There is No Match for God
by Katie Borden
Just the other day, I took a walk, and as it happens on walks, I was lost in thought. I didn’t even notice the little cloud of gnats hanging at eye (and hair… and mouth…) level until I walked straight into them . As I picked them off of my face and out of my hair later that evening, I thought back to my run-in with those “little jerks”, wondering if gnats hang in the air at precisely that height on purpose.
I share this anecdote with you a) so that you don’t feel so alone when you accidentally swallow a bunch of miniscule bugs, but more importantly b) so that we can imagine together just how intolerable these swarms of gnats and flies must have been for those living in the land of Egypt during Pharoah’s sparring match with the Lord God Almighty. Not only did these swarms create hardship for the people themselves, the text tells us that they ruined the land as well. These plagues destroyed land, livestock and eventually human life.
I commend these nine plagues (Ex.7-9) to your reading so you can more keenly feel the intensity of the dire situation building for both the Israelites and the Egyptians as each plague comes and goes. Additionally, these accounts taken as a whole also enlighten us with regard to what I believe was happening at a cosmic level. This is the first plague where we read that God is making a distinction between the land where the Israelites lived and the land where the Egyptians made their homes: “no swarms of flies will be there [in the Israelites’ land], so that you will know that I, the LORD, am in this land” (v. 22).
God is in that land.
God’s presence brings life, wholeness, and flourishing. We see these things evident in the land where God is present. But where Pharaoh opposes God and does not bow to his will and reign, the consequences are fierce. We see the effects of sin in the effects that Pharaoh's unwillingness to acknowledge God as LORD, as ruler of the cosmos, have on the creation. But throughout these plagues, our God is demonstrating his power over sin, and even (spoiler alert!) eventually death. The ultimate end of God’s power is to save his creation and his beloved creatures.
This action is repeated more fully and permanently through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus a few thousand years later. The road was not pain-free. Once again, a cosmic battle raged at that cross, a battle between the God of life and the forces of death. But once again–and for all time–our God was proved victorious and without equal. There is no Pharaoh–no force of sin, death, or the devil–who will withstand the power of our God. He has won the battle, and sits on the throne in heaven. The forces of sin may corrupt and kill for a time, but our God will emerge victorious. His way–the way of life and love and wholeness for all of creation–will endure. Praise be to God!
Thank you, all-powerful God, that your way wins in the end. By the power of the Holy Spirit, help us to put our hope in your victory, and empower us to live free in light of your victory through Jesus. Amen.