4 Then Moses said, “Thus says the Lord: ‘About midnight I will go out into the midst of Egypt; 5 and all the firstborn in the land of Egypt shall die, from the firstborn of Pharaoh who sits on his throne, even to the firstborn of the female servant who is behind the handmill, and all the firstborn of the animals. 6 Then there shall be a great cry throughout all the land of Egypt, such as was not like it before, nor shall be like it again. 7 But against none of the children of Israel shall a dog move its tongue, against man or beast, that you may know that the Lord does make a difference between the Egyptians and Israel.’ 8 And all these your servants shall come down to me and bow down to me, saying, ‘Get out, and all the people who follow you!’ After that I will go out.” Then he [Moses] went out from Pharaoh in great anger.
If Pharaoh does not let Israel leave, every firstborn in Egypt would die, from the firstborn of Pharaoh who sits on his throne to the firstborn of the animals. Moses warned Pharaoh that a rebellion would erupt and Pharaoh’s servants would give Israel religious freedom. Pharaoh knew he was on thin ice with his servants. When Egyptians began dying, he conceded to Moses request, but it was past the midnight hour, too late for Pharaoh and his servants to redeem themselves.
He who is often rebuked, and hardens his neck, will suddenly be destroyed and that without remedy.
God extends mercy for a long time but not forever. There is a point of no return. If mercy cannot change your heart, there is nothing left but death. Pharaoh’s education has ended and his report card reads F for fatality.
Then the Lord said to Moses, 2 “Tell the Israelites to turn back and encamp near Pi Hahiroth, between Migdol and the sea. They are to encamp by the sea, directly opposite Baal Zephon. 3 Pharaoh will think, ‘The Israelites are wandering around the land in confusion, hemmed in by the desert.’ 4 And I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and he will pursue them. But I will gain glory for myself through Pharaoh and all his army, and the Egyptians will know that I am the Lord.”
God attempted to heal Pharaoh’s heart one last time even though he knew it would not do any good. After Israel left, Pharaoh and his servants cried, “Why have we done this?”
It had been a long time since the Egyptians had to carry mud to make bricks for Pharaoh. Egypt was in shambles, and they just let the slave labor leave to worship a God Egypt could not control. They know if they don’t control the God, they won’t be able to control the people either.
You will become like the one you follow and the servants of Pharaoh acted just like their Lord when they encouraged him to stop Israel from worshipping Jehovah. Pharaoh assembled a large army and led the charge to recapture their slaves, but he was only leading his followers to their death.
When Pharaoh overtook Israel by the Red Sea, Jehovah gave the Egyptians a reason to go home. The cloud, God’s presence, which Israel followed, moved to the rear of the camp stopping Egypt’s approach. Throughout the night, the cloud kept the nations separate by casting darkness over the Egyptians and light over Israel.
The Egyptians had lost their minds. For weeks they experience the effect of Jehovah’s presence and their nation was in shambles. They can now see a manifestation of Jehovah’s presence. They are face to face with the God they resisted. Jehovah did not immediately kill them. He gave them all night to think about what they were doing. They could have turned around and went back to Egypt. Had they done so, no one would have died.
I would like to ask Pharaoh some questions. Since he is not here, maybe you can answer them.
Why were Pharaoh and his servants pursing Israel to make them slaves? Jehovah never demanded the Egyptians to stop worshipping their gods. The request for a leave of absence to worship a god was commonly made in Pharaoh’s courts. But why couldn’t people worship God without Pharaoh’s permission?
Pharaoh knew that Jehovah appeared to Moses. He saw Moses serpent swallowed up the serpents of Egypt.
Pharaoh knew that Jehovah is Lord. He saw the Nile turn into blood and all his servants could do was turn God’s mercy into more blood.
We know Pharaoh knew because he asked Moses to pray the Lord would take the frogs away. If Pharaoh did not believe Jehovah existed, why did he ask Moses to pray to Jehovah? If Pharaoh did not believe Jehovah is Lord, why did he call him Lord? If the gods Pharaoh taught a nation to worship were greater than Jehovah, why didn’t they protect their worshippers? Why didn’t the gods of Egypt remove the frogs and drive Jehovah from the land. Jehovah never condemned Pharaoh. Pharaoh condemned himself with his words and actions.
Pharaoh knew there is no one like Jehovah. When Pharaoh said tomorrow he extended misery one more day. When Moses said tomorrow he let Egypt suffer one more day. When Jehovah said tomorrow he delayed misery one more day. Why wouldn’t Pharaoh let Israel worship a kind and compassionate God?
Pharaoh had been touched by God’s mercy. He knew Jehovah was good. Jehovah sent Pharaoh’s servants to tell him the “finger of God was in the land.” All Jehovah wanted was for Pharaoh to get his finger out of the lives of others.
Pharaoh knew Jehovah was Lord in the midst of Egypt when swarms of flies were all over him and his people, but not one fly could be found in Israel.
Pharaoh knew Jehovah could separate his people from Pharaoh’s people when pestilence came upon the livestock of Egypt, but not one cow, goat or sheep that belonged to Israel died. Why did Pharaoh refuse to let Israel worship this mighty God.
Did Pharaoh think Jehovah could kill animals but not a man? Jehovah proved he could touch their flesh when boils broke out on the Egyptians but not the Israelites, yet Pharaoh dared to laugh in the face of death. Pharaoh knew the truth. Jehovah warned him Egyptians would die if he did not call them out of the fields. When multitudes died in a hailstorm, the truth so heavy in Pharaoh’s heart overwhelmed his mouth. I am a wicked sinner and Jehovah is righteous gushed from his lips. Pharaoh knew there was no one like Jehovah in all the earth, when Jehovah stilled the storm of hail created by Pharaoh’s sin. If Pharaoh knew he was a sinner and Jehovah was righteous, why did he deny Israel’s request to worship a righteous God?
Jehovah sent locust to teach Pharaoh and Moses that he is Lord and he will decided who worships him and who serves him. Those who exclude others from worshipping Jehovah will watch the locust destroy their ministry and if that doesn’t change their wicked heart darkness awaits them.
When Pharaoh realized he could never control Jehovah, he threatened Moses with death. But Moses was only speaking God’s desires. Was it Moses Pharaoh wanted dead or Jehovah? It was death Pharaoh wanted and it was death he received but not until he saw a manifestation of God’s presence in the cloud and thought about his actions all night because Jehovah is good and he is not willing that any should perish. Even hard hearted Pharaoh’s who make our lives a misery.
19 When Pharaoh’s horses, chariots and horsemen went into the sea, the Lord brought the waters of the sea back over them, but the Israelites walked through the sea on dry ground. 20 Then Miriam the prophetess, Aaron’s sister, took a tambourine in her hand, and all the women followed her, with tambourines and dancing. 21 Miriam sang to them:
“Sing to the Lord,
for he is highly exalted.
The horse and its rider
he has hurled into the sea.”
22 Then Moses led Israel from the Red Sea and they went into the Desert of Shur.
When Pharaoh died the ministry of the oppressed began. Miriam led women in praise to Jehovah that “the horse and its rider” was hurled into the sea. One horse whose rider thought he could dictate to Jehovah when, where and how a living God would be worshiped. How fitting that the forgotten woman neither Pharaoh nor Moses would have included in service to God would have the last word before Israel entered the wilderness to worship.