“A Noisome and Grevious Sore” – The Botch of Egypt
The sixth plague of God upon Egypt was the plague of boils and blains. Moses took the ashes of the furnace and sprinkled them toward heaven in the sight of Pharaoh and it became a small dust that covered all the land of Egypt. As the dust spread over the land all that it touched was covered with boils and blains. The furnace, out of which these ashes were taken, was a religious furnace. It was an altar, of sorts, upon which human sacrifices were offered to one of their gods. No doubt Pharaoh was there to offer such to appease their god because of the plagues. I fully realize that half of this is from the bible and half from historians; yet knowing by the scriptures what these things represent I think the historical account can be given some weight. In Deuteronomy 28, warning Israel about departing from the living God and following after the Gentile gods, the LORD attached this warning, “The LORD will smite thee with the botch of Egypt, and with the emerods, and with the scab, and with the itch, whereof thou canst not be healed.” (Deuteronomy 25:27) and again in Revelation 16 describing the spiritual plagues poured out upon this unbelieving world during the gospel age. “And the first went, and poured out his vial upon the earth; and there fell a noisome and grievous sore (boils) upon the men which had the mark of the beast and upon them which worshipped his image.” (Revelation 16:2)
The plague of the boils and blains is a clear picture of God’s judgment upon this unbelieving world that in spite of the clear evidence of God will not bow or believe the gospel of God. This is now the sixth time and something is added that was not mentioned in the first five plagues. After each of the first five plagues it is said that Pharaoh hardened his heart. After this plague it says that God hardened Pharaoh’s heart. This was a plague as it is said in Deuteronomy 28:27, “…whereof thou canst not be healed.” This plague was a mark of their eternal doom. The hard heart of man, even of the vilest of men, can be broken of God. He can break a proud Nebuchadnezzar, a self righteous Isaiah, or a murdering Saul of Tarsus. But what God hardens, God will not break! There comes a time in mans rebellion when God himself steps in and pours out a plague upon his unbelieving soul that seals him to his eternal doom. (Proverbs 1:22-33; 2nd Thessalonians 2:7-12) God does not slay them immediately but he puts the ashes of their religion in them so that they become what they preach and pretend to believe. They become a plague in themselves. “These are spots in your feasts of charity, when they feast with you, feeding themselves without fear; clouds they are without water, carried about of winds; trees whose fruit withereth, without fruit, twice dead, plucked up by the roots: Raging waves of the sea, foaming out their shame; wondering stars, to whom is reserved the blackness of darkness for ever.” (Jude 12-13)
God gathered His elect in Goshen and there huddled together in fear He caused them to see the plagues of God’s wrath being poured out on unbelieving men. Yet in Goshen not a blemish or a spot could be found. Surely, this is a picture of God’s sovereign grace that gathers His elect from the four corners of this world where they huddle together in faith and fear and watch as God pours out his wrath on all those who will not bow to His demands.
I can only imagine how Egypt reacted, but how did Israel respond? I believe they must have been thankful. “Who maketh thee to difer from another?” (1st Corinthians 4:7) Surely they praised the LORD. None of this was in anyway owing to them. And no doubt their affections were stirred. God blessed them, preserved them, and delivered them. Surely their hearts were stirred to love him. I also believe they were made submissive. While Egypt is forced to bow, God’s people are led into a willing submission. What a picture of Gods sovereign grace that separates his own from the world and gathers them in His Son.