Sentence or Sign?
Lord, I want to listen to the wise counsel of Your Word today. May it sink into my heart so that I can learn to honor You.
Read Exodus 6:28—7:13
28 Now when the Lord spoke to Moses in Egypt, 29 he said to him, “I am the Lord. Tell Pharaoh king of Egypt everything I tell you.”
30 But Moses said to the Lord, “Since I speak with faltering lips, why would Pharaoh listen to me?”
7 Then the Lord said to Moses, “See, I have made you like God to Pharaoh, and your brother Aaron will be your prophet. 2 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. 3 But I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and though I multiply my signs and wonders in Egypt, 4 he will not listen to you. Then I will lay my hand on Egypt and with mighty acts of judgment I will bring out my divisions, my people the Israelites. 5 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.”
6 Moses and Aaron did just as the Lord commanded them. 7 Moses was eighty years old and Aaron eighty-three when they spoke to Pharaoh.
Aaron’s Staff Becomes a Snake
8 The Lord said to Moses and Aaron, 9 “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.”
10 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. 11 Pharaoh then summoned wise men and sorcerers, and the Egyptian magicians also did the same things by their secret arts: 12 Each one threw down his staff and it became a snake. But Aaron’s staff swallowed up their staffs. 13 Yet Pharaoh’s heart became hard and he would not listen to them, just as the Lord had said.
New International Version (NIV)
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ReflectWhat have been some signposts in your life leading you towards a deeper understanding of God? Did you always heed them?
Today’s passage forms a preface to the plague narratives. When I hear plagues, my mind immediately thinks of punishment. After all, God promises (threatens?) to “lay my hand on Egypt… with mighty acts of judgment” (7:4). But if God’s intent was to pass sentence on Egypt, why not simply fast-forward to plague number ten?
Pharaoh had declared, “I do not know the Lord and I will not let Israel go” (5:2b). God promised to show signs and wonders in Egypt (7:3b). In the first of such signs, where Aaron’s staff is turned into a snake (10), Pharaoh’s magicians mimic the “magic” but have their staffs swallowed up (12b). Each of the plagues that follow undermines the power of the Egyptian gods.
But the plagues don’t only serve to expose the false gods of Egypt; they are signs that reveal Israel’s faithful, all-powerful God. God’s mighty acts (plagues included) were not a wrathful sentence so much as a gracious sign by which Pharaoh and the Egyptians “will know that I am the Lord” (5,17).
If someone questions your faith, do you know how to answer?
God, show me how You want to use my words, actions and lifestyle to reveal to those around me that You are Lord.