Exodus 10: Lessons from the Eighth and Ninth Plagues

Introduction. Exodus Chapter 10 describes the eighth plague of locusts and the ninth plague of darkness. During these plagues, God first devastated and then darkened the land of Egypt. Pharaoh responded by trying to compromise with God. God, however, reveals that He never compromises with evil. These plagues also foreshadow some of the most terrible judgments that He will unleash during the end times. From this chapter, God reveals seven important lessons about fearing Him. These lessons apply to both carnal believers and nonbelievers.

First, God directs believers to teach the events surrounding the plagues to their children and grandchildren. He reveals that you are responsible for teaching your children to fear Him. Unless your children acknowledge His power and sovereignty in their lives, they are unlikely to fear Him and submit to Him. Second, from His warning to the Egyptians before He unleashed His eighth plague of locusts (which was an attack on an Egyptian god), He reveals that you must repent of your idols of the flesh or He will use them to judge you. Third, from His refusal to allow Pharaoh to control the Jews’ children while the parents worshiped Him, He reveals that you must prevent Satan from influencing your children. Fourth, from the plague of locusts which laid bare every green thing that an Egyptian might use for cover, He reveals that no sin can escape His eyes and His judgment. Christians don’t get a free pass at sin. Christ simply took the punishment that would otherwise fall on them. Fifth, from Pharaoh’s false repentance, He warns that a false repentance will bring no relief from the suffering caused by sin. Sixth, from His ninth plague of darkness, He reveals that He will judge those who embrace darkness by giving them more darkness. Finally, from Pharaoh’s attempt to control the Jews’ animals while they worshiped, He reveals not to let Satan cause you to compromise in your business dealings. Allowing Satan to control your business dealings will pull you off your walk.

1. Teach Your Children and Grandchildren to Fear God. Ex. 10:1-2.

  • God’s desire that His people retell the story of the plagues to each generation. Before unleashing any further plagues, God advised Moses that He had hardened Pharaoh’s heart so that His power would become known throughout the world. He wanted to create a display of power that would be remembered for all eternity: “1 Then the Lord said to Moses, ‘Go to Pharaoh, for I have hardened his heart and the heart of his servants, that I may perform these signs of Mine among them, and that you may tell in the hearing of your son, and of your grandson, how I made a mockery of the Egyptians and how I performed My signs among them, that you may know that I am the Lord.”’ (Ex. 10:1-2). To make sure that every generation remembered His awesome displays of power, He directed Moses to make sure that His people taught the events surrounding the 10 plagues to their “sons” and “grandchildren”. To honor His wishes, the Jews include in every yearly Seder or Passover dinner story time devoted to retelling of the events of the 10 plagues of Egypt. Although Christians are freed from the consequences of breaking the Law through Christ’s death on the cross, they should not use that as an excuse to ignore how He wishes to be honored. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of all knowledge (Prov. 1:7; 9:10). The fear of the Lord is defined as hating evil (Prov. 8:13). If you are not teaching your children about the plagues, how are you teaching them to fear Him?

  • God is sovereign over all, even evil. To some, it might seem unfair that God would harden Pharaoh’s heart. But Pharaoh hardened his own heart in response to the first six plagues. Including the first sign that Pharaoh rejected (Aaron’s rod - Ex. 7:8-13), God gave Pharaoh a total of seven signs and chances to repent before He hardened Pharaoh’s heart further. Like He did with Pharaoh, He gives believers many chances to repent. Yet, when a believer continues to make evil choices, He can also harden an evil heart (Is. 63:17). Because He is sovereign over all, He can harden any heart to accomplish His will: “So then He has mercy on whom He desires, and He hardens whom He desires.” (Ro. 9:8). But, if you are doing His will, you never need to fear having Him harden your heart. Are you keeping yourself free from sins that might lead to a hardened heart?

