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13.7. The Plagues of Egypt and the Tribulation

There are numerous similarities between the plagues with which God afflicted Egypt resulting in the Exodus of Israel and the plagues of the Tribulation. This correspondence is intentional and is an indication of the correspondence between the recorded facts of past history and the prophesied facts concerning the future:
  1. Literal Plagues - In the same way that the plagues of Egypt were literal and historical events, so the plagues of the Tribulation period will be too.1
  2. Testing the Unrepentant - In the same way that Pharaoh of the Exodus refused to repent (Ex. Ex. 7:13, Ex. 7:23; Ex. 8:15, Ex. 8:19, Ex. 8:22; Ex. 9:34), the earth dwellers will refuse to repent during the Tribulation (Rev. Rev. 2:21+; Rev. 6:16-17+; Rev. 9:20+; Rev. 16:9+, Rev. 16:11+, Rev. 16:21+). The plagues test the opponents of God demonstrating the hardness of their hearts (Rev. Rev. 3:10+). God gains glory in the events of their judgment (Ex. Ex. 7:3; Ex. 9:16; Ex. 11:9; Rom. Rom. 9:17-22).
  3. Establishing a Kingdom - The plagues of Egypt resulted in the overthrow of Egypt and the birth of the theocratic kingdom of Israel. The plagues of the Tribulation result in the overthrow of the system of Antichrist and usher in the Millennial Kingdom establishing the reign of God on earth.

There is a definite parallel between the supernatural preparation for the kingdom in history under Moses and the supernatural judgments which shall be poured out upon a rebellious world in preparation for the future Millennial Kingdom of our Lord Jesus Christ at His second advent. There is the same insolent challenge to the true God on the part of the Gentile powers (Ps. Ps. 2:1-3). There will be a similar gracious but infinitely greater preliminary miracle [like Ex. Ex. 7:12]—the Rapture of the Church—warning men of the supremacy of Jehovah and the ultimate defeat of all who rebel against Him. There will be the same swift progression in the severity of the divine judgments which follow, and even a striking parallel in the nature of the judgments (cf. Rev. Rev. 6:1-17+ through 18). There will be the same victorious outcome, the destruction of the antichrist and his armies in the judgment of Armageddon, and deliverance of the people of Israel (Rev. Rev. 19:1-21+). There will be another song of victory, significantly referred to as ‘the song of Moses. . . and the song of the Lamb’ (Rev. Rev. 15:1-3+).2

The Plagues Compared
PlagueEgyptTribulation
#1 - Water becomes blood. Ex. Ex. 7:20; Ps. Ps. 105:29Rev. Rev. 8:8-9+; Rev. 11:6+; Rev. 16:3-6+
#2 - FrogsEx. Ex. 8:6; Ps. Ps. 105:30Rev. Rev. 16:13+3
#3 - LiceEx. Ex. 8:24; Ps. Ps. 105:31Rev. Rev. 11:6+?4
#4 - Flies Ex. Ex. 9:6Rev. Rev. 11:6+?5
#5 - Food source (livestock) destroyed Ex. Ex. 9:6Rev. Rev. 8:9+6
#6 - Boils Ex. Ex. 9:10Rev. Rev. 16:2+
#7 - HailEx. Ex. 9:23; Ps. Ps. 105:32Rev. Rev. 8:7+; Rev. 16:21+
#8 - LocustsEx. Ex. 10:13; Ps. Ps. 105:34Rev. Rev. 9:3+
#9 - DarknessEx. Ex. 10:22; Ps. Ps. 105:32Rev. Rev. 8:12+; Rev. 9:2+; Rev. 16:10+
#10 - Death of FirstbornEx. Ex. 12:29; Ps. Ps. 105:36-

At the completion of the plagues of Egypt, God parted the Red Sea (Ex. Ex. 14:21; Ne. Ne. 9:11) allowing Israel to escape from Egypt and travel to Mount Sinai where Moses was given the Law and the theocracy of Israel was established. The gathering of Israel at the end of the Tribulation will be by similar miraculous power.

The LORD will utterly destroy the tongue of the Sea of Egypt; with His mighty wind He will shake His fist over the River, and strike it in the seven streams, and make men cross over dry-shod. There will be a highway for the remnant of His people who will be left from Assyria, as it was for Israel in the day that he came up from the land of Egypt. (Isa. Isa. 11:15-16)

I will also bring them back from the land of Egypt, and gather them from Assyria. I will bring them into the land of Gilead and Lebanon, until no more room is found for them. He shall pass through the sea with affliction, and strike the waves of the sea: all the depths of the River shall dry up. Then the pride of Assyria shall be brought down, and the scepter of Egypt shall depart. “So I will strengthen them in the LORD, and they shall walk up and down in His name,” says the LORD. (Zec. Zec. 10:10-12)

The result will be the establishment of the Millennial Kingdom on earth (Rev. Rev. 20:4-6+). See The Arrival of God’s Kingdom.

Notes

1 We disagree with allegorical interpreters who dismiss a literal correspondence between the plagues of Egypt and the Tribulation. Beale is representative of this line of thought: “The parallel with Exodus does not supply unambiguous demonstration in support of a literal fulfillment. All that it shows is that the two descriptions are homologous, that is, that they have an essential relation in some manner. But the nature of that relation needs to be determined. Are they homologous in their physical form and effects, or in theological significance, or both? The images depicted certainly refer to actual events on the referential level.. . . In Revelation the fire and hail are to be understood on the symbolic level as representing particular facets of divine judgment that can be drawn out further by thorough exegesis of the theological meaning of this particular Exodus plague. [These] speak of God depriving the ungodly of earthly security.”—Gregory K. Beale, The Book of Revelation: A Commentary on the Greek Text (Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1999), 54. If one reads the Exodus account through the same interpretive lens as Beale, one would likely be led to deny the literal nature of the entire history of the Exodus, much less the plagues. Indeed, many liberal theologians do just that!

2 Alva J. McClain, The Greatness Of The Kingdom (Winona Lake, IN: BMH Books, 1959), 56.

3 Although not an infestation or plague of frogs, the representation of the unclean spirits as frogs is undoubtedly meant as a reminder of the frogs of the Exodus.

4 Lice are not specifically mentioned, but may be among the plagues brought by the two witnesses.

5 Flies are not specifically mentioned, but may be among the plagues brought by the two witnesses.

6 This is not a direct correlation, but a similarity. In both cases, the food source of the enemies of God is destroyed. In other judgments, crops were also destroyed: Ex. Ex. 9:22-23; Ps. Ps. 105:33-35 cf. Rev. Rev. 8:7+.