Thursday 13th August 2020 The Plague of Pestilence
Exodus 9: 1-7
Then the Lord said to Moses, ‘Go to Pharaoh, and say to him, “Thus says the Lord, the God of the Hebrews: Let my people go, so that they may worship me. For if you refuse to let them go and still hold them, the hand of the Lord will strike with a deadly pestilence your livestock in the field: the horses, the donkeys, the camels, the herds, and the flocks. But the Lord will make a distinction between the livestock of Israel and the livestock of Egypt, so that nothing shall die of all that belongs to the Israelites.”’ The Lord set a time, saying, ‘Tomorrow the Lord will do this thing in the land.’ And on the next day the Lord did so; all the livestock of the Egyptians died, but of the livestock of the Israelites not one died. Pharaoh inquired and found that not one of the livestock of the Israelites was dead. But the heart of Pharaoh was hardened, and he would not let the people go.
Exodus is a dangerous book, it was deemed so dangerous by landowners during slavery in America and the West Indies that the whole of the arc of the Israelites journey out of slavery from Egypt was removed from the Slave Bible, along with 90% of the Old Testament and 50% of the New Testament. It is dangerous because it gives hope to people and shows how God is a God of liberation and preferential treatment of the oppressed.
This passage finds us at the half-way point in the plague story. God clearly has a preferential option for the Israelites as the marginalised, oppressed and enslaved people, but what of the regular Egyptian citizens who aren’t in much better of a position? When I look at society today, I see that we have a social class of people who have been let down by a society that has seen them as not worth the effort, and this has left them under-educated, under-informed and ill-equipped to verbalise the injustices against them and has easily swayed them by a media that that is owned by people who know how to manipulate the truth.
I wonder then how the regular Egyptians felt when they had now endured five plagues that are destroying their livelihood. I doubt they would have blamed Pharaoh, at least not publicly, but they would have levelled the blame at the Israelites, the people who are already seen as a problem. So, we see the poor help marginalise the already oppressed. Sound familiar? Can we learn from this? Can we change how we use media to set one class of people against a migrant population, or are we going to continue hardening our hearts like Pharaoh pretending that it isn’t our problem?
help us not only to acknowledge the injustice in the world, but to be bold enough to do everything we can to remove it. Enable us to see and hear clearly so we do not swallow lies that prop up the unjust systems in our world. Amen