In our study of Exodus chapter seven, we will look at the battle between God and the false gods of Egypt. The main false god of Egypt was the Pharaoh and, as we saw in chapter six, he had disobeyed God by refusing to let the Israelites leave. This begins a battle between all of their false gods and the one true God.
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Then the Lord said to Moses, 'See, I have made you like God to Pharaoh, and your brother Aaron will be your prophet.'
At the end of the last chapter, Moses had asked God why Pharaoh would listen to him. God's answer is that His power was going to be demonstrated through Moses and that Moses was going to be His mouthpiece. Moses had had doubts about his speaking ability so God appointed his brother Aaron to speak on his behalf.
'You are to say everything I command you, and your brother Aaron is to tell Pharaoh to let the Israelites go out of his country. But I will harden Pharaoh's heart, and though I multiply my signs and wonders in Egypt, he will not listen to you.'
Once again, God gave Moses his marching orders but He went on to explain that Moses' words were not going to convince Pharaoh. We see that God told Moses that He was going to "harden Pharaoh's heart". What does that mean? The Hebrew word is "qa sheh" and it is used to describe a heart that is difficult and not easily penetrated. God was telling Moses that He was going to reveal the fact that Pharaoh's heart would not easily be penetrated because he considered himself to be god.
'Then I will lay my hand on Egypt and with mighty acts of judgment I will bring out my divisions, my people the Israelites. And the Egyptians will know that I am the Lord when I stretch out my hand against Egypt and bring the Israelites out of it.'
God completes Moses' instructions with the reassurance that, in the end, the efforts will succeed. God went on to explain the reason for allowing this temporary disobedience and not just eliminating Pharaoh. That reason was so that the rest of the Egyptians would see that the real God of the universe is in control.
Moses and Aaron did just as the Lord commanded them. Moses was eighty years old and Aaron eighty-three when they spoke to Pharaoh.
Why does God mention the age of His servants? First of all, they are set apart by the fact that they are older than average according to Psalm 90. Secondly, it shows that your age does not matter when it comes to serving God. Many treat serving God like it is a job where you go all out for a set number of years and then you retire and take it easy. As we see with Aaron and Moses, God can have great things for you to do and it doesn't matter if you are 80 years old.
The Lord said to Moses and Aaron, 'When Pharaoh says to you, "Perform a miracle," then say to Aaron, "Take your staff and throw it down before Pharaoh," and it will become a snake.'
God instructed them on how they were to present their authority to Pharaoh. He chose to make Aaron's staff a serpent but why? The actual Hebrew word is "tannin" and it means monster and, here, it is translated as serpent or snake. In other parts of the Bible, such as Isaiah and Ezekiel, it is translated as dragon. This is the opening battle in the war on Egypt's gods as they had "gods" for every form of life and function in life. In Egyptian mythology, their chief god was the sun god Ra and he was opposed by a large demonic snake named Apep. According to them, Apep and Ra battled nightly to see whether the sun would rise the next day or not. By making the staff a monster snake, God was putting Pharaoh on notice that the Egyptian gods were going down. So, God would create a demon? The short answer is yes as He created Satan and the other fallen angels which are called demons. But, in this case, it is not actually a demon but will be used to show Pharaoh that the God of Israel is greater than the demon forces they were afraid of. It can also be a reminder to us that God is far greater than Satan and He is in control.
So Moses and Aaron went to Pharaoh and did just as the Lord commanded. Aaron threw his staff down in front of Pharaoh and his officials, and it became a snake. Pharaoh then summoned wise men and sorcerers, and the Egyptian magicians also did the same things by their secret arts: Each one threw down his staff and it became a snake.
Pharaoh was not impressed by the sign that God had given to Moses and Aaron. The sorcerers used the demonic powers that were at work in Egypt to imitate the work of God. This is a common happening throughout the Bible as Satan wanted to be God but could not and so wants to imitate His works. This same pattern occurs even in the last days as Satan tries to imitate the resurrection of Jesus Christ (see Revelation 13:3).
But Aaron's staff swallowed up their staffs.
When Aaron's staff swallowed the others, it was a statement concerning the supremacy of God. Satan and his demons, as represented by the other snakes, were eliminated by God.
Yet Pharaoh's heart became hard and he would not listen to them, just as the Lord had said.
This was a warning shot in this "battle of the gods" but Pharaoh was full of pride and would not accept the word. This is the operating pattern of God and his judgment. He always gives a warning and, after it is ignored, He will bring the judgment.
Then the Lord said to Moses, 'Pharaoh's heart is unyielding; he refuses to let the people go. Go to Pharaoh in the morning as he goes out to the river. Confront him on the bank of the Nile, and take in your hand the staff that was changed into a snake.'
The Nile was like the giver of life to the people of Egypt and, because of Pharaoh's arrogant refusal, God told Moses to confront him there. He was also told to take the staff that had been changed into a snake as a reminder to Pharaoh. The pattern for this coming judgment is that God will send Moses and Aaron with a another warning followed by a series of three plagues. This pattern will occur three times and we are reminded that, throughout the Bible, three is associated with the earthly display of God's will for man.
Then say to him, 'The Lord, the God of the Hebrews, has sent me to say to you: Let my people go, so that they may worship me in the wilderness. But until now you have not listened. This is what the Lord says: By this you will know that I am the Lord: With the staff that is in my hand I will strike the water of the Nile, and it will be changed into blood. The fish in the Nile will die, and the river will stink; the Egyptians will not be able to drink its water.'
The warning that Pharaoh was given would have been a direct statement that God was greater than Hapi who was their god of the Nile. They had declared that Hapi was the creator of all things but Moses warned Pharaoh that he was going to see the power of the true Creator.
The Lord said to Moses, 'Tell Aaron, "Take your staff and stretch out your hand over the waters of Egypt - over the streams and canals, over the ponds and all the reservoirs - and they will turn to blood." Blood will be everywhere in Egypt, even in vessels of wood and stone.'
We see that not only the Nile was going to be affected but all water everywhere. Throughout the Bible, blood represents life and this was to show that God is the giver of life. This was to show that God had control over all things and not just the river like their "Nile god".
Moses and Aaron did just as the Lord had commanded. He raised his staff in the presence of Pharaoh and his officials and struck the water of the Nile, and all the water was changed into blood. The fish in the Nile died, and the river smelled so bad that the Egyptians could not drink its water. Blood was everywhere in Egypt. But the Egyptian magicians did the same things by their secret arts, and Pharaoh's heart became hard; he would not listen to Moses and Aaron, just as the Lord had said. Instead, he turned and went into his palace, and did not even take this to heart. And all the Egyptians dug along the Nile to get drinking water, because they could not drink the water of the river. Seven days passed after the Lord struck the Nile.
Events took place just as God had described and revealed what was in the heart of Pharaoh.