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.
Pharaoh knows Jehovah appeared to Moses. Pharaoh knows Jehovah is Lord and there is no one like him. Pharaoh knows Jehovah is Lord in the midst of Egypt and there is no one like him in all the earth. Pharaoh knows he sinned. Pharaoh knows Jehovah is righteous. Pharaoh knows he is wicked and his servants are wicked. Pharaoh knows enough. God taught Pharaoh the truth and Pharaoh made his choice. There was nothing more that could be done for Pharaoh, yet God continued to send healing until the day Pharaoh died except for the plague of locust.
Educating Pharaoh had educated Moses. Moses learned that Pharaoh and his servants would never change, but there was something Moses did not know. Therefore when Pharaoh gave Moses what he had been asking for, Jehovah refused to let Israel leave.
Now the Lord said to Moses, “Go in to Pharaoh; for I have hardened his heart and the hearts of his servants, that I may show these signs of Mine before him, 2 and that you may tell in the hearing of your son and your son’s son the mighty things I have done in Egypt, and My signs which I have done among them, that you may know that I am the Lord.”
The miracles performed in Egypt are not as important as the lessons the miracles taught Pharaoh, Moses and us. Jehovah told Moses I have “kabad” Pharaoh’s heart, or made Pharaoh’s heart heavy with the truth for a reason: that Moses, would know who is Lord and tell it “in the hearing of your son and your son’s son.” Jehovah concern was that Israel, Egypt and future generations would know that he is Lord.
So Moses and Aaron came in to Pharaoh and said to him, “Thus says the Lord God of the Hebrews: ‘How long will you refuse to humble yourself before Me? Let My people go, that they may serve Me. 4 Or else, if you refuse to let My people go, behold, tomorrow I will bring locusts into your territory. 5 And they shall cover the face of the earth, so that no one will be able to see the earth; and they shall eat the residue of what is left, which remains to you from the hail, and they shall eat every tree which grows up for you out of the field. 6 They shall fill your houses, the houses of all your servants, and the houses of all the Egyptians — which neither your fathers nor your fathers’ fathers have seen, since the day that they were on the earth to this day.’” And he [Moses] turned and went out from Pharaoh. 7 Then Pharaoh’s servants said to him, “How long shall this man be a snare to us? Let the men go, that they may serve the Lord their God. Do you not yet know that Egypt is destroyed?”
Pharaoh and his servants know from experience that Jehovah can and will do exactly what he says he will do. This time Pharaoh’s servants do more than tell Pharaoh “this is the finger of God.” In a quest to salvage the little that had not been destroyed in Egypt, they encouraged Pharaoh to grant Israel religious freedom.
Pharaoh knew his servants told him the truth, so he called Moses and Aaron to come back. Before he gave Israel a leave of absence to worship Jehovah, he wanted to clarify exactly who would attend the church service in the wilderness.
Moses said everyone would go, young, old, sons, daughters, flocks and herds. Pharaoh’s response was rather shocking. Listen carefully as I read Exodus 10:11 in several different translations of the Bible.
Not so! Go now, you who are men, and serve the Lord, for that is what you desired.”
No! Have only the men go; and worship the Lord, since that’s what you have been asking for.”
From the first day Moses walked into Pharaoh’s throne room and thundered “Let my people go” he only requested a leave of absence for the men. Our contemporary Christian belief based on Cecil B DeMill’s version of the Exodus has blinded us to the truth about God. Yes, Israel left and started a new nation, but it wasn’t Jehovah’s original intent. Israel started a new nation for the same reason many of our forefathers came to America and started a new nation – a quest for religious freedom.
Before this meeting with Pharaoh, Jehovah stated that he wanted Moses and the sons of Israel to know who is Lord. Jehovah had no intention of Israel trading one tyrant for another tyrant. At some point after the negotiations with Pharaoh began, Jehovah corrected Moses. Everyone would go into the wilderness to worship him, not just the men.
Pharaoh did not like this new request. A man accustomed to absolute control does not appreciate unexpected changes. Pharaoh had already made up his mind to let the men go, and he wasn’t going to let Moses change what he had been asking for at the last minute.
Now stop and think about it. Pharaoh said the men could have a leave of absence to worship God, and then drove Moses and Aaron from his presence. So, why didn’t the men of Israel leave?
If God had not been present to deliver Israel, I believe the men would have left without the women. Men have been excluding women who desire to serve Jehovah from that day to this. The men had Pharaoh’s permission to leave, but they didn’t have Jehovah’s. The men were not the only ones with a calling to fulfill.
Micah 6:4 Todays English Version
I brought you out of Egypt; I rescued you from slavery; I sent Moses, Aaron, and Miriam to lead you.
Moses was not the only one called to be a leader in Israel. Moses brother, Aaron, was not the only one called to be a leader in Israel. Their sister, Miriam, had a God ordained place of leadership too. We are incomplete until everyone is in his or her place. Jehovah is Lord and he will not let Pharaoh or Moses dictate who will worship him with their service. If the sisters can’t go, no one will go.
There men in the church who think only men should lead and only men are gifted to serve in the church. Jehovah’s people forgot what the miracle of locusts taught Moses – Jehovah is Lord and you have no right to exclude someone Jehovah has called to do a work for him.
Jehovah told Moses to teach this lesson to your sons and your son’s sons. The sons grow up to be the men, who oppress the daughters who grow up to be women and the sons need to know who is Lord. Jehovah chooses who will serve him not his enemies or his friends. Moses witnessed what Jehovah will do to those who hinder anyone from fulfilling his or her calling. He will send the locust to devour what little is left of a ministry led with arrogance.
This issue is greater than relationships between men and women. Jehovah does not favor women. He fought for the women to have a place in his church, because they were being oppressed by men. More and more women are finding freedom to lead ministries today, and some of them have already proved that women corrupt just as easily as men do.
16 Then Pharaoh called for Moses and Aaron in haste, and said, “I have sinned against the Lord your God and against you. 17 Now therefore, please forgive my sin only this once, and entreat the Lord your God, that He may take away from me this death only.”
At the last meeting, Pharaoh drove Moses and Aaron from his presence. This time they are summoned to return with “haste”. Pharaoh was so full of the truth; he couldn’t stop it from running out of his mouth. This time he not only acknowledges he sinned against Jehovah but he also sinned against Jehovah’s people, and he pleads for forgiveness and prayer.
As soon as Moses left Pharaoh’s presence, he prayed, and Jehovah gave Pharaoh another reason to believe and obey him. Unlike the frogs that were left in the land to stink, not one locust remained in all of Egypt. God’s loving kindness endures forever, but Pharaoh’s heart was not moved by God’s love. When the locusts were gone, Pharaoh refused to let Israel worship their God.
When you know that you have sinned, and refuse to repent, you will step into darkness.
21 Then the Lord said to Moses, “Stretch out your hand toward heaven, that there may be darkness over the land of Egypt, darkness which may even be felt.” 22 So Moses stretched out his hand toward heaven, and there was thick darkness in all the land of Egypt three days. 23 They did not see one another; nor did anyone rise from his place for three days. But all the children of Israel had light in their dwellings.
Pharaoh sat in the dark for three days before he changed his mind. He gave everyone in Israel permission to leave, but they could not take their livestock – another unacceptable offer. Israel needed their livestock to offer sacrifices to God. Moses refused to accept Pharaoh’s offer. Pharaoh ordered Moses and Aaron to leave and warned them if he ever saw them again they would die. God was not the first one to say die. Pharaoh threatened Moses and Aaron with death. If it’s death Pharaoh wants then its death Pharaoh will get.
Pharaoh almost broke when Jehovah sent swarms of biting insects upon Egypt but not upon Israel. Moses, weary of dealing with Pharaoh, let Egypt suffer one more day before he asked Jehovah to remove the flies. When the misery left, Pharaoh buried the heavy weight of truth and returned to the status quo. He refused to grant Israel religious freedom.
Pharaoh knows Jehovah appeared to Moses. Pharaoh knows Jehovah is Lord and there is no one like him. Pharaoh knows there is no one like Jehovah in Egypt, but Pharaoh doesn’t know that there is no one like Jehovah in all the earth, so Jehovah sent Moses and Aaron to Pharaoh with Lesson #5:
9 Then the Lord said to Moses, “Go in to Pharaoh and tell him, ‘Thus says the Lord God of the Hebrews: “Let My people go, that they may serve Me. 2 For if you refuse to let them go, and still hold them, 3 behold, the hand of the Lord will be on your cattle in the field, on the horses, on the donkeys, on the camels, on the oxen, and on the sheep — a very severe pestilence. 4 And the Lord will make a difference between the livestock of Israel and the livestock of Egypt. So nothing shall die of all that belongs to the children of Israel.”‘” 5 Then the Lord appointed a set time, saying, “Tomorrow the Lord will do this thing in the land.”
This is the first miracle that was anything more than a major irritating nuisance. The serpent harmed no one; it only swallowed Egypt’s serpents. During the plague of blood, the Egyptians were able to dig around the river for water to drink. The frogs made the land stink. The lice made them itch and the flies made everything filthy. All Pharaoh had to do was let Israel worship their God and the misery would stop, but he refused. The longer you resist God’s mercy, the closer you come to death.
During the last miracle, Jehovah made a difference between his people and Pharaoh’s people. The flies swarmed on the Egyptians but not on Israel. From that point on, Israel and everything they owned remained separate. The livestock of Egypt died but not one cow that belonged to Israel was affected by the pestilence.
6 So the Lord did this thing on the next day, and all the livestock of Egypt died; but of the livestock of the children of Israel, not one died. 7 Then Pharaoh sent, and indeed, not even one of the livestock of the Israelites was dead. But the heart of Pharaoh became hard, and he did not let the people go.
Everything Jehovah said to Pharaoh happened when and how Jehovah said it would. The next day, the Egyptian’s livestock became ill and died. Pharaoh sent his servants to see if Israel’s livestock was affected. They returned to Pharaoh with one more reason that everything Pharaoh had learned about Jehovah was true. Not even one of Israel’s livestock had died.
When Pharaoh heard the truth, he resisted Jehovah’s effort to heal his heart. How much evidence did Pharaoh need? How many reasons to believe? Even though Jehovah’s goodness led Pharaoh to the truth, so he could repent, Pharaoh continued to resist Jehovah’s demand for religious freedom. Pharaoh treasured up one reason after another that would justify Jehovah when he had no other option but to kill Pharaoh. Who did Pharaoh think he was dealing with? Did he think Jehovah could kill animals and not men? When Jehovah saw Pharaoh harden his heart, he acted quickly to give Pharaoh another reason to believe.
