Moses' first encounter exposed the enmity of Pharaoh and now Moses and Aaron confront the king of Egypt for a second time. On this occasion Aaron, when challenged by Pharaoh, substantiated his authority to speak on behalf of God. Although Moses and Aaron are God’s chosen representatives, the proceedings are God’s work as he sovereignly works out his purpose– to save and redeem his own people.
A sign is given in the presence of Pharaoh, as Aaron’s rod becomes a serpent. Oddly enough, the magicians of Egypt can do the same thing, but they are shown to be impotent when Aaron’s serpent devours their serpents. The battle is a spiritual one, and God shows that his power is greater than all the gods of Egypt. The plagues that fell on Egypt are representative of a substantial part of the historical narrative and the biblical material. These are judgements that God sent prior to the ultimate judgement which would secure the release of his people.
The first two plagues were associated with the waters of Egypt, especially the Nile. The Nile is sacred to the Egyptians and it was afflicted with blood and frogs. These were nuisance plagues which did not result in material loss or severe human affliction.
The second set of plagues God used made life miserable for the Egyptians. The gnats were unannounced but the flies were declared. At the conclusion of this pair of plagues, Pharaoh actually explored the possibility of compromise.
The last plagues can be seen as the disease plagues, the destruction plagues, the darkness plague, and the death plague.
Over and over, the pattern is the same as God shows his power, delineates between his people and the Egyptians, judges the land, and hardens Pharaoh's heart. However, following the ninth plague, the stakes would reach the unthinkable. God hardens Pharaoh’s heart; Pharaoh banishes Moses from his presence, and Moses predicts that he would not see the face of Pharaoh again. However, before Moses leaves the presence of the king for the last time, he describes the devastation of the tenth and final plague. Surely this Pharaoh would listen to God and seek the good of his people...
Thing To Consider:
- How are we to authenticate the ministry of God's servants today?
- Are miracles an end unto themselves? Why or why not?
- How are we like Pharaoh when it comes to dealing with our sin?
- How do we "harden" our hearts?
- How has sin affected our minds and wills?