The First Plague - RR171K20

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Professor: Rushdoony, Dr. R. J.
Title: The First Plague
Course: Course - Exodus; Unity of Law and Grace
Subject: Subject:Pentateuch
Lesson#: 20
Length: 0:29:41
TapeCode: RR171K20
Audio: Chalcedon Archive
Transcript: .docx Format
Exodus Unity of Law and Grace.jpg

This transcript is unedited. It was:
Archived by the Mt. Olive Tape Library
Digitized, transcribed, and published by Christ Rules
Posted by with permission.

Let us worship God. Our help is in the name of the Lord, who made heaven and earth. The Lord is nigh unto all them that call upon Him, to all that call upon Him in truth. He will fulfill the desire of them that fear Him, He also will hear their cry and save them. Where two or three are gathered together in my name, saith the Lord Jesus Christ, there am I in the midst of them. Let us pray.

Oh Lord, our God, we thank thee that, according to thy word, we dwell under the shadow of thy wings. That we are in thy hands who doest all things well, that day after day, thy mercies are new every morning. Give us grace, therefore, to see in all things thy gracious hand in thy providential care. To know that all thy ways are yea and amen, in terms of our calling in Christ Jesus. Bless us then now by thy word and by thy spirit. Give us growth in thee, joy in thy word, faithfulness to thy calling, and a triumphant spirit in all things. In Christ’s name, Amen.

Our scripture this morning is Exodus 7:14-25. Our subject: The First Plague. Exodus 7:14-25. “And the LORD said unto Moses, Pharaoh's heart is hardened, he refuseth to let the people go. Get thee unto Pharaoh in the morning; lo, he goeth out unto the water; and thou shalt stand by the river's brink against he come; and the rod which was turned to a serpent shalt thou take in thine hand. And thou shalt say unto him, The LORD God of the Hebrews hath sent me unto thee, saying, Let my people go, that they may serve me in the wilderness: and, behold, hitherto thou wouldest not hear. Thus saith the LORD, In this thou shalt know that I am the LORD: behold, I will smite with the rod that is in mine hand upon the waters which are in the river, and they shall be turned to blood. And the fish that is in the river shall stink, and the river shall stink; and the Egyptians shall lothe to drink of the water of the river. And the LORD spake unto Moses, Say unto Aaron, Take thy rod, and stretch out thine hand upon the waters of Egypt, upon their streams, upon their rivers, and upon their ponds, and upon all their pools of water, that they may become blood; and that there may be blood throughout all the land of Egypt, both in vessels of wood, and in vessels of stone. And Moses and Aaron did so, as the LORD commanded; and he lifted up the rod, and smote the waters that were in the river, in the sight of Pharaoh, and in the sight of his servants; and all the waters that were in the river were turned to blood. And the fish that was in the river died; and the river stank, and the Egyptians could not drink of the water of the river; and there was blood throughout all the land of Egypt. And the magicians of Egypt did so with their enchantments: and Pharaoh's heart was hardened, neither did he hearken unto them; as the LORD had said. And Pharaoh turned and went into his house, neither did he set his heart to this also. And all the Egyptians digged round about the river for water to drink; for they could not drink of the water of the river. And seven days were fulfilled, after that the LORD had smitten the river.” [00:04:22]

The first of the ten plagues, or judgments, on Egypt...[edit]

The first of the ten plagues, or judgments, on Egypt was against the river Nile. Life was and is still possible in Egypt because of the Nile. An otherwise desert area is made very fertile, and it is highly productive because of the Nile. In fact, it is said that the two most fertile regions of the world are the Nile Valley and the Great Central Valley of California. That’s a very interesting fact. When you see the difference between the standard of living in the two places, you realize the difference that Christian faith and character makes. The San Joaquin Valley has always been a strongly Christian area, although in recent years, the cities there have had serious problems.

The Nile then, and still today, has a religious significance for the peasants. It represents the blessing of the land by the powers inherent in the natural world. For the Nile to turn to blood would obviously mean that Egypt was cursed, not blessed.

