Well, Moses obeyed God and spoke to Pharaoh, asking permission to go three days’ journey into the wilderness to sacrifice to and worship God. After 400 years of slavery, that was not a huge request, but we got to see how unreasonable Pharaoh is through this example. Instead of letting the people have a mini vacation, he increased their workload, making them produce the same amount of bricks but also gathering straw. When the people complained to Pharaoh (instead of taking their trouble to God), Pharaoh explained that they had to produce the amount of bricks instead of listening to Moses and Aaron, they should have stayed busy.
Well, the people were not happy, and came grumbling to Moses about their predicament. From their perspective, their life is harder, and certainly they were not any closer to the Promised Land. It is funny how things in our life tend to get harder before freedom comes. God is going to use these experiences with Pharaoh, and their challenges in the wilderness to form the tribe of Israel. God doesn’t permit trials and trouble in our lives without a plan and a purpose for them.
If you have ever read Revelation 6-19 you will see that many of the plagues that are going to challenge Pharaoh’s life and kingdom, will be similar to those which will happen in the Tribulation mentioned in Revelation, also known as the time of Jacob’s trouble.
What I love about God is He doesn’t promise us freedom from tribulation, challenges, or hurts. And often He tells us directly in His Word that there will be tribulation, Jesus even tells His disciples this. The one thing we, as Christians, have that our non-Christian friends don’t have is the sure knowledge that when we walk through these tribulations, we have company – God has promised never to leave or forsake us. I had a challenge with this promise of God when I was a child because I sure felt forsaken when God did not strike my father dead or make him stop my abuse, but God was there even though I did not perceive Him. Feelings are not facts, and so often we go by what we feel. “I feel like God isn’t in this, I feel distant from God, etc.” The truth is, God is there, omnipresent, but we just don’t see what He is doing at the time. During my abuse, God preserved my life, my sanity, and ultimately he got me out of that home – I did not catch a disease, get pregnant, or a lot of nots. So often we look for what God is doing in the gots, I got this from God, I felt that from God, but so often God is in the NOTS, in the crop failures that happen when our sins are not multiplied, in the preservation of things that are beneath the surface, in the hurts and punishment not received. And sometimes the nots are more important than the gots. We just get it in our heads that God is going to respond to us in a certain way, and when He doesn’t cater to our expectations we automatically assume that He is not responding. But often we are just looking in the wrong place.
Exodus Chapter 7:1-2 So the LORD said to Moses: “See, I have made you as God to Pharaoh, and Aaron your brother shall be your prophet. You shall speak all that I command you. And Aaron your brother shall tell Pharaoh to send the children of Israel out of his land.”
You know, I have read the whole book of Exodus and know the end from the beginning. But pretend we are walking this through in real time next to Moses, I want to give you an example of how we might think:
Ok, God told Moses to be His messenger, Moses gave God grief and a lot of reasons why he couldn’t do what God wanted him to do. So God offers to let Aaron speak for Moses. Why not eliminate the middle man? Why not just push Moses aside and speak to Aaron? We have all played the telephone game and know how messages can get skewed. And then why give Moses the message, then Moses tells Aaron, who then tells the people, seems like there is an unnecessary step there, not efficient. If Moses would argue with God, forget him. It is a good thing I am not God, because my understanding would be very limited. Well, from knowing the book (sort of a God perspective) we get to see a bit of Aaron’s leadership skills. Aaron, when Moses was up in the mountain gets talked into building a golden idol and allowing the people to worship like they did in Egypt. God, who knows the end from the beginning, knew that the best Aaron could do was to be Moses’ mouthpiece, that he couldn’t be trusted to lead the people to the Promised Land, following God’s directions without being influenced by public opinion. Moses, on the other hand had a heart for the people, and interceded for them, even when there was a promise made that God would make him the Father of all nations, replacing Abraham because of the peoples’ rebellion. Instead of being lured by that, Moses prayed for the people. We may not always understand why God picks particular people to lead us, but we can be sure that God knows far more about the choices than we consider.
Exodus 7:3 And I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and multiply My signs and My wonders in the land of Egypt. But Pharaoh will not heed you, so that I may lay My hand on Egypt and bring My armies and My people, the children of Israel out of the land of Egypt by great judgments. And the Egyptians shall know that I am the LORD, when I stretch out My hand on Egypt and bring out the children of Israel from among them.”
