Book of Exodus Chapter Seven Commentary by
Pastor Ron Beckham
The Plagues Begin
To be allowed to teach, preach or in any way speak or act as God leads is indeed a gift. Moses glimpsed God's view of all this in Verse 1—"Then the Lord said to Moses, 'See, I make you as God to Pharaoh, and your brother Aaron shall be your prophet.'" What we say or do in service to the Lord should put us on our knees in gratitude—He gives us something of Himself, higher than anything this universe can offer. The Lord continued in Verse 2, "You shall speak all that I command you, and your brother Aaron shall speak to Pharaoh that he let the sons of Israel go out of his land." It's important to stick to the call of God in our lives. If we are called to carpentry, that's what we should do. If teaching, we should teach. But it won't be easy in service to the Lord—those we serve may reject us. Moses would be given insight, a warning actually, straight from God, who continued in Verse 3: "But I will harden Pharaoh’s heart that I may multiply My signs and My wonders in the land of Egypt." We should note that just because we are called by God does not mean we will be well received. When called to speak, do it, but the results may be unexpected.
How do you respond when God calls you to pray for a sick person, but they don't get well? That's something like it was for Moses: He was called to tell Pharaoh through Aaron, to "Let My people go," but God knew in advance that Pharaoh would refuse. Moses was to do his part anyway. It's a blessing to be called to help some group or person, but the beneficiary may reject you. Just do what you are called to do...and they can accept it or not. In Verse 4, the Lord continued, "When Pharaoh does not listen to you, then I will lay My hand on Egypt and bring out My hosts, My people the sons of Israel, from the land of Egypt by great judgments." A great result would occur, as seen in Verse 5: "The Egyptians shall know that I am the Lord, when I stretch out My hand on Egypt and bring out the sons of Israel from their midst." It was more than just the physical deliverance of Israel...the Egyptians needed, as do all of us, to know that the Lord is God. The brothers responded to the need and acted correctly in Verse 6—"So Moses and Aaron did it; as the Lord commanded them, thus they did."
Part of the problem with Moses was that he thought he was too old for any of this, for in Verse 7 we find that "Moses was eighty years old and Aaron eighty-three, when they spoke to Pharaoh." That's consistent with Acts 7:23, when Moses was "forty," and Acts 7:30, "when forty (more years) had passed." He was "eighty," at a point in his life when he was tired and expected to die any minute. His Psalm 90 (Verses 9-10), might well have been written during these early chapters of Exodus.
Moses may have felt this was all too much for him, but the Lord knew the positive outcome before it happened, just as it is in your life and mine. Verses 8-9 state, "Now the Lord spoke to Moses and Aaron, saying, ' When Pharaoh speaks to you, saying, 'Work a miracle,' then you shall say to Aaron, 'Take your staff and throw it down before Pharaoh, that it may become a serpent.'" Note that the Lord knew in advance that Pharaoh would ask for a miracle as a proof that God was behind all this. Though it is not specifically stated in Verse 10, the implication is that Pharaoh did indeed demand that they "work a miracle." In Verse 10, "Moses and Aaron came to Pharaoh, and thus they did just as the Lord had commanded; and Aaron threw his staff down before Pharaoh and his servants, and it became a serpent."
The Pharaoh must have been surprised, but he also had paid retainers, people who were employed for moments such as these. In Verse 11, "Then Pharaoh also called for the wise men and the sorcerers, and they also, the magicians of Egypt, did the same with their secret arts." Notice that not only does God give gifts to people, but there is an enemy who copies and counterfeits those gifts. Note also that God is infinitely greater than the enemy, as glimpsed in Verse 12: "For each one threw down his staff and they turned into serpents. But Aaron’s staff swallowed up their staffs." At some point in the future, ALL the acts of the enemy will be swallowed up, and the enemy himself will be seen no more.
Pharaoh's problem was not his alone, for just like him, most people make up their minds without adequately considering the evidence. We have all done it, which is why Jesus urged us to "Judge not, that you be not judged" (Matthew 7:1). Verse 13 imparts the unhappy news: "Yet Pharaoh’s heart was hardened, and he did not listen to them, as the Lord had said." This king didn't listen, as many people don't, and it is time for us to LISTEN as never before...and stop judging those around us...especially before we truly understand what is involved in the events of their lives and ours.
