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Scripture reading: Exodus 6-7
We have already considered the first clash of wills between Pharaoh and Moses (Exodus 5). Moses turned to the LORD and prayed when he was accosted and accused by the ones he loved and came to deliver (5:22-23). Pharaoh, however, turned a deaf ear to Moses’ requests and remained unmoved and unwilling to let the people go.
God Heard and Answered Moses’ Prayer
Moses had to remember that the LORD is faithful to hear and answer prayer. So, the LORD assured him: “Now shalt thou see what I will do to Pharaoh: for with a strong [mighty] hand shall he let them go, and with a strong [mighty] hand shall he drive them out of his land” (6:1). The LORD promised to not only deliver Israel from slavery, but assured Moses when He was finished dealing with Pharaoh, the king would drive Israel out of Egypt!
What was Moses learning about God and his commission to serve Him?
He learned that Israel’s liberation depended not on him, but on whom he served. So we read, “God spake unto Moses, and said unto him, I am the Lord [Yahweh; eternal, self-existent]: 3And I appeared unto Abraham, unto Isaac, and unto Jacob, by the name of God Almighty [El Shaddai], but by my name JEHOVAH [Yahweh] was I not known to them” (6:2-3). Though Israel had lost faith in God, He had not forgotten His covenant with them (6:4-5). In a series of “I wills,” the LORD reminded Moses of all He had promised (6:6-8).
Yet, when Moses spoke to the people all the LORD conveyed to him, “they hearkened not unto [him]” (6:9). The LORD then came to Moses and instructed him to go to Pharaoh and command the king, “let the children of Israel go out of his land” (6:11). Moses, however, was discouraged by the rejection of his people. He wondered aloud if his people spurned his words, why should Pharaoh hear him, a man “of uncircumcised lips [i.e., poor speech]?” (6:12)
Three Genealogies: Reuben, Simeon, and Levi
Notice that the dialog between the LORD and Moses was interrupted by the genealogies of three sons of Jacob: Reuben, Simeon, and Levi (6:14-27). The Scriptures remind us how Reuben, the firstborn of Jacob, committed incest with his father’s concubine (6:14; Genesis 35:22). Simeon, the second, and Levi, the third-born son, had raged against the Shechemites and revenged the rape of their sister Dinah by murdering the men of Shechem (Genesis 34).
Thirdly, the lineage of Levi is of particular interest in our narrative, for Moses and Aaron were sons of the tribe of Levi, the priestly tribe. The LORD had chosen the tribe of Levi to represent the people before Him (6:16-27).
Exodus 7 recorded the second dramatic confrontation between Moses and Pharaoh; however, there was already a dynamic change in the relationship between the two. For the LORD had magnified Moses’ standing and “made [him] a god to Pharaoh” (7:1). Then, the LORD instructed Moses to command the king to “send the children of Israel out of his land” (7:2). God, however, cautioned Moses saying, He would “harden Pharaoh’s heart, and multiply [His] signs and…wonders in the land of Egypt” (7:3).
Proud and obstinate, Pharaoh and Egypt would suffer God’s judgment in a series of ten plagues that brought that nation to its knees and revealed that the God of Israel was the God of Heaven (7:4-5).
Moses and Aaron, with God’s power and His Word as their authority, stood before Pharaoh, and “Aaron cast down his rod before [the king], and before his servants, and it became a serpent” (7:10). Undeterred the king’s advisors, displayed the power of evil and cast down their rods which also became serpents (7:11-12a). Finally, the rod of Aaron, now transformed into a serpent, displayed the supremacy of Israel’s God and devoured the rods of Pharaoh’s magicians (7:12).
What was Pharaoh’s response?
God “hardened” his heart (7:13), as He had said He would (7:14). (In effect, Pharoah hardened his heart when he rebelled against the Lord. Incidentally, we do the same when we disallow God’s Word in favor of our will and become hard-hearted and self-willed.)
The first of a series of judgments then followed (7:14-12:36).
The first plague was the waters of the Nile River were turned to blood (7:15-18), the fish died, and the stench of their rotting flesh filled Egypt (7:19-21). Nevertheless, Pharaoh’s magicians seemed to duplicate the water turning to blood (7:22), and Pharaoh turned away, and his heart was hardened (7:24).
For seven days, the people were plagued with thirst and hunger (for the fish of the Nile was a primary source of food, 7:24-25). The king, however, refused to humble himself and set Israel free.
When Moses turned the water of the Nile River to blood, he displayed the sovereignty and power of Israel’s God over one of Egypt’s gods (for the Egyptians worshipped the Nile). Nevertheless, although they could not escape God’s wrath, Pharaoh and Egypt defied the LORD. Indeed, nine more judgments would follow before Pharaoh humbled himself and acknowledged Israel’s God was LORD.
Questions to consider:
Moses had asked the LORD, “when I come unto the children of Israel, and shall say unto them, The God of your fathers hath sent me unto you; and they shall say to me, What is his name? what shall I say unto them?” (Exodus 3:13) In Exodus 6, God answered Moses’ questions in a series of revelations concerning His name.
1) By what names did God reveal Himself to Moses? (Exodus 6:2-3)
2) What had God promised to do for His people? (Exodus 6:6-8)
3) Moses feared he was inadequate to speak to Pharaoh. What was God’s answer to his fear? (Exodus 7:1-2)
4) What fears do you use as an excuse not to obey and serve the LORD?
Copyright © 2023 – Travis D. Smith
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