So That They May Serve Me [Exodus 8]
18The magicians tried with their secret arts to bring forth gnats, but they could not; so there were gnats on man and beast. 19Then the magicians said to Pharaoh, "This is the finger of God." But Pharaoh's heart was hardened, and he did not listen to them, as the LORD had said.
20Now the LORD said to Moses, "Rise early in the morning and present yourself before Pharaoh, as he comes out to the water, and say to him, 'Thus says the LORD, "Let My people go, that they may serve Me. 21"For if you do not let My people go, behold, I will send swarms of flies on you and on your servants and on your people and into your houses; and the houses of the Egyptians will be full of swarms of flies, and also the ground on which they dwell.22"But on that day I will set apart the land of Goshen, where My people are living, so that no swarms of flies will be there, in order that you may know that I, the LORD, am in the midst of the land. 23"I will put a division between My people and your people. Tomorrow this sign will occur."'"
24Then the LORD did so. And there came great swarms of flies into the house of Pharaoh and the houses of his servants and the land was laid waste because of the swarms of flies in all the land of Egypt.
I really think God has a good sense of humor. He has too - since we are created in His image. But I can see a hint of His smile when even Pharaoh's magicians start to acknowledge, "This is the finger of God." I love how He gradually increases the discomfort level as He builds to the crescendo. The reason for each plague was consistent, "in order that you may know that I, the LORD, am in the midst of the land."
Twice is this passage the LORD told Moses to quote Him to Pharaoh, "Thus says the LORD, 'Let My people go, that they may serve Me.'" Holman translation uses the word worship. Someone asked me last night what the meaning of the word worship is and I floundered as I tried to define it. So I looked up the word used in this passage in the Strong's dictionary and saw that serve is a better translation. The word used means "to work, till, bond-service, be kept in bondage, labor, keep. to worship" So God is really saying to Pharaoh that He wants His people to serve Him rather than Pharaoh. No wonder Pharaoh is so resistant. Pharaoh offered to let them go sacrifice but in reality God is asking for their service (which in the Old Testament sense would be their worship.)
We praise You God that You will go to great lengths to let Your created people know that You are the LORD. Thank You for sending Jesus, who made it possible for us to know and worship You.