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Chapter 5 is the beginning of the ten plagues God sent on Egypt because Pharaoh would not let Israel go. It's important for us to realize that these plagues were not sent haphazardly. God knew exactly what he was doing. Each plague was directed at one of the Egyptian gods so it was more personal than just a freak act of nature. The Egyptians were very superstitious and worshiped many different gods. They worshipped many animals and insects and even the sun, moon and stars. God used the plagues to not only show the Egyptians that He was greater than all their gods but to prove this same point to Israel and remind them that they blonged to Him and only He was able to set them free from bondage. He had not forgotten them and would no longer leave them in a land of idolatry. There were thousands of temples and idols in Egypt and the Egyptian magicians had a certain amount of power but this power did not equal the power of God. Their magic came from Satan and in the final war for God's people Satan was no match for the God of Israel.

As we study these chapters on the great plagues of Egypt, we will discover exactly what gave each plague a special meaning to the Egyptians and why God chose each one.

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Exodus 5:1 "And afterward Moses and Aaron went in, and told Pharaoh, Thus saith the LORD God of Israel, Let my people go, that they may hold a feast unto me in the wilderness. 2 And Pharaoh said, Who is the LORD, that I should obey his voice to let Israel go? I know not the LORD, neither will I let Israel go. 3 And they said, The God of the Hebrews hath met with us: let us go, we pray thee, three days' journey into the desert, and sacrifice unto the LORD our God; lest he fall upon us with pestilence, or with the sword. 4 And the king of Egypt said unto them, Wherefore do ye, Moses and Aaron, let the people from their works? get you unto your burdens. 5 And Pharaoh said, Behold, the people of the land now are many, and ye make them rest from their burdens. 6 And Pharaoh commanded the same day the taskmasters of the people, and their officers, saying, 7 Ye shall no more give the people straw to make brick, as heretofore: let them go and gather straw for themselves. 8 And the tale of the bricks, which they did make heretofore, ye shall lay upon them; ye shall not diminish ought thereof: for they be idle; therefore they cry, saying, Let us go and sacrifice to our God."

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Moses and Aaron had met with the elders of Israel and were ready to face Pharaoh. They went in to him with a simple request from their God: "Let my people go, that they may hold a feast unto me in the wilderness." Had they said, "Let my people leave Egypt never to return," Pharaoh may have been more justified in his response but all they were asking was to be allowed the freedom of worshipping their own God. Israel was not just under physical oppression but they were not allowed the freedom of worship. Many countries are in this same condition today and the armies of the United States have marched off to battle to stop this oppression many times. Our missionaries have also given their very lives to stop this kind of oppression.

Pharaoh answered by asking a question, "Who is the Lord, that I should obey his voice to let Israel go?" He was about to find out just who the "Lord" was but it would take the life of his country and even the life of his very own child to teach him this lesson! Many people will not listen to the message of who the Lord is still today and many of them are still paying a terrible price to find out!

Instead of letting the people go, Pharaoh increased their workload by making them gather their own straw to make bricks. Before, they had been given the materials to work with but now they were required to make the same amount of brick and to gather their own straw as well. Pharaoh reasoned that if they had time to go offer sacrifices to their God they must have too much spare time on their hands and this would squelch their uprising. But when God's people hear His call to worship, they should drop their worldly work and concerns and go. Pharaoh did not yet understand how important the worship of His people is to the God of Israel. Even the elders did not yet understand this!

Exodus 5:19 "And the officers of the children of Israel did see that they were in evil case, after it was said, Ye shall not minish ought from your bricks of your daily task. 20 And they met Moses and Aaron, who stood in the way, as they came forth from Pharaoh: 21 And they said unto them, The LORD look upon you, and judge; because ye have made our savour to be abhorred in the eyes of Pharaoh, and in the eyes of his servants, to put a sword in their hand to slay us. 22 And Moses returned unto the LORD, and said, Lord, wherefore hast thou so evil entreated this people? why is it that thou hast sent me? 23 For since I came to Pharaoh to speak in thy name, he hath done evil to this people; neither hast thou delivered thy people at all."

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The officers of Israel went to Pharaoh and asked why he had increased their workload. When Pharaoh told them that he felt they were too idle because they had asked for time to go and do sacrifice to the Lord they then blamed Moses and Aaron for their increased burdens. Moses was impatient and, in turn, complained to God. He had followed God's instructions but instead of setting the people free from bondage, it seemed he had made their situation in Egypt even worse. But Moses could not see the big picture. God had a plan and He would implement it in His own time. God had a lot He needed to teach the Egyptians and the nation of Israel and it was going to take a little more time than Moses realized. This is true of Christians today, also. We don't always see the big picture that God has of our lives. We can only see from day to day and sometimes it seems there is no rhyme or reason to what is happening to us but be assured that God has a plan for your life just as he had a plan for Israel. If you are going through trials and tribulations it may not even be for your own chastening or benefit. God may be allowing what is happening to you for someone else's benefit! But if you will just be patient, He will eventually bring you out of Egypt and into the Promised Land!

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FOOD FOR THOUGHT

Do you ever feel like God doen't hear your prayers? Have you ever thought that God has forsaken you only to discover later that He was working a plan in your life? Has God ever allowed you to see why He worked in a certain way in your life?

Do you think the Israelites were justified in being upset with Moses and Aaron and the turn of events in their already miserable lives?

Once, many years ago, I was teaching a Sunday School Class, helping to run a bus route, singing in a trio, playing piano in church, trying to raise 2 small children plus busy being a foster mother to an infant. I had so many good deeds going on in my life there was little time left for my own needs. Then one night I slipped on some wet grass and threw a knee out of place. It was going to require extensive surgery and time off my feet. I was so mad at God. I just could not understand why He would allow such a thing to happen to me when there was so much that I needed to be doing for Him. Then one night while I was in the hospital, He allowed me to see. The lady in the room with me started crying that night. I asked if I could call a nurse for her but she said no. I finally got my crutches and went over to her bed and asked her if there was something I could do to help her. She said she had been raised in the Catholic Church and she didn't know how to be saved! God allowed me to help lead someone to Him that night and I've never forgotten it! He needed a Christian in that room that very night and I was so honored that He had chosen me! Now, when trials and tribulations come my way I don't rail against God. Sometimes I question Him but not in the way I used to. Now I simply say, "Ok God, what are you trying to show me? What plan are you working in my life?" He doesn't always let me see but I know from experience that there is a reason for every single thing that happens to me!

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