Last year, I was allowed to present a lesson before the Dalraida church of Christ concerning the Physical, Mental, and Spiritual Aspects of the Ten Plagues. The lesson was written and presented specifically for Vacation Bible School: Miracles, Signs, and Wonders. The second area covered in the lesson was The Mental Aspect of the Plagues.
Mental Aspect of the Plagues: All of these plagues also had a mental affect on the Egyptian people and the Israelites. If you break down how God treated the Egyptians versus how he treated the Israelites, it’s easy to see He was trying to get into the Egyptians’ heads, not just to affect them physically. God’s wonders had to be used in this way to change the minds of Pharaoh and his people.
How did the plagues affect the Egyptian psyche?
God started off simply by showing them He had the ability to affect the everyday life of the people, but He left them options. (7:24) And all the Egyptians dug along the Nile to get drinking water, because they could not drink the water of the river. – God allowed them some respite. Over time, the plagues got progressively worse, even to the point that Pharaoh’s magicians began to lose focus. Locusts – (10:7) Pharaoh’s officials said to him, “How long will this man be a snare to us? Let the people go, so that they may worship the LORD their God. Do you not yet realize that Egypt is ruined?” Finally, even Pharaoh succumbed to the onslaught as well as the entire population of Egypt. (12:30) Pharaoh and all his officials and all the Egyptians got up during the night, and there was loud wailing in Egypt, for there was not a house without someone dead. The Egyptians must have suffered for generations after this huge ordeal. They essentially lost the richness and population density of an entire generation in a very short period of time. Consider how 9/11 affected the American mental state. We lost many people and have lost many since, but the loss the Egyptians experienced was likely more than 10 times what we have seen. The mental anguish must have been excruciating.
How did the plagues affect the Israelite psyche?
It’s easy to see how the Egyptians would be affected by the awful loss they experienced, but how can we measure the affect the plagues had on the Israelites? The plagues were, after all, going on all around them, in plain sight. Yet, the Israelites were spared the horrors. God first provided them comfort. (8:22) – “But on that day I will deal differently with the land of Goshen, where my people live; no swarms of flies will be there, so that you will know that I, the LORD, am in this land.” By not plaguing the Israelites with flies, they were able to eat, sleep, and rest without annoyance. This different treatment showed the Israelites immediately that they were holy to God. God also provided peace and plenty. During the other plagues that followed, the Israelites were spared. Their livestock were not hurt or sick. Their food supplies were left alone, and even when there was darkness so thick it could be felt on all sides, they lived in the light. The light itself would have a huge impact on the Israelites for light is from God and they were able to live and walk in His light even when surrounded by darkness. Finally, during the death of the firstborn, God provided protection and salvation. While every Egyptian house was touched by death, God’s people lived and rejoiced in life.
The profound impact on the mental state of those experiencing the plagues carried on into the generations. (12:14) “This is a day you are to commemorate; for the generations to come you shall celebrate it as a festival to the LORD–a lasting ordinance.