israelite community must take part in the Passover.
5. Foreigners living among the Israelites can take part in the Passover as long as their males have been circumcised.
 
There is a lot within this story of deliverance that applies to later Biblical events and events of today. Our Sacrificial Lamb delivers us from the bondage that is sin (from which comes death) only if we are covered with His blood. Look at how those instructions above can apply to our lives:
 
1. Outsiders (non-believers) do not partake of Jesus, nor do they participate in Christian rites such as Communion.
2. I already mentioned how the Bible specifically states that our Sacrificial Lamb’s bones will not be broken, and He will not have been corrupted by anything worldly.
3. God wants all Israelites to take part in this festival. God wants us to have good, clean fun together. He wants us to always remember what He has done for us. He wants us to fellowship and worship and praise Himtogether. Most importantly, you cannot be a part of God’s family if you do not partake of Jesus. The only way to the Father is through His Son.
4. My feeling on the idea of including foreigners only if they were circumcised shows me how God intended on Israelites being the influence over the world. The Israelites were not to conform to worldly standards, the world was supposed to conform to theirs. Similar to how we as Gentiles were adopted into God’s family by accepting Jesus Christ, foreigners were only allowed to participate if they took part of the Abrahamic covenant and were circumcised, thus showing their Israelite affiliation.
 
My friends, this book is neither outdated nor is it a book of fiction. I cannot stress that enough. God showed his might with the plagues, and he is showing his might today. People just aren’t paying attention. God is doing marvelous things with our weather. Animal species are dying off left and right. People are being afflicted with unknown, incurable diseases regularly. Why won’t people acknowledge God’s power??
 
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