I used to have a hard time with the hardening of Pharaoh’s heart. (sorry couldn’t resist). But I finally realized that God does give us the desires of our heart, and at first it wasn’t God hardening Pharaoh’s heart, but Pharaoh doing the hardening, and ultimately God honored that desire. It is very easy to fool ourselves into thinking that we do not have to obey or listen to God. Pharaoh was taught that he was god, and the people worshipped him. Remember he asked Moses why he should listen to Moses’ God. Today many are also thinking that they do not have to obey God, and they are willingly choosing to harden their hearts. They will face the repercussions of those choices when God does honor their requests. Remember, Pharaoh did have two choices – one was to let God’s People go and recognize that God was God, the other was to refuse. Pharaoh made the wrong choice.
Here is God’s plan in a nutshell in these verses. 1. Liberation for His children, the nation Israel, and 2. Revelation to the Egyptians exactly who is GOD, and it is not who they think it is.
Sometimes God works many things through our tribulation, but God is still working in our lives even when it doesn’t feel like he is. We have to realize that God does not exist solely for our individual problems, he has bigger plans than our immediate comfort. His plans are more far reaching than our own limited perspective.
Exodus 7: 6-7 Then Moses and Aaron did so; just as the LORD commanded them, so they did. And Moses was eighty years old and Aaron eighty three years old when they spoke to Pharaoh.
OH DOES THAT BLESS ME, I often worry that I waited so long to come to God and frittered away a lot of my time for service to Him, but He used Moses and Aaron at a ripe old age, and He will use us too, if we are yielded vessels. Thank God for the goodness and mercy and grace of God, who uses us at all ages from the very tiny to the oldest among us. Nothing is wasted in God’s kingdom.
What I also love is that Moses and Aaron did EXACTLY what God told them to do. I want to get to that level of obedience, not stepping one step to the right or to the left from what God tells me to do.
What we are going to see now is a type and shadow of Revelation 13 – remember the antichrist will come and imitate Christ. He will do signs and wonders as spectacular as those of Jesus. For us, the best way to tell if it is Christ or antichrist is to see who gets the glory in the end – is it the doer or antichrist? Or is it God? If God gets the glory, it is a true sign and wonder, if anyone else or anything else gets the glory, not of God.
Exodus 7:8-10 Then the LORD spoke to Moses and Aaron, saying, “When Pharaoh speaks to you, saying, ‘Show a miracle for yourselves’, then you shall say to Aaron, ‘Take your rod and cast it before Pharaoh, and let it become a serpent.'” So Moses and Aaron went in to Pharaoh, and they did so, just as the LORD commanded. And Aaron cast down his rod before Pharaoh and before his servants, and it became a serpent.
Do not fail to notice the few words “just as the LORD commanded.” They did not do it in their own power, because they felt like it, to show off. They just simply (and simple is not always easy) obeyed God and did what HE said to do.
Exodus 7:11-13 But Pharaoh also called the wise men and the sorcerers; so the magicians of Egypt, they also did in like manner with their enchantments. For every man threw down his rod, and they became serpents. But Aaron’s rod swallowed up their rods. And Pharaoh’s heart grew hard, and he did not heed them, as the LORD had said.
Three miracles that Moses will do can be imitated by the demonic powers of these sorcerers, but when the plague of lice comes, the sorcerers could not imitate it. I want you to notice that while the magicians and sorcerers could imitate what Moses and Aaron did under God’s direction, their imitation did not make the situation any better – instead of one serpent, they now had many. Notice that God is more powerful than the magicians – His rod in the hands of Moses swallowed up the magician’s rods. Anything that satan can produce on this earth is not as powerful as God. It only took an angel to cast satan into the pit – a single angel – and not one of the mighty warrior angels. Pharaoh will see so many signs and wonders that it is a wonder that he did not believe God and obey God, and worship God. But that is what happens when we choose to disbelieve, and disbelief IS a choice we make. Unfortunately, if we choose to disbelieve it has eternal consequences.
I have a great heart for those in the new age and those who practice the occult because I was deluded at one point with those beliefs, and now see them for the lies that they are. We can get so blinded by our intellect, feelings, and desires that we don’t see truth. I pray that those who are deluded have their eyes opened.
I want to spend some time on the first plague, Waters become Blood, so will stop here. Please know that God wants so much for us to reach out to Him, He does not want us to have hardened hearts. God says in Psalm 95:7 For He is our God, and we are the people of His pasture, and the sheep of His hand. Today, if you will hear His voice; do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion, as in the day of trial in the wilderness.
Please do not harden your heart like Pharaoh did.
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