2. Repent of the Idols of the Flesh, or God will Use Them to Judge You. Ex. 10:3-6.

  • Moses’ warning before the plague of locusts. Before unleashing the eighth plague of locusts, Moses gave Pharaoh a warning that his pride would bring destruction to all of Egypt unless he repented: “Moses and Aaron went to Pharaoh and said to him, ‘Thus says the Lord, the God of the Hebrews, How long will you refuse to humble yourself before Me? Let My people go, that they may serve Me. For if you refuse to let My people go, behold, tomorrow I will bring locusts into your territory. They shall cover the surface of the land, so that no one will be able to see the land. They will also eat the rest of what has escaped—what is left to you from the hail—and they will eat every tree which sprouts for you out of the field. Then your houses shall be filled and the houses of all your servants and the houses of all the Egyptians, something which neither your fathers nor your grandfathers have seen, from the day that they came upon the earth until this day.’ And he turned and went out from Pharaoh.” (Ex. 10:3-6). In His Word, God has also warned every person of the punishments that await unless they repent. For the person who has never heard the Word, they will be judged according to the Law written on their hearts: “in that they show the work of the Law written in their hearts, their conscience bearing witness and their thoughts alternately accusing or else defending them,” (Ro. 2:15). Are you ignoring any warnings about sinful behavior in His Word?

  • God’s warning that He will bring judgment upon the idols of the world. As He had done previously, God’s warnings and His plagues were directed at the Egyptians’ false gods: “Now the LORD God shows Himself greater than the Egyptian god Seth, thought to be the protector of crops.” (David Guzik on Exodus 10).1 He has also warned believers that He will use the false idols of the world to bring His judgment upon both believers and nonbelievers alike. He will eventually hand the unrepentant over to their idols. This includes drug and alcohol users who become addicted to their vices: “So I gave them over to the stubbornness of their heart, to walk in their own devices.” (Ps. 81:12; Ro. 1:24). If you don’t repent of your idols, He will use them to judge you.

3. Don’t Compromise with Satan’s Desire to Control Your Children. Ex. 10:7-11.

  • Pharaoh’s refusal to allow the children to God in the wilderness. Despite observing seven mighty plagues in Egypt, Pharaoh was not ready to fully submit to God. As he did previously when he tried to have the Jews worship God within Egypt (Ex. 8:25-26), he again tried to bargain with God. He offered to allow the Jews worship in the wilderness if they left their children (and their mothers) behind in Egypt: “Pharaoh’s servants said to him, ‘How long will this man be a snare to us? Let the men go, that they may serve the Lord their God. Do you not realize that Egypt is destroyed?’ So Moses and Aaron were brought back to Pharaoh, and he said to them, ‘Go, serve the Lord your God! Who are the ones that are going?’ Moses said, ‘We shall go with our young and our old; with our sons and our daughters, with our flocks and our herds we shall go, for we must hold a feast to the Lord.’ 10 Then he said to them, ‘Thus may the Lord be with you, if ever I let you and your little ones go! Take heed, for evil is in your mind. 11 Not so! Go now, the men among you, and serve the Lord, for that is what you desire.’ So they were driven out from Pharaoh’s presence.” (Ex. 10:7-11). Pharaoh wanted to keep the woman and children as hostages to force the Jews to return to captivity.

Pharaoh again tried to bargain with God2

  • Don’t compromise with Satan’s desire to control your kids. Like Pharaoh, the ruler of this world seeks to separate believers from their children. Using the power of the schools, television, and movies, the ruler of this world tries to teach children beliefs that run counter to the values of the Bible: “Whatever would put us from engaging our children in God’s service, we have reason to suspect Satan in it. Nor should the young forget that the Lord’s counsel is, remember thy Creator in the days of thy youth; but Satan's counsel is, to keep children in a state of slavery to sin and to the world.” (Matthew Henry on Exodus 10).3 As beneficiaries of God’s Law, the Jews were obligated to teach it to their children and grandchildren: “. . . but make them known to your sons and your grandsons. . and that they may teach their children.”’ (Dt. 4:9-10). “You shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up.” (Dt. 6:7). “You shall teach them to your sons, talking of them when you sit in your house and when you walk along the road and when you lie down and when you rise up.” (Dt. 11:19). “Train up a child in the way he should go, even when he is old he will not depart from it.” (Prov. 22:6; Ps. 78:4-6). In case any Christian feels freed of this requirement, Paul is clear that it still applies: “Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.” (Eph. 6:4). Are you teaching your children God’s Law and His values? Are you monitoring what they are exposed to at school, on television, through the movies, and through their friends?

