When God turned the waters of the Nile River into blood, it was an inconvenience. The supernational infestations of frogs, mosquitos, and creepie-crawly insects was a nuisance, an irritation, and an aggravation. The death of livestock hit them in the pocketbook, but the sixth plague really hurt... bad! The plague of boils is the first of the ten plagues that caused physical pain to the people living in Egypt.
“Then the Lord said to Moses and Aaron, ‘Take handfuls of furnace soot, and Moses is to throw it toward heaven in the sight of Pharaoh. It will become fine dust over the entire land of Egypt. It will become festering boils on people and animals throughout the land of Egypt.’ So they took furnace soot and stood before Pharaoh. Moses threw it toward heaven, and it became festering boils on people and animals” (Exodus 9:8–12).
English Bible scholars Arthur W. Pink (1886-1952) and E.W. Bullinger (1837-1913) agree that the furnace was no mere heating apparatus, but rather an altar of Typhon, an evil Egyptian god. These scholars suggest that the pagan altar was located in close proximity to Pharoah’s palace, and that human sacrifices were being offered to entice Typhon to stop Jehovah’s paralyzing plagues.
Picture it. Tiny children and/or beautiful young women, hands and feet bound by leather thongs, squealing, writhing as they are fed to the flames. Immoral priests of a dead god dance about chanting their incantations. Egyptian worshippers gathered, begging their god to no longer allow the Hebrew’s plagues to pillage their land. The worshippers screeching and screaming prayers form an eerie duet with the cries of the executed. The burning flesh barely cuts the stench of the mountains of rotting frogs and cattle. The horrors are unimaginable.
Now imagine Moses as he approaches. Heads turn to watch the eighty-year-old Hebrew leader. There has been no warning of a sixth plague. What, the Egyptians must have wondered, could Moses be doing?
“The Lord said to Moses and Aaron, ‘Take handfuls of furnace soot, and Moses is to throw it toward heaven in the sight of Pharaoh. It will become fine dust over the entire land of Egypt. It will become festering boils on people and animals throughout the land of Egypt.’ So they took furnace soot and stood before Pharaoh. Moses threw it toward heaven, and it became festering boils on people and animals” (Exodus 9:8–10).
The pagan priests and their spiritually-dead followers ceased to dance, ceased their songs and their prayers, as Moses interrupted their religious mumbo-jumbo. Moses went over near the furnace and stooped, cupping his hands together, and picked up a double handful of soot. As Moses turned, he must have caught a glimpse of Pharoah high on a terrace in the nearby palace. Prayerfully, obediently, Moses cast the soot into the air. Miraculously, the tiny particles of soot took flight. Everywhere it landed, “it became festering boils on people and animals.”
As Pharoah watched, he was suddenly struck with the piercing pain of festering boils.
Religious works are worthless! Though the Egyptians prayed and sang and danced and did religious things, they were nothing. They were dead works which received the wrath of God.
Is there a lesson for us here? Have we been guilty of religious rituals and worthless works?