Exodus 7

 

   GOD COUNSELS MOSES AND AARON ON HOW TO APPROACH PHARAOH

 

Vs. 1-9. — Once more God made allowance for the weakness and self-distrust

of Moses, severely tried as he had been by his former failure to persuade Pharaoh

(ch. 5:1-5) and his recent rejection by the people of Israel (ch. 6:9). He made

allowance, and raised his courage and his spirits by fresh promises, and by a call

upon him for immediate action.  The process of deliverance, God assured him,

was just about to begin.  Miracles would be wrought until Pharaoh’s stubbornness

was overcome.  He was himself to begin the series at once by casting his rod upon

the ground, that it might become a serpent (v. 9). From this point Moses’

diffidence wholly disappears. Once launched upon his Heaven-directed

course, assured of his miraculous powers, committed to a struggle with the

powerful Egyptian king, he persevered without blenching or wavering until

success crowned his efforts.

 

1 “And the LORD said unto Moses, See, I have made thee a God to

Pharaoh: and Aaron thy brother shall be thy prophet.”

 “And the LORD said unto Moses, See, I have made thee a God to Pharaoh:

Moses was diffident of appearing a second time before Pharaoh, who was so much his

worldly superior. God reminds him that he is in truth very much Pharaoh’s superior.

If Pharaoh has earthly, he has unearthly power. He is to Pharaoh “as a god,” with a

right to command his obedience, and with strength to enforce his commands. and

Aaron thy brother shall be thy prophet”.  “thy spokesman”— the interpreter of thy

will to others.  Compare ch. 4:16. 

 

2 “Thou shalt speak all that I command thee: and Aaron thy brother shall speak

unto Pharaoh, that he send the children of Israel out of his land.”  Thou shalt

speak. The Septuagint and the Vulgate have, “Thou shalt speak to him,” which

undoubtedly gives the true sense. Moses was to speak to Aaron, Aaron to Pharaoh.

(See ch. 4:15-16.)

 

 

God Assigns to Each Man His intellectual Grade (vs. 1-2)

           

Three different intellectual grades are here set before us:

 

Ø      that of the thinker,

Ø      that of the expounder, and

Ø      that of the mere recipient.

 

Pharaoh, notwithstanding his exalted earthly rank, occupies the lowest position. He

is to hang on the words of Aaron, who is to be to him as a prophet of the Most High.

Aaron himself is to hang on the words of Moses, and to be simply his mouthpiece.

Moses is to stand to both (compare ch. 4:16) as God.   And here note, that the

positions are not self-assumed (like Korah Numbers 16; Jude 1:11; Aesop’s

Fable of The Ox and the Frog – CY – 2017) — GOD ASSIGNS THEM!

So there are leaders of thought in all ages, to whom God has given their

intellectual gifts, whom He has marked out for intellectual pre-eminency, and

whom He makes to stand to the rest of men as gods. Sometimes they are their

own prophets — they combine, that is, the power of utterance with the power of

thought. But very often they need an interpreter. Their lips are uncircumcised.

They lack eloquence; or they even lack the power of putting their thoughts into

words, and require a “prophet,” to publish their views to the world. The

“prophet-interpreter” occupies a position very much below theirs, but still one

requiring important and peculiar gifts, such as God alone can give. He must have

the intelligence to catch the true bearing, connection, and force of the ideas

presented to him, often in rude and uncouth language, like statues roughhewn.

He must be able to work up the rough material into presentable

form. He must have a gift of language, if not a gift of speech. The great

mass of men occupy a lower rank than either of these; they can neither

originate, nor skillfully interpret; it remains that they be content to receive.

God has given to them their humble position, as He has given to the others

their loftier ones. They should cultivate their receptivity. They should be

satisfied to listen and learn. (As Jesus said, “He that hath ears to hear, let him

hear.”  Matthew 11:15; “He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit

saith unto the churches.”  Revelation 2:7,17,29. Unfortunately many are

in the condition spoken of by Paul from Isaiah “Well spake the Holy Ghost by

Esaias the prophet unto our fathers, Saying, Go unto this people, and say,

Hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand; and seeing ye shall see,

and not perceive: For the heart of this people is waxed gross, and their

ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes have they closed; lest they should

see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their

heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them.”  Acts 28:25-27 –

CY – 2017)

 

3 “And I will harden Pharaoh’s heart (See the comment on Exodus 4:21),

and multiply my signs and my wonders in the land of Egypt”.  The idea of a

long series of miracles is here, for the first time, distinctly introduced. Three signs

had been given (ch. 4:3-9); one further miracle had been mentioned (ibid. 23).

Now a multiplication of signs and wonders is promised.   Compare chps. 3:20,

and 6:6, which, however, are not so explicit as the present passage.

 

 

 

Heart-Hardening (v. 3)

 

On this subject, see above, and on ch. 4:21. The present seems an appropriate

place for a somewhat fuller treatment.

 

  • HARDENING AS PROCEEDING FROM GOD. “I will harden Pharaoh’s

heart.” This, assuredly, is more than simple permission. God hardens the heart:

 

Ø      Through the operation of the laws of our moral constitution, These

laws, of which God is the author, and through which He operates in the

soul, ordain hardening as the penalty:

 

o        of evil conduct,

o        of resistance to truth, and

o        of all misimprovement and abuse of privilege.

 

Ø      Through His providence — as when God, in the execution of His

judgments, places a wicked man in situations which He knows can only

have a hardening effect upon him. He does this in righteousness. “God,

having permitted evil to exist, must thereafter of necessity permit it also to

run its whole course in the way of showing itself to be WHAT IT REALLY

IS, as that which aims at the defeat of the Divine purpose, and the

consequent dissolution of the universe.” This involves hardening.  (Acts 5:29)

 

Ø      Through a direct judgment in the soul of the individual, God smiting

him with a spirit of blindness and infatuation in punishment of obstinate

resistance to the truth. This is the most difficult of all aspects of hardening,

but it only cuts the knot, does not untie it, to put superficial meanings upon

the scriptures which allege the reality of the judgment (e.g. Deuteronomy 28:28;

II Thessalonians 2:11). It is to be viewed as connected with what may be called

the internal providence of God in the workings of the human mind; His

government of the mind in the wide and obscure regions of its involuntary

activities. The direction taken by these activities, seeing that they do not

spring from man’s own will, must be as truly under the regulation of

Providence, and be determined in quite as special a manner, as are the

outward circumstances of our lot, or those so-called fortuities concerning

which we are assured: “Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? and one

of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father.” (Matthew 10:29).

It is a significant fact that, as sin advances, the sinner becomes less and less a

free agent, falls increasingly under the dominion of necessity. The involuntary

activities of the soul gain ground upon the voluntary. The hardening may be

conceived of, partly as the result of a withdrawal of light and restraining grace;

partly as a giving of the souL up to the delusions of the adversary, “the spirit

that now worketh in the children of disobedience” (Ephesians 2:2), whose will

gradually occupies the region in the moral life vacated by the human will,

and asserts there a correspondingly greater power of control; and partly as

the result of a direct Divine ordering of the course of thought, feeling, and

imagination. (America and the world today seems to have no cognizance

of what happens to an individual, can and does happen on a large scale,

and that seems to be what is happening today!  Compare Genesis 6:3;

II Thessalonians 2:7-12 – CY – 2017)  Hengstenberg acutely remarks:

“It appears to proceed from design, that the hardening at the beginning

of the plagues is attributed, in a preponderating degree, to Pharaoh, and

towards the end to God. The higher the plagues rise, so much the more does

Pharaoh’s hardening assume a supernatural character, so much the more

obvious is it to refer it to its supernatural causality.”

 

  • HARDENING IN ITSELF CONSIDERED. The heart is the center of

personality, the source of moral life, the seat of the will, the conscience,

and the affections (Proverbs 4:23; Matthew 15:18). The hardening

of the heart may be viewed under two aspects:

 

Ø      More generally as the result of growth in sin, with consequent loss of

moral and religious susceptibility; and

 

Ø      As hardening against God, the author of its moral life. We have but to

put these two things together:  the heart, the seat of moral life, hardening

itself against the Author of its moral life — to see that such hardening is of

necessity FATAL, an act of moral suicide. It may elucidate the subject to

remark that in every process of hardening there is something which the

heart parts with, something which it resists, and something which it

becomes. There is, in other words:

 

o        That which the heart hardens itself in, viz. some evil quality, say

injustice, cruelty, lust, hate, secret enmity to God, which quality

gradually becomes a fixed element in character;

 

o        that which the heart hardens itself against, viz. the influences of truth,

love, and righteousness, in whatever ways these are brought to bear

upon it, whether in:

 

§         the promptings of conscience,

§         the movements of natural sensibility,

§         the remonstrances of parents and friends,

§         the Word of God, and/or

§         the internal strivings of the Spirit!

 

o        that which the heart parts with in hardening, viz.:

 

§         with its original susceptibility to truth,

§         with its sensitiveness to moral influences,

§         with its religious feeling,

§         with its natural generosity, etc.

\

The result is:

 

§         blindness,

§         callousness,

§         lostness to:

 

ü      the feeling of right,

ü      the sense of shame,

ü      the authority of God,

ü      the voice of truth, and

ü      even to TRUE SELF-INTEREST.

 

(THIS IS SHOWN EMPHATICALLY NOWHERE

MORE CLEARLY IN AMERICA’S BESETTING

SINS WHICH ARE FLAUNTED IN YOUR-FACE

AND WHICH CERTAINLY DOES NOT PROMOTE

THE GENERAL WELFARE OF THE NATION!

viz.:

 

ü      drugs

ü      abortion

ü      homosexuality

ü      division of the sexes

ü      (ad nauseam – CY – 2017)

 

Ø      All hardening is thus double-sided;

 

o        hardening in hate, e.g., being at the same time hardening against love,

with a loss of the capacity of love;

 

o        hardening in injustice being a hardening against justice, with a loss

of the capacity for moral discernment;

 

o        hardening in cruelty being a hardening against kindliness the quality

of being kind, warmhearted, or gentle; benevolent, tender, sympathetic,

compassionate, and underestanding, with a corresponding destruction

of the benevolent sensibilities;

 

o        hardening against God being at the same time hardening in self-hood,

in egoism, with a loss of the capacity of faith.

 

We hence conclude:

 

Ø      All evil hardens, and all hardening in moral evil is in principle

hardening against God. The hardening may begin at the circumference of

the moral nature, and involve the center, or it may begin at the center, and

work out to the circumference. Men:

 

o        may be enemies to God in their mind by wicked works (Colossians 1:21),

o        they may have “the understanding darkened,” and be “alienated from

the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the

blindness (margin:  hardness) of their hearts,” and being “past feeling”

may give “themselves over unto lasciviousness, to work all uncleanness

with greediness” (Ephesians 4:17-19), and  be STRANGERS  to God’s

revealed truth. All sin, all resistance to light, all disobedience to

conscience, has this hardening effect (compare Romans 1:19-32).

