Skip to content
Previous Next
November 15, 2023

Exodus Part 2

In last week’s lesson God called Moses – God has a mission for Moses. He tells Moses, “I have surely seen the affliction of My people who are in Egypt and have heard their cry because of their taskmasters.



“Let My People Go”


In last week’s lesson God called Moses – God has a mission for Moses. He tells Moses, “I have surely seen the affliction of My people who are in Egypt and have heard their cry because of their taskmasters. I know their sufferings, and I have come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians and to bring them up out of that land to a good and broad land, a land flowing with milk and honey, to the place of the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Hivites, and Jebusites. And now, behold, the cry of the people of Israel has come to me, and I have also seen the oppression with which the Egyptians oppress them. Come, I will send you to Pharaoh that you may bring my people, the children of Israel, out of Egypt.”

Now, if you’ll recall, Moses was less than enthusiastic. He responds by enlightening God, by giving God all the reasons why he’s not qualified. Moses initially resists God’s call. He doesn’t want to do it. God tells Moses that in the end, whether he feels qualified or not, Moses WILL be successful in his mission and NOT because of Moses’ great negotiation skills or strong leadership abilities, but because of who God is and what HE will do. It is NOT about Moses. It’s ALL about God and what HE is going to accomplish thru His servant. And as we discussed last week that’s God’s method of operation throughout the Bible. Quite often He chooses to work thru human instruments. God gives Moses direction and He gives Moses the tools he needs. Moses is simply to go, to trust God, to obey Him, to do as He has instructed. Moses is God’s chosen leader whose mission is to lead God’s covenant people out of their bondage. And so in Chapter 4 Moses prepares to go to Egypt.

Today’s lesson focuses on events in Chapters 5 thru 10 but I just wanted to mention briefly three things out of Chapter 4 that we didn’t cover last week…

  • While Moses is preparing to go to Egypt, God reminds Moses that Pharaoh is NOT going to be cooperative. He is going to harden his heart and refuse to let the people go. God informs Moses, however, that in the end Pharaoh WILL let the people go but only after God kills Pharaoh’s first born son. So God gives Moses some insight as to what’s going to happen. He prepares Moses for the task at hand and lets him know that he can expect resistance.
  • On the way to Egypt Moses is accompanied by his wife Zipporah and his son. Well, in a strange turn of events, Moses becomes deathly ill. The scripture says, “God sought to put Moses to death.” Now this is a bit surprising because God has just called Moses to this incredible task and he’s on his way to do it. Zipporah perceives the reason for Moses sudden illness is that Moses had not circumcised their son. So, she takes action. She gets her flint knife out and circumcises their son and then angrily tosses the severed foreskin at Moses’ feet. Some harsh words are exchanged. Lesson from this bizarre incident is this (there is no commentary about this in Exodus): God takes very seriously the matter of His people’s obedience to Him and to His covenant demands. Now, at this point there is no Law. But God had instituted the rite of circumcision (to Abraham and his offspring in Gen 17). This was to be an outward sign for every male Israelite that they belonged to God. And God commanded that His people do it. However, Moses had been disobedient to this command, which gives us some indication of where his heart was. Like we said, he was no spiritual giant. God expects obedience from His people, yes, even the leaders. Trust and obey! These are two key ingredients in having a right relationship with God. So Zipporah’s actions, in essence, saved Moses’ life.
  • Finally on the way to Egypt, just as God had told Moses earlier in the chapter, Aaron meets up with Moses. Moses tells Aaron all that the Lord had told him and then Aaron accompanies Moses to Egypt to act as his spokesman. Chapter 4 closes with Moses and Aaron going to the elders of the people of Israel.

READ Exodus 4:29-31

It’s time for Moses to get down to the business at hand. Time to go and confront Pharaoh…

READ Exodus 5:1

But Pharaoh is not about to let the people go, is he? God has already told Moses that this is what he can expect initially. No surprise.

READ Exodus 5:2

No surprise here. Not only does Pharaoh refuse God’s demands (as presented thru Moses and Aaron) but then he greatly increases the workload of God’s people. He has their foremen beaten. As a result, the leaders of the Hebrew people become angry with Moses and Aaron. Moses becomes frustrated by this turn of events. So he goes to God…

READ Exodus 5:22-23

There is a sense of frustration in Moses voice. He is also showing some impatience. Well, in Chapter 6 God explains to Moses His (God’s) purpose in allowing Pharaoh to resist – it is all part of God’s plan to demonstrate His mighty power. God gives Moses a message for the people of Israel…

READ Exodus 6:6-8

Notice: “I will, I will, I will, I am the Lord!” God is making a promise to His people. Moses relays this message to them. But they refuse to listen to him. The Bible tells us why in v 9 and it is understandable.

READ Exodus 6:9-11

Moses again feels inadequate and unqualified. He goes back to the same argument he had with God last week at the burning bush: “I am not an effective speaker. If the people won’t listen to me, how can you expect Pharaoh to listen to me?” Moses seems to have forgotten the lesson from last week that it’s not about him and his abilities. God reminds Moses at the end of Chapter 6 and beginning of Chapter 7 what He had told Moses back in the wilderness when He first called him. God reminds Moses exactly how Pharaoh will respond…what God has already told Moses, nothing new, just a reminder…

READ Exodus 7:3-5

Moses can expect little success in the short term, but in the end God WILL deliver His people out of Egypt.