8 So the Lord said to Moses and Aaron, “Take for yourselves handfuls of ashes from a furnace, and let Moses scatter it toward the heavens in the sight of Pharaoh. 9 And it will become fine dust in all the land of Egypt, and it will cause boils that break out in sores on man and beast throughout all the land of Egypt.” 10 Then they took ashes from the furnace and stood before Pharaoh, and Moses scattered them toward heaven. And they caused boils that break out in sores on man and beast. 11 And the magicians could not stand before Moses because of the boils, for the boils were on the magicians and on all the Egyptians. 12 But the Lord hardened the heart of Pharaoh; and he did not heed them, just as the Lord had spoken to Moses.
If Pharaoh thought he was untouchable he was wrong. Up to now Jehovah had only been a nuisance, but now death was creeping into the land. The boils that erupted on the Egyptians proved Jehovah could have killed them, but he chose to kill animals instead. Jehovah is not willing that any should perish even Pharaoh’s who know the truth and refuse to obey.
Jehovah is doing everything possible to cure Pharaoh’s heart, but no matter what Jehovah does, no matter how much evidence he gives Pharaoh to believe, no matter how many reasons Pharaoh has to obey, he refuses to listen.
There is not much Jehovah can do about the Pharaoh’s in this world without losing us until we know what Jehovah knows. There are some people, and fallen angels who are who they want to be, and they will not change. They don’t care if their decisions bring stench, frogs, lice, filth and disease into our lives. They know if they let us worship God according to our own conscience, they can no longer control us and then they will lose the power that we give them. They don’t care about us. They only care about power, position and control. They know the truth but they don’t want us to know the truth. They won’t let us worship God in any way except the way they dictate.
Since Pharaoh refused to hear and understand the voice of God’s actions, God sent Moses with a clear easy to understand message.
Now if I had stretched out My hand and struck you and your people with pestilence, then you would have been cut off from the earth. 16 But indeed for this purpose I have raised you up, that I may show My power in you, and that My name may be declared in all the earth. 17 As yet you exalt yourself against My people in that you will not let them go.
Jehovah could have killed Pharaoh the first day he came to Egypt, but he didn’t. He could have killed all the Egyptians too, but he didn’t. God never demanded Pharaoh to worship him. God did not interfere in the religious practices of Egypt. He only demanded Pharaoh to let Israel travel three days into the desert, where the Egyptians could not see and would not hear Israel worship their God. Why did the shepherd of Egypt find this an unreasonable request.
Why didn’t Jehovah just kill Pharaoh and anyone who got in his way the first day? Why did Moses have to repeatedly confront Pharaoh for exalting himself above God’s people and making them slaves to his religious convictions? Why did everyone have to live in misery until Pharaoh gave Israel permission to leave?
I’ll tell you why. Israel loved Pharaoh. If God kills Pharaoh, we will never let go of Pharaoh. We must understand who Pharaoh really is before we will be free to love a God who loves us.
Behold, tomorrow about this time I will cause very heavy hail to rain down, such as has not been in Egypt since its founding until now. 19 Therefore send now and gather your livestock and all that you have in the field, for the hail shall come down on every man and every animal which is found in the field and is not brought home; and they shall die.”‘”
In verse 14 Jehovah stated the purpose of the plague was to teach Pharaoh that there is no one like Jehovah in all the earth. Who treats their enemy like Jehovah treated Pharaoh? Yes, Jehovah sent death, but he also made a way of escape. No one had to die in Jehovah’s judgment. Jehovah not only told his enemy death was coming, he told them what time – “about this time tomorrow.” Jehovah is not willing that any should perish even hard hearted Pharaohs and the fools that continue to follow them when it is so obvious they are not worthy of our support.
Pharaoh was considered a God in Egypt. One command from his lips would have spared everyone, but he refused to heed Jehovah’s warning no matter what it costs the Egyptians. The Egyptians who feared Jehovah stayed in their homes and lived. The Egyptians who did not fear Jehovah left their servants and livestock in the field to die.
The next day, Jehovah sent fire mingled with hail heavy enough to kill men and animals. From the safety of his palace Pharaoh watched his servants running to escape death, one after another struck down, their innocent blood soaking the ground. Pharaoh knew he could have prevented this, and he finally broke under the weight of truth.
27 And Pharaoh sent and called for Moses and Aaron, and said to them, “I have sinned this time. The Lord is righteous, and my people and I are wicked.
The burden of truth Pharaoh hid in his heart finally poured from his lips, for from the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. The truth Pharaoh sought to ignore could be ignored no more. Pharaoh knows he sinned. He knows Jehovah is righteous and he knows that he and those who support him are wicked. Pharaoh pleaded with Moses to pray the mighty thundering and hail would stop.
28 Entreat the Lord, that there may be no more mighty thundering and hail, for it is enough. I will let you go, and you shall stay no longer.” 29 So Moses said to him, “As soon as I have gone out of the city, I will spread out my hands to the Lord; the thunder will cease, and there will be no more hail, that you may know that the earth is the Lord’s.
Moses did not wait until tomorrow to pray this time. He prayed as soon as he was outside the city. He also made it clear that Pharaoh would know the earth is the Lord’s when the thunder and hail ceased.
Jehovah sends the storm and Jehovah calms the storm. His power is his mercy, his willingness to spare us from the judgment we deserve. Pharaoh knew the earth was the Lord’s when God calmed the storm just because he asked him to.
As God patiently educated Pharaoh, Moses also gained some knowledge.
30 But as for you and your servants, I know that you will not yet fear the Lord God.”
Moses finally learned what Jehovah knew from the beginning. Fearing God is our choice and there are some people and fallen angels who will never fear God. They know who they are and they know who Jehovah is yet there is no amount of love and mercy that will ever change them. They will look us in the eye and admit they are sinners, admit Jehovah is righteous and admit they are wicked yet they still refuse to fear him. Not because they can’t, they don’t want to. It’s their want to and they can do whatever they want to, but so can Jehovah.
There are consequences to choices we make in life. Those who know the truth about Jehovah and refuse to obey him will not spend an eternity with us. Jehovah endures them, because if we don’t know what Jehovah and Moses know, Jehovah might lose us forever too.
34 And when Pharaoh saw that the rain, the hail, and the thunder had ceased, he sinned yet more; and he hardened his heart, he and his servants. 35 So the heart of Pharaoh was hard; neither would he let the children of Israel go, as the Lord had spoken by Moses.
Pharaoh took the strength God gave him to believe and turned it into stubbornness. It’s not enough to admit we are sinners and God is righteous. We have to change our ways. As soon as the misery was gone, so was Pharaoh’s desire to relinquish his control over Israel.
Pharaoh’s education was a gradual progression from one basic concept to the next. First, God taught Pharaoh Jehovah appeared to Moses and then taught him Jehovah is Lord. He added to that knowledge that there is no one like Jehovah. Now Pharaoh will learn that Jehovah is not just any Lord, but he is Lord in the midst of Pharaoh’s Egypt. Pharaoh, the shepherd of Egypt, knows the truth. Even the religious leaders of Egypt told Pharaoh the finger of God is in the land. Yet, Pharaoh refused to grant Israel the freedom to worship their God “just as the Lord had said.”
The phrase “just as the Lord had said” is constantly repeated throughout the story of Israel’s deliverance. Jehovah knew the truth about Pharaoh but Jehovah’s people didn’t know the truth about Pharaoh. If Pharaoh and his people were free to worship the gods they chose, why wasn’t Israel granted the same freedom? The time had come to separate Pharaoh’s people from Jehovah’s people. God sent Moses and Aaron to Pharaoh with Lesson #4 – Jehovah is Lord in Egypt.
20 And the Lord said to Moses, “Rise early in the morning and stand before Pharaoh as he comes out to the water. Then say to him, ‘Thus says the Lord: “Let My people go, that they may serve Me. 21 Or else, if you will not let My people go, behold, I will send swarms of flies on you and your servants, on your people and into your houses. The houses of the Egyptians shall be full of swarms of flies, and also the ground on which they stand.
Have you noticed that whatever comes upon the leader of a people also comes upon his followers? Whatever Pharaoh gets, everyone gets. Everyone had to dig around the Nile looking for clean water to drink when Jehovah turned it to blood. Everyone had frogs in their house. Everyone combed lice out of their hair and now everyone will have a house full of files.
Take heed who you follow. If that person does not obey God, your life will be affected with the same consequences your leader’s disobedience produces. Following Jesus is a good idea. He proved in the Garden of Gethsemane that he will obey God even when he does not want to. If Pharaoh had done the same, Egypt would have been spared a lot of misery.
Pharaoh told Moses he would let Israel worship Jehovah if Jehovah removed the frogs. As long as Pharaoh was miserable, he was sincere. When his misery departed so did his sincerity which promoted God to send swarms of flies. While many translations of the Bible call this plague flies, a more literal translation is “a swarm of flying insects that bite.”
22 And in that day I will set apart the land of Goshen, in which My people dwell, that no swarms of flies shall be there, in order that you may know that I am the Lord in the midst of the land. 23 I will make a difference between My people and your people. Tomorrow this sign shall be.”‘” 24 And the Lord did so. Thick swarms of flies came into the house of Pharaoh, into his servants’ houses, and into all the land of Egypt. The land was corrupted because of the swarms of flies.
Pharaoh learned Jehovah is Lord in the midst of Egypt when flies swarmed all over him and his people but not on the Israelites. Jehovah could have sent the flies “today”, but he promised to send them “tomorrow”, giving Pharaoh one more day to change his mind and stop the misery, but Pharaoh refused to grant Israel religious freedom.
The following day, Jehovah did exactly as he had promise. Every Egyptian from Pharaoh to the lowest Egyptian servant were swatting insects and scratching bite marks.
25 Then Pharaoh called for Moses and Aaron, and said, “Go, sacrifice to your God in the land.” 26 And Moses said, “It is not right to do so, for we would be sacrificing the abomination of the Egyptians to the Lord our God. If we sacrifice the abomination of the Egyptians before their eyes, then will they not stone us? 27 We will go three days’ journey into the wilderness and sacrifice to the Lord our God as He will command us.” 28 So Pharaoh said, “I will let you go, that you may sacrifice to the Lord your God in the wilderness; only you shall not go very far away. Intercede for me.”
