God Laughs – At the gods of Egypt

God Laughs – At the gods of Egypt

God Laughs – At the gods of Egypt.

The One who sits enthroned in heaven laughs. The Lord scoffs at them… The wicked plot against the righteous; they snarl at them in defiance. But the Lord laughs, for He sees their day of judgment coming… They come out at night, snarling like vicious dogs as they prowl the streets. Listen to the filth that comes from their mouths, their words cut like swords. ‘After all, who can hear us?’ they sneer. For your part, Lord, you laugh at them.”  (Psalm 2:4; Psalm 37:13; Psalm 59:6-8).

It seems to me that our Lord God has an ironic sense of humor. He is reported to have deep belly laughs when He looks at mankind and sees how ridiculous we can be. He seems to laugh whenever we humans do things that are laughably absurd. God sees irony everywhere, He observes behavior that is unexpectedly foolish in light of His greatness. God seems amused when He sees the opposite of what one should expect in a God-filled universe. He chuckles at attitudes that defy logic from His perspective. On the one hand, God isn’t surprised by anything. On the other hand, He seems to be pleasantly scornful at what we humans can do.

People build an immense building and think it will reach God and enable access to Him, and God finds it ridiculous. He sees nations without a conscience conspire against God to cut Him out of their laws and society, and God can only say, ‘Are you serious?’ He sees a man who thinks he can become equal to Him in every respect, a god-player, and God can only shake His head. God observes someone who thinks He is able to flee His presence and live as if He doesn’t exist, and God can only look at him with righteous scorn. He hears many of us utter obscene and hurtful language thinking that no one is within earshot, and God can only say, ‘You’re just kidding me, right?’ He sees so many who think they can do evil and live without restraint, and God can only sigh in sad amusement, knowing there will be a true come-to-Jesus moment waiting in the future. God knows that there will be a Judgment Day coming, and He takes joy in the reality of a moral universe that He created. He knows that all who have rejected Him will someday reap what they sown if they have rejected His grace in life. All this foolishness, all this thoughtlessness… Is it that we don’t have a high enough view of God? Is it that we have too high a view of ourselves? Both? Perhaps what makes God laugh loudest is our futile hubris, our unrighteous chutzpah.

Our downfall is probably attributed to our hubris, which can be defined this way:

HUBRIS: a Greek word that means excessive pride; exaggerated self-conceit; overwhelming self-confidence; sheer arrogance; in ancient Greece, hubris was a character flaw reflecting a defiance of the gods, when someone would foolishly or maliciously act against the divine order; someone with hubris always has a lack of self-awareness and won’t stop to examine his behavior or consider other actions; people with hubris are generally too full of themselves to question their motives or actions; people who are overcome with hubris eventually bring about their own downfall. As Rabbi Jonathon Sacks once wrote, “If Scripture is our guide, what makes God laugh is a person’s delusion of grandeur.” 

“Moses and Aaron went in and told Pharaoh, ‘Thus says Yahweh God of Israel, ‘Let my people go, that they may hold a feast to me in the wilderness!’ And Pharaoh said, ‘Who is Yahweh, that I should obey His voice to let Israel go? I do not know Yahweh, nor will I let Israel go.'” (Exodus 51-2); “On the Egyptian gods the Lord Yahweh had executed judgments.”  (Numbers 33:4).

Moses was simply minding his own business as a shepherd on the Sinai Peninsula. He had been doing this humble work for forty years, which makes Moses eighty years old at the time of this totally unexpected and mystifying encounter with God. Moses witnessed an amazing sight there on a mountain that has been traditionally thought of as Mt. Sinai. Moses saw a big thorn bush that was burning but was not being consumed in the fire. He wondered at this perplexing sight, so when he decided to investigate it, the Angel of Yahweh appeared in the midst of the fiery bush and spoke to him. “Moses, Moses!” said this Messenger in the middle of the fiery bush. And Moses responded with the line that is music to God’s ears, “Here I am.” (3:4). Moses at this point was convinced that this was indeed the Lord he was talking with, so he hid his face. This Angel, this Messenger of God, was certainly Jesus Christ before His incarnation. And could it be that this unusual fire was the shekinah glory from the Angel’s presence? Could it be that Jesus had brought this unique fire from glory?

