More terrible than the plagues inflicted on the Egyptians, were the lingering diseases that could not be shooed away. Even though the Israelites were not afflicted by the plagues, the diseases of Egypt latched on them so that even though they came out of the country, Egypt did not come out of them. This is evident because a few moments after leaving Egypt, the Israelites already longed for their slave drivers after encountering a bit of trouble enroute. They complained to Moses, ‘What have you done to us by bringing us out of Egypt? Didn’t we say to you in Egypt, ‘Leave us alone; let us serve the Egyptians’? It would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the desert!’ (Exodus 14:11-12). God then literally makes a way for them, and they cross over their obstacle, the Red Sea. Two months down the line, still in their journey, they encounter another obstacle and again long for Egypt saying, ‘If only we had died by the Lord’s hand in Egypt! There we sat round pots of meat and ate all the food we wanted, but you have brought us out into this desert to starve this entire assembly to death’ (16:v3). They ‘remembered the fish (they) ate in Egypt at no cost- also the cucumbers, melons, leeks, onions and garlic’ (Numbers 11:5). God then provides food for them, but before long, they grumble again, longing for Egypt and exaggerating, ‘Why did you bring us up out of Egypt to make us and our children and livestock die of thirst?’ (Exodus 17:3). The Israelites did not only long for Egypt, but her gods as well, because at one point they made idols and said, ‘These are your gods, O Israel, who brought you out of Egypt’ (32:v8).
Even after the Israelites had travelled a long way from Egypt and had reached the point of surveying the Promised Land in order to conquer it, they still longed for Egypt. They said, ‘Why is the Lord bringing us to this land only to let us fall by the sword? Our wives and children will be taken as plunder. Wouldn’t it be better for us to go back to Egypt?’ (Numbers 14:3). Their complaining was on an unfounded basis, but because Egypt was in them, they longed for it too much to see that the land they were going into was ‘exceedingly good’ (v7), a land flowing with milk and honey. They even said to each other, ‘We should choose a leader and go back to Egypt’ (v4), but their plan did not succeed. After finally entering the Promised Land and living in it for over two millennia, captivity befell them and a remnant was left. Yet again, their first resort was to go back to Egypt. Even after God had warned them not to go, ‘they entered Egypt in disobedience to the Lord and went as far as Tahpanhes’ (Jeremiah 43:7). God had even cautioned them that ‘all who are determined to go to Egypt to settle there will die by the sword, famine and plague; not one of them will survive or escape the disaster I will bring on them’ (42:v17). But their longing for Egypt surpassed God’s Word, and so they outrightly acted in defiance, walking right into their death.
Through the Israelites, God saw a repeat of the contest He had with Pharaoh and the Egyptians. At the first plague, Pharaoh ‘turned and went into his palace and did not even take this to heart’ (Exodus 7:23). As the plagues escalated and got more severe, Pharaoh would agree to let the people go if the plague was taken out. ‘But when Pharaoh saw that there was relief, he hardened his heart and would not listen to Moses and Aaron, just as the Lord had said’ (8:v15). With each plague, ‘he would not listen’ (v19), ‘acted deceitfully again by not letting the people go’ (v29), ‘hardened his heart’ (v32), and ‘his heart was unyielding and he would not let the people go’ (9:v7). God even asks him, ‘How long will you refuse to humble yourself before me? Let my people go, so that they may worship me’ (10:v3). His officials even advise him, ‘Let the people go, so that they may worship the Lord their God. Do you not realize that Egypt is ruined?’ (v7). Pharaoh, however, would only concede with his mouth, but his heart was unyielding. Even when he finally let the Israelites go, ‘Pharaoh and his officials changed their minds about them and said, ‘What have we done? We have let the Israelites go and have lost their services!’ (14:v5). Pharaoh and his officials then took their best chariots, along with their other chariots, and pursued the Israelites.
