Flies are mentioned numerous times throughout the Bible, often representing impurity, filth, disease, and judgment from God. As seemingly insignificant insects, flies have profound symbolic meaning in Scripture that teaches us important spiritual lessons. In this comprehensive blog post, we will explore the significance of flies in the Bible and what they represent.
Flies are seen by most as a nuisance – unwanted pests that bother us and spread germs. However, in the Bible, flies take on a much greater symbolic meaning. Fly references in Scripture point to deeper spiritual truths related to sin, judgment, and holiness.
By looking at the context around fly mentions in the Bible, we can gain insight into the significance of these tiny winged insects. Understanding fly symbolism in the Bible gives us a richer comprehension of key biblical stories and principles.
Viral Believer is reader-supported. We may earn a small fee from products we recommend at no charge to you. Read Our Affiliate Disclosuree
Some key takeaways we’ll explore in this blog post include:
- Flies represent death, disease, and pestilence
- Flies are associated with demons and spiritual impurity
- God uses flies as a form of judgment and punishment
- The presence of flies indicates the need for repentance and removal of sin
- Jesus Christ’s sacrifice enables us to be freed from the “flies” of sin and death
Let’s explore each of these concepts in depth through an examination of fly references throughout both the Old and New Testaments.
Flies and Disease in Exodus
The first significant appearance of flies in Scripture is during the plagues on Egypt in the book of Exodus. When Pharaoh refused to let the Israelites leave Egypt, God sent a series of ten plagues as judgment and to demonstrate His power before finally parting the Red Sea for the Israelites’ escape.
The fourth plague that God inflicted on the Egyptians involved swarms of flies:
“‘Else, if you will not let My people go, behold, I will send swarms of flies on you and your servants, on your people and into your houses. The houses of the Egyptians shall be full of swarms of flies, and also the ground on which they stand. And in that day I will set apart the land of Goshen, in which My people dwell, that no swarms of flies shall be there, in order that you may know that I am the Lord in the midst of the land. I will make a difference between My people and your people’” (Exodus 8:21-23 NKJV).
The flies plagued all the Egyptians but did not come near the Israelites in Goshen, distinguishing God’s chosen people from the Egyptians. God demonstrated that He had control over even the smallest of creatures, like flies, and could use them as instruments of judgment.
The fly plague was more than just an annoyance – it represented death and disease. The flies corrupted everything they touched, spreading sickness and contamination everywhere. Flies were seen as bearers of pestilence and affliction.
This connection between flies and death is seen earlier in Exodus as well when God promises to protect His people:
“So I will send hornets before you which shall drive out the Hivite, the Canaanite, and the Hittite from before you. I will not drive them out from before you in one year, lest the land become desolate and the beasts of the field become too numerous for you. Little by little I will drive them out from before you, until you have increased, and you inherit the land” (Exodus 23:28-30 NKJV).
The “hornets” sent to drive out Israel’s enemies are understood to represent flies or a plague of insects that would inflict disease and gradual destruction. The flies represent the judgments of God poured out on pagans and those who oppose Him.
Baal-Zebub and Fly Idols in 2 Kings
The Philistines worshipped false gods including Baal-Zebub, an ancient Semitic deity whose name literally meant “Lord of the Flies.” Baal-Zebub was associated with disease, filth, and decay.
The worship of Baal-Zebub involved revering flies and making offerings of dung to attract swarms of the insects. It reflected the spiritual blindness of those who would worship a false “god” connected with pollution and contamination.
The prophet Elijah condemned Ahaziah, king of Israel, for seeking out Baal-Zebub rather than the one true God:
“So Ahaziah died according to the word of the Lord which Elijah had spoken. Because he had no son, Jehoram became king in his place, in the second year of Jehoram the son of Jehoshaphat, king of Judah. Now the rest of the acts of Ahaziah which he did, are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Israel?” (2 Kings 1:17-18 NKJV).
