Note to Self: Hardening One’s Heart is Unwise!

Monday, April 10, 2017

Daily reading assignment: Exodus 5-8

Picking up the story of Moses’ return to Egypt, we read in chapter 4, “Moses told Aaron all the words of the LORD who had sent him… Moses and Aaron went and gathered together all the elders of the children of Israel…[and] spake all the words which the LORD had spoken unto Moses, and did the signs in the sight of the people…. And the people believed” (Exodus 4:28-31). The children of Israel, believing Moses was God’s man for such a time and the answer to their cry for deliverance, worshipped the Lord (4:31).

Exodus 5:1-7:13 is the record of Moses’s confrontations with Pharaoh before the plagues.  We are not told how, but little time passed before Moses and Aaron enjoyed an audience before Pharaoh (Exodus 5:1) and set forward the LORD’s demand for His people, the Hebrews, to journey three days into the wilderness and worship and offer sacrifices to their God (5:3).  The first clash of wills between Pharaoh and Moses is in Exodus 5:1-6:27. The second confrontation followed in Exodus 6:28-7:13.  Of Pharaoh we read, “But Pharaoh’s heart was hardened and stubborn and he would not listen to them, just as the Lord had said” (Exodus 7:13), setting the stage for ten judgments identified as ten plagues that will progressively bring Pharaoh to bow his will to the will of the LORD God of Israel (7:14-12:36).

Because today’s scripture reading is Exodus 5-8, I will state only four of the ten plagues that haunted Egyptian households, but from which the LORD spared the Hebrews living in Goshen (8:22-23).

1) Nile – water turned to blood; fish die (7:19-25)

2) Frogs and the stench of their dead carcasses filled Egypt and Egyptian households (8:1-15)

3) Lice – most likely gnats or other biting insects (8:16-19)

4) Flies – no doubt attracted to the carcasses of the dead frogs; similar to the “deer flies” that inhabit the southeastern United States, Egypt is said to have biting “dog flies”

As I close, a question comes to mind: “Why?”  Why did the Lord bring the plagues upon Egypt? Knowing He is powerful enough to part the Red Sea, why did God not crush Egypt and deliver His people out of slavery?

I believe the answer to that question is twofold.  The first, God’s desire was to break Pharaoh’s will so he would let the Hebrews depart out of Egypt.  The second purpose for the plaques was for the LORD to demonstrate to the Hebrews He is the God of creation Whom they can trust.  It is that knowledge, the personal, demonstrative knowledge of the LORD that will strengthen and carry Israel through the midst of the Red Sea and the Wilderness to the Promise Land.

Copyright 2017 – Travis D. Smith