But it is a will which has broken from God which is thus in various

ways hardening itself, and enmity to God is latent in the process. The

moment the truth of God is brought to bear on such a nature, this

latent enmity is made manifest, and, as in the case of Pharaoh, further

hardening is the result. Conversely:

 

Ø      Hardening against God is hardening in moral evil. The hardening may

begin at the center, in resistance to God’s known will, and to the strivings

of His Spirit, and thence spread through the whole moral nature. This is

the deepest and fundamental hardening, and of itself gives a character to the

being. A heart hardened in its interior against its Maker would be entitled

to be called hard, no matter what superficial qualities of a pleasant kind

remained to it, and no matter how correct the moral conduct.

 

Hardening results in a very special degree from RESISTANCE TO THE

WORD OF GOD, TO DIVINE REVELATION!   This is the type of

hardening which is chiefly spoken of in Scripture, and which gives rise to

what it specially calls “the hard and impenitent heart” (Romans 2:5).

All revelation of God, especially His revelation in Christ, has a testing power,

and if resisted produces a hardness which speedily becomes obduracy

(stubbornly persistent in wrongdoing, resistant to persuasion or softening

influences),   God may be resisted in:

 

o        His Word,

o        His Spirit,

o        His servants,

o        His chastisements, and

o        in the testimony to His existence and authority written

on the soul itself.

 

But THE HIGHEST FORM OF RESISTANCETHE WORST AND

DEADLIEST  IS RESISTANCE TO THE HOLY SPIRIT’S WITNESS

OF AND DRAWING TO CHRIST!

 

  • THE HARDENING OF PHARAOH COMPARED WITH

HARDENING UNDER THE GOSPEL. Pharaoh stands out in Scripture

as the typical instance of hardening of the heart.

 

Ø      He and Jehovah stood in direct opposition to each other.

Ø      God’s will was made known to him in a way he could not mistake.

He pretended at first to doubt, but doubt soon became impossible.

Ø      He resisted to the last. And the longer he resisted, his heart grew harder.

Ø      His resistance was his ruin.

 

In considering the case of this monarch, however, and comparing it with

our own, we have to remember:

 

Ø      That Pharaoh was a heathen king. He was naturally prejudiced in favor

of the gods of Egypt. He had at first no knowledge of Jehovah. But we

have had from infancy the advantage of a knowledge of the true God,

of His existence, His attributes, and His demands.

 

Ø      Pharaoh had a heathen upbringing. His moral training was vastly

inferior to that which most have enjoyed who hear the Gospel.

 

Ø      The influences he resisted were outward influences — strokes of

judgment. The hardening produced by resistance to the inward

influences of Christianity, strivings of the Spirit, etc., is necessarily

of a deeper kind.

 

Ø      What was demanded of Pharaoh was the liberation of a nation of slaves

in our case it is required that we part with sins, and yield up heart

and will to the Creator and Redeemer. Outward compliance would

have sufficed in his case; in ours, the compliance must be inward and

 spiritual. Here, again, inasmuch as the demand goes deeper, the

hardening produced by resistance is of necessity deeper also. There is

now possible to man the unpardonable sin of blasphemy against

THE HOLY GHOST!(Matthew 12:32; Hebrews 6:4 6).

 

Ø      The motives in the two cases are not comparable. In the one case, God

revealed in judgments; in the other, in transcendent love and mercy.

 

 

  • CONCLUSION:   “To-day, if ye will hear His voice, harden not your hearts”

(Hebrews 3:7-8, 13, 15, 4:7). Beware, in Connection with this hardening, of

“the deceitfulness of sin,” The heart has many ways of disguising from itself

the fact that it is resisting God, and hardening itself in opposition to Him.

(“The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked.  Jeremiah

17:9) 

 

Ø      One form is procrastination. Not yet — a more convenient season.

(Acts 24:25) 

Ø      A second is compromise. We shall find attempts at this with Pharaoh.

By Conceding part of what is asked-giving up some sin to which the

heart is less attached — we hide from ourselves the fact that we

are resisting the chief demand. Herod observed John the Baptist, and

“when he heard him, he did many things, and heard him gladly’

(Mark 6:20).

Ø      The forms of godliness, as in the Pharisees, may conceal from the

heart its denial of the power thereof. Conscience is quieted by

church membership, by a religious profession.

Ø      There is disguised resistance in all insincere repentance. This is seen

in Pharaoh’s relenting. Even when the resistance becomes more avowed,

there are ways of partially disguising the fact that it is indeed God

we are resisting.

Ø      Possibly the heart tries to wriggle out of the duty of submission by

caviling at the evidence of revelation.

Ø      Or, objection is perhaps taken to something in the manner or

form in which the truth has been presented; some alleged defect

of taste, or infelicity of illustration, or rashness of statement, or

blunder in science, or possibly a slip in grammar. Any straw will

serve which admits of being clutched at. So:

 

o       conviction is pushed off,

o       decision is delayed,

o       resistance is kept up,

 

and all the while:

 

o       the heart is getting harder;

o       less sensible of the truth,

o       more ensnared in error.

 

It is well also to remember that even failure to profit by THE WORD, without active

resistance to it (if such a thing is possible) — simple want of care in the cherishing

of good impressions, and too rash an exposure to the influences which tend to

dissipate and destroy themwill result in THEIR DISAPPEARANCE and in

A CONSTANT HARDENING OF THE HEART!   The impressions will not

readily return with the same vividness.

 

TODAY AND NOW, HEAR AND OBEY THE VOICE OF GOD!

 

4 “But Pharaoh shall not hearken unto you, that I may lay my hand

upon Egypt, and bring forth mine armies, and my people the

children of Israel, out of the land of Egypt by great judgments.”

“But Pharaoh shall not hearken unto you, that I may lay my hand upon Egypt-

Pharaoh’s obstinacy was foreseen and foreknown. He was allowed to set his will

against God’s, in order that there might be a great display of Almighty power,

such as would attract the attention both of the Egyptians generally and of all the

surrounding nations.  God’s glory would be thereby promoted, and there would

be a general dread of interfering with His people. (See ch.15:14-16; Deuteronomy

2:25; 11:25) “and bring forth mine armies, and my people the children of Israel,

out of the land of Egypt by great judgments.  

 

5 “And the Egyptians shall know that I am the LORD, when I stretch forth

mine hand upon Egypt, and bring out the children of Israel from among them.”

(Sixty-two (62) times this phrase is used in Ezekiel alone about God working in

the end times – Reader – we need to “look up for our redemption draws nigh”

[Luke 21:28] – CY – 2010)  They shall know that I am the only God who is truly

existent, other so-called gods being nonentities. They will know this and feel this

when I stretch forth mine hand upon Egypt, as I am about to stretch it forth.

 

 

The Fierceness of Man Turns to God’s Praise (vs. 3-5)

 

The most signal triumphs of Divine power are those in which the resistance

to it is the most determined. The greatest of all victories was probably that

which was gained when — after “war in heaven” – (Revelation 12:7) - Satan      

was seen, like lightning, falling from heaven to earth. Since then, great triumphs,   

tending to God’s praise, occur whenever the right and the truth succeed against

seemingly insuperable opposition. When the boy shepherd with his sling and         

stone smites to the earth the gigantic Philistine — when the proud Sennacherib     

after all his boasts has to leave Jerusalem unhurt and fly to Nineveh —God’s        

might is seen and recognized, as it would not have been, unless overwhelming      

strength had seemed to be arrayed against comparative weakness. When the          

“heathen rage,” and the “kings of the earth and rulers” are on their side,

and the cry of defiance goes forth: “Let us break God’s bands asunder, and     

cast away His cords from us” – (Psalm 2:1-4) then God is most apt to show

His might — to “refrain the spirit of princes,”  and make it manifest that He

“is “wonderful among the kings of the earth.” The longer and fiercer the    

opposition, the more conspicuously is God’s praise shown forth. Blow follows      

blow until the opposing power is shattered, smitten to the ground, laid prostrate.   

Then is the time for the song of triumph: “Be wise now therefore, O ye kings:     

be instructed, ye judges of the earth. Serve the Lord with fear, and rejoice      

with trembling. Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and ye perish from the right     

way, when his wrath is kindled but a little. Blessed are all they that put

their trust in him!”  (Psalm 2:10-12).

 

6 And Moses and Aaron did as the LORD commanded them, so did they”.  This

statement is general, and anticipative of the entire series of interviews beginning here

(v.10), and terminating at ch.10:29, with the words, “I will see thy face no more.”

The obedience of Moses and Aaron was perfect and continuous from this time

forward until Egypt was quitted.  (May we do so in this twenty-first century – CY –

2010)  

 

7 And Moses was fourscore years old, and Aaron fourscore and three

years old, when they spake unto Pharaoh.  8 And the LORD spake unto Moses

and unto Aaron, saying,” Fourscore years old. This age is confirmed by the

statement (in Deuteronomy 31:2; 34:7) that Moses was a hundred and twenty at his

death. It is also accepted as exact by St. Stephen (Acts 7:23, 30).  Moderns are

surprised that at such an age a man could undertake and carry through a difficult

and dangerous enterprise; but in Egypt one hundred and ten years was not

considered a very exceptionally long life, and men frequently retained their

full vigor till seventy or eighty.

 

 

        God Still Glorified Amid Human Weakness and Sin. (ch. 6:28-7:7)

 

  • MOSES’ WEAKNESS (ch. 6: 28-30). The command was —

“Speak thou unto Pharaoh.” Moses in his despondency is overpowered by

the sense of his infirmity. He fears the ridicule of the Egyptian court. There

are times when the sense of our unfitness for speaking God’s words

crushes us. Let us take heed lest lowly self-judgment pass into unbelief and

disobedience. The loss of faith in ourselves is no reason why we should

cease to trust God.

 

  • GOD’S REMEDY (vs. 1-2). Moses’ slowness of speech is

veiled by unthought-of glory. He that feared the derision of Pharaoh is

surrounded with dreadful majesty and made as God to him. To obedient

faith, felt incompetency for the task God calls us to, will only be the

occasion of His bestowing upon us more abundant honor. Our very

defects can be transformed into power. A man’s very awkwardness often

disarms criticism and appeals to the heart as the most faultless elegance can

never do.

 

  • JEHOVAH WILL BE GLORIFIED IN PHARAOH’S UNBELIEF (vs. 3-5).

 

Ø      They are forewarned of Pharaoh’s stubborn refusal. We are not sent on

God’s errand with false expectations.

Ø      God’s purpose will be accomplished, not defeated, by that opposition.

His defiance will only call forth the revelation of God’s terribleness. Where

sin has sought to dwell and to reign, the terrors of God’s judgment will

alone be remembered.

Ø      Egypt will also know that God is Jehovah — the faithful One. God’s

name will be written in their punishment as well as in Israel’s redemption.

