20 Then the Lord said to Moses, “Get up early in the morning and confront Pharaoh as he goes to the river and say to him, ‘This is what the Lord says: Let my people go, so that they may worship me. 21 If you do not let my people go, I will send swarms of flies on you and your officials, on your people and into your houses. The houses of the Egyptians will be full of flies; even the ground will be covered with them.
22 “‘But on that day I will deal differently with the land of Goshen, where my people live; no swarms of flies will be there, so that you will know that I, the Lord, am in this land. 23 I will make a distinction between my people and your people. This sign will occur tomorrow.'”
24 And the Lord did this. Dense swarms of flies poured into Pharaoh’s palace and into the houses of his officials; throughout Egypt the land was ruined by the flies.
25 Then Pharaoh summoned Moses and Aaron and said, “Go, sacrifice to your God here in the land.”
26 But Moses said, “That would not be right. The sacrifices we offer the Lord our God would be detestable to the Egyptians. And if we offer sacrifices that are detestable in their eyes, will they not stone us? 27 We must take a three-day journey into the wilderness to offer sacrifices to the Lord our God, as he commands us.”
28 Pharaoh said, “I will let you go to offer sacrifices to the Lord your God in the wilderness, but you must not go very far. Now pray for me.”
29 Moses answered, “As soon as I leave you, I will pray to the Lord, and tomorrow the flies will leave Pharaoh and his officials and his people. Only let Pharaoh be sure that he does not act deceitfully again by not letting the people go to offer sacrifices to the Lord.”
30 Then Moses left Pharaoh and prayed to the Lord, 31 and the Lord did what Moses asked. The flies left Pharaoh and his officials and his people; not a fly remained. 32 But this time also Pharaoh hardened his heart and would not let the people go. Exodus 8:20-32
Having the benefit of 3000+ year hindsight, this passage is amusing. The flies were so great that obviously bothered Pharaoh, so he offered a half-hearted measure to stop the flies. Moses refused the offer, but agreed to pray to get rid of the flies.
When your pain is so great, you need to implement whole-hearted measures to remove it. He thought he was negotiating with a weakling, but obviously God had given Moses strength and wisdom enough to push back. Remember, Pharaoh could have tossed him into jail (or worse) for this kind of action, but Pharaoh needed Moses and Aaron to make the flies stop.
I’ve used this illustration before but it’s appropriate now. When Admiral Rickover was interviewing officers to serve on his nuclear submarines, he asked them two initial questions, “Have you given 100% all the time in whatever you did?” and “Why not?” Admiral Rickover knew humans opt for the easy way out more often than not. We don’t give 100% of ourselves all the time. Pharaoh opted for the easy way out by offering a half-solution to Moses’ problem.
Is there something you’re not giving 100% to where you know you should? If so, why not? Your answer may surprise even you.