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.