Now, at this point, scholars of a modernistic bent, are very quick to inform us that there is a natural explanation for this and the other plagues. From time to time, they tell us, that minute fungi, or at other instances, tiny reddish insects, redden the waters and make it unfit to drink. At other times they tell us frogs, as in the second plague, become prolific, and so on. This may be true enough, but those events were not things that happened frequently. Moreover, if the plagues were no more than familiar, natural occurrences, no power could be imputed to Moses and his God. The Egyptians were very good observers of natural phenomena. The plagues had to be different in nature and intensity to have any impact on the Egyptians. Moreover, we are told that the Egyptians and wise men who were able, on a limited scale, to redden the waters also. This encouraged Pharaoh in his resistance. How Moses was able to affect all the waters in Egypt, Pharaoh did not know. His answer was to retreat to his palace. [00:07:37]

Joseph Parker wrote, and I quote, ...[edit]

Joseph Parker wrote, and I quote, “There is a period in life when we can only see sin in the light of its punishments. That indeed is not dis{?} but that is the chronic Sophism with which all high spiritual teaching has to contend, and to contend almost impotently because of the deceitfulness of the heart. When we are in the right mind, we shall not need to see hell in order to see what sin really is. We shall know it afar off, because it has shaped itself into overt evil behavior. We should hate it as a spiritual possibility if no stain had been made upon the snow of the universe.”

Now the basic sin of Egypt was to see all the world in naturalistic terms. Whatever powers or gods there were had to be essentially facets of the natural order. Pharaoh and Egypt were compelled to see that they were face to face with the judgment of the living God, a power from beyond this world. Even Manetho, an Egyptian historian of the third century B.C., admitted that this conflict was a religious war. And this was a fact that Josephus cited also and against {?} Apian. Now, Josephus was hostile to Manetho and Manetho was hostile to the Hebrews, so this was not a fact readily presented. God plainly declares in Exodus 12:12, “Against all the gods in Egypt, I will execute judgment.”

Three rods or scepters, are referred to in this passage. In verse 17, we have God’s scepter, or rod. Second, Moses was to meet Pharaoh in the morning near the Nile with his own rod in his hand, according to verse 15. Pharaoh’s presence there was apparently a religious one, and it was here that he and his faith were to be challenged. They were there to pay honor to the natural forces that made Egypt great. But then third, Aaron’s rod, or scepter, referred to in verses 19-20,is used to turn all other rods {?} into blood. The devastation of this plague included the fish in the Nile within Egypt’s borders. That fish higher up later came back into the lower Nile meant that the fish resources in the Nile for some time were diluted. [00:11:04]

Pharaoh was determined that there be no concession...[edit]

Pharaoh was determined that there be no concession. The witness of verses 24 and 25 went unheeded. There were in all ten plagues. The waters turned into blood, frogs, lice, although it could be maggots, flies, murrain, or a plague on the livestock, boils, hail, locust, darkness, and the death of the firstborn, and all have a religious significance. Thus, the now {?} is the lifeline of Egypt, and blood is associated with life, so that there was an irony here.

As Kate wrote, and I quote, “In all of the ancient Near East, there was a common belief that blood was the source of life. This is also true in the Old Testament which says the life of every creature is the blood of it. The Egyptians considered the now to be the source of life, but when it was turned to blood, the real source of life, it caused death on every hand. The two things that the Egyptians considered to be the source of life had combined to bring death.” Bishop Halls observation is very good. He said, and I quote, “Men are sure to be punished most and soonest in that which they make a co-rival with God.” A humanistic trust in man, and in the natural order means that God’s judgment will turn these things against man.