 

  • THE VERY AGE OF GOD’S SERVANTS WILL PRAISE HIM

(v. 7). The childhood of Samuel, the youth of Daniel, the old age of

Moses and Aaron are arguments of unconquerable strength for the feeble

and despised to trust and toil.

 

Ø      There is a place for all.

Ø      No man’s day is over if he will only yield to God. The dying thief who

believed in his dying agonies has been among the mightiest preachers of

God’s infinite grace.

 

 

A God to Pharaoh (vs. 1-8)

 

Moses was in the trying position of being sent out anew upon a mission in

which hitherto he had not had the slightest particle of success. His

discouragement was natural. Pharaoh, on a previous occasion, had

repulsed him. He had lost the ear even of his own people. The situation,

since his former interview with the monarch, had altered for the worse. To

proceed further was like rowing against wind and tide, with little prospect

of ever reaching shore. Discouragement wrought in the usual way. It led

him to magnify difficulties. He brought up again his old objection of his

deficiencies of speech. Even with Aaron as an intermediary, he felt how

awkward it would be to appear in the presence of Pharaoh, and not be able

to deliver his own message. His inability of speech would certainly, he

thought, expose him to contempt. Yet observe, God forebore with him.

His reluctance was not without sin, but God, who knows our frame, does

not expect to find in us all at once the perfection of angels, and is

compassionate of our weakness. We have here, therefore:

 

  • A DISHEARTENED SERVANT SUITABLY ENCOURAGED. God

told Moses:

 

Ø      That he would clothe him with an authority which even Pharaoh would

be compelled to respect. “See, I have made thee a god to Pharaoh”

(v. 1). It was not with words only that Moses was sent to Pharaoh. Powers

would be given him to enforce his words with deeds. The judgments he

would bring upon the land would clothe him with a supernatural terror —

make him a superhuman and almost a divine person — in the eyes of

Pharaoh and his servants. (compare ch. 12:33.) So God gives attestation

to His servants still, making it evident by the power of the Holy Ghost upon

them, that they come in His name, and speak with His authority. He

accompanies their word with Divine power, giving it efficacy to arrest,

convict, and convert, and compelling the haughtiest of the earth to

acknowledge the source of their message. So Felix trembled before Paul

(Acts 24:25). Paul’s Gospel came to the Thessalonians, “not in word

only, but also in power, and in the Holy Ghost, and in much assurance”

(I Thessalonians 1:5).

 

Ø      That the work of deliverance would be no longer delayed. This also was

implied in what God said to Moses: the time had come for speech to be

exchanged for action. Everything indicated that the “charge” with which

Moses was now entrusted was to be the final one. It should encourage

desponding servants to reflect that God has His “set time” for the fulfillment

of every promise; and that, when this period arrives, all their mourning will

be turned into joy.

 

  • THE COURSE OF ISRAEL’S DELIVERANCE FORETOLD.

 

Ø      Foretold because foreseen. It is God’s prerogative that He knows the

end from the beginning (Isaiah 42:9). Nothing can take Him by surprise.

He knows all the way His purposes are to travel. The whole future lies

mapped out, as in a clear-drawn chart, before Him.

 

Ø      Foreseen because pre-ordained. God, like Christ in the miracle of the

loaves, knew in Himself what He would do (John 6:6). Nothing was left

to chance in His arrangements. The steps in His plan were fixed beforehand.

What would be done would be according to God’s “determinate counsel

and foreknowledge” (Acts 2:23) — would be “whatsoever (His) hand

and (His) counsel determined before to be done” (Acts 4:28). The

deliverance was arranged in such a way as most to glorify the power and

greatness of the Deliverer, and demonstrate His superiority to heathen

idols. This in no wise implies that violence was in the very least done to

human freedom, though it suggests that God can so interweave the

volitions of men, in the situations in which He places them, into His

purposes, as to leave not one of them outside His settled plan. The chief

difficulty is in the hardening of Pharaoh’s heart, here (v. 3) represented

as an ordained link in the chain of God’s designs. But if this hardening

simply means that God will place Pharaoh, already a bad man, in

circumstances which He knows infallibly will harden his heart, and if this is

done justly, and in punishment of former sins, the hardening taking effect

through unalterable laws of the moral nature, which also are of God’s

ordainment, it is difficult to see what righteous objection can be taken to it.

 

Ø      Foretold for wise ends. Similar predictions of the course of the

deliverance had been made at earlier stages (compare ch. 3:19-22; 4:21-23;

6:1-9). They are here repeated:

 

o        For the instruction of Moses, that he might be prepared for all that was

to happen — that he might understand and cooperate with God in the

execution of His designs.

 

o        For the re-invigoration of Moses’ faith.

 

o        That it might be evidenced by the working-out of this fore-announced

plan, that the God of Israel was indeed Jehovah, a free, personal Being,

working in history for the accomplishment of gracious purposes. “The

secret of the Lord is with them that fear him” (Psalm 25:14). God takes

Moses into His counsel, and discovers to him something of His plan of

operation. So he does in the Scriptures with His Church (Revelation 1:1).

 

  • A GLIMPSE OF GOD’S END IN PROVIDENTIAL

GOVERNMENT (vs. 3-4). The end is twofold:

 

Ø      The manifestation of the utterly free and unconstrained character of

His grace and mercy in THE SALVATION OF MAN; and

 

Ø      What is the necessary counterpart of this, the manifestation of His power

and justice in the infliction of judgments upon His enemies. Even evil is

thus made to contribute indirectly to the ultimate and eternal

establishment of RIGHTEOUSNESS OF GOD!

 

9 “When Pharaoh shall speak unto you, saying, Show a miracle for

you: then thou shalt say unto Aaron, Take thy rod, and cast it

before Pharaoh, and it shall become a serpent.”  It is obvious that there

would have been an impropriety in Moses and Aaron offering a sign to Pharaoh

until he asked for one. They claimed to be ambassadors of Jehovah, and to speak

in His name (ch. 5:1). Unless they were doubted, it was not for them to produce

their credentials. Hence they worked no miracle at their former interview. Now,

however, the time was come when their credentials would be demanded,

and an express command was given them to exhibit the first “sign.”

 

 

Miracles the Credentials of an Ambassador from God (v. 9)

 

It is not easy to see any way in which God could authenticate a message

as coming from Him, except by giving the messenger supernatural powers.

Conceivably, He might proclaim His will from heaven directly, in terms of

human speech. But even then doubts would be raised as to the words uttered;       

men’s recollections of them would differ; some would question whether words     

were used at all, and would hold that it had “thundered” - (John 12:29). If, to     

avoid such results, He speaks to man through man, how is he to make it clear

that His prophet has indeed been sent by Him? He cannot make His messenger     

impeccable, if he is still to be man. He cannot give him irresistible eloquence,

for eloquence is at once suspected; the reason rises up against it and resists it.        

What other course is there, but to impart to His messenger a portion of His own    

command over nature — in other words, to give him the power of working           

miracles? The light of nature seems to have taught Pharaoh to ask for this proof.   

The same light taught Nicodemus to accept it — “No man can do these

miracles that thou doest, except God be with him” (John 3:2). So it will

ever be with simple men in simple times. It is only when men have become

sophisticated, when they have darkened the light that is in them by “foolish

questionings” (II Timothy 2:23) - and “oppositions of science falsely so

called,” (I Timothy 6:20) that they begin to see specious objections to

miracles, and regard them as “difficulties in the way of receiving a

 revelation” rather than as convincing evidences of it.  We may properly call

upon an opponent to tell us what evidence of a Divine mission he would accept,

if he rejects miracles as an evidence, and wait for his answer. We shall probably    

find that “he who destroys this basis of belief will not discover a surer one”.

Aristotle.

 

 

            THE FIRST SIGN AND ITS FAILURE TO CONVINCE PHARAOH

 

Obeying the command given them (vs. 2 and 9), Moses and Aaron went to the court a

second time, and entering into the royal presence, probably repeated their demand —

as from God — that the king would let the Children of Israel go (ch. 6:11), when

Pharaoh objected that they had no authority to speak to him in God’s name, and

required an evidence of their authority, either in the actual words of v. 9 (Shew

a miracle for you”), or in some equivalent ones. Aaron hereupon cast down on

the ground the rod which Moses had brought from Midian, and it became a serpent

(v.10).  Possibly Pharaoh may have been prepared for this. He may have been told

that this was one among the signs which had been done in the sight of the elders

and people of Israel when the two brothers first came back from Midian (ch. 4:30).

If he knew of it, no doubt the “magicians” knew of it, and had prepared themselves.

Pharaoh summoned them, as was natural, to his presence, and consulted them with

respect to the portent, whereupon they too cast down the rods which they were

carrying in their hands, and they “became serpents; but Aaron’s rod swallowed

up their rods” (v. 12).  Pharaoh was to some extent impressed by the miracle,

but not so as to yield. His heart remained hard, and he refused to let the people go.

 

 

10 “And Moses and Aaron went in unto Pharaoh, and they did so as the LORD

had commanded: and Aaron cast down his rod before Pharaoh, and before

his servants, and it became a serpent."  Aaron cast down his rod. The rod is called

indifferently “Aaron’s rod” and “Moses’ rod,” because, though properly the rod of

Moses (ch. 4:2), yet ordinarily it was placed in the hands of Aaron (vs. 19-20;

ch. 8:5, 17, etc.) It became a serpent. The word for “serpent” is not the same as

was used before (ch. 4:3); but it is not clear that a different species is meant. More

probably it is regarded by the writer as a synonym.

 

11 "Then Pharaoh also called the wise men and the sorcerers: now the magicians

of Egypt, they also did in like manner with their enchantments."  Pharaoh also

called the wise men and the sorcerers. That magic was an object of much attention

and study in Egypt is abundantly evident from “The tale of Setnau” (‘Records of

the Past,’ vol. 4. pp. 133-148), “The Magic Papyrus” (ibid. vol. 10. pp. 137-158),

and many other writings. It consisted, to a large extent, in charms, which were

thought to have power over men and beasts, especially over reptiles. What amount

of skill and power the Egyptian magicians possessed may perhaps be doubted.

Many commentators believe them to have been in actual communication

with the unseen world, and to have worked their wonders by the assistance

of evil spirits. Others, who reject this explanation, believe that they

themselves were in possession of certain supernatural gifts. But the

commonest view at the present day regards them as simply persons who

had a knowledge of many secrets of nature which were generally unknown,

and who used this knowledge to impress men with a belief in their

supernatural power. The words used to express “magicians” and

“enchantments” support this view. The magicians are called khakamim,

“wise men,” “men educated in human and divine wisdom” (Keil and

Delitzsch); mekashshephim, “charmers,” “mutterers of magic words”

(Gesenius); and khartummim, which is thought to mean either “sacred

scribes” or “bearers of sacred words” (Cook). The word translated

“enchantments” is lehatim, which means “secret” or “hidden arts”

(Gesenius). On the whole, we regard it as most probable that the Egyptian

“magicians” of this time were jugglers of a high class, well skilled in

serpent-charming and other kindred arts, but not possessed of any

supernatural powers. The magicians of Egypt did in like manner with

their enchantments. The magicians, aware of the wonder which would

probably be wrought, had prepared themselves; they had brought serpents,

charmed and stiffened so as to look like rods (a common trick in Egypt:

‘Description de l’Egypte,’ vol. 1. p. 159) in their hands; and when Aaron’s

rod became a serpent, they threw their stiffened snakes upon the ground,

and disenchanted them, so that they were seen to be what they were —

snakes, and not really rods.

