Sometimes it’s hard to imagine just how bad some of the plagues may have been, especially ones like flies (Exodus 8:20-24). I mean, come on, how bad could a few flies really be?
Once per year in Wisconsin, flies emerge from the upper Mississippi River. We aren’t talking about a few flies here; we are talking about millions upon millions of flies. In fact, the amount of flies is so astronomical that the swarm showed up on the local weather radar. They covered everything in the area. A couple of years ago when this occurred, the area had to use snowplows to get all the bugs off the roads (Business Insider).
In Exodus 8:21, God said to Pharaoh, “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, and also the ground on which they dwell…” Here was the result, “Then the LORD did so. And there came great swarms of flies into the house of Pharaoh and the houses of his servants and the land was laid waste because of the swarms of flies in all the land of Egypt” (24).
If the plague of flies in Egypt was anything like Wisconsin (and it was likely even worse), then this would have been a horrible and sickening plague to endure. It’s annoying enough walking through a small swarm of gnats, much less millions of flies. Let’s put ourselves back in Egypt during this time. There would be a constant audible and irritating buzz. The flies would have flown into our eyes, ears, noses, and people probably would have swallowed a few of them. They would be all over the food. The water sources likely would have had a dead layer of flies floating on the surface. The flies would have been incessantly annoying. To make matters worse, these flies might have even been the biting kind. Let’s make no mistake; the plague of flies would have been horrendous.
What was the entire point of the plague of the flies? Exodus 8:22-23 gives the answer, “But on that day I will set apart the land of Goshen, where My people are living, so that no swarms of flies will be there, in order that you may know that I, the LORD, am in the midst of the land. I will put a division between My people and your people. Tomorrow this sign will occur.”
God has always made a distinction between those who obey Him and those who do not. In the New Testament He identifies them as sheep and goats (Matthew 25:31-33), those on the right and those on the left (34-46), and other similar distinctions (Matthew 5:13-14; 24-27, etc). We all fall into one of these two categories based upon our obedience to God’s commands.
The plague of the flies would have been a terrible one, but a punishment is coming that is far worse than any plague. One day those who have not followed God’s commands will be sent away into eternal punishment in hell, and those who have obeyed God will receive the reward of heaven (Matthew 25:46). Let’s always make sure we find ourselves among those who follow God.