Earlier, Moses had given a demonstration of God’s power. Now it was no longer a demonstration, it was an all-out attack. W.H. Gispen {?} makes clear that this plague refers to blood, not to the reddish Nile when there was clay silt that came down with high flood waters. The red Nile phenomenon was well known to the Egyptians. It was annual thing, it added to the soil’s fertility and did not kill fish. It was regarded by the Egyptians as a blessing. In fact, the Aswan Dam has ended the red Nile and thus, they face now a problem with regard to the fertility of the soil. [00:14:00]

Now sometimes also, speaking of the natural phenomenon...[edit]

Now sometimes also, speaking of the natural phenomenon that marked the Nile, the green Nile was caused by some plants, and it sometimes killed a few fish. But this plague differs from both. Both the red Nile and the green Nile were well known to Egyptians, this was totally different. The fact that the Bible sometimes uses words figuratively, does not justify some scholars into turning all of it into meaningless figures of speech and to say that blood here doesn’t mean blood, just the red clay. If it meant that, the Egyptians would have welcomed it.

The purposes of the plagues, as stated in verse 17. “In this, thou shalt know that I am the Lord.” The knowledge of God is inescapable knowledge, but how we know Him will vary. We can know Him as our redeemer or as our unrelenting judge. O.T. Ellis, one of the very fine Old Testament scholars of more than a generation ago, observed the plagues, and I quote, “The ten plagues were mighty signs and wonders, and they contained a natural and a supernatural element. Frogs, lice, flies, murrain, etc. were all natural phenomena, or pests well known to the Egyptians. But the record makes it plain that the plagues were far more than mere natural phenomena. They came and went at the command of Moses. They were evidences of the sovereign power of the God of Israel over Pharaoh, the Egyptians, and their gods. Those who are tempted to minimize or rationalize these wonders of old should read carefully Moses’ appraisal of them as given in Deuteronomy 4:34-40.”

Now in that passage, Deuteronomy 4:34-40, we are told that the plagues were the work of God and as supernatural as the giving of the law at Mt. Sinai. It was an act of grace, and the necessary response to God’s saving grace is to obey His law. Judgment, therefore, comes not only as a punishment to the ungodly, but as an act of grace to the Godly.

There were several purposes of these ten plagues as Youngblood and others have pointed out. First, they were a judgment on Egypt and her gods. The plagues were, in most cases, directed against a particular aspect of Egyptian faith. Then second, the plagues had, as their purpose, also the deliverance of Israel. Then third, they demonstrated that God is the only sovereign and Lord over nature and history, and fourth, not all the plagues struck Goshen where Israel was. And God thereby made clear Israel was His chosen people. Fifth, the plagues were a revelation of God and a declaration of His holy power and name. The Nile was worshiped, or revered, under various names. As Asphus, as Osirus and so on, all symbols of fertility. Their trust was now a source of potential death, and what they relied upon for the fertility of the land was now destroying it. [00:18:30]

Bamburger has said of the plagues, and I quote, ...[edit]

Bamburger has said of the plagues, and I quote, “Scholars have sought in vain for a historical kernel to these tales.” The sad fact is that Bamburger is a rabbi and a scholar. It would be more accurate to add that any who find historical confirmation of these plagues are thereby immediately discredited by these modernistic scholars. Bamburger still admitted that the story of the plagues has no true parallel in ancient Egyptian and Near Eastern literature. It is a unique account.

J.C. Connell said of the plagues and I quote, “The plagues not only caused great physical affliction, they were a judgment against the gods of Egypt. The Nile was a main object of worship. The frog was a sacred symbol of fertility, of the cattle, the ram, the goat and bull, they were sacred. The sun god, Ra, was eclipsed and proved impotent by the plague of darkness.” But this is not all. The Nile had been turned into a river of death by the murder of the Hebrew male infants. Now it was a sign of death to Egypt. Wells were sunk by the Egyptians, we are told, to gain water not yet polluted by percolation, according to verse 24, for the Egyptians did not know how long this plague would endure. But meanwhile, all their reservoirs, whether of wood or of stone, were also polluted. The Nile had been the grave of innocent babes. Now, by their impenitence, the Egyptians were digging their own graves. They gained some water, but no deliverance. It is ironic how blind men are to this sort of thing.

