The next section of Explore the Bible is “Divine Purpose (Exodus 5:1-10:29).” Again, with such a large section I recommend mostly reading through it many times. This post will include, as the last did, an introduction, an outline, and brief comments.
We saw last time how the people of Israel were being fruitful and multiplying (Genesis 1:28, et. al.) continuing even when Egypt started to persecute them first with slavery then attempting to kill all new born boys. But God raised up a savior named Moses and when the people cried out to God, He called Moses and sent him back to Egypt to save His people. The last section ended with the worship of God by His people because they had believed His promise of deliverance.
In this next section God begins the campaign of requests and plagues to glorify Himself by showing His power through Pharaoh (Exodus 9:16). During the course of these requests and plagues: the labor of the Israelites is made more intense; God exalts Himself over the gods of the Egyptians; Moses is solidified as the human leader of Israel; and, the heart of Pharaoh is hardened by God and by himself.
- God sends Moses and Aaron for the initial request (5:1-6:9)
- Moses requests, Pharaoh refuses
- Pharaoh punishes instead
- Punishment causes everyone to question God
- God responds with by restating His faithfulness to His callings and promises
- God sends Moses and Aaron back in to Pharaoh, Moses shows no confidence, God restates His charge to them (6:10-13)
- Initial sign for Pharaoh and Pharaoh’s hard heart (7:1-13)
- Nine of the Ten Plagues (7:14-10:29)
The content this week is again mountainous. I will touch on a few things that I don’t think will be emphasized by other short studies on these chapters.
When God sends Moses and Aaron in for the initial request, no signs or wonders just God demanding His people, God teaches His people obedience through suffering. If you know the story it’s not surprising that Pharaoh refuses and punishes. This has been God’s plan to show His name great. But His people suffer. We should learn from this that we should not lose confidence in God because we suffer. He is not opposed to suffering coming if it comes in the course of glorifying Himself. The cross is the ultimate example of this. Jesus suffered unimaginably that the LORD might be glorified – AND He was and is!
When Moses shows no confidence in his own words again after they have suffered this apparent defeat of Pharaoh’s refusal and when the people are dejected (5:20-23), God grounds His commands in His promises (6:6-8) and His commission (6:13). When suffering is encountered we need to look at God’s promises and see that He is faithful to do as He says. We should take confidence in our salvation and in God’s calling on our lives. He has proven Himself throughout history. Philippians 1:29 reads, “For it has been granted to you that for the sake of Christ you should not only believe in Him but also suffer for His sake.” God is the Savior and He has promised to save His people but in the same way He grants us suffering. And a calling that contains suffering is still from God. So when we encounter suffering He have faith that He has also granted us salvation through Jesus Christ. And both have been granted that Christ may be glorified for suffering well shows that Christ is sufficient and valued above everything else in your life!
Two last things remain for me to touch on: 1) Pharaoh’s hard heart and, 2) the Ten Plagues. Pharaoh’s hard heart was always a discussion point going through Exodus in my church as I grew up. A brief treatment of it is difficult so I encourage you most of all to study more. But these are my comments. God hardens whoever He desires to harden (Romans 9:17-18), the same way He shows mercy. This is not unjust of God because we are His creation and we have sinned grievously and continually against Him (Genesis 6:5, Jeremiah 17:9, Matthew 7:11, Romans 3:10-18) and for these two reasons He owes us nothing. He hardens by giving people over to their desires as Romans 1:24, 26, 28 phrases it. God is not imposing hardness on those who don’t want to be hardened but He is giving them up to the sins of their desires, removing His preserving grace from them. Pharaoh does not initiate this process, God does. As we track it through Exodus (and note the way it is stated in Romans 9:17-18) we see God’s initiative (Exodus 4:21, 7:3, 13, 14, 22, 8:15, 19, 32, 9:7, 12, 34, 35, 10:1, 20, 27, 11:10, 14:4, 8, 17). Four types occur: God promises to harden; Pharaoh is the passive subject of hardening, “Pharaoh’s heart was hardened”; Pharaoh actively hardens his heart, “Pharaoh hardened his heart”; and God is the active worker of the hardening of Pharaoh. This shows us that salvation is of the Lord. He does as He pleases (Psalm 135:6). We should be thankful that He is glorifying Himself by showing His mercy and His power and justice. We should be especially thankful that He has directed His mercy toward us because there is nothing in us that deserves His mercy!
Lastly, notice how God gains glory over Egypt by conquering their gods in the plagues. There were many gods for the Egyptians. God defeats every category of them through at least one plague. Two notable ones are the god of the Nile river whom God defeats by making it blood and the sun god, Ra, whom He defeats by making Egypt dark for three straight days. These two gods were seen as the givers and takers of life but God defeated them both. Partly God shows His power over the Egyptian gods as a way of conquering the Egyptians. In another way He shows His worthiness to be worshiped, especially to the Israelites. Our God is the only God, He is the LORD and has power over all things, worthy of all worship and praise for His deliverance from every enemy and sin and death and hell!