The novelist Kazuo Ishiguro has recently won the Nobel Prize for Literature, and I have just re-read what is probably his most famous book, The Remains of the Day (also made into a film starring Anthony Hopkins). It is a story that is both comic and tragic, about a butler called Stevens who devotes his life to serving a seemingly great person, and doesn't begin to realise until too late that he has placed his trust in the wrong person and all the wrong things.
Back in Exodus, the plagues are beginning. The main point of the ten plagues is to demonstrate who is really in control in Egypt. Pharaoh might appear to be in charge, and this impression is not ruled out in the early plagues when his magicians are able to replicate some of the things which God did through Moses. But God gradually 'ups the ante', and by the tenth plague the power and glory of Egypt are revealed for what they really are, compared to the power and glory of God.
The first plague involves the Nile - which was the source of Egypt's prosperity and status. This thing which was the nation's lifeblood became a place of death and decay. It was a sign to anyone who was prepared to stop and listen that the thing you are placing your trust in may not be as dependable as you think. But Pharaoh did not stop and listen:
But the Egyptian magicians did the same things by their secret arts, and Pharaoh’s heart became hard; he would not listen to Moses and Aaron, just as the Lord had said. Instead, he turned and went into his palace, and did not take even this to heart. (Exodus 7:22-23)
What are we really trusting in? Are we willing to stop and listen to what God is saying and doing? Or are we, like Pharaoh (and Stevens), stubbornly sticking to our own way of doing things?