Velikovsky, some years ago, believed he had found some historical records that gave evidence of these events. The ironic fact was that Velikovsky was not a believer, he was merely writing as a scholar and an historian. But the very fact that he dug up these records out of antiquity and pointed out their dating was incorrect and a proper understanding of their dating would show that they occurred at the time of Moses and the deliverance of Israel was enough to discredit him. Not even a coincidence, because Velikovsky saw nothing supernatural in it, would satisfy the critics. He had to be damned for what he had done. And so men will not face up to the fact of the meaning of judgment, of God’s hand in history. [00:22:13]

But these judgments are judgments on the ungodly, they...[edit]

But these judgments are judgments on the ungodly, they bring death to them. But they are acts of grace for us. Because, while they are very difficult to live through, without them we would have no deliverance. And thus, as we face times of judgment such as this, we need to know that they are examples of God’s very great grace to us. Let us pray.

Oh Lord, our God, great and marvelous are thy works, and we thank thee that thou art He who didst judge Egypt and deliver Israel, and that now thou art at work throughout all the earth to bring judgment upon the nations and to deliver thy true Israel out of bondage and out of oppression. Give us grace to see thy grace in all these things, and in the days ahead to be more than conquerors, to be confident in thy mercy, and to know thy so great salvation. Grant us this, we beseech thee. In Christ’s name, Amen. Are there any questions now about our lesson? Yes?

[Audience] I was just thinking it was interesting to note that the non-Christian world today is scoffing about the modern blood plague of AIDS, a judgment of God as well.

[Rushdoony] Yes, they refuse to see that the fact of AIDS, among other things, is a judgment, and even prominent clergymen, some who claim to believe the Bible from cover to cover, are saying we must not see it as God’s curse. I like John Lofton’s answer to one such person, and he said, “If it’s not a curse, is it a blessing?” Yes?

[Audience] There was a piece in the paper here within the last couple of days that they’d found vials of AIDS-contaminated blood and needles from garbage washing up on the east shores of the United States.

[Rushdoony] Well, that’s amazing, I didn’t see that.

[Audience] Reported in the paper.

[Rushdoony] Uh huh. Well, I don’t think they’ve really begun to understand what it is, and as I’ve said before, they haven’t gone into the past to see that It has occurred before when you’ve had like conditions. But, they are determined not to see the truth about AIDS because if they did, they’d have to face the truth about our times, and judgment. Any other questions or comments? Yes?

[Audience] Well, things are doubling up on that situation. They’ve recently discovered that the police in some southwestern city have computerized all the AIDS carriers in the area. [00:26:14]

[Rushdoony] All the...[edit]

[Rushdoony] All the

[Audience] AIDS carriers.

[Rushdoony] Oh, uh huh.

[Audience] Or potential carriers. And there’s quite a brouhaha about this invasion of privacy. And the police said this was for their own protection in case they have to deal with these people.

[Rushdoony] Uh huh. Yes. But of course, the police are no longer supposed to defend themselves, and protect themselves. You recall in the demonstration in Washington D.C. by the homosexuals, it was regarded as wrong for the police to wear rubber gloves to protect themselves. We have reached a real departure from sanity when this kind of thing is seriously defended by ostensible champions of freedom. In such a situation, judgment is a blessing. Well, if there are no further comments, or questions, let us bow our heads in prayer.

Our Lord and our God, we thank thee that thou who didst bring judgment upon Egypt, upon Assyria and Babylon, upon Jerusalem, upon Rome, and upon all the great powers of history, great and small, who challenged thy kingdom and thy son. We thank thee that thou art still on the throne. And thy judgment is upon the earth that has rejected thy Son, our king. Make us strong in thy word, that in the days ahead, we may be more than conquerors. That we may be indeed the people of thy kingdom, the people of the future, the people of thy Son, Jesus Christ, king of kings, and Lord of Lords. And now go in peace. God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost bless and keep you, guide and protect you, this day and always. Amen. [00:29:18]

End of tape.