Moses and the Angel then engaged in an extended conversation, in which Moses received the Hebrew Bible’s version of the Great Commission. Moses was asked by the Lord to go to Egypt, liberate His chosen people from their slavery, and lead them to the Promised Land. Speaking the words of the Lord, the Messenger then told Moses God’s inexplicable name YahwehI AM WHAT I AM, or maybe it’s I AM HE WHO EXISTS. The ground near the burning bush was holy due to the presence of God. So Moses took off his sandals in reverence and bowed low. Speaking the mind of God, Jesus informed Moses of the whole scenario with Pharaoh, including the signs and wonders he will demonstrate to the Egyptians. To convince Moses that He could indeed perform these miracles, Jesus demonstrated a couple of on-site wonders. Moses’ staff turned into a snake and then back again to a staff. And Moses contracted leprosy, and then was immediately healed of that leprosy. If anything would encourage Moses to go on this adventure, the Lord is thinking, this should be sufficient. But Moses remained unconvinced, mainly because Moses felt he wasn’t equipped to be a spokesman for the Lord. He said he was slow of tongue, that he couldn’t speak well enough to represent the Lord in Egypt. So Moses stubbornly responded to God with, thanks but no thanks, please pick someone else. God became angry at this point, and He accommodated Moses somewhat by picking his brother Aaron, a well-spoken man evidently, to be at his side throughout the interaction with Pharaoh. I will be with you and teach you what to say, so let this be the end to your resistance, the Lord says to Moses. Jesus the Messenger, from the midst of the burning bush, sent Moses on his way back to Egypt, the land of his birth. And the rest is history.

Finally, after a miracle or two, Moses was convinced this may be a good idea after all. Moses now had the mission to confront the Pharaoh of Egypt and liberate God’s chosen people after 400 years of slavery. It is the right time, says Yahweh, for the Israelites to renew their God-given identity and start their new nation in the Promised Land. Moses was then infused with holy chutzpah, and he brazenly confronted the Pharaoh and demanded liberation for the people of God. Moses was tenacious and determined and was not going to take no for an answer. To prove he was serious, Moses fearlessly inflicted many plagues on Egypt which made life very difficult for the whole country. The end result of these plagues was that Moses proved his God was way more powerful than the gods of Egypt.

We can’t overlook how important that Aaron’s simple walking stick was in Israel’s history before they were even out of Egypt. When Moses and Aaron were starting to press Pharaoh to let God’s people go, Aaron’s staff was central to the eventual exodus of the enslaved people. It was Aaron’s staff that struck the Nile River and made the water turn to blood (Ex. 7:19). It was also Aaron’s rod that stretched out over the waters of Egypt and caused a massive influx of frogs to come from the River to cover the land (Ex. 8:5). And it was Aaron’s rod too that struck the “dust of the land”, the ground, so that every speck of dust became lice, or gnats, that settled on all of Egypt’s people and animals. Before these plagues even happened, though, Aaron’s rod figured in a major victory over Egypt’s sorcerers and magicians. In this piece of drama, Pharaoh wanted Moses and Aaron to perform a miracle, so Aaron took his rod and threw it on the floor next to Pharaoh. Aaron’s rod immediately became a snake. The sorcerers were brought onto the scene, and through their enchantments were also able to turn their rods into snakes. But to show who’s boss, Aaron’s serpent quickly swallowed up all the magicians’ snakes (Ex. 7:12). Pharaoh’s sorcerers may have successfully figured out how to inflict a temporary paralysis to their pet cobras, but it didn’t matter. Aaron’s snake ate them all anyway. Aaron’s God is clearly superior to Pharaoh’s gods, as the upcoming plagues and wonders revealed.

Keep in mind that the “ten” signifies fullness and completes in quantity. So the Ten Plagues represented God’s complete judgment on the gods of Egypt. One could say that Egypt was completely plagued under the leadership of Moses and Aron. Each plague was an opportunity for Pharoah to repent and change his mind. But his extreme hubris kept him from humbling himself through all these national disasters. Of course, Pharaoh considered himself to be a god, so you can’t much more hubris than that.

