THE PLAGUES BEGIN
God's Power Revealed
The Lord compares Moses and Aaron to a god and his prophet for Pharaoh. God is sending the two octogenarians back to reiterate God's decree to release his people. The Lord tells Moses that Pharaoh would reject their request again because of his hardness of heart. However, this time would be different, and God's power would be revealed through signs and wonders. God would lay his mighty hand on Egypt, and through acts of judgment, his children would be freed from their bondage. The Egyptians would know that the one true God delivered his people. God is faithful, and he emphasizes his activity: I have made (vs. 1), I will harden (vs. 3), I will lay my hand on Egypt (vs. 4), I stretch out my hand (vs. 5). Moses and Aaron may be his ambassadors, but God is rescuing his people and making his name famous among the nations. These discouraged men return and do just as the Lord commanded. The Lord tells them that Pharaoh will ask them to prove themselves with a miracle and Moses was to instruct Aaron to cast his staff down before Pharaoh where it would become a serpent. Emboldened by God's assurances, the brothers stand before Pharaoh again, and he does just as God said that he would. Imagine the look shared between the brothers as everything unfolds just as God said it would. Filled with faith, Aaron cast down the staff before Pharaoh, and it became a serpent. Pharaoh summons his wise men, sorcerers, and magicians who repeat this display by their secret arts. However, their impotence before the Almighty is evident when Aaron's staff devoured their serpents. God is showing that his power is greater than all of the gods of Egypt. Pharaoh is obstinate and would not listen because of his hardened heart.
The Lord tells Moses that Pharaoh's ongoing pattern of disobedience will now result in judgment. Moses is instructed to meet Pharaoh the following morning when he goes out to the Nile and stand on the bank with his staff in hand. Moses and Aaron are to repeat the command of the Lord to release his people to go serve him in the wilderness and point out his disobedience. God's power would be demonstrated by the water of the Nile turning to blood when the staff struck the water. God had revealed to Moses that he would during his encounter (4:9). The Nile turning to blood would be a total ecological disaster because the fish would die, the Nile would stink, and the people would suffer. Moses directs Aaron to stretch out his hand with the staff in it, and all the waters of Egypt would be affected including rivers, canals, ponds, pools, and any vessel that contained water. Pharaoh's magicians replicate it to a lesser degree, and Pharaoh's heart remains hardened. Pharaoh returned to his house and gave no thought to the suffering of his people as they struggled for seven days.
Things To Consider:
- Why do you think God uses people?
- What do we learn about the authority of God's word?
- Why does God require that Moses not deviate from his word?
- Why does God have to judge sin?
- How does obedience show faith?
- Why are people so resistant to God's authority?
- Why would God offer mercy to a hard-hearted Pharaoh?