Are you dreading anything right now? Is there something coming up that you know you have to finish or deal with, yet at the same time, you know you’re going to hate it? It’s kind of the worst feeling: expecting the worst and with no options but to painfully push forward.
Perhaps Moses and Aaron felt the same way. After hearing God’s earnest promises and encouragement, the two men are headed back to speak with Pharaoh. They had to have been nervous. Last time they’d relayed God’s messages to the king of Egypt, he had cracked down harder on the Israelites. This time not only were they going to reiterate God’s commands, but they were going to perform signs before Pharaoh.
Twice Moses and Aaron went to Pharaoh. Twice they displayed the power of God through miracles. First, Aaron threw down his staff, and the entire court watched as God turned his staff into a snake. The second time, Moses took the same staff that had become a snake (verse 15, obviously it went back again) and struck the Nile river with it, watching as God transformed all the water into blood (gross). Twice Pharaoh’s magicians were frantically summoned for an explanation and twice the magicians were successfully able to replicate the signs displayed by Moses’s and Aaron’s God. Twice Pharaoh ignored God’s wonders, refusing to free his Israelites slaves. Two swings. Two misses. And it was only just the beginning…
The Treasures Within:
A Balancing Act
Every story has a protagonist and an antagonist. There is always a conflict. Good vs. evil. So it seems was the case in this chapter. Miracles vs. counter-miracles, Moses’s and Aaron’s prophecies vs. Pharaoh’s hardening heart. God vs. Satan. Who will win?
Well, God will win, obviously. Right? We know this because He’s so powerful. He’s the Creator of the universe. He made everything and knows and understands and has power over all of it. But if those statements are true, then this battle playing out here in Egypt gets a bit more complicated. If God is in control, then surely He could make things go a bit more smoothly, yes? But if God is in control, then certainly it must be His decision not to let things go smoothly! We see evidence of this in verse 3 when God clearly says that He was going to be the one to “harden Pharaoh’s heart”. But why? Why not soften Pharaoh’s heart so the Israelites can go free? Why is God working against Himself? Same with the miracles. Pharaoh’s magicians recreated God’s miracles. They can’t change a stick into a snake or water into blood! Only God can! It’s almost as if He gave them the ability to do that. Again, why? Why would God go against His own desire to free His people? The powerful God who controls all things is apparently letting chaos reign instead!
Leave No Doubt
There’s a song that says that everything God does, He does it well. And I’ve always thought, much like a romantic hero, that everything God does, He does it for you and I. We know the first statement is true because God is in possession of all wisdom and power. We know the second statement is true because God is love and He loves us fiercely and awesomely. God would never do anything inefficient or unwise. He would never do anything to hurt us. Yet, here we are in the Israelites’ story, and it looks like God has broken both of those rules.
But there’s a simple explanation. It is found in verse 17. Here God says, speaking of the first plague He would strike the Egyptians with, that “by this you will know that I am the Lord”. God had a goal that transcended the quick freedom of the Israelites or the humiliation of Pharaoh’s magicians. What good would it do if the Israelites were instantly freed, but without the absolute assurance that it was God’s strength and His alone that released them from the bonds of slavery? Freedom is amazing, but knowledge of the one true God and what He is capable of is life-giving. God wanted to leave no doubt that He was behind this. Freedom from slavery was not going to end up being attributed to Aaron’s eloquence or Moses’s bravery. The Israelites were not going to walk out of Egypt thinking it was the logic of their arguments, the kindness of Pharaoh’s heart, or the power of social justice that set them free. By the end of this, they would know and we would know and every future reader of this miracle would know that the Lord is the only God and He set His children free.
God’s Message To Us:
“Look for Me even in the midst of uncertainty.” You do not have a perfect life. I do not have a perfect life. Things go wrong. We embarrass ourselves. We get into car accidents. We fall ill. We lose people we love. We sink into depression. We are oppressed by governments, principalities, and powers. Yet these things do not mean that God is not wise, that He is not fair, that He is not powerful, or that He does not love us. These things don’t mean that God cannot be trusted. These things don’t mean that God is one big, walking contradiction. Because somewhere still, in the midst of our pain, our confusion, and our hurt, God is there. He sees us. He hears us. And He has a plan. We may not understand what He is doing. We may not see the light at the end of the tunnel. Still, we can believe. Still, we can wait on the Lord. Still, we can be sure that our Lord is God. And once He gets done with us, there will be no question about it.
There Are Always Questions:
- In verse 1, God says something really interesting. He compares Aaron to a prophet – God’s prophet, actually. The God in this analogy? Moses! That’s so odd to me – I would expect God to say that both Moses and Aaron are His prophets or something. Why compare Moses to God? Does God ever do that again in the Bible? Why now?
What do you think? What stood out to you about this chapter of the Bible? What did God teach you as you read from this chapter?