Why Are the Egyptian Plagues and the Tribulation Plagues so Similar?
The ten plagues of Exodus and the Tribulation are eerily alike. Consider the parallels between the two. Why would God send such terrible judgments upon the earth?
- We can learn three things about God’s nature from these accounts:
- God uses suffering and judgment to bring men back to Himself. A father punishing his child may say, “Son, this hurts me more than it does you.” Executing judgment on mankind grieves God’s heart. God is holy, righteous, and just. Wickedness cannot go unpunished.
- We can’t view God as a doddering old grandpa who chuckles at the antics of his grandson. God spoke the world into being with a word. He can speak a word and decimate it into oblivion. He is more powerful than we can ever imagine.
- God is not capricious. He doesn’t fly off the handle like an abusive father. He is patient. He warned godless men specifically and often. Moses warned Pharoah about every plague. John the apostle gave us an ongoing description of God’s end time plan. God’s people have been able to read John’s tribulation warnings for over 2000 years. As a loving Father he warns us to be prepared for what’s to come.
Let’s compare these descriptions from Exodus and Revelation!
- Plague #1-Blood.
The Egyptian plagues were targeted at the entire pantheon of Egyptian gods. For example, the bloody Nile demonstrated God’s power against Khnum, Guardian of Nile” and Osiris– guardian of the underworld (the Nile was his blood stream).
“So, Moses lifted the staff and struck the water that was in the Nile, in the sight of Pharaoh and in the sight of his servants, and all the water that was in the Nile was turned to blood. (Exodus 7:20)” KJV
Revelation 8:8 – In the Second Trumpet judgment, one third of the sea became blood and in Revelation 11:6 – The two Witnesses bring blood to the waters. Revelation 16:3-6 states that the second and third angel turned all waters to blood in the bowl judgments. Why?
“Holy One, You judged these things; for they poured out the blood of saints and prophets, and You have given them blood to drink. They deserve it. (Revelation 16:3-6)”
Just as blood and water brought judgment and death, the blood of Jesus brings cleansing and life.
- Plague #2: Frogs
Frogs cover the land of Egypt everywhere-inside and out.
Heqt was the Fertility god with the head of a frog and body of a woman. The Egyptians thought frogs were sacred and should not be killed or eaten.
“So Aaron stretched out his hand over the waters of Egypt, and the frogs came up and covered the land of Egypt.” (Exodus 8:6) NIV
Revelation 16:13 speaks of the release of frog-like demons. (frogs are often associated with demons or demonic activity).
13 And I saw, coming out of the mouth of the dragon and out of the mouth of the beast and out of the mouth of the false prophet, three unclean spirits like frogs. 16 The frog-demons gathered the kings together at the place called in Hebrew Armageddon.” ESV
‘After the thousand-year reign of Christ: these “frogs” meet their judgment.
- Plague #3: Lice
Some believe that the third plague, lice, could not be found in Revelation. The plague of gnats, was a judgment on Set, the god of the desert.
“Aaron stretched out his hand with his rod, and smote the dust of the earth: and lice came upon man and upon all men and beasts (Exodus 8:17 Geneva
Revelation 11:6 – Swarms of plagues are released by the two Witnesses. Swarms can also be applied as swarms of judgments. Many believe that the Revelation passage indicates a swarm of beasts.
As judgments intensify, God waits for increased pressure on mankind to bring them to repentance.
- Plague #4: Flies
Flies (Dogflies) invade the land and because they are blood-sucking biting flies they infect both animal and human. This type of fly could have been responsible for blindness that was recorded at record highs in Egyptian men at this time)
Egyptian god that was targeted is Baalzebub: Lord of the flies (representative of Satan)
“For if you do not let my people go, behold, I will send swarms of flies on you and on your servants and on your people and into your houses; and the houses of the Egyptians will be full of swarms of flies.” (Exodus 8:21) NIV
Baalzebub is a common name for Satan in the Bible.
An ashen horse had the name Death; and Hades followed. Authority was given to them over a fourth of the earth, to kill with sword and with famine and with pestilence and by the swarms of wild beasts of the earth. (Revelation 6:8) KJV
Chaos, deception and rebellion are often characteristic of demonic activity.
- Plague #5: Pestilence
Pestilence invaded animals outside in the fields, except for the Hebrews’ animals (some believe this is the anthrax bacteria which is deadly to animals). Hathor was the Cow goddess and Knom: the Ram-like god were targeted.
Moses said, “Let My people go, that they may serve Me. The LORD will come with a very severe pestilence on you…. your livestock out in the fields—horses, donkeys, camels, cattle, sheep—striking them with a severe disease. ” (Exodus 9:1-3) RSV
“I saw an ashen horse; and he who sat on it had the name Death; and Hades was following with him. Authority was given to them over a fourth of the earth, to kill with famine, pestilence and by the wild beasts of the earth.” (Revelation 6:8)
The pestilence on animals not only affects food supply, but many of the deadliest plagues are transmitted to humans by bats, rats, birds, and monkeys: bubonic plague, ebola, avian flu, and COVID-19, just to name a few.
