The Ninth Plague - RR171P28

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Professor: Rushdoony, Dr. R. J.
Title: The Ninth Plague
Course: Course - Exodus; Unity of Law and Grace
Subject: Subject:Pentateuch
Lesson#: 28
Length: 0:30:11
TapeCode: RR171P28
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. Thus saith the Lord, Ye shall seek me and find me when ye shall search for me with all your heart. Jesus said blessed are they that hunger and thirst after righteousness for they shall be filled. Let us pray.

We praise thee Father, Son and Holy Ghost for all thy providential care and government. We thank thee that our times are in thy hands and thou doest all things well. Teach us therefore to walk, knowing these things with holy boldness and with a certainty that thy will shall be done and all the ends of the earth shall serve thee. We praise thee, our Father, that thou art on the throne, and that thou hast made thyself our Lord and our redeemer. Great and marvelous are thy ways, and we praise thee. Amen.

Our scripture lesson is Exodus 10:21-29, and our subject: The Ninth Plague. The Ninth Plague. Exodus 20:21-29. “And the LORD said unto Moses, Stretch out thine hand toward heaven, that there may be darkness over the land of Egypt, even darkness which may be felt. And Moses stretched forth his hand toward heaven; and there was a thick darkness in all the land of Egypt three days: They saw not one another, neither rose any from his place for three days: but all the children of Israel had light in their dwellings. And Pharaoh called unto Moses, and said, Go ye, serve the LORD; only let your flocks and your herds be stayed: let your little ones also go with you. And Moses said, Thou must give us also sacrifices and burnt offerings, that we may sacrifice unto the LORD our God. Our cattle also shall go with us; there shall not an hoof be left behind; for thereof must we take to serve the LORD our God; and we know not with what we must serve the LORD, until we come thither. But the LORD hardened Pharaoh's heart, and he would not let them go. And Pharaoh said unto him, Get thee from me, take heed to thyself, see my face no more; for in that day thou seest my face thou shalt die. And Moses said, Thou hast spoken well, I will see thy face again no more.” [00:03:33]

The ninth plague is darkness...[edit]

The ninth plague is darkness. In verse 22 it is called a thick darkness. The word translated as “thick” means gloom or dark, so that the darkness was one of especial intensity. In other words, it was a dark darkness very literally in the Hebrew. We are told moreover that it was even darkness which may be felt, since this plague occurred at a time when the weather was hot. The heat and darkness added up to a very difficult time. This darkness was limited to Egypt. Goshen was not affected. We are told how the darkness came about, not a word. Nothing. No explanation, so that we are not allowed to theorize about how it was possible. We are simply told it was a supernatural darkness.

More than a few scholars have said that it was probably a very severe sandstorm, but there is nothing here to suggest that. In fact, the absence of any mention of a great windstorm and sand militates against that believe or opinion. All we are told is that is was an act of God. Men are determined to convert this plague and the other plagues into acts of nature. There is a reason for this. Acts of nature are potentially understandable and controllable by man, or at least so they believe. Whereas, acts of God are not. Acts of God point to a causality governing man, and ungovernable by man. On the other hand, acts of nature are potentially governable by man. Now the concept of nature is anthropomorphic. It posits an entity which however unthinking is able to evolve the complex and intricate world all around us. Man is the high point of this world of nature, and he is now ready to determine the evolution of things in the future. In fact, we have books that tell us that. For this reason, the mythology of nature is both popular and unquestioned. What it tells us here is that the darkness was not from God, but from nature, but we cannot agree with this. Man wants only those things which are controllable by himself to be allowed existence. [00:06:51]

Pharaoh still wanted to bargain with God...[edit]

Pharaoh still wanted to bargain with God. Whereas God demands unconditional surrender, man wants to be able to control God or bargain with him. Pharaoh’s condition now was that all the flocks and herds of Israel remain in Egypt as hostages, according to verse 24. After the loss of Egypt’s herds, the seizure of Israel’s livestock would have been a very considerable asset to Egypt. If Israel left to offer sacrifices in the wilderness, Egypt could then seize all their animal and recoup some of their losses. With this, Moses could not agree. The word “then exchanged in anger” indicated on Pharaoh’s part a threat to murder Moses if he again appeared before him. Moses, in return, said that he was finished with Pharaoh. In spite of this, the two men and Aaron did meet twice more in 11:8 and 12:31-32.

