When Moses and his brother Aaron got to Egypt the Lord told them what to do. He said, "Go to Pharaoh and tell him to let the Israelites go. He will be very stubborn and it will take many signs and miracles before he will let you go; but everyone will know that I am God when he finally frees the Israelites."
So they did what God asked and they went to see Pharaoh. In front of Pharaoh Aaron threw down his staff and it became a snake (just as God told Moses it would).
Pharaoh didn't look surprised at all, he actually just smiled at Moses and Aaron. Without a word he snapped his fingers and a minute later three men walked in. Pharaoh whispered in one of the men's ears, and he nodded and spoke quietly to the others.
All at the same time they threw the staffs they were carrying to the ground and they became snakes, just like Moses and Aaron's. They turned and looked at each other with disappointment. They realized that these men were Pharaoh's magicians.
Just as Moses was feeling defeated his snake swallowed up all of the other snakes. This made Moses smile, surely Pharaoh would let them go now. But Pharaoh didn't seem to care, he shook his head and said, "Nice try, but the Israelites belong to me, and they work for Egypt I will not let them go."
Moses left disappointed, but excited to talk to God about what they would do next. After all God told them that it wouldn't be easy. So when God spoke next, they listened well, "Pharaoh's heart is hard, he's still not going to change his mind. Go see him tomorrow morning, he didn't listen today but I will continue to show him that I am God."
With their instructions from God, Moses and Aaron met Pharaoh the next morning. Aaron explained to Pharaoh, "Because you still won't listen God is going to change all the water in Egypt into blood. The fish will die, the river will stink, and none of the Egyptians will be able to drink it."
Pharaoh smiled and said, "Go ahead." So Aaron did what the Lord told him and put his staff into the water and it turned to blood. Pharaoh seemed a little surprised but he summoned his magicians and they also turned the water into blood. With that, Pharaoh's heart became hard, and he turned and walked back to his palace.
All the fish died, and the water smelled so bad, no matter where you were you could smell it. Can you imagine turning on your tap at home and having blood come out, what about having a bath, or even the water in your toilet. Of course the Egyptians didn't have sinks and toilets back then, but they still used water to drink, to make food, and to clean with.
After a whole week of this Pharaoh still wouldn't let the people go. But his magicians couldn't turn the blood back into water either. The Lord instructed Aaron and Moses to go see Pharaoh once again and He told them, "Tell Pharaoh to let my people go. If he refuses to let them go, I will plague the whole country with frogs."
They did as God asked and Pharaoh once again refused to let the people go. So Aaron stretched out his hand over the waters of Egypt and the frogs came up and covered everything. They really were everywhere! In the stoves where they cooked, in their beds, and they even jumped on the people.
The magicians could also make frogs appear - but this would be the last time that their magic would work. After a day of this Pharaoh couldn't take it anymore and he called for Moses and Aaron. (He probably didn't get any sleep with frogs jumping all over him!)
He begged Moses, "Pray to the Lord to take the frogs away from me and my people, and I will let your people go." So Moses prayed to the Lord, and all the frogs died. But when Pharaoh saw that all the frogs were dead, he was relieved and he hardened his heart and changed his mind.
There were many other plagues that followed: Gnats and flies, all the livestock got sick and died, the Egyptians were covered in sores, hail came down and killed all the crops, locusts came and ate all the grass and everything green, and then there was complete darkness. Nobody left their homes because they couldn't even see where they were going.
With each of these plagues Pharaoh said he'd let the Israelites go if God put things back to normal, but then he kept changing his mind. You'd think he would've learned his lesson and let the Israelites go. God doesn't give up.
You may have felt sorry for the Israelites during all these plagues, but God made sure they were not touched by them. Only the Pharaoh and 'his people' the Egyptians went through these terrible times. The Israelites lived a little ways away, and God kept them safe, and put a pretend wall around them so none of the plagues could come to them.
If you thought all the other plagues were bad, there was one last plague (the tenth plague) that was way worse than any of the others. The Lord told them, "This will be the last plague on Pharaoh and Egypt, after this they will let you go. Around midnight I will go throughout Egypt. Every firstborn son in Egypt will die, even the son of Pharaoh, and there will be great sadness." Moses and Aaron warned Pharaoh, but he refused to listen.
The Lord had special instructions for Moses and Aaron, so that the Israelites would be sure to stay safe during this last plague. He told them, "The Israelites must kill their best sheep or goat. Then they are to take some of the blood and smear it on the sides and tops of the doors on their houses.
On that same night I will pass through Egypt like a ghost and take the life from every first born. If I see blood on the doorway that will be a sign for me to pass over the house and keep all who are inside safe.
This day will always be known as the Passover, because you were passed over and kept safe by God. You will continue to celebrate this day for many years." (Some people still celebrate it today!) They were also to eat unleavened bread (bread that is flat, not fluffy like we eat it). This would always remind them of the hurry that they left Egypt in.
Now you have to remember Pharaoh could have stopped all this a long time ago. God gave him many opportunities to let the Israelites go, but he would not listen. Unfortunately God had to teach Pharaoh a lesson and He did what He said He would do.
After Pharaoh realized what happened in Egypt he called for Moses and Aaron just after midnight and he said, "Leave my people, you and all the Israelites! Go worship the Lord as you wanted, take all your animals and get out of here!" The Israelites gathered up gold and silver from the Egyptians who were glad to see them leave and they left with Moses.
You won't believe what happened next! When Pharaoh heard that the Israelites had left he changed his mind- again! He decided to gather an army of more than 600 people and go after Moses, Aaron and all the Israelites.
So as the Israelites were on their way, they noticed in the distance that Pharaoh was coming after them. They started to get worried and questioned Moses why he would lead them out in the desert to die. Moses knew what to say, and he told them, "Do not be afraid, God has protected you before, He will protect you again."
When the Israelites reached the Red Sea they were trapped with the Sea in front of them and Pharaoh behind them. But God told Moses to reach out his staff into the water, and when he did an amazing thing happened. The water split into two! The water lifted itself and made huge walls of water (they couldn't even see over it, it was higher than a house). They would walk on dry ground, which was actually the bottom the Sea.
Pharaoh's army followed them into the Sea, even though some of the Egyptians were afraid, and knew God was with them. When the Israelites had finally made it through safe God told Moses, "Stretch out your hand over the sea so that the water goes back to normal, and it will swallow up Pharaoh and his army."
Moses did as God had told him and he reached his staff over the water. There was a loud crash as the water came back together, and covered the Egyptians.
That was the day the Lord saved the Israelites from the Egyptians. When the Israelites saw what God had done for them they trusted Him, and they knew that Moses would be a good leader for them as they traveled to the land flowing with milk and honey.