When examining scripture and the nature of God as Judge, it is critically important to recognize a unique quality that God demonstrates as Judge. The scriptures reveal that God is precise and controlled in His judgments. The scriptures reveal that God is calculated and shows great restraint in His judgments so that the people who are judged at any given time, are the only people that God desires to judge. God is uniquely able to identify who is righteous by faith, and who is not. God is uniquely able to peer into the hearts of all people to know who is really for Him and who is not. Upon making these determinations, God is then able to ensure that His judgments are only placed upon those He determines are deserving of judgment at that particular time.
For example, in Exodus 8:20-32 the Bible explains that God judged the nation of Egypt with flies. This might not seem like much of a judgment to some, but when one considers the amount of flies that God brought, and the manner in which He did so, this judgment proved to be very great and effective in accomplishing God's purpose. The scriptures explain that because Pharaoh hardened his heart against God's will to let the children of Israel go in order to worship Him, God told Moses to go to Pharaoh first thing in the morning to inform Pharaoh about the next judgment that would come as a consequence to his rebellion. Recall that God was determined to reveal Himself as Judge to Pharaoh, the nation of Egypt, and the children of Israel. God had a special purpose to reveal Himself as Judge to the children of Israel before they entered into the Promised Land. God wanted the children of Israel to know that He was holy and that He desired His people to be holy through exclusive worship of Him, and that there would be great and terrible consequence for disobedience. Thus, the fourth plague that God brought was successful to illustrate these points.
Exodus 8:20-32 explains that God sent swarms of flies to take over the land of Egypt. The Bible teaches that the flies would fill the land so that they were all over the Egyptian people, all over the servants of the Egyptians, all over the houses, and all over the floors. In other words, God was going to cover the land of Egypt with flies! However, God was specific to state that it would only be the land of Egyptians that would be affected by flies. Exodus 8:20-32 is specific to mention that God would not allow the flies to enter into the land of Goshen, which was the land that the children of Israel were living in. The flies would infest the Egyptians and only the Egyptians. God would manifest His sovereign control to manipulate and regulate the flies to dwell exclusively in the land of the Egyptians without affecting any of the children of Israel. God was even clear to communicate His purpose for doing so. The scriptures state that God would perform this specific judgment in this particular way in order that He could show His ability to make a difference between the people. God wanted the Egyptians and the children of Israel to know that He could tell them apart through the use of a simple of an insect as a fly.
Flies are impossible to control! It can be incredibly difficult to maneuver a fly out of a room, which is why it is much easier to use a fly swatter to just completely remove the nuisance. One fly can be plenty frustrating, let alone an abundance of flies that the ground is covered. Yet God stated that He would be able to control the flies, that which is normally uncontrollable, so that the flies would only affect the people of Egypt. God revealed His ability to identify His people, separate His people from judgment, and spare His people from judgment; all while issuing judgment upon those who were deserving. Only God is able to respond this way - especially in judgment.
The scriptures explain that as God brought the swarms of flies, the Egyptians were greatly distressed and Pharaoh pleaded for Moses to intercede again to God. The Bible states that the flies had corrupted the land - the very land that the Egyptians made a subject of worship. Thus, the scriptures reveal that as God judged the Egyptians with the flies, He did so by breaking down the objects that the people had turned into false gods and idols, just like God will do again during the Tribulation Period. The Egyptians were known to make gods out of the land, especially the Nile River. Yet, as the flies corrupted the land and everything in it, the god-like characteristics of the land were corrupted, showing the objects of Egyptian worship to be flawed.
When Pharaoh recognized that he was unable to cope with God's judgment, he called for Moses and stated that it was permissible for the children of Israel to worship God. However, Moses identified the need of the children of Israel to separate themselves from the people of Egypt before their worship and sacrifice could take place in the manner that God required. In this way, the scriptures teach that it is necessary for one to remove one's self from the influence and relationship of the world in order to properly worship the Lord. This does not mean that one should physically isolate one's self, but that one should be holy spiritually speaking, according to conduct. When Moses stated this reality, Pharaoh objected. Moses requested permission to journey out of Egypt a 3-days journey. Pharaoh denied that request and told the children of Israel to stay closer, which reflected Pharaoh's heart and unwillingness to fully surrender to the will of God. Eventually, when God removed all of the flies the next day, Pharaoh went back on his word again and did not let the children of Israel go.