Pharaoh was tired of being miserable and ready to compromise. He granted Israel permission to worship their God in the land of Egypt. Moses rejected Pharaoh’s offer because there worship would be offensive to the Egyptians. It is important to note that Jehovah never demanded Egypt to forsake their gods and worship him. Jehovah demanded religious freedom. Egypt did not have to see or even hear Israel worship Jehovah.
The Egyptians were so intolerant of other religions; they would have stoned the Israelites for worshipping Jehovah in their presence. Pharaoh knew Moses was right, but he was afraid if Israel left they would not come back so he compromised. Israel could worship their Jehovah if they didn’t travel too far into the desert, certainly not three days. Pharaoh had come far since he announced to his servants Moses is a liar. The weight of truth has softened his heart, and he may even be ripe for true repentance, BUT
29 Then Moses said, “Indeed I am going out from you, and I will entreat the Lord, that the swarms of flies may depart tomorrow from Pharaoh, from his servants, and from his people. But let Pharaoh not deal deceitfully anymore in not letting the people go to sacrifice to the Lord.”
What did Moses say? He would pray for the swarms of files to depart TOMORROW! Truly, there is no one like Jehovah. Pharaoh said tomorrow, God said tomorrow, now Moses gets in on the action and says tomorrow, but he fell far short of his God. Moses was no better than Pharaoh, in fact, he was worse.
When Pharaoh said tomorrow it gave him and his people one more day of misery in the frogs. When Moses said tomorrow it gave Pharaoh and all his people one more day of misery in the flies. Pharaoh only hurt himself and his people. Moses left the Egyptians in filth one more day while he went home and enjoyed a pleasant evening without one fly to annoy him.
Moses was not as good as the God he served, and no servant of God will ever be as good as God because there is no one like Jehovah. Why did Moses leave Egypt in filth until tomorrow when he could have prayed today? His judgments were not merciful like Jehovah’s. Jehovah never used Pharaoh’s tomorrow to prolong misery; he used it to delay misery in the hope Pharaoh would relent and stop misery.
30 So Moses went out from Pharaoh and entreated the Lord. 31 And the Lord did according to the word of Moses; He removed the swarms of flies from Pharaoh, from his servants, and from his people. Not one remained. 32 But Pharaoh hardened his heart at this time also; neither would he let the people go.
When Moses got around to praying for Pharaoh, Jehovah removed every fly, not one remained. Jehovah acted according to the word of Pharaoh, when he said tomorrow and he acted according to the word of Moses when he said tomorrow. God acted according to their words so everyone could know Jehovah. Now we know that God’s word is always better than a man’s word even God’s man.
After the abusive way Moses treated Pharaoh, calling Pharaoh deceitful when he was trying to be reasonable, and refusing to help him today, Pharaoh hardened his heart and refused to let Israel worship their God.
I wonder what would have happened if Moses had prayed to relieve Pharaoh’s misery today instead of tomorrow? We will never know, but we do know that Moses never did it again. The next time Pharaoh asked for prayer, Moses prayed as soon as he was out of the city and after that as soon as he left Pharaoh’s presence.
If Moses had seized the opportunity to reach for Pharaoh’s hand, and led him in prayer to the God of Abraham in the presence of Pharaoh servants. I wonder what would have happened. I wonder if the sight of Pharaoh praying to Moses God would have saved them all. I wonder how many people we have driven away from God, because we don’t like the way they act and judged them worthy to suffer one more day.
Pharaoh knew the truth when he left Moses standing by a river of blood. He knew that Jehovah appeared to Moses. He knew that Jehovah is Lord. Yet, he still refused to give Israel religious freedom. Pharaoh’s pride short circuited his intelligence. Pharaoh’s religious convictions had been law in the land but the unthinkable happened. A shepherd, someone the Egyptians would not sit at the same table with came into his throne room with evidence of a God greater than the ones he taught a nation to worship. Complicating an already difficult situation, at one time, Moses was an Egyptian prince mighty in words and deeds. I imagine Pharaoh was perplexed that Moses turned his back on the gods that made Egypt a great and glorious land. Pharaoh’s theology about the gods was unraveling. Jehovah waited seven days before he taught Pharaoh why Moses abandoned the religion of Egypt – There is no one like Jehovah.
8 And the Lord spoke to Moses, “Go to Pharaoh and say to him, ‘Thus says the Lord: “Let My people go, that they may serve Me. 2 But if you refuse to let them go, behold, I will smite all your territory with frogs. 3 So the river shall bring forth frogs abundantly, which shall go up and come into your house, into your bedroom, on your bed, into the houses of your servants, on your people, into your ovens, and into your kneading bowls. 4 And the frogs shall come up on you, on your people, and on all your servants.”‘”
Moses rod had turned into a serpent eating serpent. The river that sustained life in Egypt had turned into blood, and now frogs will fill the land. Was Jehovah playing with Pharaoh, perhaps even amused by this mortal shepherd who thinks he can enforce his will on a living God? If you really wanted to strike fear in the heart of a mighty ruler of a great nation would you threaten him with a frog.
When you know the truth and harden your heart, you will create misery in your life and the in the lives of everyone under your authority. Once again, Pharaoh denied Israel religious freedom.
5 Then the Lord spoke to Moses, “Say to Aaron, ‘Stretch out your hand with your rod over the streams, over the rivers, and over the ponds, and cause frogs to come up on the land of Egypt.’” 6 So Aaron stretched out his hand over the waters of Egypt, and the frogs came up and covered the land of Egypt. 7 And the magicians did so with their enchantments, and brought up frogs on the land of Egypt.
Frogs covered the land of Egypt and what do Pharaoh’s servants do but add to the frog problem. If Pharaoh’s lackeys wanted to do something useful they should have made the frogs go away. People who think they possess the power of God when they don’t only add to your problems.
8 Then Pharaoh called for Moses and Aaron, and said, “Entreat the Lord that He may take away the frogs from me and from my people; and I will let the people go, that they may sacrifice to the Lord.”
We looked at this verse last week. Pharaoh not only believes Jehovah appeared to Moses, he knows Jehovah is Lord because Pharaoh called him Lord. He also knows that Jehovah is greater than the gods he taught a nation to worship because no one in Egypt can undo what Jehovah does. Pharaoh’s only option was to ask Jehovah for relief from the misery his rebellion created. Even devils believe God exists and tremble in his presence yet remain devils. Pharaoh was ready to give Israel religious freedom but was he sincere?
9 And Moses said to Pharaoh, “Accept the honor of saying when I shall intercede for you, for your servants, and for your people, to destroy the frogs from you and your houses, that they may remain in the river only.” 10 So he said, “Tomorrow.” And he [Moses] said, “Let it be according to your word, that you may know that there is no one like the Lord our God. 11 And the frogs shall depart from you, from your houses, from your servants, and from your people. They shall remain in the river only.”
Moses gave Pharaoh the honor of deciding when the frogs would leave and Pharaoh said “tomorrow.” Why not today? Jehovah delivers today. Today is the day of salvation, if you hear his voice today don’t harden your heart. Jehovah is shrewd will give you what you want. If you want to be delivered from your misery tomorrow, Jehovah will deliver you tomorrow but tomorrow’s deliverance is gonna stink.
12 Then Moses and Aaron went out from Pharaoh. And Moses cried out to the Lord concerning the frogs which He had brought against Pharaoh. 13 So the Lord did according to the word of Moses. And the frogs died out of the houses, out of the courtyards, and out of the fields. 14 They gathered them together in heaps, and the land stank.
The dead fish in the Nile made the river stink and now dead frogs make the land stink. Arrogant shepherds who refuse to let people worship their God according to their own conscience create a stench. The people who continue to support these shepherds deserve to smell the odor.
Moses said to Pharaoh, “Let it be according to your word, that you may know that there is no one like the Lord our God.” Pharaoh learned there is no one like Jehovah, when Jehovah judged him by the words of his own mouth. From this point on everything Jehovah did in his dealings with Pharaoh, he did “tomorrow.” All of the livestock of Egypt died tomorrow. The worst hailstorm ever to come upon a nation came tomorrow. The locust came to eat the crops of Egypt tomorrow. But there was something unique about God’s use of Pharaoh’s “tomorrow.”
Pharaoh used “tomorrow” to delay deliverance one more day. Pharaoh’s tomorrow kept him and all of his servants in misery one more day. God used tomorrow to delay misery until tomorrow. God’s tomorrow gave Pharaoh and all of his servants one more day to repent and escape misery.
34 Brood of vipers! How can you, being evil, speak good things? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. 35 A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good things, and an evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth evil things. 36 But I say to you that for every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgment. 37 For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.”
The “day of judgment” is any day God gives you opportunity to repent. Pharaoh’s heart was evil and out of the evil treasure in his heart he continually brought forth evil things in the land of Egypt, like one more day of suffering when everyone could have been delivered today. God’s heart is good. Therefore, he could not bring forth something evil even when he used Pharaoh’s evil words. Pharaoh was the reason everyone had to spend one more night of misery eyeball deep in frogs. God was the reason misery was delayed one more day in all future judgments against Egypt.
15 But when Pharaoh saw that there was relief, he hardened his heart and did not heed them, as the Lord had said.
Pharaoh had promised Moses if the frogs were removed he would let Israel worship Jehovah, but he lied. When misery left, the promise was forgotten. He pushed one more reason to believe to the back of his mind with the other reasons he sought to ignore. He was becoming heavy with truth, treasuring up wrath for the day of wrath. But God does not want Pharaoh to taste his wrath and acted quickly to give Pharaoh another reason to repent.
16 So the Lord said to Moses, “Say to Aaron, ‘Stretch out your rod, and strike the dust of the land, so that it may become lice throughout all the land of Egypt.’” 17 And they did so. For Aaron stretched out his hand with his rod and struck the dust of the earth, and it became lice on man and beast. All the dust of the land became lice throughout all the land of Egypt. 18 Now the magicians so worked with their enchantments to bring forth lice, but they could not. So there were lice on man and beast. 19 Then the magicians said to Pharaoh, “This is the finger of God.”
God sought to heal Pharaoh’s heart every way possible. If Pharaoh did not want hear Jehovah’s people, maybe he would listen to his own people. The magicians of Egypt are Pharaoh’s assistant pastors who help him teach the nation about god. These men believe gods exist, build elaborate temples to worship gods, believe in life after death and spend their entire lives preparing for the journey they must make after they die to face judgment.