Egypt longed for Israel and Israel longed for Egypt, but all for the wrong reasons. It was not just a case of Stockholm Syndrome, but both were diseased by a rebellion to God. They were both ‘stiff-necked’ (32:v9), and did not listen to God no matter what they heard or saw. ‘In spite of all this, they kept on sinning; in spite of his wonders, they did not believe’ (Psalm 78:32). In fact, Egypt sought magicians and Israel sought idols to counter God. This was all because they were diseased by the many diseases of Egypt. God says of them, ‘Be ever hearing, but never understanding; be ever seeing, but never perceiving’ (Isaiah 6:9). In other words, the diseases of Egypt caused a severe blindness, deafness, and callousness of heart. The diseases also caused their lips to utter deceit, and what they did not mean. God again says of them, ‘These people come near to me with their mouth and honour me with their lips but their hearts are far from me’ (29:v13). Pretence is a primary symptom of one afflicted by the diseases of Egypt. ‘This is how you talk, but you do all the evil you can’ (Jeremiah 3:5). In fact, diseases of Egypt compel one to do all the evil they can against the Lord without flinching. Complaining, falsehood, slander, disobedience, and outright rebellion are evident symptoms. And since the diseased do not bother to seek remedy, their ‘backs (are) bent forever’ (Psalm 69:23), as ‘Satan has kept (them) bound’ (Luke 13:16). Eventually, the diseases take the better of them and they become ‘twice dead’ (Jude 1:12).
Diseases of Egypt are rife around the globe. It is a pandemic that has afflicted many. In our journey to heaven, the Promised Land, some have heeded to the ‘Way’ (John 14:6), and escaped the ravaging diseases. However, many are still infected. For some, they are in the business of multiplying grave symptoms to others. They literally ‘shut the kingdom of heaven in men’s faces’ (Matthew 23:13). They do this by ‘spread(ing) error concerning the Lord’ (Isaiah 32:6), encouraging rebellion and disobedience to God, promoting lewdness in form of speech, literature, video, art and other sources. ‘You yourselves do not enter, nor will you let those enter who are trying to’ (Matthew 23:14). Such people do not let others enter into close communion with God, and target the ignorant, gullible, and weak in faith. That is why Believers are cautioned to ‘test the spirits to see whether they are from God because many false prophets (and ‘Christians’) have gone into the world’ (1 John 4:1). They are the kind of diseased people who outrightly rebel against God like Pharaoh by inwardly saying to themselves, ‘Who is the Lord, that I should obey him and let Israel go? I do not know the Lord and I will not let Israel go’ (Exodus 5:2). They refuse to humble themselves before God, and are not willing to let go of their deception, immorality, blasphemies, lewdness, malice, slander, and false speech. Instead, they opt to cling to their diseases, their rebellion and pride.
Others still have the Israelite version of the disease. Upon receiving Jesus as Lord and Saviour, and begin their journey to the Promised Land, they keep looking back to the old. They follow their fleshly desires and do not walk in the Spirit. They are constantly thinking of the ‘pleasures’ and ‘freedom’ they enjoyed while they were in the world. So, they are basically in the world, in Egypt, for ‘No one who puts his hand to the plough and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God’ (Luke 9:62). For such, upon meeting trials in their walk of salvation, they quickly fall away. They first grumble, complain, and accuse God by saying, ‘What profit is it to me and what do I gain by not sinning?’ (Job 35:3). Eventually, they fully rebel and turn their backs on God by going back to their old, miserable, and darkened way of life. Although they received Christ, the diseases hindered them from growing further and deeper into their walk with God. They surrendered to the flesh and did not activate their spirit-man through daily prayer and reading of the Word. They did not consider that Believers should not ‘be unsettled by these trials. You know quite well that we were destined for them’ (1 Thessalonians 3:3). Instead, they become shaken by trials and decide to go back to Egypt, knowing full well that, ‘Woe to the obstinate children . . . who go down to Egypt without consulting me’ (Isaiah 30:1,2). God finally decrees to such, ‘You keep on backsliding. So I will lay my hands on you and destroy you; I can no longer show compassion’ (Jeremiah 15:6).
‘If you pay attention to these laws and are careful to follow them . . . The Lord will keep you free from every disease, and will put none of the evil diseases of Egypt which you knew, but he will inflict them on all who hate you’ ~ Deuteronomy 7:15
‘If you do not carefully follow all the words of this law, which are written in this book, and do not revere this glorious and awesome name – the Lord your God – the Lord will send fearful plagues on you and your descendants, harsh and prolonged disasters, and severe and lingering illnesses. Moreover he will bring upon you all the diseases of Egypt that you dreaded, and they will cling to you’ ~ Deuteronomy 28:58-60
‘Why should you be beaten any more? Why do you persist in rebellion? Your whole head is injured, your whole heart afflicted. From the sole of your foot to the top of your head there is no soundness – only wounds and bruises and open sores, not cleansed or bandaged or soothed with oil‘ ~ Isaiah 1:5-6