  • If you don’t protect your kids, Satan will snatch them. God warns that Satan stands ready to capture the minds of your children if you don’t protect them: “32 Your sons and your daughters shall be given to another people, while your eyes look on and yearn for them continually; but there will be nothing you can do.” (Dt. 28:32; 28:41). “They will devour your sons and your daughters;” (Jer. 5:17(b)). “The LORD is righteous; for I have rebelled against His command; hear now, all peoples, and behold my pain; My virgins and my young men have gone into captivity.” (Lam. 1:18). “My tent is destroyed, and all my ropes are broken; my sons have gone from me and are no more. There is no one to stretch out my tent again or to set up my curtains.” (Jer. 10:20). Americans have become passive as their children have become enslaved to internet pornography, sex, drugs, and alcohol. The modern Church has largely avoided controversial subjects to be “seeker friendly.” It must resume its role as God’s salt and light, even if that role is unpopular.

4. No Sin Can Escape God’s Eyes and His Judgment. Ex. 10:12-15.

  • The plague of locusts. After Pharaoh refused to submit unconditionally to God, He unleashed His eighth plague of locusts: “12 Then the Lord said to Moses, ‘Stretch out your hand over the land of Egypt for the locusts, that they may come up on the land of Egypt and eat every plant of the land, even all that the hail has left.’ 13 So Moses stretched out his staff over the land of Egypt, and the Lord directed an east wind on the land all that day and all that night; and when it was morning, the east wind brought the locusts. 14 The locusts came up over all the land of Egypt and settled in all the territory of Egypt; they were very numerous. There had never been so many locusts, nor would there be so many again. 15 For they covered the surface of the whole land, so that the land was darkened; and they ate every plant of the land and all the fruit of the trees that the hail had left. Thus nothing green was left on tree or plant of the field through all the land of Egypt.” (Ex. 10:12-15). The locusts were the most destructive plague so far. He promised that locusts would never exceed the number He used in Egypt (Ex. 10:14(b)). But this was not the last time that God would use locusts to judge the nations.

James Tissot (1836 – 1902) “The Plague of Locusts” (the Eighth Plague) (1898)4

  • God will again bring punishment through insect plagues. God warns that He can also punish evil nations with insect plagues, just as He did with Egypt: “38 You shall bring out much seed to the field but you will gather in little, for the locust will consume it.” “39 You shall plant and cultivate vineyards, but you will neither drink of the wine nor gather the grapes, for the worm will devour them.” (Dt. 28:38-39). “Thus the Lord GOD showed me, and behold, He was forming a locust-swarm when the spring crop began to sprout. And behold, the spring crop was after the king's mowing.” (Amos 7:1). “What the gnawing locust has left, the swarming locust has eaten; and what the swarming locust has left, the creeping locust has eaten; and what the creeping locust has left, the stripping locust has eaten.” (Joel 1:4; 2:25; Nahum 3:15-16). God will also use locusts during the end times to bring judgment to nonbelievers: “Then out of the smoke came locusts upon the earth, and power was given them, as the scorpions of the earth have power.” (Rev. 9:3). But these locusts would only attack those who did not have the seal of God on their foreheads. Those stung will wish for quick death: “And they were not permitted to kill anyone, but to torment for five months; and their torment was like the torment of a scorpion when it stings a man. And in those days men will seek death and will not find it; they will long to die, and death flees from them. The appearance of the locusts was like horses prepared for battle; and on their heads appeared to be crowns like gold, and their faces were like the faces of men. They had hair like the hair of women, and their teeth were like the teeth of lions. They had breastplates like breastplates of iron; and the sound of their wings was like the sound of chariots, of many horses rushing to battle.” (Rev. 9:4-9). Thus, what happened to the Egyptians is a mere shadow of what is to come.

  • God will remove the things that cover and hide your sins. The locusts were so numerous that they left no leaves for cover within Egypt: “Thus nothing green was left on tree or plant of the field through all the land of Egypt.” (Ex. 10:15). This symbolized the fact that people cannot hide their evil from Him. Like the barren Egyptian plants following the plague of locusts, every sin will be laid bare at the time of judgment: “There is no darkness or deep shadow where the workers of iniquity may hide themselves.” (Job 34:22). ‘“Can a man hide himself in hiding places so I do not see him?’ declares the LORD. ‘Do I not fill the heavens and the earth?’ declares the LORD.” (Jer. 23:24; Prov. 15:3). “And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are open and laid bare to the eyes of Him with whom we have to do.” (Heb. 4:13). Is there any sin that you are holding onto under the false belief that no one will ever know about it?