Aaron stretched out the rod, the sign that Moses spoke the truth, to turn the dust of Egypt into lice, Pharaoh’s servants tried to make more lice and failed. These religious teachers, servants of Pharaoh, came to their shepherd with their professional opinion – “this is the finger of God.”
Pharaoh knows Jehovah appeared to Moses, he knows Jehovah is Lord, he knows there is no one like Jehovah in Egypt because Pharaoh’s people came into his throne room and told him we cannot do what Jehovah does, this is the act of a God. Even though Pharaoh’s heart is heavy with truth, he chose not to listen “just as the Lord had said.”
15 Go to Pharaoh in the morning, when he goes out to the water, and you shall stand by the river’s bank to meet him; and the rod which was turned to a serpent you shall take in your hand. 16 And you shall say to him, ‘The Lord God of the Hebrews has sent me to you, saying, “Let My people go, that they may serve Me in the wilderness”; but indeed, until now you would not hear! 17 Thus says the Lord: “By this you shall know that I am the Lord. Behold, I will strike the waters which are in the river with the rod that is in my hand, and they shall be turned to blood. 18 And the fish that are in the river shall die, the river shall stink, and the Egyptians will loathe to drink the water of the river.”‘”
Before Pharaoh could get the image of Moses’ serpent swallowing up the serpents of Egypt out of his mind, Jehovah sent Moses and Aaron back to Pharaoh with lesson #2 – Jehovah is Lord.
Jehovah instructed Moses to meet Pharaoh by the river with the rod that turned into a serpent eating serpent in his hand. As Pharaoh approached the river, the sight of Moses and Aaron was overshadowed by the rod; a glaring reminder that Jehovah appeared to Moses.
Before we continue with Pharaoh’s second lesson, let’s return to Moses experience at the burning bush. When Moses posed the problem that Israel may not believe him, Jehovah gave him three signs. The first sign was the rod turning into a serpent and then back into a rod. If Israel did not believe, Moses would perform the second sign: put his hand inside his cloak, and when he withdrew his hand it would be leprous. Put his leprous hand inside his cloak and when he withdrew it his hand would be healed. There is no indication Moses performed this sign before Pharaoh.
If Israel did not believe the first two signs and refused to listen to Moses, Jehovah instructed Moses to take water from the river and when he poured it on dry land it would be blood. This sign had a specific message from God attached to it: Jehovah is Lord. In summary, Israel was given two reasons to believe God appeared to Moses, and if they refused to believe then they would know who is Lord when they saw water turn into blood.
When Moses and Aaron spoke to Pharaoh, Pharaoh was given one reason to believe with a little extra evidence thrown in when Moses serpent swallowed the serpents of Egypt. Pharaoh believed Jehovah appeared to Moses but refused to grant Israel religious freedom. God responded by moving to the next lesson in Pharaoh’s education – Jehovah is Lord. Pharaoh can refuse to obey, but he will do so knowing the truth.
19 Then the Lord spoke to Moses, “Say to Aaron, ‘Take your rod and stretch out your hand over the waters of Egypt, over their streams, over their rivers, over their ponds, and over all their pools of water, that they may become blood. And there shall be blood throughout all the land of Egypt, both in buckets of wood and pitchers of stone.’” 20 And Moses and Aaron did so, just as the Lord commanded. So he lifted up the rod and struck the waters that were in the river, in the sight of Pharaoh and in the sight of his servants. And all the waters that were in the river were turned to blood. 21 The fish that were in the river died, the river stank, and the Egyptians could not drink the water of the river. So there was blood throughout all the land of Egypt.
Once again, we see God dealing mercifully with Pharaoh by giving him a greater miracle than he gave to Israel. Israel saw Aaron take water from the river and pour it out as blood on dry land. Pharaoh and his servants saw Aaron strike a river with Moses rod and the entire river turned to blood, as well as the streams, ponds and even water in buckets and pitchers.
The blood caused the fish in the river to die creating a stench in the land. When people know the truth and reject it, they create a stench. God dealt mercifully with Pharaoh because God is not willing that any should perish and where sin abounds grace does much more abound.
So where was the grace? They had to dig for it.
22 Then the magicians of Egypt did so with their enchantments; and Pharaoh’s heart grew hard, and he did not heed them, as the Lord had said. 23 And Pharaoh turned and went into his house. Neither was his heart moved by this. 24 So all the Egyptians dug all around the river for water to drink, because they could not drink the water of the river.
When Pharaoh saw rivers turn to blood, he called on his servants and they also turned water to blood. Apparently, Pharaoh never stopped to consider where his servants found water to turn into more blood. Verse 24 says the Egyptians dug around the river for water to drink. Even in God’s judgment against Egypt, he did not with hold what they needed to live. Pharaoh’s servants found the water they used to create more blood in Jehovah’s mercy.
If Pharaoh’s servants wanted to do something profitable, they should have turned the river back into water instead of creating more blood. Ministers who support rebellious shepherds in their foolishness do foolish things. They took Jehovah’s mercy and turned it into more blood. They can copy what Jehovah does but they cannot undo what Jehovah has done.
God did everything the ministers of Egypt could do before he moved onto things they could not copy. God was dealing with more than Pharaoh. He wanted Pharaoh’s servants to know him. Ultimately, it proved easier persuading Pharaoh’s servants to obey than persuading Pharaoh and just as hard to bring the servants of a tyrant to sincere repentance.
God sought to heal Pharaoh’s heart with an astounding miracle, but Pharaoh just blew it off, turned around and went home, his heart unmoved. Even though Pharaoh had evidence to believe there is a God greater than the gods he controlled, he refused to hear it. He was Pharaoh. His father was Pharaoh and his grandfather was Pharaoh. Pharaoh was the authority on the gods. Pharaoh decided which gods the nation would worship. Pharaoh mediated between man and the cosmic gods of the universe. When Pharaoh died, he would take his place as a god among gods. He wasn’t going to let a shepherd tell him that he was wrong about the gods.
Pharaoh’s pride in his power and position created an inability to listen with intelligence, but his lack of intelligence only lay in accepting the truth about God. He was shrewd in many other ways. He enslaved a million Israelites once highly honored by the nation of Egypt. He is wiser than God’s people, but he is not wiser than Jehovah.
Are you wondering if Pharaoh really believed Jehovah appeared to Moses? Did Pharaoh really believe Jehovah is Lord? Pharaoh believed and I’ll prove it.
After Pharaoh left Moses standing by a river of blood, Jehovah waited seven days before he sent Moses with another lesson which we will examine in greater detail next week. Again Pharaoh refused to give Israel religious freedom and God filled the land with frogs. When Pharaoh’s servants made more frogs but could not rid the land of frogs, Pharaoh called Moses and Aaron to the throne room and said:
“Pray to the Lord to take the frogs away from me and my people, and I will let your people go to offer sacrifices to the Lord.” NIV
If Pharaoh did not believe Jehovah appeared to Moses, why did he ask Moses to pray to the Lord? If Pharaoh did not believe Jehovah is Lord, why did Pharaoh call him Lord not once but twice?
By your words you shall be justified and by your words you shall be condemned. Pharaoh told his servants that Moses was a liar but Pharaoh’s plea for help revealed the truth.
Not only did Pharaoh believe Jehovah appeared to Moses and that Jehovah is Lord, Pharaoh’s actions proved Jehovah was greater than the gods Pharaoh taught a nation to worship. Why did he ask Jehovah for help, if the gods of Egypt were greater? And I have another question. If Pharaoh knows that Moses God is real and greater than the gods of Egypt, why did he refuse to let Israel worship a living God? Why did he hold Israel captive to serve his ideas about God?
8 Then the Lord spoke to Moses and Aaron, saying, 9 “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.’” 10 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. 11 But Pharaoh also called the wise men and the sorcerers; so the magicians of Egypt, they also did in like manner with their enchantments. 12 For every man threw down his rod, and they became serpents. But Aaron’s rod swallowed up their rods. 13 And Pharaoh’s heart grew hard, and he did not heed them, as the Lord had said.
As we work through Pharaoh’s education keep in mind that Pharaoh is a pastor, the shepherd of Egypt. His wise men and sorcerers, called the Magicians of Egypt in the New King James Bible are his assistant pastors.
The second time Moses and Aaron met with Pharaoh, Pharaoh asked them to perform a miracle as proof they acted on behalf of a God. Jehovah knew Pharaoh would make this request and had already instructed Moses to give his rod to Aaron, so he could throw it down and Pharaoh would see the rod turn into a serpent as it did when God spoke to Moses from the burning bush.
Now let’s go back to the burning bush and learn something important. Moses wanted to know what to do if Israel refused to believe that Jehovah sent him. Jehovah’s solution was simple. If Israel didn’t believe, all Moses had to do was cast his rod on the ground, and it would become a serpent. When he grabbed the serpent by the tail it would become a rod again.
5 “that they may believe that the Lord God of their fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has appeared to you.”
The rod turning into a serpent was a sign or proof that God appeared to Moses. But did this miracle work as God said it would? Let’s find out.
29 Then Moses and Aaron went and gathered together all the elders of the children of Israel. 30 And Aaron spoke all the words which the Lord had spoken to Moses. Then he did the signs in the sight of the people. 31 So the people believed;
The miracle had the effect on Israel that Jehovah promised. When the elders of Israel saw the rod turn into a serpent and then back into a rod, they believed that Jehovah appeared to Moses. When Pharaoh asked for a miracle as proof that Moses was acting on behalf of a God, Jehovah gave Pharaoh the exact same sign he gave to Israel so Pharaoh could believe Jehovah appeared to Moses.
In fact, Pharaoh received more evidence to believe than Israel did. When Pharaoh saw Moses’ rod turn into a serpent, he called on his assistant pastors to perform the same miracle. They cast their rods down and their rods also became serpents BUT Moses’ serpent swallowed up the serpents of Egypt. Pharaoh received a greater reason to believe that Jehovah appeared to Moses than Israel received. Jehovah dealt mercifully with Pharaoh because Jehovah’s goodness leads us to repentance.
