Israel 2016

Israel 2016
Roman architectural influence in Bet Sean, Israel

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Canonical Reading Plan for Jan 20, Ex 7-9

Today's readings are Ex 7-9.

God makes Moses like Himself to Pharaoh (Ex 7:1). This is an ongoing demonstration of God’s power to Pharaoh. It sends a clear message. Egyptians worship a number of very powerful gods and view Pharaoh as a god over Moses. Moses and the events that follow bear a foreboding message to those who worship other gods. The Egyptian gods are not only powerless against the one, true God, they are even powerless against the one sent by the one, true God.
Note the reason why God is doing what He does. God tells us in Ex 7:5 it is so that Pharaoh and the Egyptians will “…know that I am the Lord.” The primary goal is for God to reveal Himself as the one, true God! The Hebrews become the indirect beneficiaries of God demonstrating His glory to the world. 

Up until this point, God has revealed Himself to the Hebrews and some small groups of people. Now God is showing the world who He is by exercising His authority over the most powerful nation on earth. The plagues will show His supreme power over every aspect of creation including water, land, animals, the weather, health, life and death.

Moses and Aaron perform signs before Pharaoh, asking him to allow the Hebrews to leave. A long line of plagues ensues, each more accurately prophesied as to when they will occur and who they will impact, each more disastrous than the one before. It's interesting to note that Pharaoh's magicians can keep up with the signs at first, at least up until something is created (gnats in Ex 8:16-18). The Egyptian magicians can influence what exists but only God can create. They are eventually overwhelmed at the absolute and sovereign power God expresses through Moses and confess that God is moving among them (Ex 8:17). Pharaoh does not listen to his own people.

The plagues demonstrate God's complete authority over every facet of Egyptian culture. It doesn’t matter whether they believe in Him or not, He is still their creator and judge. For those that think non-belief exempts them from the wrath of God or His presence, look no further than the Egyptians and Pharaoh. No one gets to choose who their judge will be nor their sentence.

Throughout the passage, we see that God is graciously revealing Himself to Pharaoh and the Egyptians (Ex 7:5; 8:10; 8:19; 8:22; 9:14-16; 9:29). Furthermore, we see that everything happens just as God prophesies (Ex 7:13, 22; 8:15, 19; 9:12, 35). He has shown Himself to them but only after telling them precisely what He would do. The Egyptians, particularly Pharaoh, have no excuse for rejecting God. 

Ex 9 ends with Pharaoh's heart still hardened by God, who has done exactly as He said He would do. It's an incredible demonstration of God's sovereignty and Pharaoh’s human responsibility functioning simultaneously. Can we fully explain it? No! But it is exceptionally clear the Pharaoh's heart has been hardened by God, even as he makes the conscious decision to resist Him. Pharaoh suffers the consequences for his actions each time he rejects the word of God. 

This is the glory and wonder of God, the unfathomable character and nature of He who has neither beginning nor end, the great "I am!" Human reasoning is unable to explain it. We can only bow down in wonder and awe and be thankful that someone more wise and powerful than us oversees lives and has chosen not to harden our hearts, but to love us.

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