READ Exodus 7:6

Moses and Aaron once again meet with Pharaoh and relay the message God has given them. Pharaoh demands a miracle, a sign to show that they are from God. In response, Aaron throws his staff down before Pharaoh and it turns into a snake! Pharaoh summons all his wise men and sorcerers and they are able to do the very same thing. All of their staffs also turn into snakes. Then the most amazing thing happens… Aaron’s staff swallows up all the other staffs! Do you think Pharoah is impressed? No.

READ Exodus 7:13

Pharaoh hardens his heart just as God had said that he would and he refuses to listen to Moses and Aaron. Big surprise, right? No.

So now we come to the plagues. There are a total of nine plagues from here in Chapter 7 thru Chapter 10. God uses these plagues to get Pharaoh’s and the people of Egypt’s attention. They are all brought about to show unequivocally that He, Yahweh, is the one true and living God. And they had better listen to Him!

Well God sends these plagues and there is this back and forth between Moses and Pharaoh and each time Pharaoh heart is hardened and he refuses to let the people go. This goes on for several chapters and then at the end of Chapter 10 after the ninth plague we read this…

READ Exodus 10:27-30

I wanted to discuss the matter of the hardening of Pharaoh’s heart which shows up throughout the narrative of this story. From Exodus 4:21 when God first tells Moses “I will harden his (Pharaoh’s) heart” thru Chapter 14 when Pharaoh chases after the people of Israel all the way to the Red Sea, the hardening of Pharoah’s heart is mentioned 18 times. Five of these times the Bible simply says that Pharaoh’s heart was hardened – no indication as to who hardened his heart, just that it was hardened. The other 13 times the Bible tells us that someone hardened Pharaoh’s heart. Three times Pharaoh hardens his own heart. In Chapter 9 verse 34 it says, “He (Pharaoh) sinned again and hardened his heart. So several times clearly Pharaoh hardens his OWN heart by an act of his own free will. However, 10 times we’re told that GOD hardens Pharaoh’s heart. So clearly God is doing something in Pharaoh. These chapters offer us a perfect example of the sovereignty of God (by His actions) working in harmony with human free will (Pharaoh’s actions). They are not mutually exclusive. It is very difficult from our human understanding and limited perspective to comprehend how our free will to make moral choices works in conjunction with the sovereign will of God. A lot of times this whole discussion arises when we talk about salvation – God’s election versus our freedom to choose Him. But it doesn’t have to be limited to that. Although there is this tension that exists between Arminianism (God doesn’t interfere with man’s freedom) and Calvinism (total depravity of man, man does not really have free will to choose what is good and right, completely dependent on the sovereignty of God). I would contend that both are right, that both are supported biblically.  

Another thing we need to notice in these chapters is the plagues themselves. On display is the mighty power of God. The Egyptians and their sorcerers could not duplicate what God did. Not only that, but they couldn’t undo what God did. One commentary I looked at suggested that each plague targeted a particular Egyptian deity (the Egyptians were a polytheistic people with many different gods taking on many different forms). None of these Egyptian false gods could counteract the mighty hand of God and his judgments upon Egypt. They had no control over what God did to them. Then there is the protection of God’s people in the midst of all the chaos and destruction that was going on in Egypt. After the first 3 plagues (blood, frogs, gnats), beginning with the fourth plague (flies) God on several occasions chooses to spare His own people who are living in the land of Goshen. God did this with several of the plagues. Flies swarmed over all the land of Egypt, but not in Goshen. Same with the disease of the livestock. The horses, donkeys and camels, the herds and the flocks of the Egyptians died, but not one of the livestock of the people of Israel died. Same with the hail – hail struck down everything in the land of Egypt but there was no hail in Goshen. Then with the plague of darkness, it was pitch black in all the land for three days, but the people of Israel had light where they lived. Not only did the Egyptians witness firsthand God’s mighty power, but they could see how God holding back destruction on His own people, the Israelites, whenever He chose to do so.

So the question before us is, why did God do all this, send all these plagues upon the Egyptians? God states why in Chapter 7, v 5 (we read it earlier): “The Egyptians shall know that I am the Lord, when I stretch out my hand against Egypt and bring out the people of Israel from among them.” [Ezekiel study – “You will know that I am the Lord”] God doesn’t just want His chosen people Israel to know He is God. He wants the whole world to know He is God. His desire is that all people should know Him. He wants all to hear the gospel, repent and be saved. The people of Egypt could see that the God of the Hebrews, the God of Moses and Aaron was mightier than any of their so-called “gods.” And yet there is no evidence as we read Exodus that this nation ever turned to God. So not only was Pharoah’s heart hardened, but so were the hearts of the Egyptian people. It’s sad but true. So often as the leaders go, so go the people.

   [Point out similarity to the Pharisees who hardened their hearts to the awesome miracles and teachings of Jesus and refused to believe that He was God]


Table of contents