4 Or do you despise the riches of His goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance? 5 But in accordance with your hardness and your impenitent heart you are treasuring up for yourself wrath in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God, 6 who “will render to each one according to his deeds”
Jehovah’s goodness leads us to repentance but that is not a guarantee we will repent. He does not force us to repent. He gives us a reason to repent. Even though Pharaoh was given a reason to believe Jehovah appeared to Moses, Pharaoh did not repent. He took the strength Jehovah sent to cure his heart and turned it into stubbornness against Jehovah.
Pharaoh had already told his people that Moses was a liar. When Moses’ serpent swallowed all of Pharaoh’s serpents it was evident that Moses spoke the truth. For Pharaoh to repent, he must admit that he was wrong about Moses. He must also humble himself by acknowledging there is a God he does not control. Pride stopped Pharaoh from repenting, and he turned a deaf ear to the truth. Pharaoh did what Paul told us some will do even though Jehovah is good to them. They will act in a way that increases Jehovah’s anger with them and prove that Jehovah’s judgment against them is right.
When Israel saw the miracle of the rod turning into a serpent and then back into a rod, they believed and worshipped Jehovah. When Pharaoh saw Moses’ rod turn into a serpent and swallow up the serpents of Egypt and then turn back into a rod, he also believed Jehovah appeared to Moses, but he still refused to let Israel worship their God.
So Moses returned to the Lord and said, “Lord, why have You brought trouble on this people? Why is it you have sent me? For since I came to Pharaoh to speak in Your name, he has done evil to this people; neither have You delivered Your people at all”
Then the Lord said to Moses, “Now you shall see what I will do to Pharaoh. For with a strong hand he will let them go and with a strong hand he will drive them out of his land.
God addressed Moses questions about the past by talking about the future. God was not looking back to deal on the past. He looked forward. Judgment began at the house of God but now it’s Pharaoh’s turn. Pharaoh served God’s purpose to discipline his people for their sins and Pharaoh will let them worship their God. In fact, Pharaoh will do more than let them go. He will drive them out of his land. This will not be the first time a Pharaoh had driven God’s people out of his land. Pharaoh told Abraham to take his wife and leave after he experienced great plagues too.
And God spoke to Moses and said to him: I am the Lord. I appeared to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, as God Almighty, but by My name Lord I was not known to them.
God wants us to know him. In Israel’s deliverance, God added revelation to the revelation he had already given Abraham. He added knowledge to the knowledge they already possessed. They knew him as God Almighty, but they did not know him as Lord. God is greater than one generation. The revelations given to each generation do not void the knowledge we have already acquired. Knowledge added to the knowledge we already possess gives us a clearer picture of who God really is.
1 Corinthians 13:12 KJV
For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; ….
Don’t be afraid to add another part to the parts you already possess about God. Moses generation received a part Abraham, Isaac and Jacob did not have. You and I have a part that Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Moses did not have. We have the name Jesus and the mystery his appearing revealed. They only knew him as the prophet who would come, they thought as a conquering king.
Deuteronomy 29:29 NKJ
The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but those things which are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law.
What ever God reveals about himself belongs to us and to our children that we may obey God’s law. God’s intent in coming to Egypt was more than deliverance. Before he left everyone knew that “He is Lord”.
First God told Moses “by my name Lord I was not known.” Than he said I am here because I remembered my covenant. You will be delivered from the Egyptians and,
I will take you as My people, and I will be your God. Then you shall know that I am the Lord your God…
Not only will God deliver Israel, they will know who is Lord. Moses told Israel what God said, but they were so miserable they don’t want to hear it. It did not matter to God whether they wanted to hear it or not. His mind was made up to deliver them and he is not leaving until it’s done. God told Moses to schedule another meeting with Pharaoh, but Moses objected saying:
…The children of Israel have not heeded me. How then shall Pharaoh heed me, for I am of uncircumcised lips?
Bear in mind Moses wrote this after it happened. Probably during the forty years they wandered in the wilderness. Before Moses recorded God’s answer to his question, he included a genealogy that identifies the family Moses and Aaron came from. If you are not careful, after you read the genealogy it appears Moses moved onto a new subject. It’s not a new subject because the same question was repeated followed by God’s answer.
And it came to pass, on the day the Lord spoke to Moses in the land of Egypt, that the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, I am the Lord, speak to Pharaoh king of Egypt all that I say to you. But Moses said before the Lord, Behold, I am of uncircumcised lips, and how shall Pharaoh heed me?
I want to point out one thing in God’s answer.
And the Egyptians shall know that I am the Lord, …
God had a lot more to say to Moses than I pointed out but his intent is to reveal a new name. He wanted Israel to know he is Lord but he also wanted the Egyptians to know he is Lord. In the context of what we are studying, deliverance, you need to know something. God is interested in more than your comfort. He wants you and your oppressor to know him.
Abraham knew him as God Almighty or El Shadday. El Shadday was the Patriarch’s covenant name for God and continued as such until the time of Moses when Israel added Lord or YHWH as the family name of their diety. The new name God gave to Moses appears without vowels in the Hebrews writings. Its exact pronunciation is debated as either Yahweh, Jehovah, or Yehovah. In the English versions of the Bible, it is usually translated as Lord.
I read several commentaries about YHWH and what it means. There was only one point of agreement. No one is sure what the names El Shadday and YHWH mean. Since nobody is sure, I guess my opinion is a good as anybody’s.
EL SHADDAY /GOD ALMIGHTY
When Abraham was ninety-nine years old, the Lord appeared to Abraham and said to him, “I am Almighty God; walk before Me and be blameless. And I will make My covenant between Me and you and will multiply you exceedingly.
The first time El Shadday or Almighty God appears is in Genesis chapter 17. Prior to God’s announcement that he is almighty; Abram and Sarah produced a son because everything God promised Abram depended on Abram having a son from Sarah. Their Egyptian servant gave birth to a son Sarah adopted. Their actions were acceptable according to their culture, but lacked the key elements of faith and love. When God appeared to Abram and said “I am Almighty God” I believe he rebuked Abram’s effort to multiply and make God’s plan work.
Sarah’s plan to use Hagar and Abram’s compliance implied God needed their help to fulfill his promise. God had not started something he could not finish. Abram and Sarah were worried they would not have a son in time to receive the Promised Land. They failed to understand God’s time is unlimited. Abram and Sarah did not understand the power of Almighty God.
If you look up Almighty in the Hebrew, it simply says Shadday means Almighty. Another commentator said, Shadday means “I am God all sufficient”. Vines Expository Dictionary says:
“ …the name is not explained in any manner and even the direction “walk before me” and be thou perfect” throw no light on the meaning of Shadday. Scholars have attempted to understand the word relating it to the Akkadian Shadu (mountain) as though God had either revealed his mighty power in association with mountain phenomena such as volcanic eruptions or that he was regarded strong and immutable like the everlasting hills of the blessing of Jacob. Certainly the associating of deity with mountains was an important part of Mesopotamian religion.”
We are not dealing with a Mesopotamian religion. A living God is dealing with us. Nor do I believe Shadday has anything to do with a mountain. I believe the only way to understand Shadday / Almighty is to understand it the same way Abraham did. What exactly did Shadday / Almighty mean to Abraham? How did Abraham understand I am God Almighty or I am God all sufficient?
I disagree with Vines conclusion “in its context Shadday or Almighty is not explained in anyway” and that “walk before me and be perfect shed no light to it’s meaning”. The thirteen years between Ishmael’s birth and God’s revelation to Abraham as Almighty mean nothing to God. At a ratio of 1,000 years being equal to 24 hours, 13 years to God is about 20 minutes later. That is why I believe God rebuked Abraham for producing a son.
The context God Almighty is invoked reveals how Abram understood what Almighty means. At least what it meant to him. The Apostle Paul also understood God Almighty in the same context.
Before God said to Moses, “I am the Lord, I appeared to Abraham, to Isaac and to Jacob, as God Almighty, but by My name Lord I was not known to them,” God Almighty was used six times in the same context – children, being fruitful, multiplying or becoming a vast multitude.
The children God produces fulfill his plan not the children we produce. Ishmael could never fulfill God’s plan without leaving his plan fallible. Ishmael would never be sinless. Only the son who came through Isaac would be sinless because God is Almighty. He is able to produce many sinless sons and daughters. One sinless son made it possible.
After God revealed himself to Abram as God Almighty. Abram’s son Isaac used the name God Almighty in the same context as his father.
May God Almighty bless you and make you fruitful and multiply you that you may be an assembly (or multitude) of people…
The third time God is speaking to Jacob, Isaac’s son, saying.
…I am God Almighty. Be fruitful and multiply; a nation and a company of nations shall proceed from you and kings shall come from your body.
The fourth time God Almighty was invoked Jacob was comforting himself. He thought Joseph was dead. In the midst of a famine his sons go to Egypt for food. Simeon is not allowed to return. Jacob had not hope he would see his son Simeon again. If they don’t return to Egypt everyone will die for lack of food. But they can’t return without Benjamin! Jacob can’t bear the thought of losing Benjamin too. His world was crashing down around him. Where is the promise of becoming a vast multitude? God promised Abram and personally promised Jacob that they would become a company of nations. Why was the opposite happening? Why did Jacob keep losing his children? How will God make them a great multitude? Joseph is no more. Simeon is gone. Now he was at risk of losing Benjamin. Then Jacob remembered what Daddy taught him and what God himself confirmed. God is Almighty. Jacob declared when he sent his son’s including Benjamin to Egypt.
And may God Almighty give you mercy before the man, that he may release your other brother and Benjamin. If I am bereaved, I am bereaved!
Jacob understood what his father and grandfather understood. It’s not the children we produce that fulfill God’s plan. If I am bereaved of all my children it does not matter because God is Almighty. When Jacob let go of the fear that he would lose the blessing of becoming a great multitude, he learned that he had not lost any of his children. They were all safe and doing well. In fact, the son he thought died years ago was ruling the nation of Egypt second only to Pharaoh, because God is Almighty.
The next time the name God Almighty was invoked Jacob was speaking to his son Joseph. God Almighty appeared to me and said he would make us a multitude of people and give the land to our seed said Jacob. The sixth and last time God Almighty was used by the patriarchs, Jacob was speaking prophetically about each of his sons. When he addressed Joseph he said,
By the God of your father who will help you and by the Almighty who will bless you with blessings of heaven above, blessing of the deep that lies beneath, blessing of the breasts and of the womb. The blessing of your father have excelled the blessing of my ancestors…
More sons will come into the kingdom of God through Joseph than through Abraham, Isaac and Jacob because Ephraim will become a multitude of nations.