Ahaziah’s consultation with an idol linked to flies led to his downfall. This story illustrates how flies represent spiritual decay and the folly of idolatry, false religion.
Jesus’ Authority Over Demons and Flies
In the New Testament, there are a few fly references that point to demonic influence and spiritual impurity. Just as in the Old Testament, flies continue to represent death, disease, and judgment.
When rebuking the Pharisees, Jesus said:
“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you cleanse the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of extortion and self-indulgence. Blind Pharisee, first cleanse the inside of the cup and dish, that the outside of them may be clean also. Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which indeed appear beautiful outwardly, but inside are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness. Even so you also outwardly appear righteous to men, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness” (Matthew 23:25-28 NKJV).
The Pharisees appeared holy on the outside, but inwardly were unclean – just like the filth and impurity flies are attracted to. The fly metaphor illustrates how quick God is to judge unseen inner corruption and sin.
Another example is when Jesus healed a demon-possessed man in Luke 11:
“When an unclean spirit goes out of a man, he goes through dry places, seeking rest; and finding none, he says, ‘I will return to my house from which I came.’ And when he comes, he finds it swept and put in order. Then he goes and takes with him seven other spirits more wicked than himself, and they enter and dwell there; and the last state of that man is worse than the first.” (Luke 11:24-26 NKJV)
The description of the demon going through dry places uses similar language as the Baal-Zebub fly idol worshippers making offerings in dung fields to attract flies. The flies’ attraction to waste and filth mirrors how demons are drawn to spiritual decay and darkness. Casting the demon out is likened to cleansing out the flies – removing impurity and replacing it with holiness through Christ.
Isaiah’s Prophecy and Cleansing from Flies
The prophet Isaiah looks forward to a future day when the Messiah would come, judged the wicked, and establish His holy kingdom:
They shall not hurt nor destroy in all My holy mountain, For the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord As the waters cover the sea. And in that day there shall be a Root of Jesse, Who shall stand as a banner to the people; For the Gentiles shall seek Him, And His resting place shall be glorious (Isaiah 11:9-10 NKJV).
Isaiah contrast the purity and peace of that future kingdom with the present corrupt age by referencing flies:
The Lord of hosts will call To weeping and to mourning, And to baldness and to girding with sackcloth. And instead of a sweet smell there will be a stench; Instead of a sash, a rope; Instead of well-set hair, baldness; Instead of a rich robe, a girding of sackcloth; And branding instead of beauty (Isaiah 3:24-25 NKJV).
The “stench” refers to the vile odor associated with fly swarms clustering around rot and refuse. But Isaiah says that in the future, this will change:
Then the Lord will create over the whole site of Mount Zion and over her assemblies a cloud by day and smoke with a glowing flame by night. Indeed the glory of the Lord will be there, a canopy of protection by day and refuge of shelter at night from the heat and from rain (Isaiah 4:5-6 NET).
This prophecy alludes to how the Messiah, through His eventual sacrifice on the cross, would bear God’s judgment against sin and cleanse His people from spiritual “flies” – replacing the stench of death with the sweet fragrance of holiness.
Paul confirms this in the New Testament, showing how Jesus’ death enables believers to be made pure:
Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin (Romans 6:4-6 NKJV).
Through Christ’s work on the cross, Christians are freed from bondage to the old sinful nature, which Scripture likens to being contaminated with flies. We now have power through the Holy Spirit to walk in purity and uprightness.
Though flies may seem insignificant, we’ve seen how they have profound symbolic meaning in the Bible. Fly references remind us of the consequence of sin, need for repentance, and Christ’s power to cleanse and redeem us.
Flies in Scripture point to spiritual decay and judgment, but also symbolize the hope we have to walk in newness of life through faith in Jesus. As we seek to grow in holiness and reject idolatry and sin, we can look forward to an eternity where, in the words of Isaiah, “the Lord will create over all of Mount Zion…a canopy of protection by day and refuge of shelter at night.”