Monday 10th August 2020 The Plague of Frogs
Exodus 8: 1 – 15
Then the Lord said to Moses, ‘Go to Pharaoh and say to him, “Thus says the Lord: Let my people go, so that they may worship me. If you refuse to let them go, I will plague your whole country with frogs. The river shall swarm with frogs; they shall come up into your palace, into your bedchamber and your bed, and into the houses of your officials and of your people, and into your ovens and your kneading bowls. The frogs shall come up on you and on your people and on all your officials.”’ And the Lord said to Moses, ‘Say to Aaron, “Stretch out your hand with your staff over the rivers, the canals, and the pools, and make frogs come up on the land of Egypt.”’ So Aaron stretched out his hand over the waters of Egypt; and the frogs came up and covered the land of Egypt. But the magicians did the same by their secret arts, and brought frogs up on the land of Egypt.
Then Pharaoh called Moses and Aaron, and said, ‘Pray to the Lord to take away the frogs from me and my people, and I will let the people go to sacrifice to the Lord.’ Moses said to Pharaoh, ‘Kindly tell me when I am to pray for you and for your officials and for your people, that the frogs may be removed from you and your houses and be left only in the Nile.’ And he said, ‘Tomorrow.’ Moses said, ‘As you say! So that you may know that there is no one like the Lord our God, the frogs shall leave you and your houses and your officials and your people; they shall be left only in the Nile.’ Then Moses and Aaron went out from Pharaoh; and Moses cried out to the Lord concerning the frogs that he had brought upon Pharaoh. And the Lord did as Moses requested: the frogs died in the houses, the courtyards, and the fields. And they gathered them together in heaps, and the land stank. But when Pharaoh saw that there was a respite, he hardened his heart, and would not listen to them, just as the Lord had said.
I LOVE frogs. I find their shape, colours, movement, sound and feel beautiful. I have had pet frogs (and kept live insects to feed them), and still have an amazing collection of frog sculptures. I have been enraptured by a host of tiny frogs singing their mating song in Monet’s garden one May and croaked to sleep by large Dutch dike-dwelling frogs whilst camping one April. It takes, as they say, all sorts. The scene in ET when all the dissection frogs are released in the science class is for me a glimpse of Exodus freedom.
Here millions of frogs emerge from the blood-polluted waterways and pools dug by thirsty Egyptians in their search for clean water. They get everywhere – in people’s beds, in cooking pots, on people’s skin. A by-product of environmental damage is often the displacement and distorted balance of species directly affected, which impacts us as co-inhabitants of the delicate balance that sustains life. The subsequent destruction of the frogs, unsurprisingly, impacts down the food chain, and there follows infestations of gnats and flies. Removing one symptom does not address the underlying problems.
This is part of the story of God’s actions to change the hearts and minds of the holders of political power to overthrow the very economic structure that gives them power and wealth: slavery. The surprising tactic, unique to this plague, is to invite Pharaoh to choose when God should intervene via the timing of Moses’ prayers. An all-powerful God waits to be invited to act so that we might know something of the One who acts. This is the relational heart of salvation.
Moses prays, God responds, Pharaoh and Egypt enjoy immediate relief – but nothing else changes. We are left with the stench of rotting frog carcasses to remind us that the underlying injustices remain.
God of Moses,
move us to see beyond symptoms to structural problems,
give us awareness of who really pays for our lifestyles,
help us make the changes we can.
Give us courage to speak truth to power,
and whole-heartedly pray to see all people set free
and in loving relationship with you