In the New Testament, the Apostle Paul used Almighty one time in the same context as Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the context of sons and daughters.
2 Corinthians 6:18
I will be a Father to you, and you shall be My sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty.
When God said to Abram, “I am God Almighty” he made it clear to Abram I will do the multiplying. From that time forward Almighty was always used in the context of children and multiplying into a vast multitude. It did not matter how many children Abram produced. He had more sons than Ishmael and Isaac. But only one son enables us to be counted blameless or perfect.
Producing a child of God is a work of the Spirit. Jesus was speaking to Isaac’s descendants when he said, “your father is the devil.” Jesus was talking to the children who descended through Isaac. The children produced through a carnal act can’t bless us. The children God produces through a spiritual act are blessed. Jesus said to the religious leaders of his day,
Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you travel land and sea to win one proselyte, and when he is won you make him twice as much a son of hell as yourselves.
Human efforts to produce children for God are worthless. Only the Spirit of God can produce a child God’s love will never be taken from because only God is Almighty. Therefore, it is my conclusion that the name God Almighty revealed a God able to produce more sinless sons than there are stars in the sky or grains of sand on the seashore. I am counted as sinless in God’s eyes if I am in his sinless son Jesus. The only way for us to be blameless or perfect before God is to let God multiply the children.
LORD / YHWH
If Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob only knew a God who multiplies and blesses what does this new name YHWH reveal about God. As with El Shadday or God Almighty, the precise meaning of YHWH is much debated. Therefore, my opinion is as good as anybody else’s. Many of the commentaries stated the name YHWH was know as early as Adam but the fuller significance or experienced meaning of YHWH was not known until Moses day. So what was different about God in Moses day?
From Adam to Moses time we do not see God disciplining his creation. Adam and Eve were immediately judged. The people of Noah’s day were warned and judged. When Noah obeyed the rest of humanity were washed away in a flood. Abram went to Egypt contrary to God’s wishes and lied. Yet no discipline was forthcoming. God told the man Abram lied to the truth but did not rebuke Abram. To the contrary, Abram got rich in Egypt off a lie. He continued to lie in a tight spot and taught his son the same bad habit. Isaac told the same lies his father did. Jacob was an idol worshipper. Yet all they knew were God’s blessings without their sins being addressed.
In Moses day, we see a new side of God. He is not only Almighty, one who produces many sons and daughters. He is YHWH, A Father who disciplines his sons and daughters. They can’t go down to Egypt and get rich off a lie anymore.
The divine name YHWH is usually translated Lord in English versions of the Bible because it became a practice in late Old Testament Judaism not to pronounce the sacred name YHWH, but to say instead “my Lord” (Adonai).
Let’s look at an example of Lord being used as Father and son.
The Lord (YHWH) said unto my Lord (Adonai) sit thou at my right hand until I make thine enemies thy footstool.
The word Lord in Psalm 110 are two different Hebrew words, yet they are both translated Lord. Jesus quoted this verse to prove he is God. The Apostles quoted this verse that all the house of Israel would know assuredly that God /YHWH has made this Jesus whom you crucified both Lord and Christ. Through out the New Testament Paul addresses the trinity as three separate personalities. The Holy Spirit is the free gift of God the Father to his people and Jesus is always our Lord.
While there is no certainty as to what YHWH means among scholars I believe Paul knew what YHWH means. It means FATHER! Only a father who loves you will discipline you. Abraham, Isaac and Jacob only knew God would bless them. They never experienced his discipline as their children experienced in Egypt. Did that mean God did not love Abraham, Isaac and Jacob? Absolutely not! He loved them, but they were babies and you don’t take the paddle out until the child is mature enough to under stand why he is being disciplined.
Even Pharaoh knew the fatherly side of God. No, I have not lost my mind! I know God killed Pharaoh and thousands of the Hebrews in the wilderness. What kind of father kills his children? A Father who lives by the law he gives his children to live by.
Deuteronomy 21:18-21 NKJ
If a man has a stubborn and rebellious son who will not obey the voice of his father or the voice of his mother, and who when they have chastened him, will not heed them, then his father and his mother shall take hold of him and bring him out to the elders of his city to the gate of his city. And they shall say to the elders of his city, This son of ours is stubborn and rebellious; he will not obey our voice; he is a glutton and a drunkard. Then all the men of his city shall stone him to death with stones; so you shall put away the evil from among you, and all Israel shall hear and fear.
So you want to know why God killed Hebrews in the wilderness? I’ll tell you why! They were stubborn rebellious sons that had been chastened yet continued to rebel. Moses said to Israel,
Deuteronomy 9:7 NIV
Remember this and never forget how you provoked the Lord your God to anger in the desert. From the day you left Egypt until you arrived here, you have been rebellious against the Lord.
Pharaoh did the same thing the Hebrews did. He rebelled against the Lord from the first day Moses stood before him until he died in the Red Sea. God revealed himself in a new way that we might know God. That knowledge is a precious gift with the inherent ability to bless you or destroy you because,
2 Peter 2:21
… it would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness than having known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered to them.
When you know the truth and reject it what else can God do? Your rebellion affects others. You are not his only son. Your rebellion makes the rest of us miserable. How long must we bear your burden? How long must we wander in the wilderness because you know the truth and refuse to obey?
So Moses returned to the Lord and said, “Lord, why have You brought trouble on this people? Why is it You have sent Me? For since I came to Pharaoh to speak in Your name, he has done evil to this people; neither have You delivered Your people at all”
Pharaoh has done evil and God has not delivered his people. Why was that a surprise? When God spoke to Moses at the burning bush he said God would not let them go the first time they asked. The lack of deliverance is not the issue bothering Moses. It’s the evil that came upon the people God sent him to deliver.
Why do things get worse before they get better when God comes to deliver?
If you do a little research you can find a lot of good reasons God allowed Pharaoh to do “evil to this people”. Before we look at God’s answer to Moses questions, let’s look at a little background puts God’s answer into a clearer perspective.
MOSES IS A LIAR
Moses, Aaron and the elders of Israel appeared before Pharaoh to deliver God’s message but the meeting did not go well. Both the Hebrews and the Egyptians know some things about God, but they don’t really know God. If Pharaoh had known God, the trouble would not have come. The trouble that came upon God’s people should have given them the ability to “rightly divide” between God and man. We learned in the last lesson that Moses request for a leave of absence to worship God was common because the Egyptians were a very religious people. BUT to Moses,
…Pharaoh said, “Who is the Lord, that I should obey His voice to let Israel go? I do not know the Lord, nor will I let Israel go.”
Moses request and Pharaoh’s answer is not about Israel leaving to start a new nation. Pharaoh said NO to a request to worship God, even though others were permitted a leave of absence to worship gods. His request was denied because Pharaoh did not “know” the Lord. Pharaoh made a foolish decision he did not control Moses’ God. This God operated independent of Pharaoh and he couldn’t allow that. Nelsons Bible Dictionary says,
“The Pharaoh was a mediator between the people and the cosmic gods of the universe. …… the significance and honor of the Egyptian gods rose and fell according to the religious convictions of the ruling Pharaoh…”
Unlike the god’s Egypt worshipped, Pharaoh had no say in where and how the God Moses represented would be worshipped. If Pharaoh is not in control, he is not letting anyone worship “God” especially a god he does not KNOW! Not content with Pharaoh’s NO, Moses and Aaron repeated the request appealing to Pharaoh’s goodness.
So they said, “The God of the Hebrews has met with us. Please, let us go three days journey into the desert and sacrifice to the Lord our God, lest He fall upon us with pestilence or with the sword.”
Pharaoh is not the only one who does not “know” God. Moses and Aaron did not really know the God they serve. Help us Pharaoh. If you don’t let us worship God he is going to kill us. Why did they think God would destroy them with pestilence or with the sword? Had he ever done it before? After the Israel agreed to a covenant of law, there was some pestilence and sword but that was a nation of milk not a nation of milk and honey. Up to that time, the only stories their ancestors, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, had to tell were stories of blessings. Noone really knows God yet. Even the men sent to speak in his name do not know the God they represent. They are learning about God just as the people God sent them to deliver are learning about God.
Then the king of Egypt said to them, Moses and Aaron, why do you take the people from their work? Get back to your labor.
Go back to work Pharaoh demanded. The only valid god’s are the ones I teach you how to worship. Why work for a God that will destroy you with pestilence and sword.
And Pharaoh said, “Look, the people of the land are many now, and you make them rest from their labor!”
Moses, I have not destroyed any body. Look! The people of the land are many. You don’t need to rest and worship a God that would destroy you with pestilence and sword. Pharaoh attempted to discredit Moses and Aaron by pointing to the prosperous condition of the people. These people are doing OK worshipping god’s I know. Look how many they are. Why do you want them to stop working for me and go worship a foreign God, Moses? I’ve been good to them and this is how you treat me. You want to rest!
Pharaoh sowed seeds of doubt because Pharaoh is shrewd. He senses a rebellion brewing and leaves them with some things to think about. Pharaoh’s strategy almost worked. After this meeting, we find Moses questioning God. Why haven’t you delivered them? Why have you let evil come upon them? Maybe it is better to serve Pharaoh than the God of Abraham!
Pharaoh knew he had nothing to do with the people being many. He tried to reduce their numbers without success before Moses arrived. There was only one reason the people were many. The God of Abraham promised they would be many. Pharaoh attributed to himself what God had done in an effort to their leaders, because Moses and Aaron were not the only Hebrews standing before Pharaoh at this initial meeting. God told Moses at the burning bush,
… you shall come, you and the elders of Israel to the king of Egypt…
After Moses, Aaron and the elders left to ponder Pharaoh’s words, Pharaoh decided he better do something more than say NO! At one time, Moses was a prince in Egypt. Now, he had come back stirring up the people to worship a god according to his religious convictions instead of Pharaoh’s. Pharaoh can’t let that happen. He controls the multitudes with religion. The struggle between Moses and Pharaoh is a religious argument. Egypt recognized Pharaoh as the supreme authority on god and called him Lord. I can hear Pharaoh’s thoughts, “I’m God’s man of the hour not this abomination that wandered out of the desert wearing shepherds clothes reeking of sheep dung.”
“So the same day Pharaoh commanded the taskmasters of the people and their officers, saying, “You shall no longer give the people straw to make brick as before. Let them go and gather straw for themselves. And you shall lay on them the quota of bricks, which they made before. You shall not reduce it. For they are idle; therefore they cry out, saying, Let us go and sacrifice to our God. Let more work be laid on the men, that they may labor in it and let them not regard false words.”