 

12 "For they cast down every man his rod, and they became serpents:  but

Aaron’s rod swallowed up their rods."  But Aaron’s rod swallowed up their rods.

Aaron’s serpent turned upon its rivals and devoured them, thus exhibiting a marked

superiority.

 

 

       False Imitations of Things Divine not Difficult of Detection (vs. 10-12)

 

It is Satan’s wont, in all ages and on all possible occasions, to set up counterfeits of

things Divine, in order to confuse men’s minds, and make them mistake the false

for the true. Aaron no sooner works a true miracle, a real proof that he is a

prophet of God (v. 1), than Satan’s instruments, the magicians of Egypt,

are ready with an imitation of the miracle, on which they base a claim that

Pharaoh is not to listen to Aaron, but to them.  “Curious arts” (Acts 19:19) and

“lying wonders” (II Thessalonians 2:9) were employed to discredit the genuine

miracles of the Apostles. False Christs rose up in various places, soon after the

lifetime of our Lord, claiming to be the Messiah spoken of by the prophets, who

“showed great signs and wonders,” capable of deceiving, if it had been possible,

even “the very elect” (Matthew 24:24). Apocryphal gospels were put out by the

side of the true ones. A new and mystic philosophy was set up as the real

“knowledge” which the Son of God had come to reveal, and new religions,

like Gnosticism and Manichaeism, disputed with real Christianity the right

to be viewed as the actual religion of Jesus. Fanatics, at the time of the

Reformation, parodied the Reformed religion, and established “Churches of

the True Saints,” which while affecting extreme purity fell practically into

fearful excesses. Even at the present day rivals are set up to the revelation

of God given us in the Bible — and the religious books of the Egyptians,

or the Hindoos, or the Persians, or the Buddhists, or the Mahometans,

(Muslims) are declared to be just as good, just as much from God, just as   

deserving of our attention, as the Old and New Testaments. But, if men are

honest and do not wish to be deceived, it is easy, with a little patience, to detect   

each spurious imitation. Aaron’s rod swallowed up the rods of the magicians. It

remained — they ceased to exist altogether. The “curious arts” and “lying

wonders” of those who opposed the Apostles, if examined into, would

have been found either mere tricks, or weak devices of Satan, with none of

the power, the dignity, the awfulness, of a true miracle. And time brought

them to nought — they built up nothing — effected nothing. So with the

“false Christs,” and the apocryphal gospels, and the religions of Gnosticism

and Manichaeism, and the fanatical sects of the Reformation period: they

took no hold on the world — the truth “swallowed them up” — they

vanished away. With the spurious “revelations,” if the case is not the same,

it is nearly the same — if they have not, all of them, vanished, they are all

of them, vanishing. Brought into contact with the truth — placed side by

side with it — they cannot maintain themselves — they are “swallowed up”

after a while. The ancient pantheism of Egypt perished in the fourth

century; the religion of Zoroaster is almost non-existent; that of the Vedas

is now crumbling to decay in the schools of Calcutta and Benares.

Mahometanism shows signs of breaking up (except for the militant wing).

When Thibet and China are freely opened to Christian missions, the last day

of Buddhism will not be far off. The Divine sweeps away the human

Aaron’s rod swallows up its rivals.

 

13 "And He hardened Pharaoh’s heart, that he hearkened not unto them;

as the LORD had said”.  And He hardened Pharaoh’s heart. Rather, “But

Pharaoh’s heart was hard. The verb employed is not active, but neuter; and

“his heart” is not the accusative, but the nominative. Pharaoh’s heart was too

hard for the sign to make much impression on it. He did not see that Moses

had done much more than his own magicians could do. As the Lord had

said. See v. 4.

 

 

 

The Credentials of God’s Ambassadors to the Froward (vs. 8-13)

 

  • THE DEMANDS OF GOD, THOUGH REJECTED, CANNOT BE

BANISHED. The rod which Pharaoh refuses to be shepherded by, cast

down before him, springs into life. To those who refuse obedience to

God’s Word, that Word will cling and become a living thing. Israel thought

to have done with God and to be like the heathen: it was a vain dream.

Pharaoh would shake off care, and become like one of whom God had

asked nothing: the dream was equally vain. We may deny God, but His

words will live and pursue us.

 

  • THE REJECTED GUIDANCE WILL BE THE DESTRUCTION OF

THE FROWARD (a person hard to deal with, contray person). The rod

cast from the hand becomes a serpent. The vain demand for righteousness

will at last become the sentence of condemnation, and the sin that is clung

to, the sting of death.

 

  • THE WARNING BECOMES THE LOUDER, THE GREATER

THE EFFORT TO DEADEN ITS EFFECT. The rods of the magicians

were swallowed up and the rod of God left more terrible than it was

before. The Divine retribution will swallow up every comfort and stay

which the sinful may summon to sustain them.

 

 

 

         The First Sign to Pharaoh: The Rod Becomes a Serpent (vs. 8-13)

 

  • NOTICE THE REMARKABLE REQUEST WHICH JEHOVAH

INDICATES THAT PHARAOH MAY MAKE. Perhaps we might even

say, will make. “When Pharaoh shall speak unto you, saying, Shew a

miracle for you.” This is a great change from his former attitude, that he

should be capable of stooping to such a request. But men who have

despotic power sometimes do strange and contradictory things. The freaks

of tyrants in the way of a seeming liberality and kindliness are among the

curiosities of history. Pharaoh may have said to himself, “It will be rare

sport to give this monomaniac full scope; let him with his own failure

expose the delusion under which he is suffering; it may be the shortest way

out of the difficulty.” On the other hand, it is not at all improbable that

some news of the signs wrought before Israel had percolated through all

the barriers which stand between a palace and the life of the common

people; and Pharaoh may have wished to discover how far the rumor was

founded in reality. Though when we have said all by way of suggesting

secondary causes for the request, we must come in the end to this feeling,

that the only sufficient way of accounting for it is to treat it as an impulse

from Jehovah Himself. Certainly His providence must have much to do with

gaining access to Pharaoh and keeping up the communications of Moses

with him. God can lead Pharaoh, even when he knows not that he is led.

Men are walking in the way of God’s providence and serving His purposes,

even when quite satisfied in the ignorance of their hearts that they are

walking in their own way.

 

  • NOTICE THE MIRACLE ITSELF. Doubtless the rod in question was

the same which had been a serpent twice already; so that by this time

Moses must have looked upon it with great serenity of confidence. It is

now impossible for us to say why the Lord began His manifestations of

power to Pharaoh with this rather than with some other sign. Reasons

discernible at the time are not discernible now; the light which would have

revealed them has long since died away. We can but see that there was

much in the miracle which would have taught valuable lessons to Pharaoh,

if only he had received it in the simplicity of one who is really looking for

truth and guidance. He would have learned not to despise the absence of

promise in the external appearance of things. He would have learned that a

thing is not ridiculous because it is laughed at. He would have felt, too,

that as the innocent and unimposing rod became suddenly a dangerous

serpent, so this Moses — humble, unsustained and impotent as he seemed

— might also become all at once a destroying force utterly beyond

resistance by any Egyptian defense. Nor must we forget that the choice of

this particular sign may have been influenced by the fact that the

magicians had a favorite and imposing trick of their art which, to the

uninstructed eye, resembled it. They seemed to do, by their magic, what

Moses really did by Divine power, and so their skill, while it had for one

result a renewed defiance of Jehovah on the part of Pharaoh, had another

result in this, that it led up to a strengthening of the faith of Moses. He

might not be able to explain how the magicians did their wonders; but he

knew very well that he was no magician himself, and that his rod had been

Divinely changed, whatever cause had been at work to change the others.

And then, at last, whatever perplexity remained in his mind was swept

away when he saw the power of God rising supreme over mere trickery,

and the serpent from his rod swallowing up the serpents from the other rods.

 

  • NOTICE THE THOROUGH WICKEDNESS OF THESE

MAGICIANS. They know that their wonders are lying wonders. Powers

great by nature, trained and increased with the utmost ingenuity, and which

were intended to be and might have been for the good of their fellow-men,

they turn without any compunction into instruments for the promotion of

their selfish glory. They know that, whatever their pretences may be, they

are not acting in a straightforward and humble service of supernatural

power. They know that when Pharaoh puts confidence in them, he is

putting confidence in a lie. Furthermore, they must have known that there

was something in the transformation of Moses’ rod which wanted

accounting for. Magicians understand each other’s tricks quite well, and it

must have been evident to them that Moses was no magician. They know

in their consciences that he is greater than themselves; but what can they

say? Committed to lies, they must go on with them. They must pretend to

have as much power as Moses, even if they have it not; and thus the

induced necessities of their dark and secret arts compel them to hide the

truth from Pharaoh. Nor was it any real excuse that Pharaoh was willing to

be deceived. His destruction ultimately came from his own perversity; but

he also presents the melancholy spectacle of being surrounded by those

who, if only they had been truthful, might have interposed some obstacles

in his downward way.

 

  • NOTICE THE STATE IN WHICH PHARAOH WAS LEFT, EVEN

AFTER THE COMPLETION OF THE MIRACLE. When Aaron’s rod

had swallowed up the others, he still remained unimpressed. It seems as if

he had allowed his attention to be fixed on one part of the miracle, while

another he regarded but carelessly. When his magicians seemed to produce

serpents from rods, this was just according to his inclinations, and he made

much of it. Moses could do nothing more than the magicians could do. But

when their serpents were swallowed up — well, it was not a very

encouraging sight — but still it might be accounted for. And so we are in

danger of depreciating the significance of God’s works by not looking at

them in every part. Every part is to be regarded, if we are to get the full

impression of the whole. If the magicians did what Moses did, it was

equally evident that Moses did what the magicians did. A child could see

that his power was at least equal to theirs. If Pharaoh had not been blinded

by vanity and by traditional reliance on his magicians, he would have

demanded that these magicians should do something more than Moses had

done. What an illustration we have here, of how, when a man gets away

from right thoughts of God, he soon comes to call evil good and good evil

(Isaiah 5:20). Pharaoh believes his lying magicians, though he will not

believe the truthful servant of a true God. He has no discriminating power

to find the difference between things, which, however they may resemble

each other outwardly, are yet inwardly quite opposed. He thinks that he

has power enough with his gods to meet whatever power has yet been

brought against him. It has been already made evident that there is no sense

of pity or justice in him; and it is now made plain that he is not to be

reached by the exhibition before him of a significant symbol of pain and

destruction. Pharaoh must be touched more closely still — must be made

to suffer, and suffer most dreadfully, before he will consent to let Israel go.

