The whole country laid in ruins after the 7th plague of hail (9:13-35), after which Pharaoh’s advisors plead with him to let Israel leave Egypt at any cost (v. 7). But Pharaoh continued his attempts to maintains some semblance of control over the slaves by offering to compromise with God. Pharaoh was willing to allowing only the men to depart in order to serve the LORD (v.11). God’s harsh treatment of the Egyptians was not only a result of the treatment they meted out to Israel, it was also so Israel would know God’s sovereignty over all creation and to teach the lesson to their posterity (v.2).
Because Pharaoh drove Moses and Aaron from his presence (v12), God commanded Moses to bring the eighth plague (locusts). The locusts consumed all that the hail did not destroy (vv. 13-16) leaving Egypt barren and desolate. Pharaoh’s confession and plea for forgiveness (v.17) was similar to his earlier qualified admission, “I have sinned” (9:27). That he entreated Moses to plead with the LORD, “only this once…remove this death from me” indicated he did not recognize the nature of his actions or the gravity of what the plagues represented. His only concern was with the immediate consequences of his denying Israel to depart. His description of the locusts’ effect on Egypt as “death” was appropriate not only because of crop failure they caused, but it was a foreshadowing of the effects of the final plague.
In light of the history of God’s mighty works and the magnitude of fulfilled prophecy throughout the ages, the sovereignty of God should go unquestioned. Repeatedly, His demonstrations of power expresses His sovereignty in working on behalf of His people and His ability to accomplish His will. Yet there remains some who relentlessly pursue their will above His word to their demise. His word is clear, “The Lord is not slow to fulfill His promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.” (2 Peter 3:9). How many plague must the LORD send for your repentance and faith?