The Fourth Plague - RR171M23

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Lesson[edit]

Professor: Rushdoony, Dr. R. J.
Title: The Fourth Plague
Course: Course - Exodus; Unity of Law and Grace
Subject: Subject:Pentateuch
Lesson#: 23
Length: 0:31:26
TapeCode: RR171M23
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. Serve the Lord with gladness, come before his presence with singing. Enter into His gates with thanksgiving and into His courts with praise. Be thankful until Him and bless His name, for the Lord is good, His mercy is everlasting, and His truth endureth to all generations. Let us pray.

Oh Lord, our God, indeed thy truth endureth to all generations, and we thank thee that, in this generation, thy truth stands firm. Thy truth is being vindicated against the wrath of men, and against their counsel against thee. Lord, make us strong in thy word, in thy truth, that we may be more than conquerors, that we may stand fast in the day of adversity that we may know thy victory. Bless us thy service. In Christ’s name, Amen.

Our scripture is Exodus 8:20-32, and our subject: The Fourth Plague. The Fourth Plague. Exodus 8:20-32. “And the LORD said unto Moses, Rise up early in the morning, and stand before Pharaoh; lo, he cometh forth to the water; and say unto him, Thus saith the LORD, Let my people go, that they may serve me. Else, if thou wilt not let my people go, behold, I will send swarms of flies upon thee, and upon thy servants, and upon thy people, and into thy houses: and the houses of the Egyptians shall be full of swarms of flies, and also the ground whereon they are. And I will sever in that day the land of Goshen, in which my people dwell, that no swarms of flies shall be there; to the end thou mayest know that I am the LORD in the midst of the earth. And I will put a division between my people and thy people: to morrow shall this sign be. And the LORD did so; and there came a grievous swarm of flies into the house of Pharaoh, and into his servants' houses, and into all the land of Egypt: the land was corrupted by reason of the swarm of flies. And Pharaoh called for Moses and for Aaron, and said, Go ye, sacrifice to your God in the land. And Moses said, It is not meet so to do; for we shall sacrifice the abomination of the Egyptians to the LORD our God: lo, shall we sacrifice the abomination of the Egyptians before their eyes, and will they not stone us? We will go three days' journey into the wilderness, and sacrifice to the LORD our God, as he shall command us. And Pharaoh said, I will let you go, that ye may sacrifice to the LORD your God in the wilderness; only ye shall not go very far away: intreat for me. And Moses said, Behold, I go out from thee, and I will intreat the LORD that the swarms of flies may depart from Pharaoh, from his servants, and from his people, to morrow: but let not Pharaoh deal deceitfully any more in not letting the people go to sacrifice to the LORD. And Moses went out from Pharaoh, and intreated the LORD. And the LORD did according to the word of Moses; and he removed the swarms of flies from Pharaoh, from his servants, and from his people; there remained not one. And Pharaoh hardened his heart at this time also, neither would he let the people go.” [00:04:30]

We see a difference now in the conflict between God...[edit]

We see a difference now in the conflict between God and Pharaoh, between Moses and the man around Egypt’s throne. First of all, these men no longer attempt to duplicate the acts of Moses. The skills of these men continue, as I pointed out last week and previously, in many areas of Africa. Thus, Nordlinger has written, and I quote [he was a professor at the University of Southern California], “It is recorded that the Egyptian cobra can be put into a state of rigidity. During our stay in Egypt in 1954, some of us observed a native snake charmer perform this feat, which we photographed. In fact, the Bible does designate the performance of Pharaoh’s sorcerers a magician’s trick.” What had occurred could not be seen as anything natural. Moses and his actions were tied clearly to supernatural power.

Now, more than a few people are ready then now to accept the fact of supernatural power in certain events. But these are regarded as occasional intrusions into history. The normal flow of history is seen as naturalistic, because these supernatural events are seen as simply interruptions in the flow of time. They are not seen as compelling for everyday life. No more than men live in terms of possible tidal waves or earthquakes do such men live in terms of a concern for the power of God. It is remote. They see it as something that only happens occasionally.