 

 

 

The Rod Turned into a Serpent (vs. 8-14)

 

On this sign, notice:

 

  • ITS SIGNIFICANCE.

 

Ø      Its distinctness from the similar sign wrought for the conviction of the

Israelites. On the meaning of the latter, see ch. 4:1-6. There the

serpent into which the rod was turned seemed to denote the power of the

monarch — the royal and divine power of Egypt — of which the serpent

was an Egyptian emblem. However threatening the aspect of this power to

Moses and the Israelites, the sign taught them not to fear it, and promised

victory over it. Here, on the contrary, the serpent is a menace to Pharaoh.

It speaks to him in his own language, and tells him of a royal and Divine

power opposed to his which he will do well not to provoke. The sign was

harmless in itself, but menacing in its import.

 

Ø      Its relation to Egyptian magic. On this, see the exposition. The

magicians produced an imitation of the miracle, but this very circumstance

was turned into an occasion of greater humiliation to them. “Aaron’s rod

swallowed up their rods.” The truth taught was the impotence of magic

arts as opposed to the power of Jehovah. Royalty, divinity, magic, all are

represented as overthrown in this significant marvel. Note — God seldom

destroys a sinner WITHOUT FIRST WARNING HIM! The warnings are

such that, if taken in time, worse consequences may be escaped.

 

o        Conscience warns,

o        the Spirit warns,

o        providence warns.

 

Red danger-signals stand at the opening of every path of crime, if the

deluded transgressor would but take heed to them.

 

  • ITS EVIDENTIAL VALUE. It was ordered to be wrought in answer

to Pharaoh’s demand for a miracle (v. 9). Presumably, Pharaoh made the

request, then the wonder was performed. Note here:

 

Ø      The human mind naturally craves for miracle as an evidence of

revelation. The evidence of outward miracle is not the highest, but neither’

should it be disparaged. It is the kind of evidence which minds at an

inferior stage of development are most capable of appreciating, while, in

connection with other circumstances, it is a powerful confirmation to the

faith even of those who might possibly dispense with it. Christ’s repeated

refusal of a sign was not based upon the principle that signs were

unnecessary, but upon the fact that a superabundance of signs had already

been given. A faith resting merely on miracles (John 2:23-24) may be

destitute of moral worth, but miracles had their value in certifying the

source of the message, as well as in arousing attention, and they were

themselves vehicles of moral teaching.

 

Ø      God satisfies this craving of the mind by granting the evidence

required. It does not lessen, but greatly enhances, the value of this

evidence that most of the miracles of Scripture are not merely credentials

of the revelation, but constitutive parts of it.

 

Ø      Pharaoh’s request for the miracle. It is a significant circumstance that

whereas on the previous occasion (ch. 5:1-5) Pharaoh made no

request for a sign, he asks for one at this second interview. The unexpected

reappearance of these two men, renewing their former demand, and doing

so with even more emphasis and decision than at first, must have produced

a startling effect upon him. Truth, to a certain extent, carries its own

credentials with it. There must have been that in the manner and speech of

these grave and aged men (v. 7) which repelled the hypothesis that they

were impostors. Probably Pharaoh had never been quite sure that their

mission was mere pretence. A secret fear of the God whose worshippers he

knew he was maltreating may have mingled with his thoughts, and kept

him in vague uneasiness. He may thus have been more disturbed by the

former demand than he cared to allow, and now thought it prudent to

satisfy himself further. Professed disbelief in the Bible is in the same way

often accompanied by a lurking suspicion that there is more in its teaching

than is admitted.

 

  • ITS EFFECT UPON THE MONARCH.

 

Ø      He permitted himself to be imposed on by the counterfeit of the

magicians. Their imitation of the miracle furnished him with a plausible

excuse for ascribing the work to magic. It gave him a pretext for unbelief.

He wished one, and he got it. He ignored the strong points in the evidence,

and fixed on the partial resemblance to the miracle in the feats of his

tricksters. There were at least three circumstances which should have made

him pause, and, if not convinced, ask for further proof.

 

o        The miracle of Moses and Aaron was not done by enchantments.

o        The men who did the wonder themselves asserted that it was wrought

by Divine power.

o        The superiority of their power to that of the magicians was evinced by

Aaron’s rod swallowing up the rods of the others. And seeing that the

miracle of God’s messengers was real, while that of the magicians

was (so far as we can judge) but a juggler’s trick, there were probably

numerous other circumstances of difference between them, on which,

had Pharaoh been anxious to ascertain the truth, his mind would

naturally have sensed.  But Pharaoh’s mind was not honest.

He wished to disbelieve, and HE DIDN'T BELIEVE!

 

Ø      He refused the request. He hardened himself, i.e. the unwillingness of

his heart to look at the truth, now that it had got something to stay itself

upon, solidified into a fixed, hard determination to resist the demand made

upon him. Note:

 

o        God tries men’s dispositions by furnishing them with evidence which,

while abundantly sufficient to convince minds that are honest, leaves

numerous loopholes of escape to those indisposed to receive it.

 

o        It is the easiest thing in the world, if one wants to do it, to find pretexts

for unbelief. We are far from asserting that all doubt is dishonest, but it

is unquestionable that under the cloak of honest intellectual inquiry A

GREAT DEAL THAT IS NOT HONEST IS FREQUENTLY
CONCEALED!
  To a mind unwilling to be convinced, there is nothing

easier than to evade evidence. (It is called in scripture "willful

ignorance" - "For this they are willingly ignorant" - II Peter 3:5 -

CY  - 2017)  Specious counter-arguments are never far to seek.

Any specious reply to Christian books, any naturalistic hypothesis,

any flimsy parallel, will serve the purpose. The text directs attention

to the method of false parallels — a favorite one with modem skeptics.

Parallels are hunted up between Christianity and the ethnic religions.

Superficial resemblances in ethics, doctrine and ritual, are laid hold

upon and magnified. Christ is compared with Buddha and Confucius,

or His miracles are put in comparison with the ecclesiastical miracles

of the middle ages. And thus his religion is supposed to be reduced

to the naturalistic level. The defeat of all such attempts is

shadowed forth in the miracle before us.

 

 

NOW FOR A NOTE ON SIGNS. 

 

The Greek word for sign is  σημεῖον - say-mi’-on; neuter of a presumed derivative of

the base of σημαίνω - say-mah’-ee-no an indication, especially ceremonial or

supernatural: thus a miracle, sign, token, or wonder.  It corresponds with the Hebrew

אות, and is generally, in the Acts as well as in the Septuagint, associated with τέρατα,

or "portents;" when it occurs in the synoptists it is translated "signs." The Book of

John in the New Testament presents Jesus Christ as doing signs as evidence that He

was the Son of God.  Ch. 2:11 says that the “First sign - beginning of signs, was

shown by turning water into wine, Christ showed His Omnipotence as El Shaddai

by mastery over creation - done in love & power, with authority over matter,

also disease and death.  The effects of these signs “manifested His glory” - “His

disciples believed on Him”.   The word σημεῖον is associated with τέραςter’-as;

of uncertain affinity; a prodigy or omen: a wonder.  The word ὕληhoo-lay’;

perhaps akin to (ξύλον - xoo’-lon - a forest, i.e. (by implication) fuel: or  matter –

tells us that He who can create the grape can create wine - He who can create

matter can easily change it from one kind to another!  (El Shaddai)  In John 2

Jesus Christ demonstrates control of matter – in John 6 He controls the forces

of nature by walking on the sea, by calming the storm.  In John 21 He controls

the animate creation, and in other places, John  4, 5, and 6, the mastery over

the human body, diseases, our necessities and even death!  In the synoptic

gospels Christ’s wonderful actions are called - δύναμιςdoo’-nam-is; from

(δύναμαί - doo’-nam-ahee; ); force (literal or figurative); specially miraculous

power (usually by implication a miracle itself): — ability, abundance, meaning,

might (-ily, -y, -y deed), (worker of) miracle (-s), power,strength, violence, might

(wonderful) work.  This is where the English word “dynamite” comes from. 

John calls them (the works of Christ) “erga” – works from - ἔργον;er’-gon;

from a primary (but obsolete) ἔργον (to work); toil (as an effort or occupation); by

implication an act: —deed, doing, labor, work.  Some might call these deeds

of Jesus Christ, portents, miracles, or marvels.  John simply calls them

“works”.  I would also like to point out in the gospel of John, the connection       

between the name which God told Moses “I AM” or “I AM THAT I AM” with

Jesus’ coming and revealing Himself as:

 

             I AM the water of life ch. 4:10-14

            “I AM the bread of life”ch. 6:48

            “I AM the light of the world” – ch. 8:12

            “I AM the door” ch. 10:7

            “I AM the good shepherd” ch. 10:11

            “I AM the resurrection and the life” ch. 11:25

            “I AM the way, the truth and the life” ch. 14:6

            “I AM the true vine” – ch.15:1

 

            (Reader, remember – “God, who at sundry times and in divers manners

            spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, Hath in these last

            days spoken unto us by His Son, whom He hath appointed heir of all

            things, by whom also He made the worlds; Who being the brightness of

            His glory, and the express image of His person, and upholding all things

            by the word of His power, when He had by Himself purged our sins, sat

            down on the right hand of the Majesty on high” – [Hebrews 1:1-3] – CY –

            2010)

 

 

 

            THE FIRST PLAGUE – THE TURNING OF WATER TO BLOOD

                                                            (vs. 14-21)

 

 

The first miracle had been exhibited, and had failed. It had been a mere “sign,’’ and

in no respect a “judgment.” Now the “judgments ‘ were to begin. God manifests

Himself again to Moses, and gives him exact directions what he is to do. He is to

meet Pharaoh on the banks of the Nile, and to warn him that a plague is

coming upon all Egypt on account of his obstinacy; that the waters of the

Nile will be turned to blood, so that the ash will die, and the river stink, and

the Egyptians loathe to drink of the water of the river (vs. 15-18).

Pharaoh not yielding, making no sign, the threat is to be immediately

followed by the act. In the sight of Pharaoh and his court, or at any rate of

his train of attendants (v. 20), Aaron is to stretch his rod over the Nile,

and the water is at once to become blood, the fish to die, and the river in a

short time to become offensive, or, in the simple and direct language of the

Bible, to stink. The commands given by God are executed, and the result is

as declared beforehand by Moses (vs. 20-21).

 

14 “And the LORD said unto Moses, Pharaoh’s heart is hardened, he

refuseth to let the people go.”  Pharaoh’s heart is hardened. Rather,

“is hard, is dull.” The adjective used is entirely unconnected with the verb

of the preceding verse.