“Let them not regard false words” another way of saying, Moses is a liar. Moses had already left. Pharaoh was speaking to his Egyptian taskmasters and their Hebrew officers. The officers are the Hebrew shepherds who forsook their calling to work for Pharaoh. Now Pharaoh’s servants must decide who is telling the truth about God?
Not much has changed since Moses and Pharaoh struggled over where and how God would be worshipped. To this day, servants still have to decide which leader is telling them the truth about God. Feeling threatened by the appearance of a new God Pharaoh did not know, Pharaoh wasted no time telling his servants whom to believe. He threw the first spear at Moses back by calling him a liar. Why not let the servants make up their own minds.
God and Pharaoh were fighting to win the hearts of their servants. Pharaoh might be shrewd but nobody is as shrewd as God. Pharaoh is not at war with Moses. He’s at war with God. Pharaoh thought he called Moses a liar. He really called God a liar, because Moses was only the messenger. Before God gave Pharaoh opportunity to repent, he used Pharaoh, who is his minister because all governing authorities are God’s ministers, to deal with his covenant people, the sheep and shepherds of Israel.
1 Peter 4:17-18 NKJ
For the time has come for judgment to begin at the house of God; and if it begins with us first, what will be the end of those who do not obey the gospel of God?
What is the end for those who do not obey the gospel of God? The first thing that comes to my mind is death. Ultimately, death is the end result of disobedience but death will not come until you have had opportunity to repent. Death is never the first item on God’s agenda when he deals with rebellious ministers and the sheep who follow them.
And the taskmasters of the people and their officers went out and spoke to the people, saying, “thus says Pharaoh: “I will not give you straw. Go, get yourselves straw where you can find it; yet none of your work will be reduced.” So the people were scattered abroad throughout all the land of Egypt to gather stubble instead of straw. And the taskmasters forced them to hurry saying, Fulfill your work, your daily quota, as when there was straw.
Before we talk about the dilemma of leadership, lets talk about the sheep who followed the Hebrew officers appointed by Pharaoh’s taskmasters. The sheep are depressed and miserable, so they cried out to God and things got worse. It’s not enough they had to make the bricks. Now they had to find the straw too. What good did it do to call on God for help?
A well-known verse of the Bible, we often hear quoted but seldom explained, says,
2 Chronicles 7:14-15 NKJ
…if My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.
The dirt we walk on does not need healing. The people do. God spoke these familiar words to Solomon in answer to Solomon’s prayer at the dedication of the temple. There is more to it than this but in the simplest of terms all Solomon asked God to do was make things right by bringing a man’s own way upon his head. God will not do what is wrong to make things right nor will he be mocked by the people he comes to deliver. Things were amiss in Egypt but it’s not ALL Egypt’s fault. Would it be right for God to deal with the sin of his ministers and ignore the sins of the sheep who empowered Pharaoh?
When Moses and Aaron returned to Egypt, they met with the elders before they made an appointment with Pharaoh.
Then Moses and Aaron went and gathered together all the elders of the children of Israel. And Aaron spoke all the words which the Lord had spoken to Moses. Then he did the signs in the sight of the people. So the people believed and when they heard that the Lord had visited the children of Israel and that he had looked on their affliction, then they bowed their heads and worshipped.
The Hebrew word for “the people” and the “elders” are two different words. This was a public meeting. The elders brought their congregations to a revival meeting in Goshen. Aaron preached. Signs were performed. People believed. They worshipped God. Sounds like a revival meeting we might have in our day, except for the signs. We see precious few of those.
Exodus does not record everything that happened that day. If we want a clearer picture of what happened at this revival meeting. We need to listen to a conversation God had with Ezekiel.
Say to them, Thus says the Lord God: On the day when I chose Israel and raised My hand in an oath to the descendants of the house of Jacob, and made Myself known to them in the land of Egypt,
Where did God raise his hand in an oath? He swore an oath in the land of Egypt. To whom was God speaking? God swore and oath in the land of Egypt to the descendants of the house of Jacob. God started at Jacob making it clear that he was talking about a different oath than the one he swore to Abraham. He swore an oath in the land of Egypt to Abraham’s great great great grandchildren. To the children of Abraham living in Egypt God said,
I raised my hand in an oath to them saying, I am the Lord your God. 6 On that day
What day? The day God made himself know to them in the land of Egypt. The day everyone gathered together and listened to Aaron declare everything God told Moses at Mt. Sinai. The day they saw signs, believed and worshipped God. On that day God said,
I raised My hand in an oath to them, to bring them out of the land of Egypt into a land that I had searched out for them, flowing with milk and honey, the glory of all lands.
This happened in the land of Egypt. Twice God said to Ezekiel, I raised my hand in an oath to be their God and deliver them. But more than a promise of deliverance was made that day. God also made a request.
7 Then I said to them, Each of you, throw away the abominations which are before his eyes, and do not defile yourselves with the idols of Egypt. I am the Lord your God.
Is this an unreasonable request? All God wanted was to be the only God in their life. He did not ask them to take up arms and go to war for their deliverance like the Lords of this world do. God fought for them. The people who needed deliverance did not have to deal with Pharaoh. God already had a man who did not need deliverance prepared to deal with Pharaoh. All the people had to do was love God and God only while God fought the war for their freedom. The battle we fight is the battle to stand still until God is finished. The battle we fight is to wait while God fights for us.
What did the people do? We know from the book of Exodus they believed and worshipped. We know from God their worship was not sincere.
8 … they rebelled against Me and would not obey Me. They did not all cast away the abominations which were before their eyes, nor did they forsake the idols of Egypt.
These are the people who heard Aaron preach, saw signs, believed and worshipped God but they never made him their only Lord. They just added him to the collection of gods they already worshipped. The gods their Lord Pharaoh taught them to worship. The God of Abraham was just one more way to get what you want in this life without changing your ways.
Then I (God) said, I will pour out My fury on them and fulfill My anger against them in the midst of the land of Egypt.
The people knew they angered God in Egypt. In the wilderness they said to Moses, “It would have been better if we died by God’s hand in Egypt”. So why didn’t God kill them in Egypt?
9 But I acted for My name’s sake, that it should not be profaned before the Gentiles among whom they were, in whose sight I had made Myself known to them, to bring them out of the land of Egypt. 10 Therefore I made them go out of the land of Egypt and brought them into the wilderness.
God did not kill them in Egypt because of who God is. He came to Egypt to deliver so everyone can know who he is. Life becoming harder was better than dead. God brought their own way on their own head. Their way was to follow Pharaoh and his gods. They accepted Pharaoh as their Lord. They treated the God of Abraham as though Pharaoh was his equal. If they want to keep Pharaoh as Lord and serve him, so be it. A Lord has the right to do what he wants with his servants.
The question is not why God let Pharaoh do evil to them. The question is why did they do evil to God? They heard the word. They saw the signs. They believed in God. They worshipped God. But they don’t want to do things God’s way. They did not want God to be their only God. They still wanted to be Pharaoh’s servants and worship his gods.
God allowing Pharaoh to do evil to them should have opened their eyes. It should have provoked them to say, Pharaoh is not a very good Lord. He made our job impossible and now beats us for failure to fulfill his demands. Why didn’t they say, “We have had enough of this mans harsh ways. Would a man who loved us be so unfair to us?”
The Egyptians believed in more than one god. Why couldn’t Israel worship the God of their choice without Pharaoh doing evil to them? was Pharaoh greater than God? Then why did God allow the devil to harass his people? The answer is very simple. God is not mocked, if you don’t want to get rid of Pharaoh and his ways you will have your fill of Pharaoh and his cruel ways?
Things will never get better until you get out of bed with the devil. God’s way is allowing no other God in your life but him. There is none his equal. All God wanted was for them to love him and him alone. Israel went from a hard life in Egypt to a harder life in the wilderness because they never forsook the idols Pharaoh taught them to worship. They never made the God of Abraham #1, their only Lord. Why is it evil to let evil come upon evil people? Why didn’t Israel get rid of their idols?
As I reflected on this lesson, I became frustrated. It’s easy to say get rid of your idols. But I don’t have figures of gods made out of wood or stone in my house that I can destroy. It would be a lot easier to obey this command if I did. How do you get rid of your idols?
It’s not the idol in the house you live in that’s the problem. It’s the idol in the house you live in that’s the problem. You can remove the idols from the house wood and brick your body lives in and an idol still be in the house your spirit lives in.
Ezekiel was talking to some elders of Judah when the power of God fell upon him. A creature that looked like a man grabbed Ezekiel by the hair and brought him to Jerusalem and said,
Ezekiel 8:6-12 Living Bible
“Son of Dust, do you see what they are doing? Do your see what great sins the people of Israel are doing here, to push me from my temple? But come, and I will show you greater sins than these! Then he brought me to the door of the Temple court, where I could see an opening in the wall. Now dig into the wall, he said, I did and uncovered a door to a hidden room. Go in he said, and see the wickedness going on in there! So I went in, The walls were covered with pictures of all kinds of snakes, lizards, and hideous creatures, besides all the various idols worshipped by the people of Israel. Seventy elders of Israel were standing there along with Jaazaniah (son of Shaphan) worshipping the pictures. Each of them held a censer of burning incense, so there was a thick cloud of smoke above their heads. Then the Lord said to me: Son of Dust, have you seen what the elders of Israel are doing in their minds?
God showed Ezekiel what was going on in the minds or hearts of his people. They were in his temple worshipping, but they were not worshipping a true image of God. The seventy elders and son of Shaphan were worshipping the pictures. In their minds God was a snake in the grass, a hideous creature. The carved image of stone or wood they set up in the temple Solomon built began as an image or picture in their mind first.
If the image or picture of God in your heart is not correct you can take the idol out of the house of wood and brick your body lives in but it’s not gone. It does not do God any good to take you out of Egypt if Egypt is still in your heart. Pharaoh’s whip on their back should have been enough to tell them what he had to say about God was not worth listening to. Yet when they were the wilderness as soon as Moses was out of sight and they thought he would not be back they made an image of a cow and worshipped it because the spiritual image of God in your heart is powerful. It controls you. People want to worship. Our problem is that we tend to worship anything and everything but God because we don’t have an accurate image in our minds of who God is.
