What is the difference between the plague of gnats and the plague of flies? If we read too fast, we might miss it in the text.
Moving past negotiation
The story of these plagues in the text seems to speed up after the first two plagues. Moses no longer spent time trying to negotiate with Pharaoh. What we see is one plague after another as we wait for Pharaoh to relent.
Did you notice who did relent after the plague of gnats? The magicians. They followed the previous examples and tried to replicate turning the dirt into gnats, but they could not do it. (I really wonder if anyone was asking whether or not they should do some of these things after the catastrophes with the blood in the water and the frogs!) They can no longer perform the kinds of miracles Moses and God are performing.
Conversions from the gnats and flies
In this passage we see some of the first conversions, or at least acknowledgements of the power of God. Who is it from? Those same magicians.
When they discover that God is of a greater caliber miracle-worker because of the gnats, they exclaim that the work must be “the finger of God”. What does that mean?
We don’t know for sure, but we can guess that they have an encountered a god that is far greater than anything they knew. To be thwarted, not by an arm, or even fist, but by a mere finger of god shows a kind of humility that is missing in Pharaoh. Perhaps they saw that they were put aside by a mere swarm of gnats. What could god do with more dangerous creatures.
Pharaoh is not impressed by gnats and flies
Pharaoh did not even consider letting the people go after the plague of gnats, so God sent Moses to send a plague of flies. How is this different from the plague of gnats?
God was not looking to convert Egyptian magicians here. Instead, He showed His power in how the plague was limited. Up until this point, the Hebrew people shared the plagues with the Egyptians. At least it does not say otherwise. However, when it comes to the flies, the Hebrew people, living in the land of Goshen, are spared, while the Egyptians are swarmed.
What does this mean?
God not only has control over nature in the Nile River Valley, He also can start and stop these outbreaks in ways that seem unnatural. Flies can’t tell the difference between an Egyptian and Hebrew person, can they? Not only does God exist, but He has specific wants and is showing a particular favoritism to a particular people.
What do you see here?
I’d love to hear what you see in this passage. You can comment below or send a text to 859-636-6965 for a faster response. I look forward to hearing your thoughts on the power of God.