 

 15 “Get thee unto Pharaoh in the morning; lo, he goeth out unto the water;

and thou shalt stand by the river’s brink against he come; and the rod which

was turned to a serpent shalt thou take in thine hand.”  In the morning. The

expression used both here and again in ch. 20 seems rather to imply a daily custom

of the Pharaoh. It is conjectured; not without reason, that among the recognized

duties of the monarch at this time was the offering of a morning sacrifice to the

Nile on the banks of the river (Keil and Delitzsch, Kalisch, etc.). Possibly,

however, this may not have been the case, and God may have chosen for

certain miracles particular days, on which the king was about to proceed to

the river in view of some special ceremony connected with the annual

inundation. Against he come. Literally, “to meet him.” In their hand.

When the time came for smiting the waters, the rod was transferred to

Aaron’s hand (v. 19).

 

16 “And thou shalt say unto him, The LORD God of the Hebrews hath sent me

unto thee,  saying, Let my people go, that they may serve me in the wilderness:

and, behold, hitherto thou wouldest not hear.”  The Lord God… hath sent me

unto thee. Rather, “sent me unto thee.” The reference is to the original sending

(ch. 5:1). Thou wouldest not hear. Literally, “Thou hast not heard,” i.e. up to this

time thou hast not obeyed the command given to thee.

 

17 Thus saith the LORD, In this thou shalt know that I am the LORD:

behold, I will smite with the rod that is in mine hand upon the

waters which are in the river, and they shall be turned to blood.”

In this thou shalt know that I am the Lord.  (Once again, I recommend

Ezekiel:  Study of God’s Use of the Word Know – this website - # 233 –

CY – 2017)  Pharaoh had declared on the occasion specially referred to, I know

not Jehovah, neither will I let Israel go” (ch. 5:2). He is now told that he shall

“know Jehovah” in the coming visitation; he shall know, i.e., that there is a great

and truly existent God who controls nature, does as He will even with the

Nile, which the Egyptians regarded as a great deity; and can turn, if He see

fit, the greatest blessings into curses. Behold, I will smite. God here

speaks of the acts of Moses and Aaron as His own acts, and of their hands

as His hand, because they were mere instruments through which He worked.

The Roman law said: “Qui facit per alium, tacit per se.” "He who acts through

another does the act himself." The waters…shall be turned to blood. Not

simply, “shall be of the color of blood,” but shall become and be, to all

intents and purposes, blood. It is idle to ask whether the water would have

answered to all the modern tests, microscopic and other, by which blood is known.

The question cannot be answered. An that we are entitled to conclude from

the words of the text is, that the water had all the physical appearance the

look, taste, smell, texture of blood: and hence, that it was certainly not

merely discolored by the red soil of Abyssinia, nor by cryptegamic (of a desert soil

or surface crust) covered with or consisting of a fragile black layer of cyanobacteria, mosses, and

lichens, which is often important in preventing erosion) plants and infusoria (a collective term

for minute aquatic creatures such as ciliates, euglenoids, protozoa, unicellular algae and small

invertebrates that exist in freshwater pondsWikipedia).  Water thus changed would

neither kill fish, nor “stink,” nor be utterly undrinkable.

 

18 “And the fish that is in the river shall die, and the river shall stink;

and the Egyptians shall loathe to drink of the water of the river.”

The fish… shall die. This would increase the greatness of the

calamity, for the Egyptians lived to a very large extent upon fish (Birch,

Egypt from the Earliest Times,’ p. 45), which was taken in the Nile, in the

canals, and the Lake Morris (Herod. 2:149). The river shall stink. As Keil

and Delitzsch observe, “this seems to indicate putrefaction.” The Egyptians

shall loathe to drink. The expression is stronger in v. 24, where we find

that “they could not drink.” We may presume that at first, not supposing

that the fluid could really be blood, they tried to drink it, took it into their

mouths, and possibly swallowed some, but that very soon they found they

could not continue to do so.

 

19 “And the LORD spake unto Moses, Say unto Aaron, Take thy rod,

and stretch out thine hand upon the waters of Egypt, upon their

streams, upon their rivers, and upon their ponds, and upon all their

pools of water, that they may become blood; and that there may be

blood throughout all the land of Egypt, both in vessels of wood,

and in vessels of stone.”  Say unto Aaron. There is an omission here (and

generally throughout the account of the plagues) of the performance by

Moses of God’s behest. The Samaritan Pentateuch in each case supplies the

omission. It has been argued (Kennicott) that the Hebrew narrative has

been contracted; but most critics agree that the incomplete form is the early

one, and that, in the Samaritan version, the original narrative has been

expanded. The waters of Egypt… streams… rivers… ponds… pools of

water. The waters of Lower Egypt, where this miracle was wrought,

consisted of:

 

  • the various branches of the Nile, natural and artificial, which were

seven when Herodotus wrote (Herod. 2:17), whence the Nile was called

septemfluus,” or “septemgeminus;”

  • the canals derived from each branch to fertilize the lands along its banks;
  • ponds, marshes, and pools, the results of the overflowing of the Nile, or

of its percolation through its banks on either side; and

  • artificial reservoirs, wherein water was stored for use after the

inundation was over.

 

The four terms of the text seem applicable to this four-fold division, and

“show an accurate knowledge of Egypt” (Cook), and of its water system. The

“streams” are the Nile branches; the “rivers” correspond to the canals; the

“ponds” are the natural accumulations of waters in permanent lakes or in

temporary pools and marshes; while the “pools,” or “gatherings of waters”

(margin), are the reservoirs made by art. Aaron was to stretch out his rod over

the Nile, but with the intent to smite all the Egyptian waters, and all the waters

would at once be smitten, the streams and the canals and the natural lakes and the

reservoirs. The miracle would even extend to private dwellings, and the change

would take place throughout all the land of Egypt, not only in respect of the

open waters spread over the country, but even in respect of that stored, as

was usual, in houses, and contained either in vessels of wood or in vessels

of stone. With respect to these, it is to be observed that the Nile water was

much improved by keeping, since the sediment subsided; and that tanks,

sometimes of wood, sometimes of stone, were usual adjuncts of all the

better class of houses.

 

20 “And Moses and Aaron did so, as the LORD commanded; and he

lifted up the rod, and smote the waters that were in the river, in the

sight of Pharaoh, and in the sight of his servants; and all the waters

that were in the river were turned to blood.”  (This is for the agnostic –

I guess you think that man can make a pitcher of Kool-Aid – well, the God of

the universe could stir up the Nile River the same way – if you think this is

impossible or improbable – I recommend typing in “Fantastic Trip”

in your browser and see where it leads – CY – 2010)  He lifted up the rod. “He”

must be understood to mean “Aaron” (see v. 19); but the writer is too much

engrossed with the general run of his narrative to be careful about minutia.

All that he wants to impress upon us is, that the rod was used as an instrument

for the working of the miracle. He is not thinking of who it was that used it. In

the sight of Pharaoh. See the comment on v. 15. And of his servants.

Either “his courtiers generally,” or, at any rate, a large troop of attendants.

 

21 “And the fish that was in the river died; and the river stank, and the

Egyptians could not drink of the water of the river; and there was

blood throughout all the land of Egypt.  The fish that was in the river died.

It is most natural to understand “all the fish.” There was blood, etc. Literally,

“and the blood was throughout all the land of Egypt.” The exact intention of

the phrase is doubtful, since undoubtedly “in numberless instances, the Hebrew

terms which imply universality must be understood in a limited sense (Cook).

“All the land” may mean no more than “all the Delta.”

 

 

God’s Punishments Appropriate and Terrible (vs. 17-20)

 

      There was something peculiarly appropriate in the first judgment falling upon

      the Nile. The Nile had been made the instrument of destruction to the Israelites

      by the first tyrannical Pharaoh (probably Seti I.). It had been defiled with the        

      blood of thousands of innocent victims.  Crocodiles had in its waters crushed

      the tender limbs of those helpless infants, (NO WORSE THAN THE

      ABORTION INDUSTRY OF MODERN TIMES -             may I recommend –

      Abortion Rationale – 2009 – this web site – CY – 2010) and had stained them      

      with a gore that in God’s sight could never be forgotten. The king, and the            

      persons who were his instruments, had in so doing polluted their own holy

      river, transgressed their own law, offered insults to one of the holiest of their

      own deities. And all for the destruction of God’s people. So, now that

      destruction was coming upon themselves, now that the firstborn were doomed

      (ch. 4:23), and the catastrophe of the Red Sea was impending, the appropriate      

      sign, which threatened carnage, was given — the Nile was made to run with         

      blood.  The Egyptians had among their traditions one which said that the Nile

      had once for eleven days flowed with honey (Manetho ap. Syncell.

            ‘Chronograph.’ p. 55 A). As this supposed miracle indicated a time of peace

            and prosperity, so the present actual one boded war and destruction.  Again,         

            Pharaoh’s especial crime at this time was, that he despised God.  God

            therefore caused his own chief deity to be despised. There are indications

            that, about this period, a special Nile-worship had set in. Hapi, the Nile-god,

            was identified with Phthah and Ammon — he was declared to stand “alone and   

            self-created” — to be “the Father of all the gods,” “the Chief on the waters,”

            “the Creator of all good things,” “the Lord of terrors and of choicest joys.”           

            “Mortals” were said to “extol him, and the cycle of Gods” — he stood above

            them all as the One Unseen and Inscrutable Being. “He is not graven in marble,”   

            it was said; “he is not beheld; he hath neither ministrants nor offerings; he is not    

            adored in sanctuaries; his abode is not known; no shrine of his is found with         

            painted figures; there is no building that can contain him;” and again, “unknown   

            is his name in heaven; he doth not manifest his forms; vain are all   

            representations.” (‘Records of the Past,’ vol. 4. pp. 107-113; vol. 10. pp. 41-2.)     

            Menephthah was a special devotee of Hapi (ib. vol. 10. p. 38). Nothing could        

            have seemed to him more terrible and shocking, than the conversion of his pure,    

            clean, refreshing, life-giving, god-like stream, into a mass of revolting putridity.

            And on the people the judgment was still more terrible. Under ordinary

            circumstances, the whole nation depended on the Nile for its water supply.

            There were no streams in the country other than the Nile branches, no

            brooks, no rills, no springs or fountains. The sudden conversion of all the

            readily accessible water — even such as was stored in houses — into

            blood, was sickening, horrible, tremendous. Scarcely could any severer

            punishment of the people have been devised. If a partial remedy had not

            been found (v. 24), it would have been impossible for them to endure

            through the “seven days” (v. 25). So fearful are the judgments of God

            upon those who offend Him!

 

 

                                    Pharaoh Still Hardens His Heart (vs. 22-23)

 

On the occurrence of the second sign and first plague, the magicians were again consulted;

and, by means which it is impossible to do more than conjecture, they produced a

seeming transformation into blood of a certain quantity of water. The

inquiry, whence they procured the water, is answered by v. 24. That they actually

turned water into blood is scarcely asserted in the vague “did so” of v. 22. Perhaps

they had recourse to sleight of hand, and made a substitution, like modem conjurors;

perhaps they merely turned the water of a red color. All that was necessary was to

convince Pharaoh that they were able to do what Moses and Aaron had done — there

was no one to watch, and test, and examine their pretended miracle, which

consequently passed muster, though it may have been no more than a trick. Pharaoh,

however, suffered himself to be convinced, and “turned and went into his house”

without paying any attention to the marvel wrought (v. 23).

