I remember as a child dad taught my brother and I how to catch frogs. We’d take a cane pole and put a piece of red cloth about the size of a quarter on the hook. Then we traipse around the edge of the pond, find the frog and dangle that cloth in front of him until he’d bite it. Sure enough, he would! We caught many frogs that way. Well, there’s a crazy story in the Bible about frogs. It’s one that makes me wonder about the decisions we sometimes make.
Have you ever asked, “Why do people do some of the crazy things they do?” Have you ever witnessed a decision or a situation and thought, “That makes no earthly sense”? What about you? Have you, looking back over your life, ever felt puzzled by things you may have said or done? Have you ever asked yourself, in a time of introspection, “Why did I say that?” Let’s just be honest about it: none of us do life perfectly and from time to time all of us, even as Christians, do boneheaded things. Well, you can take solace in that you’re not alone. One of those puzzling situations is found in the story of Moses and the ten plagues.
You remember how that Moses was commissioned to go and stand before Pharaoh, the king of Egypt, to speak a very simple message: “Thus says the Lord, the God of the Hebrews, let my people go….” (Ex. 9:1) Although initially reluctant, Moses went. And although totally rebellious, Pharaoh eventually conceded.
Pharaoh’s prideful unwillingness is remarkable. Interestingly, Scripture speaks to his rebellion from three different angles. First, historically speaking, it says “Pharaoh’s heart was hardened” (Ex.7:13). Then, viewing it from the standpoint of Pharaoh’s personal responsibility, “Pharaoh hardened his heart” (Ex.8:32). Finally, Scripture states that even the Creator was responsible as well: “God hardened his heart” (Ex.9:12). So Pharaoh’s heart was hardened. God created the circumstance of Moses demanding deliverance and Pharaoh reacted by becoming more insolent and rebellious. Sometimes we liken a person’s heart to wax or clay. These two materials, when heat is applied, are affected differently – one is softened, while the other is hardened. As the Lord, through Moses and the plagues, turned up the heat, Pharaoh’s calloused heart became more and more resistant. Instead of becoming impressed with God and his power like Rahab was (Jos.2:10-13), he became more and more stubborn.
Although that’s interesting, what’s most remarkable and seemingly crazy was Pharaoh’s thought process in dealing with the frogs. The first plague, recorded in Exodus 7, resulted in the water being turned into blood – the fish in the Nile died, the river stank and was unfit to drink. It was awful, yet Pharaoh hardened his heart. Seven days pass and Moses returns with the same message: “Thus says Jehovah God, ‘Let my people go.’” Pharaoh again refuses. This time the land was plagued with frogs. There were frogs everywhere, even in their houses and on their beds. Suffering greatly, Pharaoh called for Moses and Aaron and asked them to plead with the Lord to remove the frogs(v.8). Moses asked him “when” he wanted him to present this to the Lord. And amazingly Pharaoh said, “Tomorrow.” (v.9) What?!!! There could have been immediate relief, but he chose to spend one more night with the frogs!
Looking at this story my initial thought is, that’s crazy! And in fact, it is. Why would anyone want one more night of such a troublesome situation? It just makes no sense. However, to be fair, haven’t we made those same sort of irrational missteps in our lives? Perhaps a habit we refuse to let go of, knowing it’s to our own demise? Or maybe a relationship we forego ending, all the while realizing that it’s toxic? Or maybe there’s a good thing that we’ve been wanting to add, something to spawn a deeper relationship with God or protect our heart from temptation, yet for whatever reason we procrastinate? While we’ve all done it, let’s face it: life goes much smoother when we promptly yield to God’s ways and are intentional in fostering the spiritual. For us to make any other choice is like that of the ancient, prideful and hardened Pharaoh who, instead of yielding to God and getting relief, opted to spend one more night with the frogs.
We have so little time here. May God help us to make good choices and to never, ever opt to spend one more day, or night, with the frogs! (Unless you’re frog gigging, but we’ll save that for another time.)
You are loved!