- Plague #6: Boils
Boils infected all Egyptians. Some believe these were “Nile Blisters” similar to those caused by Scarlet Fever. Sekhmet: (body of a woman, head of a lioness) was to protect the Egyptian people from epidemics.
“Moses took soot from a kiln, and stood before Pharaoh; and he threw it toward the sky, and it became boils breaking out with sores on man and beast”. (Exodus 9:10) NIV
“So the first angel poured out his bowl on the earth; and it became a loathsome and malignant sore on the people who had the mark of the beast and who worshiped his image.” (Revelation 16:2) NIV
- Plague #7: Hail
Hail rained down on the land destroying all that was in the fields: Crops, animals and humans.The principal Egyptian god targeted was Isis: agricultural goddess.
Now the LORD said to Moses, “Stretch out your hand toward the sky, that hail may fall on all the land of Egypt, on man and on beast and on every plant of the field, throughout the land of Egypt. (Exodus 9:22-24)
Two tribulation judgments mention hail: Revelation 8:7 and 16:17-21, the First Trumpet Judgment, and seventh bowl judgment – hailstones, thunder and lightning occur.
“The first trumpet sounded, and there came hail and fire, mixed with blood, and they were thrown to the earth; and a third of the earth was burned up, and a third of the trees were burned up, and all the green grass was burned up.” (Revelation 8:7)
Job experienced hail and fire that Satan rained upon his family, but instead of rejecting God, Job blessed and surrendered his life to Him.
- Plague #8: Locusts
Locust swarmed and destroyed everything that the hail left behind, but not in the land of Goshen where the Hebrews lived.
The Egyptian god defeated was Seth: an agricultural god in the image of a locust.
“I will cover the entire nation with a thick layer of locusts so that you won’t even be able to see the ground, and they will destroy everything not destroyed by hail. They will fill your palace, and your homes.” Exodus 10:6 KJV The Hebrews were untouched because God protected them.
The fifth trumpet judgment teaches us that the locusts come up from the pit of hell and delivered excruciating suffering:
“The angel opened the bottomless pit, and out of the smoke came locusts upon the earth, and power was given them, as the scorpions of the earth have power. They were told not to hurt the grass of the earth, nor any green thing, nor any tree, but only the men who do not have the seal of God on their foreheads. And they were not permitted to kill anyone, but to torment for five months; and their torment was like the torment of a scorpion when it stings a man. And in those days men will seek death and will not find it; they will long to die, and death flees from them.” (Revelation 9:3-4)
The locusts came out of the bottomless pit. The demonic door swings open for demons to come forth. Tribulation saints were untouched because they had the seal of God. Satan’s goal is to kill and torment us. Jesus came to give us victory over him.
- Plague #9: Darkness
Darkness covered the land and its thickness could be “felt” by the people and they could do nothing for three days, but light covered the land of Goshen where the Hebrews lived. The most notable god targeted was Ra: the sun god and king of the gods.
Then the LORD said to Moses, “Stretch out your hand toward the sky, that there may be darkness over the land of Egypt, even a darkness which may be felt.” (Exodus 10:21)
The fifth angel poured out his bowl on the throne of the beast, and his kingdom became darkened; and they gnawed their tongues because of pain, and they blasphemed the God of heaven because of their pains and their sores; and they did not repent of their deeds. (Revelation 16:10-11)
Satan is called the “Prince of Darkness.” But Jesus promises us: “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness but will have the light of life.” John 8;12 MSG
- Plague #10: Death of the Firstborn
This plague is directed toward Pharaoh himself and any final hope that the gods of Egypt transcended the God of Israel. Pharaoh himself was a god to the Egyptians. If the Hebrews if followed God’s direction to place the blood of the lamb on the doorposts, the Angel of death would “pass over”.
Moses said, “Thus says the LORD, ‘About midnight I am going out into the midst of Egypt, and all the firstborn in the land of Egypt shall die, from the firstborn of the Pharaoh who sits on his throne, even to the firstborn of the slave girl who is behind the millstones; all the firstborn of the cattle as well.” (Exodus 11:4-5)
The beast and kings of the earth and their armies assembled to make war against [Yeshua] and against His army. And the Antichrist and false prophet were thrown alive into the lake of fire. And those who took the mark of the beast were slain with the sword which came from the mouth of Him who sat on the horse, and all the birds were filled with their flesh. (Revelation 19:19-21)
“He (God) is restraining himself on account of you, holding back the End because he doesn’t want anyone lost. He’s giving everyone space and time to change.”2 Peter 3:9 MSG
But can we know exactly why God judged so harshly. Author Jeff Elkins writes in “Wrestling with the Violence of God:”
“My problem is, I want more. I want to know why God would do such a thing, but the scripture does not give it to me. In the absence of that information, I am forced to ask myself what I know about God. And what I know is that God is love. And I chose to translate all things through that lens. I don’t think passages like these should be ignored. I think there are in the Bible for us to wrestle with. I hope that in wrestling, like Jacob, I will come out broken and changed, carrying the name Israel, “the one who wrestles with God.”
My wife Julie collaborated on this article.