Vol 2 - No 8, May 22, 2005
Moses' faith / Pharaoh's unbelief - Part 2:
Our last study was an overview of the plagues God sent on Egypt preliminary to the Passover and freeing Israel from slavery. There were four (4) distinct entities involved: 1) the Word of God, immutable and omnipotent; 2) Moses, God's chosen representative; 3) the corporate body of the Children of Israel and; 4) Pharaoh, representing the world system, which by nature has been alienated from God since and because of Adam's disobedience. God's Word carried out the nine (9) plagues, the Passover, the freeing of Israel and the destruction of Pharaoh and his hosts. But beforehand, the Word revealed God's purpose in all this. Moses was told to tell Pharaoh that he (Pharaoh) had been raised up to his position in order for God to show His (God's) power and that His (God's) name would be known throughout the earth. - Exodus 9:1616 And in very deed for this cause have I raised thee up, for to shew in thee my power; and that my name may be declared throughout all the earth.
16 And in very deed for this cause have I raised thee up, for to shew in thee my power; and that my name may be declared throughout all the earth.
; 10:1 & 2; Romans 9:1717 For the scripture saith unto Pharaoh, Even for this same purpose have I raised thee up, that I might shew my power in thee, and that my name might be declared throughout all the earth.
17 For the scripture saith unto Pharaoh, Even for this same purpose have I raised thee up, that I might shew my power in thee, and that my name might be declared throughout all the earth.
This study will address Pharaoh's response to God's Word and the next will examine that of Moses and Israel. Pharaoh was given God's Word that he was to let Israel go a total of nine (9) times; twice (2) before the plagues fell, then just before six (6) of the nine (9) plagues and finally, once (1) after the last plague of darkness. - Exodus 5:1 - 91 And afterward Moses and Aaron went in, and told Pharaoh, Thus saith the LORD God of Israel, Let my people go, that they may hold a feast unto me in the wilderness.
2 And Pharaoh said, Who is the LORD, that I should obey his voice to let Israel go? I know not the LORD, neither will I let Israel go.
3 And they said, The God of the Hebrews hath met with us: let us go, we pray thee, three days' journey into the desert, and sacrifice unto the LORD our God; lest he fall upon us with pestilence, or with the sword.
4 And the king of Egypt said unto them, Wherefore do ye, Moses and Aaron, let the people from their works? get you unto your burdens.
5 And Pharaoh said, Behold, the people of the land now are many, and ye make them rest from their burdens.
6 And Pharaoh commanded the same day the taskmasters of the people, and their officers, saying,
7 Ye shall no more give the people straw to make brick, as heretofore: let them go and gather straw for themselves.
8 And the tale of the bricks, which they did make heretofore, ye shall lay upon them; ye shall not diminish ought thereof: for they be idle; therefore they cry, saying, Let us go and sacrifice to our God.
9 Let there more work be laid upon the men, that they may labour therein; and let them not regard vain words.
; 7:1 - 12; 7:14 - 25; 8:1 15; 8:20; 9:1 - 7; 9:13 - 15; 10:1 - 20; 10:21 - 29. As pointed out in the last study nine (9) is the number for finality or judgment in the Bible.
Pharaoh's priest/magicians were able to create three (3) illusions. When Aaron's rod turned into a serpent they were able to do this with their rods, but Aaron's serpent ate theirs. They also duplicated elements of the first two (2) plagues, turning water into blood and multiplying frogs - Exodus 7:10 - 1210 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.
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.
12 For they cast down every man his rod, and they became serpents: but Aaron's rod swallowed up their rods.
& 22; 8:7. The Apostle Paul subsequently identified these priest/magicians by name in his letter to Timothy as examples of people who are ever learning but never able to come to the knowledge of the truth. "Now as Jannes and Jambres withstood Moses, so do these also resist the truth: men of corrupt minds, reprobate concerning the faith. But they shall proceed no further: for their folly shall be manifest unto all men, as theirs also was." - 2 Timothy 3:7 - 97 Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.
8 Now as Jannes and Jambres withstood Moses, so do these also resist the truth: men of corrupt minds, reprobate concerning the faith.
9 But they shall proceed no further: for their folly shall be manifest unto all men, as their's also was.
. When Paul says Jannes and Jambres were "reprobate concerning the faith," he means their faith was phony and worthless. However, even though Jannes and Jambres did not have true faith in God's Word they never the less came to recognize a higher power when they were unable to duplicate the third plague of lice and they told Pharaoh it was done by the finger of God - Exodus 8:16 - 1916 And the LORD said unto Moses, Say unto Aaron, Stretch out thy rod, and smite the dust of the land, that it may become lice throughout all the land of Egypt.
17 And they did so; for Aaron stretched out his hand with his rod, and smote the dust of the earth, and it became lice in man, and in beast; all the dust of the land became lice throughout all the land of Egypt.
18 And the magicians did so with their enchantments to bring forth lice, but they could not: so there were lice upon man, and upon beast.
19 Then the magicians said unto Pharaoh, This is the finger of God: and Pharaoh's heart was hardened, and he hearkened not unto them; as the LORD had said.
Thus Pharaoh had the Word of God telling him to let Israel go, and his priest/magicians advice that the plagues were done by the finger of God, but he refused to relent. He stood steadfast resolute and this brings us to an oft repeated statement that has caused some confusion. The Lord told Moses He was going to harden the heart of Pharaoh and/or that of the Egyptians at least six (6) times - Exodus 4:2121 And the LORD said unto Moses, When thou goest to return into Egypt, see that thou do all those wonders before Pharaoh, which I have put in thine hand: but I will harden his heart, that he shall not let the people go.
