March 16, 2009 - Monday of the Third Week of Lent

Today's Reading: Exodus 8:16-24

Daily Lectionary: Genesis 29:1-30; St. Mark 9:14-32

Then the magicians said to Pharaoh, ‘This is the finger of God.’ But Pharaoh's heart was hardened, and he would not listen to them, as the Lord had said.” (Exodus 8:19)

In the name of Jesus. Amen. Gnats. Flying bugs everywhere. Aaron struck the ground of Egypt and all the dust became gnats. And there’s a lot of dust in Egypt! All the beasts and people were covered with nasty gnats.

These are not the type of gnats that just annoy you, that would be bad enough! The Roman historian Josephus said that these gnats were known to sting and bite, too! They would get into your eyes, ears, mouth. This is why there are some versions of the Bible that translate the Hebrew word for these gnats as “lice.”

God delivers Egypt into this plague. He does it. He commands Aaron to do it. He wants His people free from Pharaoh. He wants Pharaoh to know that He’s God. So, gnats everywhere and on everything.

Give up thinking God can’t bring bad things on people. Repent of that - He can and does. The devil didn’t bring the gnats, God did. He did so to save His people. He did it to bring them out of Egypt.

That’s one important difference between the devil and God. When the devil does what he does, he wants you to look away from God, to trust in what you do, or to despair. When God does what He does, He does so for your good, to call you out of your sins, to bring you to Christ and His gifts.

So when a plague hits your life, when you see nothing but gnats everywhere, how do you know who brought it?

You don’t have to know. Eyes on Jesus. It’s Oculi, after all. Trust Christ all the more. Not fatalistically like you have no choice. No, understand this: God can use even Pharaoh's hardened heart for His salvation. So whether God is doing the plague, or the devil is somehow behind it, the Lord will still bring it out for your good, to rescue you from your sins, to take you out of the bondage of slavery.

Watch Jesus headed for the Cross, watch Him take on all your sins, your death, your slavery. Focus on His death for you--in all your troubles. He died. He rose. You died with Him. You rose with Him. You live in Him.

But today, it’s gnats. Gnats everywhere. God brings them on Pharaoh's Egypt to bring His people out of bondage. He’ll do even more to Pharaoh to rescue His people. He’ll do what He has to do to save you, too. He already gave up His Son for you. You’ll see--even in the plagues of your life. You’ll see His salvation in Christ. In the name of Jesus. Amen.