“By this you shall know that I am the Lord.“ – Exodus 17:7a NASB
Chapter seven is the beginning of God’s miraculous deliverance of His people. He has heard their cries and He is going to intervene on their behalf. His is a well-thought-out, highly orchestrated plan that is designed to illustrate His power and His superiority over the gods of Egypt. After 400 years of living in the land of Egypt, the descendants of Jacob (Israel) have become desensitized and acclimated to the culture in which they had been living. They had taken on the worship of the gods of Egypt and there were a lot of them. While Jacob had been a worshiper of Yahweh, there had been no formalized worship of Him in Egypt, so it had been easy for the people to grow complacent and slowly take on the religious preferences of their hosts. So much of what God is about to do is for their benefit. He tells Moses and Aaron, “But I will harden Pharaoh’s heart that I may multiply My signs and My wonders in the land of Egypt” (Exodus 7:3 NASB). The people of God had not seen the hand of God in a long time. They had been living in the land of Egypt for a long time and had lost contact with the God of their father Jacob. But now God was about to reveal Himself in an incredible and unforgettable way. Not only would the Egyptians know that He was the Lord, so would the people of Israel.
God has Moses start out with the “serpent trick” He had shown him in the wilderness. So Aaron throws down his staff and it turns into a serpent. But the sorcerers of Pharaoh take their staffs and do the same thing. They somehow were able to replicate this miracle, only to have their “serpents” consumed by God’s “serpent.” In spite of this impressive display of God’s power and Moses’ authority as God’s spokesperson, Pharaoh’s heart is hardened and he refuses to listen to them – just as God said would happen. So that prepares the stage for the ten plagues. God is going to unleash on the people of Egypt the full brunt of His power in the form of ten miraculous plagues, and every single one of them is a symbol of God’s power over the gods of Egypt. The first would be turning the water of the Nile River into blood, destroying all life in it and eliminating the primary source of water for the region. There were at least two gods of the Nile, Hapi, the spirit of the Nile, and Khnum, whose job it was to guard the Nile. Both were no match for God Almighty. In turning the Nile into blood, God effectively destroyed the spirit or life of the Nile. And if any god was guarding the Nile, he failed miserably. This mighty river, upon which the lives of the people of Egypt depended, was rendered useless by God. Not only that, but every reservoir, bucket, bowl, or cistern containing water was impacted by this plague. All water in the land of Egypt was turned to blood. Yet Pharaoh refused to listen to them. He simply went back into his house “with no concern even for this” (Exodus 7:23 NASB).
But God was not done. He would bring more plagues and reveal even more of His power. Each time it would be a statement of His power over the gods of Egypt and a revelation of His power to the people of Israel. He wanted them to be ready to follow Him when the time came. Which makes me think about how much God wants to reveal his power in our lives today and show that He is greater than the gods of our day. He is greater than the god of materialism, greater than the god of popularity and fame, greater than the god of pleasure, greater than the god of finance, greater than the god of power, greater than the god of government, greater than the god of entertainment, greater than the god of intelligence…He is greater than all the things we turn to for help, hope, sustenance, comfort, joy, pleasure, deliverance, etc. And He wants to show us His power. He wants us to know that He is the Lord by allowing Him to work in our lives. And He is working in and around our lives in incredible ways doing miraculous things. But we refuse to see Him or acknowledge His activity. Like Pharaoh, our hearts become hardened and we continue to turn to the gods of our own making. We even attempt to replicate the miracles of God by performing our own cheap imitations of God’s power, just like Pharaoh’s sorcerers. We save ourselves by turning to our money, by leaning on our intelligence, by trusting in our government, by seeking joy through pleasure and by distracting ourselves through entertainment.
But God wants us to know His power. He wants to reveal Himself as the one and only God in our lives. He is out to convince us that He is the Lord. Are we going to listen?
Father, You are as powerful today as you were all those years ago in Egypt. You are working today just as much as you did then. You are delivering today just like you did in the days of Moses. But we fail to see Your power and we refuse to notice You at work all around us. Open my eyes to that I can see and appreciate Your power. Forgive me for turning to the gods of this world. They cannot satisfy me or save me, yet I keep putting my hope and trust in them. May I learn to seek and see Your power in my life and nothing more. So that I might know that You are the Lord. Amen.
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men