Moses and Aaron were stunned and as it is often the case for us all, they didn't know what to do next. In Verse 14, "Then the Lord said to Moses, 'Pharaoh’s heart is stubborn; he refuses to let the people go.'" The Lord imparted understanding to them in the following verses that He is completely aware of events that will happen in the future which He will deal with in His own way. The Lord continued in Verses 15-18, "Go to Pharaoh in the morning as he is going out to the water, and station yourself to meet him on the bank of the Nile; and you shall take in your hand the staff that was turned into a serpent. You shall say to him, 'The Lord, the God of the Hebrews, sent me to you, saying, Let My people go, that they may serve Me in the wilderness. But behold, you have not listened until now.' Thus says the Lord, 'By this you shall know that I am the Lord: behold, I will strike the water that is in the Nile with the staff that is in my hand, and it will be turned to blood. The fish that are in the Nile will die, and the Nile will become foul, and the Egyptians will find difficulty in drinking water from the Nile.'" Note that God knew where Pharaoh would be on the day before he did it. The Lord already knows whether the employee will get the raise in pay or not. He knows everything, and it's all for His good purposes in our lives. We would be happy to have "normal" lives, unaffected by trouble, in which we would never get sick, lose someone we love or die ourselves. But he intends something higher—to bring us to faith in the Lord—no matter what it takes to do it.
The Nile River in Egypt has been the outward key to that nation's prosperity through the centuries. It's a great source of water and food for people, animals and crops...a highway for commerce and much more. And now all the waters of Egypt would be touched by the hand of God, who spoke in Verse 19: "Then the Lord said to Moses, 'Say to Aaron, ‘Take your staff and stretch out your hand over the waters of Egypt, over their rivers, over their streams, and over their pools, and over all their reservoirs of water, that they may become blood; and there will be blood throughout all the land of Egypt, both in vessels of wood and in vessels of stone.'" How would you feel if the faucet in your sink or bathtub poured out blood instead of water? What about a drinking fountain or a nearby body of water? What emotions would you feel if it happened?
In Verses 20-21, "So Moses and Aaron did even as the Lord had commanded. And he lifted up the staff and struck the water that was in the Nile, in the sight of Pharaoh and in the sight of his servants, and all the water that was in the Nile was turned to blood. The fish that were in the Nile died, and the Nile became foul, so that the Egyptians could not drink water from the Nile. And the blood was through all the land of Egypt." All the exposed drinking water of that land, in rivers, pools, oases...wherever it was found, was turned to blood. We would be disgusted by such an event, and so were the Egyptians.
Again, there is an enemy who is able to do more than humans can accomplish, and the Pharaoh of Egypt had men on his payroll who belonged to the enemy. Verse 22 reports, "But the magicians of Egypt did the same with their secret arts; and Pharaoh’s heart was hardened, and he did not listen to them, as the Lord had said." Moses was raised in the house of a previous Pharaoh, and had seen such men as these "magicians" before, but he and Aaron were surprised by the process that was occurring. He and Aaron would have felt badly discouraged, except for this: They both had a growing faith in the Lord, who had already told them that Pharaoh would not listen. One great asset Moses and Aaron had that Pharaoh did not have is seen in the next verse. They were receiving God's deep love for the people, but Pharaoh did not care for his people at all. Verse 23 reports, "Then Pharaoh turned and went into his house with no concern even for this." If God places us into positions of leadership, His intention is that we will love the people we serve.
Verse 24 reports, "So all the Egyptians dug around the Nile for water to drink, for they could not drink of the water of the Nile." and Verse 25 continues, "Seven days passed after the Lord had struck the Nile." There still was comparatively clean drinking water to be found by digging underground, but life became very difficult for the people, and seven long days now passed.
Lord, I see that "negative" events can have positive outcomes because You make it so. Forgive me for my unbelief. I trust in You, Lord. I place my faith in You. Fill me with the Holy Spirit and give me Your peace. In Jesus Name. Help me to follow You. Amen.