1The Lord said to Moses:
Go back to the king. I have made him and his officials stubborn, so that I could work these miracles. 2I did this because I want you to tell your children and your grandchildren about my miracles and about my harsh treatment of the Egyptians. Then all of you will know that I am the Lord.
3Moses and Aaron went to the king and told him that the Lord God of the Hebrews had said:
How long will you stubbornly refuse to obey? Release my people so they can worship me. 4Do this by tomorrow, or I will cover your country with so many locusts 5that you won't be able to see the ground. Most of your crops were ruined by the hailstones, but these locusts will destroy what little is left, including the trees. 6Your palace, the homes of your officials, and all the other houses in Egypt will overflow with more locusts than have ever been seen in this country.
After Moses left the palace, 7the king's officials asked, “Your Majesty, how much longer is this man going to be a troublemaker? Why don't you let the people leave, so they can worship the Lord their God? Don't you know that Egypt is a disaster?”
8The king had Moses and Aaron brought back, and he said, “All right, you may go and worship the Lord your God. But first tell me who will be going.”
9“Everyone, young and old,” Moses answered. “We will even take our sheep, goats, and cattle, because we want to hold a celebration in honor of the Lord.”
10The king replied, “The Lord had better watch over you on the day I let you leave with your families! You're up to no good. 11Do you want to worship the Lord? All right, take only the men and go.” Then Moses and Aaron were chased out of the palace.
12The Lord told Moses, “Stretch your arm toward Egypt. Swarms of locusts will come and eat everything left by the hail.”
13Moses held out his walking stick, and the Lord sent an east wind that blew across Egypt the rest of the day and all that night. By morning, locusts 14 were swarming everywhere. Never before had there been so many locusts in Egypt, and never again will there be so many. 15The ground was black with locusts, and they ate everything left on the trees and in the fields. Nothing green remained in Egypt—not a tree or a plant.
16At once the king sent for Moses and Aaron. He told them, “I have sinned against the Lord your God and against you. 17Forgive me one more time and ask the Lord to stop these insects from killing every living plant.”
18Moses left the palace and prayed. 19Then the Lord sent a strong west wind that swept the locusts into the Red Sea. Not one locust was left anywhere in Egypt, 20but the Lord made the king so stubborn that he still refused to let the Israelites go.
Pharaoh is a stubborn child of God who is being disciplined and humbled. He continues to contend with God although his efforts are frustrated and fruitless. As Pharaoh negotiates with the Creator, he is reminded who is really in charge of Egypt. Ancient civilizations dreaded locusts and the Egyptians surely saw their arrival as divine judgment. This swarming army of voracious insects toppled the Egyptian god Set who protected crops. As the plagues increase in severity, the issue has become deeper than a refusal to let the Hebrews go. Pharaoh will not recognize who holds his world together and it spins out of control.
Moses is told by the Lord that Pharaoh’s stubbornness and the resulting plagues will be a lesson for his children, their children and for generations to come. This is stressed repeatedly in Exodus and is a foundation for our faith (Exodus 10:2; 12:26-27; 13:8&14). It’s highlighted when Pharaoh attempts to hold the women and children as hostages in Egypt while the men are released to worship. It’s in direct contrast to God’s plan for his people to be redeemed out of slavery and to flourish in the Promised Land. He wants this story repeated for centuries to come so all children will know that he is the Lord (v2).
My children know when I’m teaching them a lesson that I have deeply learned in my own life. They have antennae on alert for insincerity and hypocrisy. When I talk to them about the Lord, they see I speak from experience and not just from a book I’ve read. When we celebrate the Passover meal annually, it’s not a story that is removed from them. The God who showed his mighty power in delivering us out of Egypt is the same God that is meeting them at our table today.
Mighty God, you work miracles for your name’s sake. May we teach them daily in our homes to our families in every way so they might also come to know you. Help us to participate in passing on your story for generations to come. In the name of Messiah, Amen.