Day 33: Locusts, Darkness, and Death of the First Born
Exodus 10:1-29 I have sinned against...you: Pharaoh acknowledged his sin. In so doing, his statement recognized the very nature of sin: It is an offense against God; thus, it harms others and ultimately the common good of society. (CCC 1440)
Ch 11:1-10 Pharaoh will not listen to you: God used the sin of Pharaoh’s obstinacy to bring about the fulfillment of his will. The Lord hardened Pharaoh’s heart: The sense is not that God had made Pharaoh stubborn so as to make an example of him; rather, God did not force acquiescence upon him. In his infinite wisdom, the Lord accomplishes his will and at the same time respects each individual’s freedom. He invites us to freely respond to his call; nevertheless, he does not force his will on us. (CCC 312, 1993)
Leviticus 8:1 These are details of the ceremony of unction for priests under the Old Covenant. As the Epistle to the Heberws would later explain concerning the New Covenant, priests are “chosen from among men” and are “appointed to act on behalf of men in relation to God, to offer gifts and sacrifices for sins” (Heb 5:1). The Old Testament priesthood, however, was not the same as the priesthood of the New Covenant; it required repeated offerings of sacrifices that were ineffective in removing sin. True redemption from sin could only be accomplished through the one Sacrifice of Christ. (CCC 1539-1543)
Ch 8:12 Oil, such as that with which Aaron was anointed high priest, was used throughout the Old Testament to consecrate someone to God for a holy mission. The priests, kings, and prophets who received the anointing in the Old Testament were TYPES (TYPOLOGY!!) of Jesus, the Eternal High Priest, King of the Universe, and Messiah (cf. Ex 30:22-33). (CCC 436)
Psalm 50 This psalm stresses a sincere mind and heart in praising God in worship. Ritual acts, gestures, and sacrifices are meant to be external manifestations of a prayerful spirit of humility and love. God is glorified by external ritual as long as it is accompanied by SINCERE PIETY and DEEDS OF CHARITY TOWARDS OTHERS. Among the sentiments that God favors is a grateful spirit and a contrite heart. He decries the hypocrisy of speaking and reciting the Commandments without practicing them. Loving God with our WHOLE HEARTS includes obedience to Divine Law as well as having the habitual desire to please God in EVERYTHING, especially in the treatment of our neighbors. He does not keep silence: At his Second Coming, Christ will judge every act, both good and evil, along with the consequences of those acts; in the Final Judgement, no human thought, word, or deed will be hidden. (CCC 1039, 1368)
(*The Didache Bible RSV-CE Ignatius Edition, 2006)
After the next plagues of gnats, flies, disease on cattle, boils, hail, and locusts, the Lord tells Moses to stretch out his hand “that there may be darkness over the land of Egypt, a darkness to be felt” (Ex 10:21).
The God who created light takes it away for THREE DAYS (sounds a bit familiar, doesn’t it? What other light was away for 3 days?).
The God of the Hebrews blows out the sun god Ra like a candle.
Each of the plagues follows a similar formula
Moses tells Pharaoh that the plague will occur “that they may know” that the Lord is God, and then God sends a particular plague striking down a god of Egypt.
Each time it appears Pharaoh will finally relent and let Israel go, but as the plague passes, he hardens his heart and refuses.
Throughout, the themes of “KNOWING” and “SERVING” are repeated.
Scripture describes the repeated lesson of the plagues this way: In return for their foolish and wicked thoughts, which led them astray to worship irrational serpents and worthless animals, you sent upon them a multitude of irrational creatures to punish them, that they might learn that one is punished by the very things by which he sins. (Wis 11:15-16)
The plagues point out the emptiness of the entire Egyptian belief system, as the gods of Egypt are at the mercy of the Hebrew God.
This is why God tells Moses during the final plague that the gods of Egypt stand utterly defeated.
“And on all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgments: I am the Lord” (Ex 12:12).
After the fourth plague, Pharaoh unexpectedly relents long enough to offer a compromise.
“Go, sacrifice to your God within the land” (Ex 8:25).
Pharaoh will now give the people rest that they may worship, but only within the land of Egypt.
But Moses points out a significant problem: It would not be right to do so; for we shall sacrifice to the Lord our God offerings abominable to the Egyptians.
If we sacrifice offerings abominable to the Egyptians before their eyes, will they not stone us? We must go a three days’ journey into the wilderness and sacrifice to the Lord our God as he will command us. (Ex 8:26-27)
Israel must worship the Lord by sacrificing animals that the Egyptians themselves worship.
Such sacrifices would be seen as an act of deicide and would be punishable by death.
For this reason, Moses requests a journey at three days’ distance from Egypt.
Worship is at the heart of the conflict between Pharaoh and Moses.
Israelite worship turns Egyptian idolatry on its head, proving that what Egyptians consider gods are really not gods at all.
(*Walking With God: A Journey Through the Bible by Tim Gray and Jeff Cavins)
What is up with all of the ten plagues?
Sometimes we may think that these are random events.
This is not just God saying, “Yo, I am so powerful!”
It is also God demonstrating that HE IS THE LORD GOD above the false Egyptian gods
Every one of the TEN PLAGUES is associated with one of the TEN FALSE GODS that were worshipped by the Egyptians.
For example, when the Nile River turns to blood, the Egyptian god of the Nile is HAPI.
The plague of frogs is to knock down the Egyptian goddess of fertility, water, and renewal, HEQT.
The plague of lice from the dust of the Earth is to knock down the Egyptian god of the earth, GEB
The plague of the swarm of flies was to knock down the Egyptian god of rebirth, KHEPRI.
