Exodus 8: Little Big Victories

Chapter 8 of Exodus begins seven days after the plague of blood and brings us into the thick of the plagues on Egypt. I don’t know about you, but I’ve always remembered the plagues in Exodus as a repetitive, unchanging pattern, almost like a children’s book: Moses asks Pharaoh to let his people go, Pharaoh says no, plagues come, Pharaoh’s heart is hardened, he will not let the Israelites go. And repeat.

But reading it now I see there is so much more going on! God is miraculously multiplying frogs, gnats, and flies, demonstrating His dominion over creation. He is identifying the Israelites as His people, protecting them and their land. And He is working behind the scenes, softening the heart of Pharaoh and the Egyptians, revealing Himself as Lord.

The first time Moses asks Pharaoh to let the Israelite people go, Pharaoh scoffs at him “Who is the Lord, that I should obey Him and let Israel go? I do not know the Lord and I will not let Israel go.” Pharaoh dismisses the God of Israel without a thought. However, by the time the plague of frogs comes around, Pharaoh seems to have changed his tune. He turns to Moses and Aaron, asking that they would “Pray to the Lord to take the frogs away.” They do, and although Pharaoh’s heart is again hardened when the frogs are gone, it seems he has begun to recognize the power of the Lord; He has begun to fear the Lord.

What I find especially revealing here is that we read in verse 7 that the magicians were also able to make frogs come up onto the land, but Pharaoh does not request their help. He seems to know that the power of the Lord is greater. Something in him knows that no magician or other deity can go up against the God of Israel.

Later in the chapter, God commands Moses to have Aaron “strike the dust on the ground, and throughout the land of Egypt the dust will become gnats.” Here the magicians have reached their limit; when they “tried to produce gnats by their secret arts, they could not.” And they go to Pharaoh and say, “This is the finger of God.” How amazing is that! Even those who were working against God, those working to disprove Him, end up declaring His power.

What I see in both of these situations is a God who patiently works in the background; Moving Pharaoh to fear God instead of scoff at Him; Moving the magicians to proclaim His power rather than oppose Him. These are small victories. They do not get the Israelites out of Egypt. But they do move them one step closer.

Sometimes it can feel like all of our efforts, and all of our prayers are getting us nowhere, like Pharaoh’s heart is forever hardened. But remember, God is working in the background. In places where we don’t see God, and in people who seem incredibly far from God, God is there, and He is at work.

So don’t give up hope; on that person; on that dream; on your mission. Just as God came through for Moses and the Israelites in Exodus, He comes through for us today. Keep praying, keep working. Work for that one step closer, and know that the exodus is coming.

— Kirsten B.

Application Questions:

Is there a situation in your life where you feel stuck? Do you believe God is working in the background? Can you find the small victories along the way?

Have you ever looked back on a difficult situation, and found that God was there, working in his good timing, all along?