I thought I did not have an idol in my house but I might. The New Testament calls my body a house, tent, dwelling place. Every one of us has an idea, image, picture of God in our heart. If the image of God in your mind is wrong, you are not worshipping God. You are worshipping an idol of your own creation. You are worshipping the vain imaginations of your own wicked heart. That is why your God is a snake in the grass, a hideous creature. Why would you worship somebody that is no better than you are? I’ll tell you why. If your God is evil it justifies the evil you do.
When I first came into Christianity I was taught an image of a hideous creature. One who made you sick with cancer so he could get glory. He was a snake in the grass that planned car wrecks and laid you up in the hospital because you had been neglecting him. Good people by the world’s standard taught me these things, people who did not smoke, drink or cruse. They had given their lives to help others – a pastor and his wife. They wanted to worship God and were doing their best to help others worship God, but they had an immature image of God. You can’t give people anymore than you have, and they did not have much.
Paul wrote to the Galatians,
My little children, for whom I labor in birth again until Christ is formed in you…
An image of who Christ really is needs to be formed in your thoughts. What do you think renewing your mind is all about? Until that image is mature, you are subject to do what Israel did after God delivered them. Worship an idol. See God as a cow, snake in the grass, or hideous creature. It does not mean you are not his. It means you are immature. Once God took Israel out of Egypt he never left them. He wanted to kill them a time or too but he never forsook them. The only people who died in the wilderness were those who insisted they were right and led others into error. You get your leaders reward, so choose carefully whom you follow.
We need to get rid of our idols. They are the reason there is so much fussing and fighting when people talk about God. If somebody says something contrary to the image of God you have accepted, your idol is being challenged and like Pharaoh you will claim the challenger is a liar. If the idol you worship is wicked, so are you. That is why you would rather get in a fight than live in peace with someone who does not agree with you. It’s very hard to admit what you chose to worship is not a real god. You have to be humble to admit you are wrong.
We have to throw away, ground into powder, burn in the fire, the false ideas we embraced about God because the false ideas about God that we worship are idols. If you want your life to get easier get rid of your idols. The truth about God is the only thing that will set you free. If you possess the truth, there is nothing to fear because the truth survives intense scrutiny.
All Israel really wanted when they called upon the God who delivered Jacob out of all his distress was a better life without changing their ways. They loved their idols. They loved the lie they worshiped. God will not overlook your sin when he comes to deliver. If you don’t clean out the idols you will have your fill of your idols and the man who taught you to worship them.
There are a lot of Christians caught in this no mans land today. Living miserable Christian lives because they have a miserable image of God in their hearts. Unable to find their way out because they have embraced ministers who sold themselves to walk in the ways of this world. Ministers who know nothing about God and his ways yet count themselves authorities on the way people ought dress, talk and walk. Ministers who have nothing to teach except their own religious convictions about right and wrong.
10 NIV .. these men speak abusively against whatever they do not understand and what things they do understand by instinct, like unreasoning animals, these are the very things that destroy them.
They criticize what they do not understand and destroy themselves with the things they do understand.
11 Living Bible Woe to them! For they follow the example of Cain who killed his brother; and like Balaam, they will do anything for money and like Korah, they have disobeyed God and will die under his curse.
12 NIV These men are blemishes at your love feasts, eating with you without the slightest qualm – shepherds who feed only themselves.
God will not overlook the sins of these ministers either because when God comes to deliver he sets things right by doing what is right. Our leaders bear responsibility for your life being miserable because they taught you to worship an idol.
What will God do to the ministers who feed themselves but not the sheep it is their job to love and serve? Kill them! I don’t think so! Not yet anyhow. Our God is good. He is patient and kind. He is not willing that any should perish even shepherds who follow their own desires. Those shepherds are still his sons who cry for his presence. But that will not stop the cry of desire from turning into a cry of anguish when Daddy comes home.
Also the officers of the children of Israel, whom Pharaoh’s taskmasters had set over them, were beaten and were asked, Why have you not fulfilled your task in making brick both yesterday and today as before?
Life getting harder because you have to find your own straw is not as bad as getting a beating. Pharaoh’s taskmasters only beat the officers they appointed. The Hebrew shepherds who led their brothers into the slavery of serving man and worshipping lies about God were beaten. That is the difference between being a leader and being one of the sheep.
My brethren, let not many of you become teachers, knowing that we shall receive a stricter judgment.
Never be ashamed to share what God has done for you personally but don’t be in a hurry to teach others about God. If you teach them wrong, ignorance will not excuse you from a beating. Jesus said,
Luke 12:47-48 KJV
And that servant, which knew his lord’s will, and prepared not himself, neither did according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes. But he that knew not, and did commit things worthy of stripes, shall be beaten with few stripes.
Ignorance is no excuse. If you do things that deserve a beating whether you did it in ignorance or not you will get a beating when God comes to deliver. Ignorance will not excuse you for leading God’s people into error. Ignorance only lightens the punishment to a few stripes instead of many. God takes the work his minister’s do serious whether they do or not.
Isn’t that a little harsh? Shepherds give up so much to enter the ministry and help people. Do they? You’re not helping people when you teach them lies about God. Aside from that, you don’t give up anything to enter the ministry you don’t get back in this present age.
Mark 10:29-30 NIV
“I tell you the truth,” Jesus replied, “no one who has left home or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for me and the gospelwill fail to receive a hundred times as much in this present age (homes, brothers, sisters, mothers, children and fields– and with them, persecutions) and in the age to come, eternal life.
If God has called you into the ministry and required you to sacrifice anything you will get back 100 times as much in this present age. God owes a debt to no man. If you sacrifice and don’t get it back. It may be God never sent you. God does not owe you anything if he did not require it.
Ignorance is no excuse. If you know it is the Master’s will for you to be in ministry Jesus said PREPARE and DO. You’re not doing God any favors if you don’t prepare yourself with the truth. If you don’t take the time to know God’s ways how can you teach anybody else to know God’s ways? All you will have to teach are your own religious convictions of the right and wrong way to worship God. All you will be able to do is dictate to people whether they can wear shorts or not. Eat crawfish or not. Go to the movies or not. All those things are matters of conscience between the sheep and their God. If that is all you have to teach you will end up leading God’s people into the slavery of serving your religious conviction and than wonder why you got a beating when your Lord comes to deliver.
Then the officers of the children of Israel came and cried out to Pharaoh, saying, Why are you dealing thus with your servants? There is no straw given to your servants, and they say to us, Make brick! And indeed your servants are beaten, but the fault is in your own people.
The fault is in your own people, Pharaoh! If they were slaves like the Africans were slaves in America they would never get away with talking like this. They were in a partnership that turned sour because God wanted their love.
But he said, You are idle! Idle! Therefore you say, Let us go and sacrifice to the Lord. Therefore go now and work; for no straw shall be given you, yet you shall deliver the quota of bricks. And the officers of the children of Israel saw that they were in trouble after it was said, You shall not reduce any bricks from your daily quota.
A daily quota meant a daily beating. It was impossible to meet the quota without Egypt supplying the straw. I wonder how times Egypt beat them before they understood it is far better to serve God than Pharaoh?
Moses wants to know why Pharaoh has done evil to this people neither has God delivered his people at all. Why is really no mystery? They don’t want to be God’s people. How many times did the officers of the children of Israel say “ I am your servant” to Pharaoh?
Why hasn’t God delivered these people at all is not the question. Why are God’s people in Pharaoh’s throne room kissing his ……feet and saying I am your servant to Pharaoh over and over after God has swore with an oath to be their God and deliver them from the misery of serving Pharaoh. Our God is a living God. He has eyes. He has ears. He sees what we do and hears what we say even when our brothers don’t.
Then, as they came out from Pharaoh, they met Moses and Aaron who stood there to meet them. And they said to them, Let the Lord look on you and judge because you have made us abhorrent in the sight of Pharaoh and in the sight of his servants, to put a sword in their hand to kill us.”
Excuse me! It was a whip not a sword. Blowing things out of proportion is a typical characteristic of immaturity. Children you only got a spanking.
Do not withhold correction from a child, For if you beat him with a rod, he will not die. You shall beat him with a rod, And deliver his soul from hell.
It just looked like a sword. God only gave them a whipping so he could deliver their soul from hell.
They wanted the Lord to look on Moses and judge! Might I ask what Lord? The evil man they just got through saying I am your servant to three times. Or the Lord they want to deliver them but they don’t want to honor him as their only Lord. They have made them selves abhorrent in the God of Abraham’s sight by bowing to a mere mortal but all they are concerned about is being abhorrent in Pharaoh’s sight.
If you have obeyed God don’t let anyone put a guilt trip on you for the mess their life is in. Moses did not know what happened in the throne room. Moses and Aaron were standing outside waiting to see how the meeting went. I wonder why the officers of the children of Israel met with Pharaoh privately. Could it be they had something to hide? They are one way in Pharaohs presence and another way in Moses presence. In Pharaoh’s presence, they are his humble servants. In Moses presence, they want the Lord to judge OTHERS! People with one foot in the world and one foot in the church will blame others for the mess their life is in because they want the Lord to judge others but they don’t want the Lord to judge them.
I can understand why Moses questioned God. He didn’t see what God saw. He didn’t hear what God heard. Moses does not know what is going on in the throne room. Moses thought his brothers were sincere about returning to the God of their fathers. I know this is a hard message but don’t be discouraged!
My son, do not despise the chastening of the Lord, Nor be discouraged when you are rebuked by Him; For whom the Lord loves He chastens, and scourges every son whom He receives. If you endure chastening, God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom a father does not chasten? But if you are without chastening, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate and not sons. Furthermore, we have had human fathers who corrected us, and we paid them respect. Shall we not much more readily be in subjection to the Father of spirits and live? For they indeed for a few days chastened us as seemed best to them, but He for our profit, that we may be partakers of His holiness. Now no chastening seems to be joyful for the present but painful; nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.
When God came to deliver Israel’s life grew harder because whom the Lord loves he chastens. Discipline is better than death, isn’t it? God was mad enough to kill them but HIS love put a rod of disciple in his hand instead of the pestilence and sword they feared. God is good, kind and gracious but he is not mocked. If you think you can use him to make your life easier while you continue to walk in your own ways, you are sadly mistaken. God can also be severe but don’t blow things all out of proportion. It wasn’t a sword flashing in the sunlight, only the buckle on God’s belt. You got a spanking because Daddy loves you.