By Donnie V. Rader
The story of Moses and his spokesman Aaron going before Pharaoh with the demand of God to let his people go is rich with principles that drive home practical lessons.
The texts we are considering are Exodus 7-10. Moses and Aaron go before Pharaoh and demand the release of the children of Israel who were being held captive and used as servants by the Egyptians. With each denial of the request, God sent a plague upon the land of Egypt. Nine plagues are delivered by the end of chapter 10.
Let’s consider some lessons from these chapters.
1. Wrong on the part of others can be used to demonstrate the power of God (Exod. 7:4). Each time Pharaoh rebelled and stubbornly refused to heed the demand of God, it simply gave God an opportunity to demonstrate his power with another plague.
God used the apostasy of the Jews to bring the Gentiles in and the jealousy it created to win back some of the Jews (Rom. 11). Today, God can use (not cause) the depth of the sin of man to demonstrate this power to forgive (Col. 1:20-22). However great the sin, there is that much more grace (Rom. 5:20).
2. Our obedience should be just as we have been commanded. God had commanded Moses and Aaron to go before Pharaoh. “Then Moses and Aaron did so; just as the Lord commanded them, so they did” (Exod. 7:6). Our obedience should be “just as the Lord commanded.” Partial obedience is not true obedience. We cannot be selective in which commands are important and which are not. We must obey just as we have been instructed.
3. When the heart is not moved, it is hardened. After the first plague Pharaoh’s heart was not moved (Exod. 7:23). The verse before says his heart grew hard (v. 22). Thus, I conclude that when one will not allow his heart to be moved by the message of God, his heart becomes harder. With each rejection it gets harder and harder until the gospel no longer can prick the heart (Acts 2:37).
4. The absurdity of waiting until tomorrow. When the second plague (the frogs) came upon Pharaoh’s land, he called upon Moses to entreat the Lord to take away the frogs (Exod. 8:8). Moses told Pharaoh to pick the time he wanted to frogs removed (v. 9). Pharaoh said, “Tomorrow” (v. 10). Why wait? Why not removed them now? In essence he said, “Let us spend one more night with the frogs.” Sound strange? Yet, there are people in sin (non-Christians and Christians alike) who want to be forgiven, but put it off for a week, a month, or a year. Though God is ready to forgive, they are saying, “Let me have one more week or month with my sins.” I’d rather have the frogs.
5. God takes care of his people. With the fourth plague (the flies) God specifically excluded the land of Goshen (where his people lived) so that they did not suffer like the wicked Egyptians (Exod. 8:22). I must conclude that God takes care of his people. He promises to put his eyes over us and have his ears attuned to our prayers (1 Pet. 3:12).
6. Some make promises and pleas only when they are down. Pharaoh cared little about God and his people. Only when the plagues had him in a corner did he cry out to God for deliverance and promise to release the children of Israel (Exod. 8:29ff). Yet when the plague was lifted he returns again to his stubborn rebellion against God. Today, there are those who continue in their lives of sin until all is out of their control and only then do they make promises of doing better if their situation is improved.
7. Those who fear God regard his word and obey. Exodus 9:20-21 shows a contrast between those who fear God and those who do not regard his word. Thus, those who fear God are those who regard the word of God. Later Moses told Pharaoh that he knew he would not fear God (9:30). The context shows that he meant he would not obey God.
8. God expects us to pass the knowledge of him on from generation to generation. God told Moses that as he showed his power and might in the plagues, he wanted told “in the hearing of your son and your son’s son the mighty things that I have done among them, that you may know that I am the Lord” (Exod. 10:2). The grandchildren and great-grandchildren of Moses and Aaron should have been just as impressed with the mighty plagues as they were. God expects us to well inform our children so they will know the Lord God and be able to do the same for their children.
9. Stubbornness has consequences. No one has been any more stubborn in dealing with God’s requirements than Pharaoh was. However, his stubbornness led to the destruction of his land, his people, his power, and himself. Today there are people who are so stubborn that they refuse to obey the gospel lest someone get the impression they are being “pushed” or “forced” into doing what they don’t want to do. One who will not swallow his pride and submit to the Lord in obedience is stubborn. Stubbornness has consequences.
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