Now, as long as God’s supernatural powers are seen as an occasional interruption in history, so long will naturalism govern men. The doctrine of providence tells us that God’s supernatural power and government are in all events, and they are totally present. The natural order cannot exist for a second apart from God’s power. I was reading last night a study of the whole idea of nature, and how it came about in Christendom, in the later part of the Middle Ages, and how nature became a substantive reality so it replaced God. It became something that was present, so you could say things were acts of nature, but no such thing as nature exists. It is a personification. It is not a reality. But the whole premise of the modern age is nature, and everything is ascribed to nature, a non-existent entity. But it is, in terms of all thinking now, a substantive reality, with a purpose, a direction, an evolving function in history, and this is all mythology. [00:08:30]

Second, God now separated Goshen from Egypt, and from...[edit]

Second, God now separated Goshen from Egypt, and from the fourth through the ninth plague, only Egypt was affected. This was an act of covenant grace and faithfulness. Israel had earned no mercy, but God was merciful. Now this separation would have an impact on Egypt, that they were singled out for judgment was now clearly apparent, and that Israel, a slave people, had been singled out for protection was very clear. Such an act revealed both grace and judgment, and mercy as scripture declares it. But grace, judgment, and the biblical doctrine of mercy were not aspects of Egyptian religion. These concepts are alien to the Egyptian Book of the Dead, their most important religious book. Theirs was not a joyful religion. A faith can affirm a variety of autonomous powers and acts by man. It can exalt man, but in so doing, it insures pessimism and despair. Because it means there is nothing that can happen beyond the power of man, and therefore, man quickly feels, and over and over again has felt in history that natural forces doom him.

The archeologist, Pritchard, cited a very moving prayer by an artisan of the nineteenth dynasty in Egypt, in gratitude for the recovery of his son from illness. It says in part, and I quote, “Though it may be that the servant is normal in doing wrong, still the Lord is normal in being merciful.” The word translated “normal” may mean, “is disposed to.” Now, in the Bible, sin is not normal. It’s the fact of depravity which is normal now, and God’s response is judgment or redeeming grace.

We are told the plague was of flies, and if you notice, if you have a King James Version, the word “flies” is always italicized. When the King James Version italicizes, it means either that the word is supplied because it is something that is understood in the conjugation or declension of the verb or the noun, or that the translation of the word is uncertain. The word “flies” translates a Hebrew word meaning “swarm” or “mixture.” It refers to insects, so some render it as insects. Luther translated it as all kind of vermin. It’s also been translated as mosquitoes, beetles, and the like. The Greek word in the Septuagint is “cyno myia,” dog flies, and the sting of dog flies caused and causes bloody swellings. Well, since the translators of the Septuagint, the Greek version of the Old Testament, were closer to the history, they may have been right, which means that the whole land was filled with a phenomenal plague of dog flies, except for Goshen, which is now an area of about sixty square miles, about fifty miles northeast of modern Cairo. It’s boundaries in that area are not known to us, so we don’t know how much Goshen then included, but Israel and Goshen was not affected. [00:13:35]

As a result, Pharaoh was finally moved to at least...[edit]

As a result, Pharaoh was finally moved to at least the promise of action, and he was moved to action by desperation. Now a few people in our time have been in areas which are normally thick with flies. I know that people who have been in Alaska tell me that in certain areas, you can’t go out when the air is still because you’ll breath in all kinds of mosquitoes, gnats, and insects. I know that when I was on the reservation in northeastern Nevada, the valley, which was 5,400 feet high was simply a network of streams, of sloughs, and of ponds so that if an Indian had forty acres, half of it might be under water, and sometimes more. Well, the result was when summer came, if you saw a man walking on a calm day there was a haze around him. It was the mosquitoes. And you certainly did not exert yourself in that kind of weather because, if you tried mowing the lawn, you would breathe hard and swallow a lot of mosquitoes and gag on them. Well, we are told that the land was corrupted, or ruined by this plague. Everywhere were these dog flies, and all over everyone, and it wasn’t just a question of biting, it was a bite that caused bloody swellings.

