The plague of flies was yet another assault on the false gods of Egypt. There are several possibilities here. Beelzebub, the goddess and god of flies who was supposed to be a protector from swarms of flies and other natural disasters. God is demonstrating that he is the only God who can protect from disaster, and the only God who can give true rebirth.
Charles Spurgeon once said, “When it pleases God by his judgments to humble men, he is never at a loss for means; he can use lions or lice, famines or flies. In the armory of God there are weapons of every kind, from the stars in their courses down to caterpillars in their hosts.”
We see that Pharaoh was so bothered and it became such a nuisance that he called Moses in for a compromise.
Pharaoh was unwilling to fully submit to God’s demands however. He wanted to compromise, letting the Israelites do their sacrifice to God without leaving. But Moses, following God’s command, demands that he let them God into the wilderness. And in the end, when the flies leave, Pharaoh even backtracked on that compromise, once again hardening his heart. Following God half-way is no way.
Don’t we all have a tendency to make promises to God in the midst of suffering, then forget them when the suffering or hardships go away? Have you ever been there? “Oh God, if you’ll only take away (fill in the blank), then I’ll do whatever you want.” But then he delivers us, and we suddenly aren't so zealous to obey again.
Pharaoh wanted to compromise on God’s demands to relieve his suffering. He was acting purely out of self-interest. But God demands unconditional submission to his demands. He demands the same of us. We cannot come to God on our own terms, as if we are negotiating the terms of our surrender.
True surrender is a complete giving up of ourselves, throwing ourselves wholly into the just, gracious arms of God. And if we come to God in this way, recognizing we are powerless to save ourselves, but God is all-powerful to deliver us from the plague of self, the slavery of sin, and his righteous wrath against evil, he can, and he will not only deliver us, but give us abundant life through his son Jesus, who took all of that on himself in his death that we might walk in new life with him.
Prayer: Father God, thank you that your uncompromising love and commitment to your people. Help us not to go half-way or compromise our obedience to you, but that we would fully surrender our lives to you all the days of our lives. In Jesus’ name, amen.