 

22 “And the magicians of Egypt did so with their enchantments: and

Pharaoh’s heart was hardened, neither did he hearken unto them; as the

LORD had said.”  The magicians of Egypt did so. They could not do what

Moses and Aaron had done — stretch out, that is, a rod over the Nile, and

turn it and all its branches, and ponds, and pools, into blood, for this was

already done. They could only show their skill upon some small quantity of

water in a cup or other vessel. No doubt they produced some apparent

change, which was accepted by Pharaoh as an equivalent to what had been

effected by the Israelite chiefs, but which must have fallen far short of it.

Pharaoh would not be a severe critic.

 

 23 “And Pharaoh turned and went into his house, neither did he set his

heart to this also.”  Pharaoh turnedi.e. “returned” — quitted the river-hank,

satisfied with what the magicians had done, and went back to the palace.

Neither did he set his heart to this also. A better translation is “Nor did he lay

even this to heart.” In the expression “even this” there is an allusion to the previous

neglect of the first sign (ver. 13).

 

 

The Power of Satan is with All Deceivableness (vs. 22-23)

 

Satan himself, and wicked men, his instruments, are especially strong in the

power of deception. Satan deceived Eve (I Timothy 2:14). The lying spirit

deceived Ahab (I Kings 22:22). Rebekah and Jacob together deceived Isaac.        

Gehazi deceived Naaman. Bad men are clever and plausible, and keen-sighted,     

and painstaking, and careful — they lay their plans skillfully, and carry them

out boldly, and are usually successful. The magicians had not only their own         

credit at stake, but also that of the priests, who were in league with them. They     

would not be very scrupulous what means they used, so that they could

persuade the Pharaoh that whatever Moses and Aaron could do, they could do:    

and they succeeded. The “father of lies” – (John 8:44) - no doubt suggested to    

them some clever method of seeming to perform the same sort of miracle as the    

Israelitish leaders had performed — they adopted it, and cheated the eyes of the  

beholders. When men wished to nip the religion of Christ in the bud, they called   

its Founder “that deceiver” (Matthew 27:63). Deceit is a device of Satan. In

nothing are the powers of light and darkness more contrasted than in the

simpleness, the straightforward sincerity that characterizes the former, and

the crookedness, the tortuousness, the insincerity that goes with the latter.

He who is “the Way” and “the Life,” is also “the Truth.” (John 14:6) - All

who would have fellowship with him must “walk in truth.”

 

 

 

                        THE EGYPTIAN PEOPLE SUFFER FOR SEVEN DAYS

 

 

Necessity is the mother of invention. Finding the Nile water continue utterly

undrinkable, the Egyptians bethought themselves of a means of  obtaining water to

which they never had recourse in ordinary times. This was to dig pits or wells at some

distance from the river, and so obtain the moisture that lay in the ground, no doubt

derived from the river originally, but already there before the change of the water

into blood took place. This, it appears, remained water, and was drinkable, though

probably not very agreeable, since, owing to the nitrous quality of the soil in Egypt,

well-water has always a bitter and brackish taste. It sufficed, however, for drinking

and culinary purposes during the “seven days” that the plague continued (v. 25).

 

 

24 And all the Egyptians digged round about the river for water to drink; for

they could not drink of the water of the river.”  And all the Egyptians digged

 (Not the Hebrews). The water stored in the houses of the Hebrews in reservoirs,

cisterns, and the like, was (it would seem) not affected; and this would suffice for

the consumption of seven days – the duration of the first plague).  Water to drink.

Blood would not become water by percolation through earth, but there might have

been sufficient water in the ground before the plague began, to fill the wells dug,

for seven days.

 

 

God Allows Men to Seek and Obtain Alleviations of His Judgments (v. 24)

 

We are not intended to sit down under the judgments of God, and fold our hands, and

do nothing. Whether it be war, or pestilence, or famine, or any other Heaven-sent

calamity that comes upon us for our sins and those of our nation, we must beware of

sinking into apathy under the infliction, and allowing it simply to run its course. God

does not desire that we should show our submission in this way. He gives us thought,

and ingenuity, and inventiveness, that, in every difficulty we may devise

remedies, and so lessen our own and our neighbors’ sufferings. Oriental

nations view each calamity that comes upon them as Kismet, “fate,” and

make no exertions to meet it, stem it, minimize it. Christians should act

otherwise. They should so far imitate the Egyptians as to set to work actively,

to do what can be done in the way of relief and alleviation. God freely allows

this. He did not punish the Egyptians for digging, or frustrate their efforts by        

preventing the water that was in the ground from filling the wells, or by

rendering it undrinkable. And so He allows cholera or plague, or even

ordinary sickness, which is His judgment on an individual, to be met by care,

attention, cleanliness, remedial measures, and is so far from interfering

against such exertions, that He blesses them, and for the most part renders

them effectual.

 

25 “And seven days were fulfilled, after that the LORD had smitten the

river.”  And seven days were fulfilled. This note of time has been regarded as

merely fixing the interval between the first plague and the second. But it is more

natural to regard it as marking the duration of the first plague. The intervals between

one plague and another are nowhere estimated.

 

 

The Nile Turned into Blood (vs. 14-25)

 

The first of the series of plagues which fell on Egypt was of a truly terrific

character. At the stretching out of the red of Aaron, the broad, swift-flowing

current of the rising Nile suddenly assumed the hue and qualities

of blood. The stroke fell also on the reservoirs, canals, and ponds.

Whatever connection may be traced between this plague and natural

phenomena it is plain that it stood on an entirely different footing from

changes produced under purely natural conditions.

 

1. The water was rendered wholly unfit for use.

2. It became deadly in its properties (v. 18).

3. The stroke was instantaneous.

4. It was pre-announced.

5. It descended on the river at the summons of Moses and Aaron.

6. It lasted exactly seven days (v. 25).

 

An event of this kind was palpably of supernatural origin. Contrast Moses

with Christ, the one beginning the series of wonders by turning the river

into blood; the other, in his first miracle, turning the water into wine

(John 2:1-12). The contrast of judgment and mercy, of law and Gospel.

Consider:

 

  • THE DEMAND RENEWED WITH THE ACCOMPANIMENT OF

THREAT (vs. 16-19).

 

Ø      The demand was that which Pharaoh had hitherto resisted. It was a

demand righteous and reasonable in itself — “Let my people go,” etc. It

had come to him, moreover, as the command of Jehovah, and proof had

been given him that such was its character. Still he had resisted it. This,

however, did not dispose of the demand, which now confronts him again.

 

Ø      The demand which Pharaoh would not freely grant, he is now to be

compelled to grant. If he will not bow to reason, to persuasion, to

evidence, he must bow to power. An unprecedented calamity would

overtake his land: “In this shalt thou know that I am the Lord; behold, I

will smite with the rod,....the waters which are in the river.” etc. (v. 17).

Note:

 

o        Reasonable means are exhausted with the sinner before compulsion is

resorted to. God is unwilling to proceed to extremities.

 

o        Nevertheless, if gentler methods fail, means will be used which will

compel submission. “As I live, saith the Lord, every knee shall bow

to me, and every tongue shall confess to God” (Romans 14:11;

Philippians 2:10-11).

 

o        Excuses are not admitted for willful unbelief. Pharaoh would probably

have pleaded as a ground for his refusal, that he did not believe that the

command in question proceeded from Jehovah. No such plea will be

admitted in the court of heaven. Every allowance will be made for

involuntary ignorance, but none for willful unbelief. What the sinner is

asked to do is righteous and reasonable in itself; is made known to him

as God’s will; and is evidenced to be such by many infallible proofs.

Refusal to acknowledge the sufficiency of this evidence does not

exculpate from the guilt of disobedience. The question is not

Does he, or will he, admit its sufficiency, but is it sufficient? Not,

Does it convince him? but, Ought it to convince him? Our errors,

follies, and mistakes will not hinder the Almighty from EXECUTING

HIS PURPOSES! If we stand in the way of them, and will not bend,

we must be crushed.  (“...whosoever shall fall on this stone shall

be broken:  but on whomsoever it shall fall, IT WILL GRIND HIM

TO POWDER.”  - Matthew 21:44)

 

  • THE PLAGUE AS A SIGN TO EGYPT. (See note on signs above) The

smiting of the Nile was:

 

Ø      A proof of the power of Jehovah (v. 17). It showed:

 

o        Him to be an actually existing Being,

o        demonstrated His supremacy in nature, and

o        made manifest His determination to punish resistance to His will.

 

Ø      A blow at Egyptian idolatry. It turned the river Nile, which itself was

worshipped as a divinity, into an object of loathsomeness and source of

death to its worshippers. They were the chief gods of Egypt, too, who

were supposed to be embodied in the river. How clear the proof of the

vanity of the idols, and of the unchallengeable superiority of Jehovah! Yet

we do net learn that one idol the less was worshipped in Egypt as the result

of it.

 

Ø      A warning of worse evil to come. The Nile was in a sense symbolical of

Egypt, of whose prosperity it was the source. The turning of this river into

blood was in fact a prophecy or threat of utter ruin to the state. The

succeeding plagues are merely the unfolding of the threat contained in this

one.

 

Ø      The removal of the plague at the end of seven days betokened the

unwillingness of God to proceed to extremities. It is very noticeable that

the plague was removed unasked, and while Pharaoh was still hardening his

heart. So long-suffering is God that He will try all means with sinners

before FINALLY GIVING THEM UP!   The lessons for ourselves from this

plague are these:

 

Ø      The certainty of GOD’S THREATENINGS BEING EXECUTED!

Ø      The terrible punishments in reserve for DISOBEDIENCE!

Ø      The ease with which God can smite a nation, and bring it to the point of

ruin. (As I work on this:

 

o        there are wildfires raging in the western United States;

o        last week Hurricane Harvey hit south Texas and Louisiana

and is considered the most devastating storm in American history,

o         Hurricane Irma is predicted to hit Florida and/or the southeastern

United States in the next couple of days – this being Sept. 7, 2017,

o        there is so much hate among various sections of the American

Citizenry, and jealousy of the President of the United States that

we are becoming more unproductive than usual,

 

do you think there is a great possibility that God is not working against

this nation that has turned its back on Him?  Looks easy to me!  CY – 2017)

 

The smiting of the Nile meant the immediate paralysis of all industry,

commerce, and agriculture throughout the land of Egypt, while, had the

plague lasted a few days longer, the result would have been the death of

the whole population. We call this “miracle,” but miracle is only the

coming forth into visibility of the hand which is at all times working in the

phenomena of nature, and in the affairs of history. By famine, by pestilence,

by blight of crops, by clap of war, turning the river of a nation’s life into

very literal blood (so France in 1870), by the simplest natural agencies, if

so it pleased him-could Jehovah speedily reduce our national pride, and

smite at the fountain-heads the sources of our national prosperity. A very

sensible proof was given of this — of the readiness with which the trade of

a whole country could be paralyzed, and great cities reduced in no long

period to absolute starvation, by a slight change in natural conditions — in

the great snowstorm of January 1881. (See the Spectator of 29th January,

1881 – if interested, check your browser – I did, and it was very interesting –

CY – 2017) (I was amazed at how quickly that New Orleans with Katrina and

Houston with Harvey, has been brought to a standstill! – even such bastions

of secularism as New Jersey and New York are not out of reach – remember

Hurricane Sandy in 2012, the second most costly storm in the United States

history, though relegated to the third costliest by Harvey -  CY – 2017) 

Had the storm lasted but a week or two longer, the effects would

have been as serious to cities like London, and to the country as a whole,

as this smiting. of the Nile in Egypt.