  • The lesson for the Church. In the 19th Century, the western United States and western Canada suffered from periodic plagues from the Rocky Mountain locust. One swarm consisting of 12.5 trillion insects formed a mass greater than the size of California (198,000 square miles). According to the Guinness Book of World Records, it is still considered the greatest concentration of insects in modern history.5 But this species went extinct in 1902. North America has since been the only continent besides Antarctica without locusts. This has been a sign of God’s blessing upon this land. But He can always reverse this blessing by raising up other kinds of plagues. The lesson is that the nation must be vigilant in keeping His righteousness. Are you praying for a revival?

5. A False Repentance will Not Bring Relief from God’s Judgments. Ex. 10:16-20.

  • Pharaoh’s false repentance. As he had done previously after the fifth plague (Ex. 8:30-32), Pharaoh made a false repentance to persuade Moses to ask God to lift the plague of locusts from Egypt: “16 Then Pharaoh hurriedly called for Moses and Aaron, and he said, ‘I have sinned against the Lord your God and against you. 17 Now therefore, please forgive my sin only this once, and make supplication to the Lord your God, that He would only remove this death from me.’ 18 He went out from Pharaoh and made supplication to the Lord. 19 So the Lord shifted the wind to a very strong west wind which took up the locusts and drove them into the Red Sea; not one locust was left in all the territory of Egypt. 20 But the Lord hardened Pharaoh’s heart, and he did not let the sons of Israel go.” (Ex. 10:16-20). Pharaoh had made a similar false repentance to Moses (Ex. 9:27-28). Just like the first occasion, Moses knew that Pharaoh would not agree to let the Jews go after the plague of locusts. God previously revealed that Pharaoh’s son would be killed in a final plague (Ex. 4:22-23).

  • A false repentance will not relieve the suffering caused by sin in your life. Jesus promises to forgive your sin if you repent: “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9; Ps. 32:5). But, if you hold onto your sin by making a false repentance, your sins will continue to torment you: “He who conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will find compassion.” (Ps. 28:13). “When I kept silent about my sin, my body wasted away through my groaning all day long.” (Ps. 32:3). “Like a dog that returns to its vomit is a fool who repeats his folly.” (Prov. 26:11; 2 Pet. 2:22). Have you returned to any sin in your life after repenting?

6. Those Who Embrace Darkness Will be Judged with Darkness. Ex. 10:21-23.

  • The plague of darkness. After Pharaoh’s false repentance, God unleashed His ninth plague; a darkness that kept the Egyptians from even lighting candles. It was a darkness that could even be “felt”: “21 Then the Lord said to Moses, “Stretch out your hand toward the sky, that there may be darkness over the land of Egypt, even a darkness which may be felt.” 22 So Moses stretched out his hand toward the sky, and there was thick darkness in all the land of Egypt for three days. 23 They did not see one another, nor did anyone rise from his place for three days, but all the sons of Israel had light in their dwellings.” (Ex. 10:21-23). Like the third and sixth plagues, the ninth plague also came without warning. The lesson is that His judgment can come without warning.

The plague of darkness6

The Ninth Plague – Darkness7

  • The idols of the world only bring darkness. Like the other plagues, this one was also directed at an Egyptian god: the most famous god of all, their sun god “Ra”: “Seemingly, God did not even allow artificial light sources to work. The Egyptians would attempt to use candles and lamps but were unable to produce light. This was a dramatic show of greatness over the prominent Egyptian god Ra, thought to be the sun god.” (David Guzik Ex. 10).8 This was also a judgment of the god Mehen, the protector of son. An idol will provide no relief when you are under God’s judgment. If you have chosen to embrace darkness, He will judge you by letting you live in spiritual darkness (Jo. 9:39).

  • Jesus will judge some with spiritual darkness. The ruler of this world has blinded many to the truth about Jesus: “in whose case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving so that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.” (2 Cor. 4:4). Those who embrace this darkness will face Jesus’ punishment of spiritual darkness: “And Jesus said, ‘For judgment I came into this world, so that those who do not see may see, and that those who see may become blind.’” (Jo. 9:39). “[J]ust as it is written, ‘God gave them a spirit of stupor, eyes to see not and ears to hear not, down to this very day.’” (Ro. 11:8). “Yet to this day the LORD has not given you a heart to know, nor eyes to see, nor ears to hear.” (Dt. 29:4). Paul was, for example, given a physical blindness to symbolize his spiritual blindness in persecuting Christians (Acts 9:3-9). Are you helping others to remove the scales from their eyes?