Moses, in agreeing to entreat God for the end of this plague, warns Pharaoh, “But let not Pharaoh deal deceitfully anymore, or play false again in not letting the people go to sacrifice to the Lord.” Now, this statement is made respectfully, and yet it is all the same, an indictment of Pharaoh. He has been deceitful. However exalted his civil and religious titles and powers, he is a thoroughly deceitful man, we are told. So there is a great audacity on Moses’ part in this warning. Today, civil authorities resent any questioning of their integrity. In Egypt, with Pharaoh’s total power, such a challenge was a startling one, very startling, and it took a great deal of courage on Moses’ part. Having been in a number of church and state trials, I know the savage reaction that I get if I question the integrity of the public school system, or imply that there is something wrong with them, or with any branch of state and their conduct. It is a secular sin of sacrilege, and the reaction is an angry one. [00:17:20]

Now if this plague included, or were one of beetles...[edit]

Now if this plague included, or were one of beetles, and we are told was a mixture, literally. There was a further oppressiveness in this fact because the beetle, or a scarab, was the emblem of the sun god and was held to be sacred. Egypt’s natural order, which it worshipped, and its supposed sacredness, was now the curse of Egypt. The Pharaoh was believed to be the main possessor of justice and order. In his person, he incarnated it. He was the source of stability, of justice, of order in the land, and now he was rebuked as an unjust and deceitful man, and now people knew, throughout Egypt, that all these things are happening because Pharaoh will not give in to Moses and to Israel.

Now, Moses insisted on the freedom to leave for purposes of sacrifices. He said, “If we sacrifice here, the Egyptians will stone us. They will be very hostile.” Even centuries later, Jews in Egypt were killed for sacrificing animals. There is no reason to believe that the Hebrews would not have returned after sacrificing in the wilderness, because it was the purpose of God not to have them deceive Egypt, but to expose Egypt’s evil. The purpose of the journey to sacrifice was to reestablish Israel in God’s covenant. Again and again in the Old Testament as well as the Lord’s supper in the New, we see renewals of the covenant. It is an everlasting covenant, but neither Israel nor the church are everlasting entities. So, those who argue for the validity to the end of time for the covenant with Israel, forget that Israel was constituted as a covenant entity, and as a sign of the faithful, and the church is called the Israel of God in Galatians 6:16, and while the covenant is an everlasting one, those who are the other party to it are not. So that God set aside Israel and He can set aside churches and has more than once. No generation can inherit covenant salvation because its parents or grandparents believed, or because of the obedience of their ancestors. [00:20:47]

Now in that era, circumcision was the mark of entrance...[edit]

Now in that era, circumcision was the mark of entrance into the covenant, and the Old Testament as well as the New make clear that circumcisn means regeneration. Baptism has now replaced circumcision, and the Westminster Shorter Catechism tells us in question 94, “What is baptism?” and answers, “Baptism is a sacrament wherein the washing with water in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost does signify and seal our engrafting into Christ and partaking of the benefits of the covenant of grace, and our engagement to be the Lord’s.” A heresy over the generations has been to ascribe the everlasting aspect of the covenant to a people. Thus, whether believing or not, we are told that all Jews are in the covenant till the end of time. The British Israelites say that all the supposed descendents of the ten supposedly lost tribes are in the covenant, and in the blessings thereof and that this applies to the Anglo Saxon peoples. Various churches insist that their version of baptism gives a certain and invariable covenant status and salvation. This viewpoint translates the everlasting nature of the covenant from the covenant to an institution, or to a right, or to a people. Now the result is theological confusion. We cannot give the attributes of God and his covenant to a people. Their status in relationship to God is conditional upon their faith, upon their obedience. And this is why, even though Israel was established in the covenant after they left Egypt, that generation was separated from the covenant and died in the wilderness because they were not faithful. So, their status in the covenant was a conditional one, and they perished in their sins. Let us pray.

