If things weren’t deep and passionate before, there is a whole lot of that going on now! The plagues keep getting more and more intense and powerful, and Pharaoh’s frustration and anger are getting worse and worse.
Pharaoh is doing everything he can to attempt to delay or stop the inevitable, but he just can’t stop YHWH. I kind of feel bad for the guy. But at the same time, i know why this is happening, and his involvement / responsibility in it. It’s kind of like working with troubled youth. Sometimes the only way they learn is to allow them to learn and understand the consequences of their actions. Explaining it to them, processing it with them and protecting them from it can only get you so far. Sometimes you just need to let them see, and until they see they will not understand.
You can see Pharaoh’s will / resolve start to soften in this chapter, but Pharaoh is not a man to change easily or lightly. Nor is he a man likely to accept defeat. God continues to harden an already hard heart. Pharaoh continues to attempt to compromise with God, but the cost of that compromise is much higher than the cost of the original price.
How do you help a man who is so insistent that he wins, that he is willing to destroy himself and everything around him in order to do so? How do you open the eyes of a man so blinded by his own pride and rebellion that he thinks he can stand against God? What drives a man to become what you see before you? Yes, God hardened Pharaoh’s heart, and yes, God had every right to do that! But the truth is, He didn’t need to. Pharaoh was so intent on doing it to himself that he did not need any real help from God.
How do help a man like that?
You can tell that God has a sense of humor and a thing for irony. You see it throughout the Bible and here especially is no exception. So the magicians and priests have attempted to stand against Moses and God with every new miracle that occurs, but take a look at verse 11; “The magicians could not stand before Moses because of the boils, for the boils were on the magicians as well as on all the Egyptians.” Yeah, good luck trying to oppose Moses and God like that. They can’t even show up because of the very miracle they are trying to oppose. So much for that problem. Talk about irony.
This chapter is the first place that we see God hardening Pharaoh’s heart. After each miracle Pharaoh keeps hardening his own heart, but God hardens his heart after the plague of the boils. There are some that say that this is not right; that this shows that Pharaoh is being unjustly treated. I don’t buy that argument on many levels, and i will probably talk about that more in the coming chapters.
In the meantime, there is proof that Pharaoh was not ready to let the people go whether he hardened his heart or God did. Later in the chapter, during the plague of the hail, Pharaoh tells Moses to stop the plague and that he will let the people go. Moses says “But as for you and your servants, I know that you do not yet fear the LORD God.” This is later proven when Moses stops the storm, Pharaoh hardens his heart, and he goes back on his word.
Pharaoh rejects God and what He is doing. He rejects his own responsibility and what needs to be done. He even rejects his own word. He as well is rejected by God. Pharaoh is not the only one that does this. We do this as well. There are times when God commands and directs us, but we reject Him by refusing to trust and obey him. It’s not even a question of do we do it. It’s a question of why do we do it. So why do we do it, and what do we need to know / do to change that?
Well now, things just keep getting worse and worse for Pharaoh. We have gone from blood to frogs and gnats and insects. God is showing Pharaoh that not only is He the one true God and that he can create life and take it away, but he can also have creatures distinguish between Egyptian and Israelite lands. Pharaoh’s magicians have gotten to the point where even they acknowledge that these things can only be done by God, and that’s saying something!
Pharaoh’s heart is beginning to change. He’s trying to compromise with God. Unfortunately what he’s finding is that God does not accept compromise. It’s a tough lesson for Pharaoh to learn, and he’s not learning it very well. Then again, do we? So Pharaoh’s trying to save face in the face of watching his land be devastated. He is beginning to understand that this is not such as small matter. So while he is starting to soften in his view, he has made the choice to harden his heart and ignore the truth.
That is such a tough thing to do. I’ve been there. I’ve done that. It’s a tough thing to do for a short time, but when you are trying to wrestle against YHWH for an extended period of time, that will wear you down really quickly. The older i have gotten, the lazier i have gotten, and i have come to the conclusion that that is just too much work. It is so much easier to just say, “OK God. You win. What do you want me to do?”
The nice thing about letting God win is that it is worth it. Life is so much easier, more joyful, and more fulfilling when i step out of the way and just let God. It means going from slave to servant, but the difference between the two is amazing.
Rev. John Camiolo
What do you do when God does a miracle in your presence? How do you respond when He sends a message with power? What does it take to convince you to change your mind and to do the right thing when you are set on the wrong thing?
Pharaoh comes face to face with Moses, and YHWH makes a move. Pharaoh has a choice to make. Obey this “God” of the Israelites, and lose all of the cheap labor that has helped to grow cities and his empire? Or, not? Moses and Aaron can do these amazing wonders, but so can his magicians. Now granted, Moses & Aaron’s staff / snake devours his magician’s staff / snakes, but that’s their problems not his. Why should he be concerned?
Then Moses & Aaron turn the Nile into blood. That’s a little bit more of an inconvenience, after all, the kingdom relies on the Nile river. Then again, the magicians can do the same thing. So what does Pharaoh do next? He goes back to his house with no real concern for the situation. However, seven days later, the magicians have not yet figured out how to change the Nile back to water. I’m sure that that may have become a little disconcerting.
What about us? Is God / YHWH trying to speak to us? Does He give us signs day after day that He is real and we need to look to Him? Do we ignore Him, considering His miracles no more than coincidences and conveniences or inconveniences? Do we ignore the little things, because they are little, and don’t take seriously where those signs are pointing?