1st Plague = Changed the Water into Blood; the gods of Egypt which were judged were Hapi, the god of the Nile River and the water-bearer, Sothis another god of the Nile, and Osiris whose bloodstream was considered the Nile River itself; much in Egyptian life was dependent on the Nile River, from the drinking water to irrigation for their crops. The water became unusable during this plague, the fish all died, the river stank, and river life came to an abrupt halt. (Exodus 7:20).

2nd Plague Swarms of Frogs from the Nile; the god of Egypt which was judged was the goddess Heket, who had the head of a frog and was the god of water; frogs were everywhere in Egypt, in the houses, all over the food, inside the clothing, everywhere; Moses eventually made them go away; (Exodus 8:6).

3rd Plague = Lice from the Dust of the Earth; the god of Egypt which was judged was Geb, the god of the earthen dust; lice, or gnats, were in everybody’s face, in the homes, being a terrible bother to everyone in Egypt; the society that looked upon big things, from buildings to the military to the opulence, was brought to their knees by the smallest thing in nature; (Exodus 8:17).

4th PlagueSwarms of Flies; the god of Egypt which was judged was Khepri, the god of creation who had the head of a fly; Moses simply spoke the word, and swarms of flies appeared; only on Egyptians, not on the Israelites; (Exodus 8:24).

5th PlagueDiseased Cattle and Livestock; the gods of Egypt which were judged were the goddess Hathor, who had the head of a cow, and Apis the bull-god; Moses warned Pharaoh about this plague, but Pharaoh continued his stubbornness, and all the cattle of the Egyptians died; the livestock of the Israelites remained untouched; this plague effected the economy, food, transportation, farming; (Exodus 9:6).

6th PlagueSevere Boils and Skin Sores; the god of Egypt which was judged was the goddess Isis, the mother of the gods, and goddess of medicine and healing; Moses took ashes from a furnace, threw it into the air, and all the Egyptians including the magicians received boils all over their body; Israelites did not get boils; (Exodus 9:10).

7th PlagueSevere Hail Mingled with Fire and Lightning; the gods of Egypt which were judged were Nut, the goddess of the sky and mother of the heavenly bodies, and the god Seth, the protector of the crops; the hail was probably accompanied by lightning, which in turn started fires, destroying all the flax and barley crops; the crops of the Israelites remained untouched and they did not experience the severe hailstorm; (Exodus 9:23).

8th Plague Huge Swarms of Locusts; the gods of Egypt which were judged were Seth, once again, the god of storms and the crops, and the god Osiris, the god of life and vegetation; this invasion of the locusts destroyed all the crops and fruit trees, including wheat and fresh fruit, which erased the food supply and threatened starvation of the people in Egypt; the Israelites did not experience the locusts; (Exodus 10:13).

9th Plague Total Darkness; the god of Egypt which was judged was the national god Ra, the god of the sun, earth and sky; during the three days of oppressively thick darkness, the Egyptians couldn’t even see each other while the Egyptians enjoyed the sun’s light; Ra was the most worshiped god in Egypt other than Pharaoh; the refusal of the sun to shine was a complete defeat of Ra by Yahweh; (Exodus 10:22).

10th Plague Death of the Firstborn; the god of Egypt which was judged was the Pharoah himself, considered to be the chief of the gods and the greatest power in Egypt; the firstborn in every family in Egypt was to die, from the Pharaoh’s household to the servant’s households to even the livestock; the Israelites could be delivered from this plague only by sacrificing an unblemished lamb and spreading its blood over the doorposts of the house; this is the “Passover,” when Yahweh passed over the homes with the lamb’s blood; this is the most famous event in Judaism, celebrated every year in Jewish and Christian homes, and points directly to the Lamb of God, Jesus Christ, delivering us though His shed blood. (Exodus chapters 11 and 12).

Yahweh, the God of Moses and the Israelites, needed to convince the Egyptians that He was worthy of worship and more powerful than all their other gods. It was vital that the Egyptians saw their polytheistic paganism as completely powerless and empty of meaning before the great Yahweh. Yahweh also needed to convince the Israelites that He indeed was the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, their spiritual lineage, and that He was worthy of being followed into the wilderness to begin their new nation. With that in mind, God’s Ten Plagues were a complete success.