Oh Lord, our God, thy word is truth, and thy judgments altogether righteous. We thank thee that it is thy judgment that shall prevail, and not the judgments of men. Then as now, the Pharaohs and Pilates of this world sit in judgment upon thy people, upon thy kingdom. But now, as then, they shall not prevail, but thy will shall be done, and thy kingdom shall prevail. How great and marvelous are thy ways, oh Lord, and we rejoice in them and praise thee. In Christ’s name. Amen. [00:24:47]

{?} about our lesson first of all. Yes?

[Audience] There’s something that’s troubled me for quite awhile, that this thing about nature being a non-entity that rose up during the Middle Ages, you’d think that this was simply an answer to persecution by people like Galileo who wanted to use their inquiring minds simply to learn something about the physical world and didn’t want to have to run the gauntlet.

[Rushdoony] No, it rose long before Galileo, and it was a part of the revival of Greek and Roman thought. In Galileo’s case, as Otto Scott in an excellent little study has shown, the Pope was cooperative with him on his research, but the issue was was he going to necessitate God. In other words, was nature an entity that was going to govern not only the heavenly bodies but God as well. That was the issue, so that the text of the hearings and all makes clear that it was not his theory, but the philosophical presuppositions whereby he was going to necessitate God. Do you want to add anything to that, Otto?

[Otto] Well, he lied. He promised the Pope that he would issue his proofs of Copernicus’s theory as a theory, and then secretly published it as fact, irrevocable, and set himself into a position of opposition to the Vatican, so the Pope had two things against him. The first was that he lied, he broke the agreement, and the second was the history of his observations as binding upon God. That was the, that was the crux of the argument. The enemies of the church {?} viewed Galileo ever since as a stick to beat the Christians with, and to claim that Christianity was against science, whereas the Christian civilization was a seed bed of science. It didn’t emerge from Mohammedism or anywhere else. [00:27:07]

[Rushdoony] Any other questions or comments? Yes?...[edit]

[Rushdoony] Any other questions or comments? Yes?

[Audience] When you say that nature is a myth, you’re not denying the reality of the material world, are you?

[Rushdoony] Oh.

[Audience] You’re not denying the reality of the material world?

[Rushdoony] No, no. But supposedly the material world is a unity with direction, a meaning, a purpose, a function, a substantive reality. That was what they posited concerning it, so they could speak of the law of nature, and the purpose, the direction of nature, the evolution of nature, so that it was given a meaning, a purpose, a mind as it were, albeit an unconscious mind. So that in terms of specific phenomena, which were created phenomena, you had a substantive reality, which was like God.

[Audience] Is this why we see so many references now a days too Mother Nature?

[Rushdoony] Yes, yes. Now, even scientists sometimes, as one was quoted recently on the front pages of newspapers, speak of Mother Nature. “We must look to Mother Nature,” not to a supposed God. Well, that’s mythological kind of thinking, and it’s routine in our time. Any other questions or comments? Well, if not, let us conclude with prayer. [00:29:31]

Our Lord and our God, we thank thee that we live and...[edit]

Our Lord and our God, we thank thee that we live and move and have our being in thee. That thou art our universe, our creator, our environment. That all things serve thee and it is thy will that is done in and through all things, and thy purpose shall prevail. Make us joyful therefore, because thou art on the throne, that this fallen world shall, in spite of itself, serve thee and accomplish thy purpose, that all things shall be made new, and we shall rejoice eternally as thy people. Bless us now in the battle and in thy service, and make us more than conquerors through Christ. And now, go in peace. God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost bless you and keep you, guide and protect you this day and always. Amen.

End of tape.