The scriptures present an interesting pattern in the conduct of Pharaoh. While many people have historically criticized God for "hardening the heart of Pharaoh," the testimony of Pharaoh reveals that his heart was already hardened. He had no desire to acknowledge the power and sovereignty of God because it threatened his own perception of himself. Pharaoh did not want to surrender to anyone. Thus, the judgments of God do not reflect God's efforts to turn Pharaoh into a bad guy. Instead, the judgments of God serve to reveal that Pharaoh was already a bad guy. The judgments of God served as opportunities for Pharaoh to repent as God revealed Himself, but Pharaoh's responses show that he was rebellious and unrepentant in nature. Therefore, the Bible shows that the judgments of God are successful to differentiate people. God's people are those who seek to worship God, and only God, according to the ways He expects to be worshiped. God's enemies are those who seek to rebel against God rather than surrender to His will as if they can outlast God's power by their own strength, and trick God by the words spoken to His people. The Bible explains that only one of these types of people benefits in the end, and it is for these reasons that God's judgments are to be revered and gladly received.
One of the greatest abilities that the Bible speaks of God having is His ability to transform. God has the ability to transform Himself as He did through Jesus. The scriptures teach that Jesus first existed as the Word of God (the revelation of truth about God), then became light in Genesis 1:3, and then became flesh as documented in John 1:14. When Jesus came into the world as God in the flesh, He confirmed that He maintained the ability to transform something from one thing into another as God in His very first miracle. When Jesus turned water into wine at the wedding feast in Cana, Jesus did so in order to reveal to the world that He possessed the ability to transform one substance into another - more specifically, one useless and undesirable substance into something of the greatest quality and value! The reason that this ability is so important is because God promised that He would "bless" all of the families of the earth through Abraham. In other words, God would enable people to be able to stand as approved before Him, by removing sin and transforming His children into His own image.
Since God promised to transform sinners into saints, it is important to recognize places in scripture where God expresses this ability in order to trust in His ability to fulfill His promises. Exodus 8:16-19 reveals God flexing His ability to transform. The scriptures explain that because Pharaoh hardened his heart against God after God brought frogs in judgment, God brought another plague upon the Egyptians. The Bible states that God brought an overwhelming lice infection into the land so that people and animal alike were overrun by lice. However, it is important to pay attention to the details of scripture to understand how God did this work.
The Bible explains that God instructed Moses and Aaron to to go Pharaoh again and stretch out Aaron's rod over the dust, and that upon doing so, the dust "became" lice. In other words, when Aaron stretched his rod across the dirt, the dirt transformed into lice. God made the dust of the ground into lice, and transformed so much of the dust into lice that it infected many of the people, and their animals and livestock. When considering this truth, it is important to recall God's purpose in these judgments against Pharaoh and Egypt. Recall that God desired to reveal Himself as Judge, having authority and power over all of creation. God wanted the children of Israel to see Him as Judge before fulfilling His promise to bring them into the land, and wanted to prove to the Egyptians that He is God and there is no other. Thus, when God transformed the dust into lice, He was performing an act that only He would be able to do, to set Himself apart from all others.
The results of God's work speak for themselves. Exodus 8:16-19 explains that upon seeing the work of God to transform dust into lice, the magicians and sorcerers of Pharaoh tried again to duplicate the work. The Bible plainly states that they were unable. Though the "experts" were able to mimic the work of God by transforming their staffs into serpents, the staff of Aaron devoured the staffs of the magicians. Though the "experts" were able to mimic the work of God by changing the appearance of the water into blood, they were not able to trump the authority of God to bring back the function and usefulness of water. Though the "experts" were able to mimic the work of God to manifest frogs, they were not able to alleviate the infestation, but instead compounded the problem. When God transformed dust into lice, the magicians could not match God again. Exodus 8:16-19 explains that the experts finally told Pharaoh, "This is the finger of God."
