One of the most familiar stories in the Bible is found in the book of Exodus, which tells the story many people best know from Hollywood instead of the Bible – the story of the plagues and exodus from Egypt to the giving of the Ten Commandments.
The plagues that God caused to fall upon Egypt were that the river turned to blood, frogs overtook the land, then lice and flies covered the land. Next, animals were stricken with diseases, and then both humans and animals were inflicted with painful boils. Following this, a devastating hailstorm rained down from heaven, followed by locusts eating any remaining crops that were not destroyed by the hail. Next, darkness over took the land, and finally, the firstborn of every household was killed.
Had God’s purpose been only to free the Israelites from their slavery, he could have simply caused a temporary blindness or other condition to come upon the Egyptians, so the Hebrews could walk away. But there was a higher purpose, as he tells us in Exodus 12:12, "against all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgment" and Exodus 14:4, “that the Egyptians may know that I am the LORD.” Knowing the background of the existing Egyptian worship mentality at the time adds more depth to the story. Every one of the plagues had a direct tie-in to one of the many false gods who were worshipped by Egyptians at the time.
The first plague was that the Nile River turned to blood. One of the false gods in ancient Egypt was Sobek, a crocodile god who was thought to be the god of the Nile. The Egyptians believed that Sobek was the source of the water in the Nile, and another false god, Khnum, was a potter that formed people from the mud of the river bank. When the water turned to blood, these false gods were unable to reverse it, which was evidence to the Egyptians that their river gods were not gods after all.
During the second plague, frogs overtook the homes of the Egyptians. Frogs were associated with a false goddess named Heqt, who had a frog head. This frog god was unable to stop the invasion of frogs, and the people were given the opportunity to see that frogs were not worthy of worship. Not only were frogs not the Supreme God of the world, they also were proven to be no gods at all.
The third and fourth plagues of lice and flies were a direct hit on the false god Khepri, who as an insect god. His power over the lice and flies was shown to be inferior to the True God of Israel, who had the real control over the insects. Again, one of the false Egyptian gods was proven not be a god.
Next came an attack on the cattle and other beasts of burden. This plague showed the ineffectiveness of the bull-headed god Apis and the cow-headed goddess Hathor. These two bovine gods were unable to stop the disease that the True God of Israel inflicted on the cattle, proving yet again that these gods were false gods.
The sixth plague was boils on both humans and beasts. The Egyptians had a god of health and healing, named Thoth, but this god was proven to be powerless to heal the boils, so clearly this false god was inferior to the True God.
The seventh plague was the raining down of hail. The Egyptians had two false gods that were reputed to have power over the air and sky: Horus, a falcon sky god, and Nut, the sky goddess. Yet neither of these gods was able to save the people from an assault originating in the sky. The same pattern kept repeating: the Egyptian gods were proven to not be gods after all.
The eighth plague came in the form of locusts that ate all the crops that remained after the hail had already destroyed much of the agriculture. The insect god had already been proven false earlier, and now the god of fruitful crops, Osiris, was also defeated by the True God’s power over the false god’s domain.
The ninth plague showed the impotence of the sun god, Ra, who was considered the supreme god of gods. When darkness came over the land for three days, it was evidence that their sun god could not be the supreme god, but rather that the God of Israel had superior power.
The final plague attacked the one human who was considered to be the physical manifestation of all of the other gods, Pharaoh. Yet even his first-born son was among those killed at the Passover. Every single plague defeated a false god of the Egyptians. The God of Israel was, and is today, the only One True God. If you have not yet given your heart to him in worship, I urge you to do so while you still can.