The Third Plague




I refuse to complain about the gnats.


Granted, I have noticed them. But, after the brutality of last winter, I have resolved not to complain about these tiny insects no matter how annoying they get.


Let’s recap for a moment: I have a half-mile driveway (which I will grant you I knew would require some “winter maintenance” when I built the place) but I also have a 7,000-pound tractor and I still had to pay someone with a bigger tractor to open up my driveway, not once, but eight times last winter! Twice last winter I elected to spend the night in a hotel in Mankato rather than drive home in a blizzard. My wife and I were snowed in every single weekend during the month of January! And then, once it was over, when it was truly supposed to be over near the end of March, it came back for another month! So we got the joy of two brutal winters. 


I am from here, folks. I was born and raised in southern Minnesota and I am no stranger to layers and layers of plaid flannel, wool socks inside of more wool socks, and the life-saving attributes of a good pair of winter boots. I can go on for a half-hour on the introduction to the topic of “Winter Survival.”


So, no, I am not going to complain about teeny little insects that I do not have to plow in the dark of night when the wind is blowing 30 mph with temperatures so far below zero your ears will fall off if you go out there without ear flaps lined with the fur of dead animals inside your hat!


And as long as I am on a rant, the insects currently afflicting us are not even technically gnats. A true gnat looks like a miniature mosquito and it doesn’t even bite people. The insects we are experiencing now are called black flies. There are over 2,200 species and they typically have a life span of 1 – 3 weeks. Most require a meal of blood in order to reproduce, and (get this) they are abundant this year because of the plethora of snow we had last winter which produced an abundance of flowing water which they need to grow and mature. (So, we are back to “blame the winter.”)


Now, we should note at this point that the plague of gnats was one of the plagues God instructed Moses to call down on Egypt when Pharaoh would not release the children of Israel from their slavery. 


There are two interesting things about the plague of gnats: 1.) This was the first plague Pharaoh’s magicians could not duplicate. Turning water to blood and bringing forth a plague of frogs they could do. Gnats, no so much. 2.) Due to the way ancient Hebrew is translated, the passages could actually refer to lice, mosquitoes, or gnats. Most current scholars side with the gnats. 


The really interesting thing about the plagues God sent out against Egypt was that each one of them was a direct assault on one of the fake gods worshiped by the Egyptians:

Hapi, the Egyptian god of the Nile, could not prevent the Nile’s water from being turned to blood

Hecket, the god of fertility, water, and renewal had the head of a frog. She could not stop the plague of frogs that stunk up the land of Egypt with their decaying corpses.

Geb was the god of the dust of the earth. Moses struck the dust of the earth to bring forth the gnats and all the dust in Egypt turned to gnats.

Khepri, the Egyptian god of creation, movement of the sun, and rebirth had the head of a fly. He was powerless against the swarms of flies the Lord sent forth.

Hathor, the Egyptian goddess of love and protection was usually depicted with the head of a cow. She was powerless against the death of all livestock.

Isis, the Egyptian goddess of medicine and peace was powerless against the ashes that turned to boils and sores.

Nut, the Egyptian goddess of the sky could not stop the hail that rained down in the form of fire.

Seth, the Egyptian god of storms and disorder, had no dominion over the locusts sent from the sky.

Ra, the sun god, was powerless against three days of complete darkness.

And finally, Pharaoh himself, worshiped as the ultimate god over Egypt, said to be the very son of Ra himself manifest in the flesh, actually spoke that last plague of death upon his own son and all the first-born sons of Egypt.

And he was powerless to stop it. 


All of this reminds me that I have much to be grateful for. A few gnats (okay, black flies) really aren’t the end of the world, nor was last winter. The end of the world will come at a time that only the Father knows and it will make the gnats, last winter, and the ten plagues of Egypt look like a vacation at the beach by contrast.


In the meantime, Kinship Christian radio and you and I are supposed to be urging people to come to Jesus before it’s too late. While one might be able to make the case that complaining about the gnats is “weeping with those who weep” (Romans 12:15) I think it’s safe to say we will probably win more souls by being the salt and light Jesus called us to be.


Today’s Praise

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Philippians 4:4 (NIV)


(Photo by author. The pile of snow in my yard on 3/1/2019 I named “Mt. Non-Dom.” It took over a month before it finally melted.)


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