Passages: Exodus 7-15
As we arrive at these chapters we see the scene is set for a showdown between God and Pharaoh, between good and evil. Here God ensured that his people were set free and that Pharaoh, who regarded himself as a God, and the people of Egypt and Israel would see that God was and is the only God and above all.
As Moses the Israelites sang in Chapter 15:11 “Who among the gods is like you, O LORD? Who is like you– majestic in holiness, awesome in glory, working wonders?
The Strengthening of Pharaoh’s Heart
One of the central themes of this story is Pharaoh heart, but what does it mean for God to harden Pharaohs heart?
Unfortunately, the concept of God’s “hardening” Pharaoh’s heart is generally misunderstood, with many readers assuming that God caused Pharaoh to act against his own will. It is often suggested that although Pharaoh wanted to release the Israelite, God prevented him from doing this. However a careful reading of the text reveals that by strengthening Pharaohs heart, God actually enables him to remain true to his inner convictions. To this end, it is important to observe that the strengthening of Pharaoh’s heart always comes after a hardship is removed and Pharaoh is no longer being pressured into realising the Israelites. The motif of Pharaoh’s heart being strengthened reveals that God wants the Egyptian king to release the Israelites willingly and not under duress.T. Desmond Alexander ‘From Paradise to the Promised Land’
- What do you think of the statement?
- Does it change your understanding of the story?
The Signs and Wonders
God sent the signs and wonder to show that He was God and with each plague Pharaoh’s heart was strengthened.
As we read through the plagues note the change in the people around Pharaoh.
The magicians copied the sign but God came out on top.
7:12 Each one threw down his staff and it became a snake. But Aaron’s staff swallowed up their staffs.
The Plague of Blood: 7:22 But the Egyptian magicians did the same things by their secret arts,
8:6 So Aaron stretched out his hand over the waters of Egypt, and the frogs came up and covered the land. 7 But the magicians did the same things by their secret arts; they also made frogs come up on the land of Egypt.
But by the 4th sign the magicians acknowledged God’s power was beyond their power.
8:19 The magicians said to Pharaoh, “This is the finger of God.” But Pharaoh’s heart was hard and he would not listen, just as the LORD had said.
By the plague of Hail we read of Pharaoh’s officials fearing God.
9:20 Those officials of Pharaoh who feared the word of the LORD hurried to bring their slaves and their livestock inside. 21 But those who ignored the word of the LORD left their slaves and livestock in the field.
It was only after the last plague that Pharaoh changed his mind.
Are there times in our lives that we like Pharaoh strengthen our hearts, maybe because of pride and our own self achievement that we ignore the words of God and the power of His actions?
As you read the account of the Passover why do you think it was so important for the Israelites to keep it.
Passover was to help the people of Israel to remember what God had achieved for them, the exodus from slavery to freedom and the promised land.
Think about the Passover and how it is related to the Lord’s Supper, what similarities do you see? and what does this tells us about Jesus?
God’s Leading and Protection
In Exodus 13:20-22 we see that God led the people with cloud and fire during the day and night. We also see in Exodus 14:19-20 that when the Egyptian army was near God protected them.
And when the people were afraid and complained we also read in Exodus 14:13 Moses answered the people, “Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the LORD will bring you today. The Egyptians you see today you will never see again. 14 The LORD will fight for you; you need only to be still.”
How do these thoughts on God’s leading and protection help you?
All that happened in these chapters of Exodus serve to show us that God is in control and that his people should follow and trust him.
As we journey through the Bible let us ask, how does knowing this help me to become wise for salvation through faith in Jesus?
- What does it teach me?
- How does it rebuke me?
- Is it correcting something in my life?
- What training can I put into place to help me live a righteous life?
- How is this equipping me for every good work?
Additional questions you may wish to consider for personal study or in Life Groups.
As I reflect what have I found interesting?
As I reflect what has challenged my life, attitudes and actions?
Is there one practical step I can apply to my life to help me to become more like Jesus?
How would this help me to introduce others to Jesus?
Is there there anything I need to pray about, explore further or extra help I need?
Is there someone I should share with, pray with or encourage?