“Behold, the hand of the Lord will be on your cattle in the field, on the horses, on the donkeys, on the camels, on the oxen, and on the sheep—a very severe pestilence. And the Lord will make a difference between the livestock of Israel and the livestock of Egypt. So nothing shall die of all that belongs to the children of Israel.” Then the Lord appointed a set time, saying, “Tomorrow the Lord will do this thing in the land.” (Exodus 9:3-5)
If you were to look at these verses in Hebrew you would discover that the word translated as “pestilence” (or “epidemic” depending on you the version you read) is the same word that is translated as “thing” – that which God would do in the land. The root word davar means “to combine separate items into one.” It is typically used to express the idea of collecting words into coherent speech thus resulting in the most common rendering, “word” or “speak.” So what was the “word” being delivered to Pharaoh when this epidemic was combined with the message delivered with the other plagues? “I am the LORD. I have determined that pestilence will consume your cattle and livestock, but it will not affect the cattle belonging to my people.” In fact, Exodus 9:6 says that not one animal belonging to Israel died.
Consequently, this brings up a very interesting point that becomes apparent later -– Israel will have lambs to slaughter when it comes time to observe the Passover, which occurs at the tenth and final plague. Because their flocks and herds were protected, Israel will be eat roasted lamb and unleavened bread behind the safety of their doors while Egypt continues to suffer. Furthermore, they will slaughter these lambs in the midst of Egypt; no longer will they be worried about offending Egyptians with the “abomination of Egypt.” Pharaoh wouldn’t let them go into the wilderness, so God commanded the Hebrews to do so there.
There are several lessons that we can glean from these verses. First of all, God speaks through everything, including epidemics. Secondly, He can and will preserve His people from these pestilences that afflict those in the world. Finally, though He always gives people an opportunity to repent and be spared debilitating circumstances, He will not be mocked. As it is written, “Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap” (Galatians 6:7).
There are things going on in the world, today, that are the fruit of corrupt seed sown years ago. As a world we are reaping those results. Nevertheless, as the people of God, we have the hope that our Father will protect us from these things IF we are living our lives in a way that honors Him. We need to divest ourselves of those things that pertain to “Egypt” and invest in those things that are heavenly and eternal. Remember it is our Father, not Pharaoh and his government, who owns all the cattle on a thousand hills (Psalm 50:10).
Blessings and Shalom,