Where is the sense of witnessing something impossibly amazing if you can’t make sense of it? That question doesn’t make any sense. If it’s an impossibly amazing something, then it would, by definition, evade rational sense. Yet, we attempt to grapple with the incomprehensible, wrestling it into a comprehensible form. I’m guilty of that all the time. I have to force myself to reverse the process, seeing what appears to be comprehensible for the amazing incomprehensible thing it actually is.
In Scripture, there are things that God describes as “signs and wonders”. They are supposed to demonstrate some of His qualities to which His human creatures will respond with worship. One of the most surprising elements of these signs and wonders is how often they fail to inspire worship. Eleven times, Yahweh demonstrates His power to Pharaoh, king of Egypt, and eleven times, he rails against Yahweh. And, after all he has lost, there is still no acknowledgement of Yahweh in Egypt.
Of course, the sons of Israel, they get it, right? They understand and respond to Yahweh in worship. You would think, wouldn’t you? And yet they are complaining, whining, rebellious, and twisted followers of Yahweh. They witness all Yahweh does on their behalf to bring them out of Egypt, and they still rebel in the wilderness, even at the foot of the dramatic storm-topped mountain of God. Lightning, thunder, dark clouds, and fire top the mountain, under which they get Aaron to build an idol… So, they didn’t get the point of the signs and wonders either.
Scholars argue over whether there are natural explanations for the plagues. Some wonder if there are direct correlations to the gods of Egypt. Some, but not enough to explain all the signs and wonders. Yahweh claims He is executing judgements against the gods of Egypt (Exodus 12:12), and yet, the connections between these acts and the pantheon of the time make little sense.
To be fair, it’s not even clear what each sign/wonder actually is. For instance, the “lice” or “gnats” are a term only used in this plague, whether in Exodus or Psalm references. The swarm could be flies, but is really just a swarm. The darkness is really just that. What could they be? No one truly knows for sure. It’s frustrating to look back 3,000 years through such a blurry lens. Yet, it’s all we have, and we can be sure that Yahweh planned it that way. That should help us be okay with not knowing, but it doesn’t.
So, what do we do with plagues we can’t explain? What do we do with signs and wonders that are supposed to illuminate worshipful qualities of Yahweh if we can’t understand them? What’s the point again? The signs and wonders were supposed to do what, again? Illustrate the qualities of Yahweh to His human creatures. That includes us. So, what’s the problem? We know what they are for, and we know what our response is supposed to be. Read about the frogs, read about the gnats or lice, and read about the swarms of whatever. And, having read, worship the One causing such signs and wonders. Worship the One drawing people to Himself through such miracles.
If Yahweh judges the gods of Egypt, then we know He strikes blows in spiritual warfare against those elements of culture opposed to His sovereignty. That will happen to our elements opposed to Him. If Yahweh used natural catastrophes to demonstrate His power over His creation, we can expect Him do so again in our day. And, He probably has, a lot. Now, when we see these things, let us worship the One demonstrating His power among us, drawing us to acknowledge Him. It’s not rocket surgery.
Jesus was crucified, and the earth shook, the sun was darkened, and dead people rose from their graves and entered Jerusalem. It’s not just the stuff of the Hebrew Scriptures, it’s the same One in the Christian Scriptures, still reaching out to His human creatures. Let us respond in worship. The veil of the temple was torn, top to bottom. Let us worship Him.
He calls us, today, to come and worship. You see an amazing sunset, worship Him. And when the wind destroys a house, or wipes out entire neighborhoods, worship Him. When the storm waves rage and floods destroy, worship Him. Hail strikes, worship Him. Because He is calling to us, through the acts of power of His creation, to worship the One having created us. When the sun shines, and the land is green, worship Him. He calls us to worship our Creator, because our Creator is also our Savior.