Egypt is not normally a cloudy land. It is a land of sun and light, so that darkness was a particular affront to Egypt and its faith. This plague, by the way, is referred to in Psalm 105:28. It was an affront to the Egyptian Ra, their sun god, and the Egyptian adoration of the dependability of nature. We are told it was a darkness so dark they could not see one another, they could not work, they could not transact business, they could not move out of their houses. This continued for three full days. Pharaoh was regarded as the human embodiment of Ra, the sun god, and he was in as much darkness as the rest of Egypt. His impotence in the face of God was being very, very emphatically underscored. Calvin, in describing the stubbornness of Pharaoh, wrote that Pharaoh, “prepares himself for every extremity rather than simply to obey God.” This is a particularly telling comment, I think. In the 1980’s, with respect to AIDS, we have seen a like attitude. The one intolerable answer to the question, “Why AIDS?” is to see it as God’s judgment. About a year ago, or perhaps a year and a half ago it was, in Washington D.C., a number of people were asked if they saw AIDS as a judgment of God, clergymen. And all told the reporters, “No, there are other reasons for it and we need not see it as a judgment of God.” John Lofton’s answer was the only sensible one. In answer to the cynical question, “Do you believe that AIDS is God’s judgment?” his answer was, “Do you think it’s God’s blessing?” [00:10:54]

Men prefer every extremity and every answer rather...[edit]

Men prefer every extremity and every answer rather than to simply obey God. In the last century, Chadwick wrote, and I quote it at some length because I think it so telling. “In the apocrypha book of wisdom, there is a remarkable study of this plague regarded as a retribution in kind. It avenges the oppression of Israel. Quoting from the book of wisdom, ‘For when unrighteous men thought to oppress the holy nation, they being shut up in their houses, the prisoners of darkness, and fettered with the bonds of a long night, lay exiled from the eternal providence.’”

It retorted on them the illusions of their sorcerers quoting, “As for the illusions of art {?} magic they were put down, for they that promised to drive away terrors and troubles from a sick soul were sick themselves of fear, worthy to b laughed at.” In another place, the Egyptians are declared to be worse than the men of Sodom, because they brought into bondage friends, and not strangers, and grievously afflicted those whom they had received with feasting. Quoting again, “Therefore, even with blindness were they stricken as those were at the doors of the righteous man. And we may well believe that the long night was haunted with special terrors if we add this wise explanation, from the book of wisdom, for wickedness. Condemned by our own witness is very timorous, and being pressed by conscience, always forecasteth grievous things, for,” and this is a sentence of transcendent merit, “fear is nothing else than a betrayal of the suckers that reason offereth.” Therefore, it is concluded that their own heart were their own worst tormenters. Alarmed by whistling winds, or melodious song of birds, or pleasing fall of waters, “for the whole world shineth with clear light, and none were hindered in their labor. Over them only was spread a heavy night, an image of that darkness which had afterward receive them. Yet were they unto themselves more grievous than the darkness.” [00:14:01]

We should remember that, for men in Antiquity, darkness...[edit]

We should remember that, for men in Antiquity, darkness was a common symbol of chaos. While their rationalism had different presuppositions of modern man, it was similar and seeing the necessity of rational control and understanding. The Egyptians were, in their own way, rationalists. They were familiar with sandstorms. They were familiar with eclipses. Such things constituted a part of the known and rational world for them. That is why the explanation given by some that these plagues were simply natural occurrences falls through. The Egyptians would not have been frightened or terrified by them. It was an inexplicable darkness. Three days and nights, and this terrified the Egyptians. Because with all their thinking and science, and it was considerable, this meant the unknown and the non-rational at work. And for Egyptians, this meant the triumph of chaos. It means that the whole order of creation had broken down, because for them, it was a closed natural order, and the gods were a part of that natural order. The Greeks said they were deified men who had advanced. But it was all the natural order, and this, these plagues culminating in the plague of darkness, three days and three nights, meant the collapse of the natural order and the triumph of chaos. The plagues had reduced Egypt economically. It had shattered Egypt politically, and now added to the chaotic state of Egypt from these things was a total darkness. Work was now impossible. Chaos was triumphing.

In view of this, Pharaoh’s threat to kill Moses is of particular importance. Pharaoh knew that Egypt was in chaos and facing death. Earlier, his counselors had told him, “Know ye not yet that Egypt is destroyed?” He knew it. In fact, Pharaoh is a dead man as far as his status is concerned. He now still had the throne but was discredited in the eyes of Israel and Egypt. In effect, Pharaoh said, “If you return to announce another judgment, you shall die.” His was an urge to mass destruction. You’re destroying me, therefore I will destroy you.