  • God will also again use actual darkness to judge the nations. The plagues of Egypt all foreshadow judgments that God will unleash in the end times. Like He did during the ninth plague, He will again punish the sinful nations with darkness. Although He might cause a supernatural darkness, the verses suggest an impact on the Earth which will darken the sky. This could be from asteroids, nuclear weapons or even erupting volcanoes: “The fourth angel sounded, and a third of the sun and a third of the moon and a third of the stars were struck, so that a third of them would be darkened and the day would not shine for a third of it, and the night in the same way.” (Rev. 8:12). “For the stars of heaven and their constellations will not flash forth their light; the sun will be dark when it rises and the moon will not shed its light.” (Is. 13:10). “The sun and moon grow dark and the stars lose their brightness.” (Joel 3:15). “But in those days, after that tribulation, the sun will be darkened and the moon will not give its light.” (Mark 13:24). “He opened the bottomless pit, and smoke went up out of the pit, like the smoke of a great furnace; and the sun and the air were darkened by the smoke of the pit.” (Rev. 9:2). “Then the fifth angel poured out his bowl on the throne of the beast, and his kingdom became darkened; and they gnawed their tongues because of pain,” (Rev. 16:10). Thus, He will judge those who embrace darkness with more darkness.

  • God will one day punish nonbelievers with outer darkness. God reveals that there is no darkness within Him: “This is the message we have heard from Him and announce to you, that God is Light, and in Him there is no darkness at all.” (1 John 1:5; Ps. 139:12). But those who are ultimately cast out of God’s presence will experience total darkness, like the Egyptians. Those who are cast out will be miserable because they will not experience true love, which comes from God. Like the Egyptian darkness, the outer darkness will be felt in a terrible way: “but the sons of the kingdom will be cast out into the outer darkness; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” (Matt. 8:12; 22:13; 25:30). Without His light, outer darkness is a place of misery and suffering.

  • The light of the Holy Spirit will never leave or forsake a believer. Miraculously, the Jews were able to create candle light while the Egyptians could not (Ex. 10:23). Once a believer is sealed with the Holy Spirit, His light cannot be removed: “Who is among you that fears the LORD, that obeys the voice of His servant, that walks in darkness and has no light?” (Is. 50:10(a)). “The people who walk in darkness will see a great light; those who live in a dark land, the light will shine on them.” (Is. 9:2; 1 Pet. 2:9; Eph. 5:8; Ro. 13:12). “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden.” (Matt. 5:14). Are you walking in His light as an example to others?

7. Compromise in Your Business Dealings Will Pull You Off Your Walk. Ex. 10:24-29.

  • Pharaoh’s refusal to allow the Jews to take their livestock into the wilderness. Even after enduring a locust storm and three days of total darkness, Pharaoh was not ready to submit conditionally to God. For the third time, he tried to compromise with God. After Moses rejected his offers to let the Jews worship in Egypt or worship in the wilderness without their children, he offered to let them worship in the wilderness without their livestock: “24 Then Pharaoh called to Moses, and said, ‘Go, serve the Lord; only let your flocks and your herds be detained. Even your little ones may go with you.’ 25 But Moses said, ‘You must also let us have sacrifices and burnt offerings, that we may sacrifice them to the Lord our God. 26 Therefore, our livestock too shall go with us; not a hoof shall be left behind, for we shall take some of them to serve the Lord our God. And until we arrive there, we ourselves do not know with what we shall serve the Lord.’ 27 But the Lord hardened Pharaoh’s heart, and he was not willing to let them go. 28 Then Pharaoh said to him, ‘Get away from me! Beware, do not see my face again, for in the day you see my face you shall die!’ 29 Moses said, ‘You are right; I shall never see your face again!”’ (Ex. 10:24-29). By keeping control over the Jews’ livestock, Pharaoh believed that they would serve as a ransom to force the Jews to return. Moreover, they would in effect surrender control over their economic livelihood to him. Satan uses these tactics today.

  • Don’t be unequally yoked with the world in your business dealings. Moses knew that he could not allow Pharaoh to control the Jews’ livelihood. Believers should also avoid being unequally yoked in business or marriage (2 Cor. 6:14-18). If you are joined with the wrong people, they may corrupt your morals: “Do not be deceived: ‘Bad company corrupts good morals.’” (1 Cor. 15:33). Have you compromised your business morals in any way with the world? If so, they may pull you off your walk with God.