Up until this point, it has been difficult for Moses and Aaron to do what God had commanded them. Even their conversation with God had not given them the strength to deal with Pharaoh’s hard heart and cruel response. Add to that the response of the oppressed Israelites and they were knocked out of the fight.
But God did not allow them to be discouraged for very long. He God knew exactly what they needed to get back into the fight. He did not yell at them. He did not punish them. Instead, he went back to the basics and carefully explained what He had given them to do and what God Himself would do.
- God’s careful explanation (7:1-5)
[Read Exodus 7:1-5.]
Note how God explained the situation to Moses and Aaron. He simply explained their part in the plan, what He would do, and what would happen.
a. He would use them as ambassadors to Pharaoh (1-2).
The first thing He explained to them was what they would be to Pharaoh. When they spoke to Pharaoh, Moses would seem to be God and Aaron would be his prophet.
Moses was not God, but Pharaoh would view him as such. Apparently, the Egyptians were a polytheistic nation. They had gods for everything. Even Pharaoh’s first-born son was considered to be a god. You can imagine that each god had its own temple and leader. So, God told Moses that this is how Pharaoh would look at him.
Simply put, “Moses was to be God’s representative in this affair… . He was authorized to speak and act in God’s name.” (Bush 89). Everything Moses and Aaron said was what God intended for Pharaoh to hear. Let my people go.
APPLIC. Christian, have you ever considered that this is how the world may view you? They may not consider you to be God, but when you speak with the authority of Scripture, they will see you as an ambassador for Christ (2 Cor. 5:20). So keep in mind what a great privilege and responsibility God has given to you.
b. He would do His work in Egypt (3).
The next thing He explained to them was what He would do in Egypt. First, God would harden Pharaoh’s heart. Despite the many opportunities that Pharaoh would have, he never would respond favorably. As a result, God would harden his heart.
Second, God would do many signs and wonders in Egypt. During the next three to nine months (Meyer 116, Hannah 119), Pharaoh, the Egyptians, and the Israelites would see indisputable signs that they could not deny.
c. He would guarantee the results (4-5).
The last thing He explained is what would happen as a result.
First result: Pharaoh would not listen to them. God knew that Pharaoh’s heart would be hardened beyond any chance of repentance. So, he would disregard what Moses and Aaron said and would ignore the miracles done by God.
Second result: God would use these great judgments against Egypt to bring his people out of the land.
Third result: The Egyptians would know that God is the Lord when they saw the great wonders that He did in their land and when the Israelites were freed from captivity.
As mentioned before, the Egyptians had many gods. On one of their temples to Isis, they had this inscription: “I am that which was, and is, and shall be, and no man hath lifted my veil” (Meyer 107). When God was through with his judgments against Egypt, they would have no trouble knowing that the Great I Am had done it and not their false gods.
God’s careful explanation would have made it clear to Moses and Aaron what their job was and what God would do in the near future.
- God’s dynamic duo (7:6-7)
[Read Exodus 7:6-7.]
What was the result of God’s conversation with Moses and Aaron? These two became a dynamic duo used by God during the plagues of Egypt and for many years afterward.
a. They were willing to obey (6).
Isn’t it interesting how God’s careful (and repeated) explanation led Moses and Aaron away from their discouragement to obedience? Instead of sulking and wondering how they could accomplish anything God had told them to do, they believed what God had said and obeyed His orders.
b. They were old (7).
One interesting thing is the age of these men at the time God sent them to Pharaoh. Moses was eighty and Aaron was eighty-three. We have several in that age range attending our services today.
While people may have lived longer back then (Moses died at 120), they were considered old back then. The Law said that priests had to retire from duty at age 50. So, Moses and Aaron were past retirement age.
This ought to be an encouragement to those who are older today. If God could use two octagenarians, then maybe he can use all of us in some way to accomplish his purposes.
- God’s amazing miracle (7:8-13)
[Read Exodus 7:8-13.]
Pharaoh was someone who had respect for the supernatural. This is why he had magicians working for him. Because of this, God prepared Moses and Aaron with a sign to attract Pharaoh’s attention.
a. They were given a sign (8-9).
Why should Pharaoh have listened to Moses and Aaron? He was king of the land and they were just spokespersons for the slave population.
His magicians had probably gained his respect by doing some “magic” act. So, God instructed Moses and Aaron to do their sign when Pharaoh asked for it.
The sign used would be the rod turning to a snake. Remember how Moses had fled from his rod when God had him perform that sign on the mountain? This would be certain to get the Pharaoh’s attention… right?
b. They did the sign before Pharaoh (10-12).
Aaron cast his rod to the ground and it became a snake. But instead of fleeing, Pharaoh called for his magicians to do the same thing. Surprisingly, each magician did this and their rods became snakes.
How did they do this?
“Pharaoh’s magicians duplicated the feat by their secret arts, probably miracles empowered by Satan, not merely some sleight-of-hand trickery. Satan is able to perform ‘all kinds of counterfeit miracles, signs and wonders’ (2 Thes. 2:9) that deceive (2 Thes. 2:10; Rev. 13:11-15; cf. Matt. 24:24)” (Hannah 118).
While they were able to duplicate God’s miracle, they didn’t get their staves back. Aaron’s snake swallowed each of their snakes and there was nothing they could do about it!
c. They were unsuccessful (13).