In this instance, however, darkness did not precede dawn nor a renewal, but death. The tenth plague made clear that the return of sunlight was not going to end Egypt’s real darkness. The terror of Egypt was very great, and this is why all the common Egyptians were soon to beg the people, “Get out of our land. Go. We’ll give you anything, leave us,” because the order of the world, the ability of the world to function had been reduced to chaos. They would not believe in God. They preferred to believe that irrationality had triumphed, that nature was breaking down somehow because of these people, than to say that Moses was right. The living God was at work. {19:14.7}

Men have not changed since then. They prefer anything rather than confessing to the truth of God. Let us pray.

Our Lord and our God, we thank thee for this thy word. We thank thee that thy word is more timely than the morning paper, and telling us of this world and of its meaning, and of the purpose and goal of all events. Give us grace therefore, to walk in that knowledge, to walk in the confidence that thy will is being done, and that thy kingdom indeed shall come. Bless us in the service of the things that are of thee. In Christ’s name, Amen. Are there any questions now about our lesson? Yes?

[Audience] It’s strange that there is no record in Egyptian history {?} so far that tell the plagues for the Exodus.

[Rushdoony] Well, Velikovsky felt there were disguised references. However, what we need to recognize is if we go to the history of Egyptian, or of Babylon, or of Assyria, or any of the kingdoms of Antiquity, or realms, we never find defeats mentioned. Their histories only record their victories, and if they withdraw from a certain field of battle it is because they have so thoroughly defeated the enemy that there isn’t anything left for them to do. These people are now broken, so they retreat. So, we’re only beginning now, from archeological evidences, to see how these accounts are fallacious. And this is what is remarkable about the Bible, it’s the only history book until you come to the Christian era, that does record the evils of the Hebrews, of its own people. Their own failings and faults. So, this is remarkable. The accounts we have of the history of Athens, and the history of Sparta and so on, are only gradually now being reconstructed. We know a little more about Roman history, once Jews and Christians entered into the Roman Empire, because then we had a more honest account. And in fact, all the chronology of Antiquity is really based on the Old Testament, because it is the one source of a thoroughly accurate chronology. So, we don’t expect any open account of these things in Egypt anymore than we expect any of the countries of Antiquity to give us an honest history. Yes? [00:24:27]

[Audience] Would you make an exception for Thucydides...[edit]

[Audience] Would you make an exception for Thucydides?

[Rushdoony] No.

[Audience] No? The account of the Peloponnesian War.

[Rushdoony] His account of that war, in a sense, is honest up to a point, but then you have to realize that some of those men were honest only up to the point of being disaffected with certain elements, and therefore ready to tell the truth because they were an outsider to this person, or to this city state. But where anything was concerned where they themselves were partisan to, no truth.

[Audience] I wouldn’t think that would change. {?}

[Rushdoony] Well, we’re getting pagan history again. Yes?

[Audience] When my kids were home, we were going over some of their textbooks from their time in the public schools, and none of the history books in the public schools in California are truthful, so why should we expect the Egyptians to be truthful?

[Rushdoony] Yes, very good point, a very good point. Yes. A very interesting point. I happened to mention on the telephone yesterday to John Lofton, a story that I told some of you recently about the hero of Gettysburg, John Burns. Perhaps never equaled in that he fought in the War of 1812, and fifty years later in the Civil War, in his mid 70’s, and there’s a statue of him at Gettysburg, at Arlington where he’s buried, and John was amazed because he said, “If there’s a statue of him at Gettysburg, it tells us something that we know nothing about him now. Because not many people have a statue at Arlington, and John Brown is remembered but John Burns is not. Curious fact, but it tells us a lot about our interests today and our history today.

[Audience] There’s a status of Henry Clay in {?}

[Rushdoony] [Laughs] He’s beginning to disappear from the history books but for the fact that his name is on a famous bill. Patrick Henry is already gone in many of the textbooks and George Washington is fading. I was told of one that gave more space to Marilyn Monroe than to George Washington. Any other questions or comments? Yes?

[Audience] Peter Leithart has written an article for the October Chalcedon report on the new thrust in science called Chaos Theory, and chaos theorists discovered that what chaos sometime for the order sometimes masks as chaos, and this plague had brought to mind that thought, that God, in this case used chaos, or created chaos, in order to accomplish His very ordered purpose. [00:28:31]

[Rushdoony] Yes, the book he cites there is available...[edit]

[Rushdoony] Yes, the book he cites there is available in bookstores now, and seems to be a very interesting one. Any other comments or questions? Well, if not, let us bow our heads in prayer as we conclude.

Our Lord and our God, we thank thee that in and through all things thou art at work, and thy will is being done in our midst. We thank thee that thou hast made known all thy ways unto us through Christ, and through thy word. Make us joyful in thee, and in all thy promises to us in Christ Jesus, which are Yea and Amen, that we may serve thee with gladness and with thanksgiving. 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. [00:29:53]

End of Tape