Pharaoh ignored the little things. As a result, he takes that mentality with him when YHWH begins to do much bigger things. What will it take for us to come to the point where we cease ignoring the signs pointing at God. The more we ignore the little things, the more likely it is we will ignore and reject the big things. We need to open our eyes and see the truth of who God / YHWH is in the little things as well as the big.
LORD, open my eyes and the eyes of the readers. Help us to see the signs and understand where they are pointing. Help us to do more than that. Help us to pursue the God that is pursuing us. In the name of Jesus, the Christ, Amen.
I am so glad that I do not have to do God’s work for Him. I am so glad that all He requires of me is obedience. I don’t think that i could handle the stress of the work that God does… that certainly is a silly statement isn’t it. The point is, God was the one who did the work of hardening and softening Pharaoh’s heart. God is the one who did the miracles in Pharaoh’s presence. God is the one who fulfilled His promises to the people of Israel. It wasn’t Moses, it had to be God, Himself.
There have been times in my life where God has told me what He was going to do in my life, and then i have attempted to make it happen on my own. One guess as to the result… yup! I failed miserably! Months later, God did it. You would think that after that i would learn my lesson. Nope, i continue trying to do YHWH’s work for Him.
One thing i did want to make sure that i touch on is vs. 2-3 “God spoke further to Moses and said to him, “I am the LORD; and I appeared to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, as God Almighty, but by My name, LORD, I did not make Myself known to them.” The word LORD is the Hebrew word יהוה which is JHWH / YHWH / JHVH / YHVH. This includes only consonants. Traditionally, with vowels this word has been pronounced as Jehovah. However, as time has gone by, there has been mounting evidence that there is a mix of words here. It is believed that while the consonants are natural to the word, the vowels are not. The vowels come from Adonai (אֲדֹנָי) meaning “my lord” making יהוה (YHVH) into יְהֹוָה (Yehovah). The concept here is that in the 10 commandments YHWH says not to use His name in vain. As such the priests who would read the law to the people would protect them from using His name in vain by not even saying the revered name of God out loud to them. So whenever they came to the word YHWH, the priests would say Adonai instead. As a result, over the millennia the true vowels to the name YHWH were lost.
Some would say that that is not the case, that those vowels are actually the correct vowels for the name, but even with a very limited understanding of the history and tendencies of the Israelite people and the legalism of the Pharisees of Jesus time, i’m much more inclined to go with the vast majority of scholars and say YHWH.
Either way, i find it interesting that YHWH first tells His true name not to Abraham, Isaac, & Israel, but rather to Moses and His people in Egypt.
Well, things changed as a result of God’s referendum to Pharaoh alright. God said, “Let my go!” Pharaoh said, “What? You want me to do what with your people? …you want me to make their work harder? OK, I can arrange that.”
Wow, this overarching concept and idea feels very familiar for some reason. The LORD gives a command to do something. In obedience it is carried out. Life gets harder, not easier as a result of the obedience. You would think that when the God of the universe instructs you to take a stand and obediently place yourself at risk before everyone, He would come through when you expect him to. But, that’s not necessarily how He works. Taking that step of faith sometimes means getting your toes run over by a steamroller.
The question is, knowing that that is the case, are we willing to be obedient? Are we willing to step out in faith? Are we being obedient to get something out of it, or is our obedience because He is LORD of our life? Can He trust us to obey even when it means more trouble for ourselves?
That’s a difficult problem for most of us Americans. Many times our outlook is; “What’s in it for me?” If we aren’t getting something out of it, we aren’t willing to put anything into it. God doesn’t work that way though. He’s not a direct “If…then…” God. “If you do this for Me, then I will do that for you.” If that’s what you are looking for in a god, then you are looking in the wrong place. Yes, God will bless you amazingly and abundantly when you obey Him. Yes, you will find peace in your life. Yes, you can trust Him, but you cannot count on Him to do what you want Him to do, or even anywhere close to when you want Him to do it. He works on His terms not ours. However, we are still responsible for obeying Him. The benefits will be amazing, but so will the troubles.
So what’s the LORD calling YOU to be obedient to today?
Every time i read this i see the parallels throughout history; Pharaoh has the Israelite babies killed because the Israelites are becoming too numerous and they might hinder his prosperity. When the people of Israel entered the promised land and did not remove all of the inhabitants the worship of Molech continued. As a result, the Israelites began sacrificing their firstborn child to Molech so that they would be blessed with prosperity. King Herod had all of the newborns from the town of Bethlehem killed because one of them was to be a king which would affect him and his prosperity. Today it is acceptable for people the world over to kill off our own baby if it’s life is going to be an inconvenience to its mother. …if it’s life might hinder the mother’s chance for “prosperity”.
There are other instances of this in history as well. It really makes me wonder; are we fighting new battles, or are they the same old battles with the same old enemy just expressed in a new way? Ephesians 6:12 says “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.”
When we are fighting for the lives of our children, who is the battle really against? Is it against those people who would take the lives of our children for a profit? Is it against those who would choose to end their child’s lives because their child is an inconvenience to their own life? Or is the battle much more than that? Are we battling against flesh and blood, or are we battling against spiritual forces that have been waging this war for millennia? Is this a war about “choice” or is it much deeper than that? If it is a deeper level battle, then what?