After seeing his magicians duplicate God’s miracle, Pharaoh’s heart became hard and he didn’t listen to God’s command to let the people go.
This response did not invalidate Moses and Aaron, or God. Instead, this was exactly what God had said would happen (see Ex. 7:4).
Moses and Aaron had failed to convince Pharaoh to let the people go. However, they had shows him and his magicians that God is greater then they are. This by itself is success.
- God’s first plague (7:14-25)
[Read Exodus 7:14-25.]
Although, they were unsuccessful in getting Pharaoh’s attention with the rod-to-snake sign, God was not done with His plan. These verses cover the first of ten plagues which God used for His purposes in Egypt.
a. It was done because of Pharaoh (14-16).
ILLUS. Have you ever pointed two fingers at your eyes and then at someone else. This means that you are watching the person you pointed to.
In verses 14-16, note how God pointed out Pharaoh’s hard heart and unwillingness to let Israel go. Rebellion against God is not something that frightens God; neither is it something that goes unnoticed.
God told Moses and Aaron to address these words to Pharaoh while the king was going to the water, presumably to bather. They were to address him because of his unwillingness to recognize the Lord (Who is the Lord?) and his unwillingness to let the people go.
b. It was announced for a purpose (17-18).
By this first plague, God would cause Pharaoh to know that “I am the Lord.” As the water turned to blood in the Nile River and surrounding ponds and streams, Pharaoh would be shown that God is the Lord and should be respected and obeyed.
As a result of this act of God, all of the fish in the Nile River would die, it would stink, and nobody would be able to drink the water.
Why would God attack their water supply?
“The Nile, considered the source of Egypt’s livelihood, was regarded as a god. When the Nile flooded its banks in July and August it inundated the soil, thus making it possible to grow bountiful crops. At that time the Pharaohs officiated at ceremonies commemorating the blessings brought by the river” (Hannah 121).
If the people considered the Nile River to be a god, they would soon see that it was under the power of “The Lord” and that it was impotent to help them when the Lord said otherwise.
c. It was fulfilled as promised (19-21).
Moses and Aaron were sent to meet Pharaoh at the bank of the river in the morning. “Probably Pharaoh’s visits to the river at early dawn were for purposes of worship” (Meyer 120). As the priests chanted their hymns of worship (Meyer 120), they were interrupted with the pronouncement of a plague which would certainly get their attention.
God told Moses to have Aaron lift his rod over all the water of Egypt including the streams, rivers, ponds, and pools. The plague would cause all the water to become blood including water stored in buckets and pitchers.
For some reason, Aaron raised his rod and then struck the water in the Nile River. Pharaoh and his servants were watching what they did and saw the water become blood. And as God had promised, the fish in the river died, the river stank, and blood was throughout the land.
ILLUS. I recently read an article about an ancient document written about 1400 BC. In that article, it describes a terrible time where blood was throughout the land.
If anything would get the attention of Pharaoh, this would be it. But how did he respond?
d. It was ignored by Pharaoh (22-25).
Instead of being amazed at the first plague, Pharaoh turned his attention to his magicians who were able to do the same thing. Somehow, perhaps by Satan’s power, they were able to cause water to turn to blood.
“If all the water became blood, where did the magicians obtain water to duplicate the feat? The answer seems to be in verse 24: the waters in the Nile were stricken but no the natural springs or waters filtered through the soil” (Hannah 121).
Despite the seven days of blood replacing the water in the Nile, and despite the discomfort caused to all the people, Pharaoh was unconcerned about the first plague. This is remarkable but not unexpected since God had foretold how Pharaoh would respond to the plagues.
What do we learn from this chapter?
1. Some people are so hard-hearted that nothing will change their minds.
Pharaoh was this same kind of person. He would not believe God’s words proclaimed by Moses and Aaron. Neither would be believe because of the miracles God did through them.
Do you remember when Jesus talked about the rich man and Lazarus? (Luke 16:19-31) The rich man while tormented in Hell asked for Abraham to send Lazarus to warn his relatives about the coming judgment. he reasoned that if a dead man came back to life, they would listen to him. But Abraham stated that if his relatives would not listen to Moses and the prophets, they would not listen if someone rose from being dead.
While God has used miracle in the past to convince people of his truths, there are some who will never listen even if they see great miracles. For these people, we can only pray and ask God to soften their hard hearts before it is too late.
2. Sometimes we just have to obey God and let him handle the results.
Once again, it would seem that God’s plan was foiled by Pharaoh and his magicians. Not only did they not fear God, but they were unwilling to do what He commanded. Had Moses and Aaron failed? No. Moses and Aaron were not told to make Pharaoh let the people go. They were simply told to tell him to do so.
When God gives us a task to do (pray, read the Bible, tell the good news, etc.), our only duty is to obey not to be successful. God is in charge of the results, not us. Remember what Jonah said in the belly of the whale? “Salvation is of the Lord.” When we come to the place where we are willing to obey, we have made it half-way. When we come to the place where we obey and leave the results to God, we have arrived where God wants us to be.
George Bush, Notes on Exodus, (Minneapolis: James & Klock, reprint 1976, orig. 1852)
John D. Hannah, “Exodus” in Bible Knowledge Commentary Old Testament (USA: SP Publication, 1985)
F. B. Meyer, Studies in Exodus, (Grand Rapids: Kregel, 1978)