The plague of the death of the cattle and livestock was to knock down the Egyptian goddess of love and protection, HATHOR
The plague of boils and sores was to knock down the Egyptian goddess of medicine and peace, ISIS
The plague of hail raining down was to knock down the Egyptian goddess of the sky, NUT
The plague of locusts was to knock down the Egyptian god of storms and disorder, SETH
The plague of darkness for 3 days was to knock down the Egyptian sun god, RA.
And finally, PHARAOH was the ultimate power of Egypt and worshipped as a god and his plague was THE DEATH OF THE FIRST BORN OF EGYPT
All of this is not merely God exhibiting His power and judgement over the Egyptians.
God is demonstrating His DOMINANCE over these false gods.
God is also getting into the hearts of the Israelites.
Remember, the Israelites have been slaves for 400 years.
They worshipped like Egyptians and these gods were part of the Israelites’ hearts.
And it will happen again as soon as Moses turns his back on the Israelites when he goes up to Mt. Sinai
Pharaoh says, “Get out of my sight, take your women and children!”
Moses tells Pharaoh that he must also let the Israelites have burnt offerings and sacrifices so the cattle must also go with them.
Moses tells Pharaoh that they don’t know how God wants them to worship.
So they will not offer God false worship.
They will offer the Lord the worship HE desires.
The PURPOSE of being released from slavery was to go and WORSHIP GOD
They are not just going to receive freedom and then worship God the way THEY want to.
They will receive freedom from God’s hand in order to worship God the way HE WANTS THEM TO.
This is CRITICAL for our lives.
When we approach God, we need to say “How do you want us to worship you?”
At the Last Supper, Jesus tells the apostles “TAKE THIS ALL OF YOU AND EAT IT FOR THIS IS MY BODY. TAKE THIS ALL OF YOU AND DRINK OF IT. THIS IS THE BLOOD OF THE NEW AND ETERNAL COVENANT. DO THIS IN REMEMBRANCE OF ME.”
THIS IS HOW GOD WANTS US TO WORSHIP HIM
GO TO MASS AND RECEIVE JESUS IN THE EUCHARIST!
We realize that we are all tempted to give God whatever worship WE want (with American Idol church services and Bible sermons at megachurches with lots of jumping up and down and pretending to speak in tongues...this is just my personal opinion based on my own experience)
God makes it very clear from the beginning that the point of worship is NOT to give Him whatever WE WANT.
The POINT OF WORSHIP is GIVING GOD WHAT HE ASKS FOR.
Leviticus today is about the rite of ORDINATION
The context is important
This book is called Leviticus because it INSTRUCTS THE LEVITICAL PRIESTHOOD
The Tribe of Levi
Aaron and his sons are from the Tribe of Levi
Remember, the father of the family is the PRIEST OF THE FAMILY and leads worship especially at PASSOVER
But then they go and worship that Golden Calf and things will change
People were so quick to turn away from worshipping the TRUE GOD to worship however THEY WANTED
Moses comes down the mountain and sees this and decides to deal out vengeance
It was the men from the Tribe of Levi who took up swords and dealt out vengeance on those leading FALSE WORSHIP and put an end to it.
Because of that, Moses tells the Tribe of Levi that they ORDAINED THEMSELVES ON THIS DAY
So from then on, priests would ONLY come from the Tribe of Levi
In future generations of the Tribe of Levi, the rites of ordination were specifically for these priests
In the New Covenant, these sacrifices of cereal offerings, burnt offerings, etc., ALL PREFIGURE THE GREAT SACRIFICE OF JESUS CHRIST.
If you read the Letter to the Hebrews in context with Leviticus, it is ILLUMINATING how God had been preparing His people from the beginning to be able to give Him the worship that He TRULY DESERVES.
Today, focus on this: God wants to FREE us from our idolatry.
God wants to DOMINATE those things that dominate us.
God wants to give us FREEDOM so that we can give Him the WORSHIP HE DESERVES.
Ask yourself, “Do I worship God the way I want to?”
“Do I give God what I want to give Him?”
“Or do I worship the God who reveals Himself to me, and do I give Him what He has asked for?”
Prayer by Fr Mike: “Father in Heaven, we give you praise and glory. You reveal that not only do you love us. You continually reveal your heart to us. You continually fight for us. You continually show to our hearts that we are made for you and you alone. Yet our hearts continually make idols and we can make idols out of anything around us. Lord God, you free us from idols. You free us for true worship. Help our hearts to be free, truly free, that we do not turn to idols. That we do not turn to false worship. But that we have hearts that have the kind of interior freedom where we can offer you the worship that you ask for. We make this prayer in the mighty name of Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen”
Reading that the plague of darkness lasted three days brought to mind how darkness covered the land when Christ died. Looking at the passage, I never realized the detail that it was dark from the sixth hour to the ninth hour- a total of 3 hours. Christ as the light of the world, the light went out with his death for three days until he rose again and the light returned. Then there's the bowl in Reveation where darkness covers the earth, though it doesn't specify three days.
The anointing of Aaron the High Priest: At Christ's Baptism, he was anointed with the Holy Spirit, the Messiah literally meaning "The Anointed One." At our baptisms, we are all anointed with oil, sharing in Christ's sonship and anointing as priests, prophets, and kings in his One Body.
The blood of the sacrifice on the priests's garments calls to mind something we see in Revelation, when the multitude appear in heaven, and one of the elders mention that their robes were washed white with the blood of the Lamb, the sacrifice of Jesus Christ.
A mention of sacrifice of thanksgiving and salvation in Psalm 50. Eucharist literally means "give thanks" from the greek word "eucharisteo" used at the Last Supper.