; 7:3 & 13; 10:1; 14:4 & 17. Additionally, mention is made of the fact that Pharaoh's heart was hardened a number of times - Exodus 7:14 & 2214 And the LORD said unto Moses, Pharaoh's heart is hardened, he refuseth to let the people go.
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.
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.
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.
18 And the fish that is in the river shall die, and the river shall stink; and the Egyptians shall lothe to drink of the water of the river.
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.
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.
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.
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.
; 8:15, 19 & 22; 9:7, 12, 34 & 35; 10:20 & 27; 11:10 & 14:8. God's hardening of Pharaoh's heart has led some to wonder if God purposely caused Pharaoh to disbelieve His Word, so unjustly condemning him to death. This also appears to contradict what the Apostle James subsequently wrote: "Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man: But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed," James 1:13 & 1413 Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man:
14 But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed.
13 Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man:
14 But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed.
. Thoughtful consideration of this incident and God's attributes reveals no contradiction and in fact leads to the conclusion that James 1:13 & 14 actually helps explain what is meant by the hardening of Pharaoh's heart.
In order to understand Pharaoh's actions we go to his motive and in this case there were only two (2) basic motives upon which he could have acted. One, he could like Moses have placed his faith in God's Word and taken action based completely on the Word regardless of any human consideration. Or two, he could do the natural thing and take action based on his own selfish interests.
Whereas man looks on the outward appearance, God looks at the heart. - I Samuel 16:7. The fact that God knows the heart (motives) of man is readily apparent in the life of the living Word of God, Jesus Christ - John 1:1 - 31 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
2 The same was in the beginning with God.
3 All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.
& 14. "Now when he was in Jerusalem at the Passover, in the feast day, many believed in his name, when they saw the miracles which he did. But Jesus did not commit himself unto them, because he knew all men, And needed not that any should testify of man: for he knew what was in man." - John 2:23 - 2523 Now when he was in Jerusalem at the passover, in the feast day, many believed in his name, when they saw the miracles which he did.
24 But Jesus did not commit himself unto them, because he knew all men,
25 And needed not that any should testify of man: for he knew what was in man.
. "But there are some of you that believe not. For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were that believed not, and who should betray him. And he said, Therefore said I unto you, that no man can come unto me, except it were given unto him of my Father. From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him." - John 6:64 - 6664 But there are some of you that believe not. For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were that believed not, and who should betray him.
65 And he said, Therefore said I unto you, that no man can come unto me, except it were given unto him of my Father.
66 From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him.
. Many in Israel would have made Him king, not because of their faith in Him as the son of God but because He fed thousands with just a few loaves of bread and fishes, John 6:1515 When Jesus therefore perceived that they would come and take him by force, to make him a king, he departed again into a mountain himself alone.
. Jesus revealed that at the Day of Judgment many will claim they have prophesied, cast out devils and done many wonderful works in His name but He will tell them He never knew them. - Matthew 7:22 & 2322 Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works?
23 And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.
. These are but a few of the instances demonstrating that the Word of God knows the true motive of the heart and so whether a man's actions are because of expediency and self interest or faith in God's Word.
The Word of God, before He came as Jesus Christ, knew Pharaoh's heart and that he wanted to keep the Hebrews who were a rich source of free labor to carry on the economy of Egypt. But God also knew that in spite of this Pharaoh's resolve would surely weaken at some point during the onslaught of overwhelming plagues: water turned to blood, frogs, lice, flies, death of livestock, painful infectious boils from head to foot, hail and fire from heaven, locusts and total darkness. It would have been natural for Pharaoh to let Israel go out of frustration, but had he done so it would have been for the sake of expediency and not because of faith in God's Word. And letting Israel go prematurely would have thwarted God's purpose, which as already mentioned was to declare His Name throughout the earth and demonstrate to the Hebrews and all their generations that the Lord is who He says He is - Exodus 9:16; 10:1 & 2; Romans 9:17.
Pharaoh did not need any help in rejecting God's Word because he came by it naturally. He, like all mankind since Adam, was born spiritually dead and separated from God so he was by nature a heathen idol worshiper. The Apostle Paul subsequently explained the lost and separated condition of mankind and that from the beginning they all rejected God even though there was ample evidence to prove God is who He says He is. - Romans 1:19 - 3219 Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them.
20 For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse:
21 Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened.
22 Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools,
23 And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things.
24 Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves:
25 Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen.
26 For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature:
27 And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet.
28 And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient;
29 Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers,
30 Backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents,
31 Without understanding, covenantbreakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful:
32 Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them.
. Paul also taught that those who are not in Christ are dead in their trespasses and sins, Ephesians 2:1 - 31 And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins;
2 Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience:
3 Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others.
& 5, and such was Pharaoh's condition: spiritually dead and lost in his self righteousness and idol worship.
Pharaoh did need help in staying the course of his will and not capitulating under the pressure of the overwhelming plagues. So God gave him the wherewithal to do what he wanted to do. Subsequent to the plagues and the Passover death of all the first born of Egypt Pharaoh finally relented and let Israel go. But shortly thereafter his true inner self was revealed when he gave chase to re-capture and return Israel to slavery. It was then that he finally got his just deserts with his hosts at the bottom of the Red Sea.