 

Ø      God’s judgments are anticipative. Judgments in this life forewarn of

judgments beyond.  (“Because He hath appointed a day, in the which He

will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom He hath ordained;

whereof He hath given assurance unto all men, in that He hath raised Him

from the dead!”  - Acts 17:31)

 

  • THE PUERILE IMITATION OF THE MAGICIANS (v. 22).

 

Ø      The magicians could not remove the plague; they could only with the

few drops of water at their command produce a feeble imitation of it. How

futile is this as a disproof of God’s agency! So it is a pitiable way of

disposing of God’s judgments to show that something like them can be

produced by undivine means. The savant (a learned person in science or

literature) , e.g., may produce in his laboratory an imitation of rain or thunder,

and may think that he has thereby disproved God’s agency in any infliction

he may send upon a land through these instrumentalities; but this is small

comfort to the country that is being smitten by them.  (Once again, apply

this to current events in the United States! – CY – 2017)

 

Ø      The attempts of the magicians to refute the pretensions of Moses only

resulted in making the supernatural character of the plague more manifest.

In the same way, the efforts of skeptics to disprove, e.g., the Divine origin

of the religion of the Bible, or of the book itself, only end in making its

ITS DIVINITY MORE APPARENT!  “The more conclusively you

demonstrate to the human reason that that which exists ought not to exist,

so much the more do you enhance the miracle of its existence. That must

be the most astounding of all facts that still exists notwithstanding the

gravest objections to its existence.”

 

  • THE HARDENING OF PHARAOH (vs. 22, 23). The hardening of

Pharaoh here enters on a new phase. It was:

 

Ø      Hardening against conviction. Pharaoh must have felt in this case that he

was in presence of a true work of God. The puny efforts of his magicians

could not possibly impose upon him. But he would not yield. He would not

obey conviction.

 

Hardening under punishment. Pharaoh was in the position of one who,

being often reproved, hardeneth his neck (Proverbs 29:1). He had

risked, even after this last warning, the chances of the threatening turning

out to be untrue. Now, to his utter discomfiture, the stroke descends, and

his empire is on the point of ruin. Yet he hardened himself in resistance.

 

Ø      Hardening which was deliberate. “Pharaoh turned and went into his

house, neither did he set his heart to this also” (v. 23). He had reached a

point at which he could only stiffen himself in his determination to resist

God, by refusing to think, by deliberately turning away from the light and

resolving not to face the question of his duty. The monarch knows his duty,

and knows that he knows it, yet, he will not obey.

 

Ø      Hardening obstinately persevered in. He held out through all the seven

days of the duration of the plague. Hardening of this kind speedily robs the

soul of its few remaining sparks of susceptibility to truth.

 

 

 

The Water Turned into Blood (vs. 14-25)

 

  • THE PUNISHMENT. There were two elements in it.

 

Ø      The deprivation: water, one of the most essential of all God’s gifts, was

suddenly made useless.

 

Ø      The horror. Had all the water of Egypt suddenly disappeared, the

punishment had been infinitely less. Instead of water, there was blood and

corruption.

 

Ø      It was a judgment on Egypt’s idolatry. The things we set in God’s stead

will be made an abomination and a horror to us.

 

Ø      It was the revelation of Egypt’s guilt; beneath these waters the babes of

Israel had sunk in their hopeless struggle with death. The abused gifts of

God will be removed, but the horror of their abuse will abide.

 

  • THE ATTEMPT TO DISCREDIT GOD’S AGENCY IN THE

CALAMITY. The magicians could increase the plague, and therefore it

was not from the hand of God! The same argument is used still to prevent

misfortune being considered as a chastisement and warning from God. Men

can see in it chance only, or man’s hand, not the Lord’s.

 

  • PHARAOH’S DOGGED REFUSAL TO OBEY. He “turned and

went into his house” (v. 23). This would prolong his punishment, but

could not conquer God. Instead of bowing to God’s word, we may shut

ourselves in with our sin, but we only bind judgment upon us, and tempt

God to inflict a heavier blow.

 

   

   The First Plague: The Water Turned to Blood (vs. 14-25)

 

  • THE PLACE WHERE MOSES WAS TO MEET PHARAOH. Moses

was not always to be put to it to find his entrance into the palace. God can

arrange things so that Pharaoh shall come to meet him. The instructions

given to Moses at once call to our minds how Pharaoh’s daughter, eighty

years before, had come down to the river to find and protect a helpless

babe, and how that same babe — having passed through many checkered

years, and many strange experiences at the hands both of God and men —

has to meet with another Pharaoh. We are not told why Pharaoh went

down to the water; it may have been to worship, for the Egyptians held the

Nile in pious regard. But as the narrative says nothing on this point, we had

better not assume it. It is sufficient to observe that Pharaoh was led down

to the stream, to see it, the great benefactor of his land, turned into a curse

(that is, if it was down to the Nile that he went. M. de Lesseps maintains

that the city of the Pharaohs was not on the Nile, but on a tributary of it.

See Hunter’s ‘Life of Lord Mayo,’ vol. 1. p. 132).

 

  • THE DISTINCT WARNING GIVEN TO PHARAOH OF WHAT IS

ABOUT TO HAPPEN. This warning is not peculiar to the first plague.

Warning is mentioned as having been given along with most of the others,

and possibly it was given where it is not mentioned. But it is of course a

thing to be specially noted that God did not begin this succession of

disasters without due and solemn warning. Not that there was any formal

appeal to Pharaoh. It rather seems to be taken for granted that an appeal

will be of no use. But even though Pharaoh disregarded, it was a good

thing to say beforehand what was about to happen. Moses himself, and

Aaron, and all devout Israelites who had eyes to perceive, could thus see

God’s plan opening out more and more. All information is good that makes

us feel how God is working upon an ascertained and settled plan.

 

  • THE PLAGUE ITSELF, Water is changed to blood. Two of the great

elements that belong to life are thus put in sharp contrast. Water is an

element scarcely less distributed than the air itself. It is one of those

common blessings which are so common that we take them with no

manner of doubt that we are perfectly sure of them, come what may. The

importance of water is seen by nothing more than by the frequent

references to it in Scripture as illustrative of spiritual blessings. There is

water to drink; water to cleanse; water to fertilize vegetation. This element

God takes, and all at once, over a wide stretch of territory, turns it to

blood. Thus we see how He can make mere natural things a blessing or a

curse according to his will. Water is a blessing, and blood a blessing,

according to circumstances of time and place. There is suffering when

blood is where water ought to be; and equally there is suffering if water is

where blood ought to be. Here there was great suffering because blood

was where water was meant to be. When the people came for water to

drink, to cook, to wash, to water plants, they found only blood; and yet

that very blood was the same in its composition with the liquid which

flowed incessantly through their own bodies. Their health depended on its

richness, its purity, and the regularity of its flow. On the other hand,

consider the poor man who came to Christ to be cured of the dropsy

(Luke 14:2). He had to complain, not that blood was where water

ought to be, but that water was where blood ought to be. And here we

claim that this miracle is not sufficiently explained by saying that the water

was turned into something like blood. We must take it that there was a

conversion of the water literally into blood. We are here just at the

beginning of a critical and sublime exhibition of signs and wonders. Why,

then, needlessly make admissions which will diminish the force of these?

Granting the supernatural at all, let us be ready to grant it to the full where

the statements of the text require it. The Being who changed a rod to a

serpent could change, if need were, THE WATERS OF THE WHOLE

GLOBE INTO BLOOD!   (Reader, if there is a problem with this, I

recommend Genesis 17 – El Shaddai – Names of God by Nathan Stone

this website – CY – 2017)  We should be careful not to admit, without

sufficient reason, anything to diminish the horrors of this plague. What

a poor picture it presents to the imagination to think of streams stained with

red earth or microscopic infusoria! How much more impressive in every

way — how much more consistent with high conceptions of the anger of

Jehovah, and of the punitive aspect of His power — to think of blood, real

blood everywhere, “vast rolling streams, florid and high-colored,” and

becoming after a while, a stagnating, clotting, putrescent mass. Very fitly

does Matthew Henry remark on this plague: — “One of the first miracles

Moses wrought was turning water into blood, but one of the first miracles

our Lord Jesus wrought was turning water into wine; for the law was given

by Moses, and it was a dispensation of death and terror; but grace and truth,

which, like wine, make glad the heart, came by Jesus Christ.”

 

  • THE APPARENTLY SUCCESSFUL RIVALRY OF THE

MAGICIANS. They also were able, or seemed to be able, to turn water

into blood. There are, indeed, some difficulties in understanding the nature

of their action here — whether it was mere trickery and deception, or

whether God did allow water, as it passed through their hands, to be

changed to blood. An understanding of these points is, however, of

secondary importance. The thing of moment is to mark how unimpressed

the magicians themselves seem to have been with the terrible spectacle

presented to them. It was not for Pharaoh only to take heed to this river of

blood; the intimation was for them also. But they clung, as privileged men

almost always do cling, to their position and influence. Not only was

Pharaoh’s kingdom in danger, but their standing as the professed agents of

supernatural powers. They went on, vainly contending against this new

manifestation of power, though surely in their hearts they must have felt it

was destined to prevail And their conduct was made worse by the fact that

they were pursuing it in the midst of general suffering.

 

  • THE INTERVAL TO THE NEXT PLAGUE. What was this interval

for? Surely to give Pharaoh time — time to consider the miracle in all its

bearings, and get over the rashness and pride which prompted his first

thoughts of continued resistance. We know not if, during these seven days,

the river slowly returned to its natural state. Perhaps there was no sharp

dividing line between the plagues; one may have come on as another faded

away. Seven days, then, were given to Pharaoh to change his mind; but it is

very hard for a man, even in seven days, to say he has been utterly wrong.

And then there is the success of these magicians to keep him astray. Yet

what was there in them to give satisfaction? It seemed they could do the

same thing which Moses was doing, viz. change water into blood. If only

they could have changed blood into water again, then they might have

been of some use and comfort to Pharaoh.

 

 

 

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