God unveiled His nature as Judge to reveal Himself to Egypt and the children of Israel. As the magicians confessed that God was working to bring about the plagues they were experiencing, God's plan was proven to be successful. The magicians knew that they were up against something greater than they had known to exist. They knew they could not match His power, trump His authority, or mirror His purpose. Though the magicians gave it all they had to demonstrate the ability to transform one object into another with purpose, they confessed that God only needed to use His finger to accomplish His purpose. God had used only His finger to amass an army out of lice to accomplish a specific purpose out of the dust of the ground. What other being or entity boasts of such things? More importantly, what other being or entity has others confessing such ability of them?
The scriptures reveal that the magicians soon realized the presence and power of God upon seeing His unique ability to transform one substance into another with specific purpose and intention. It is no wonder that the scriptures emphasize the process of sanctification and holy living. The process of sanctification represents the work that God does to transform that which was dead into that which is alive. The process of sanctification represents the work that God does to transform that which was corrupt into that which is righteous. The process of sanctification represents the work that God does to transform that which was shameful into that which is glorious according to the glory of God Himself. The process of sanctification is the process of daily transformation of a sinful human being into the image of Jesus Christ - God in flesh. The reason that God desires to do this work so emphatically is so that He can produce the same results that are seen in Exodus 8:16-19. The work of God to transform revealed the hand of the Lord God to those who once stood against Him in opposition so that they would confess His greatness. The work of God to transform revealed the hardened hearts of those who desired to continue to rebel against Him - Pharaoh. Thus, God is glorified by the confession of the magicians and by the fulfillment of His Word regarding Pharaoh.
When people observe life events and conflicts, there can be a tendency to see how God might be involved and ask the simple question, "Why?" So many people want to know why God does this and why God does that. There can also be a tendency to examine the work of God within these types of circumstances and actually criticize God, where one might think, "Well I would do this this way," or "I think that things should be like this." These are dangerous thoughts and opinions to have! The Lord is God and there is no other. One who thinks they are qualified with all of the pertinent information to make perfect decisions about circumstances is one that thinks way too highly of self. Therefore, it is important to examine scripture to understand the character of God as He reveals His purposes through His Word. Upon understanding the purposes of God, one can then more easily and readily submit to God's work, having a clearer grasp on that which God desires to accomplish and a more sturdy foundation of trust in that work.
In Exodus 8:1-15 the Bible documents the second plague of judgment that God issued against the Egyptians. It is important to recall that God desired to reveal Himself as Judge to the children of Israel and the Egyptians. Before fulfilling His promise and moving His people into the Land, God wanted His people to know that He does not tolerate sin and rebellion, and used the sin of Egypt and rebellion of Pharaoh to prove this point. Exodus 8:1-15 explains that God's second wave of judgment came though and army of frogs. God stated that, because Pharaoh would not let the children of Israel go, God would cause frogs to flood the land of Egypt. The scriptures state that frogs would come in such great abundance that they would be in the houses, bedrooms, beds, ovens, and kneading bowls of the people! They would be everywhere! Thus, because Pharaoh sought to rebel against the Living God, the people of Egypt suffered this miserable consequence.
The Bible provides another important detail in regards to this judgment. The scriptures state that the magicians and sorcerers of Pharaoh again sought to duplicate the work of God in an effort to belittle the judgments that were coming from God, through Moses and Aaron. The Bible states that the magicians and sorcerers were able to manifest more frogs as well, just as they were able to transform their staffs into serpents. However, Exodus 8:1-15 explicitly explains that the desire of Pharaoh and the people was that the frogs be removed, not multiplied. God flooded the land with frogs to show His authority and sovereignty over all things. When God flooded the land of Egypt with frogs, He didn't do a magic trick, He showed that He had command over all of the frogs in the land so that as He commanded them to march into the land of Egypt as an army, they responded to God as though He were the commander of it. The magicians and sorcerers could not demonstrate this same authority. If the magicians and sorcerers had greater authority than God by their own gods, then they would have been able to alleviate the distress of the people that God caused and should have been able to make the frogs go away. That didn't happen because their authority did not rival the authority of Yahweh!
Exodus 8:1-15 explains that Pharaoh and the people were in great distress over the frogs. Their comfortable ways of living were clearly intruded upon. The Bible explains that Pharaoh went to Moses and asked Moses to intercede on behalf of the people to ask God to relent on His judgment. Pharaoh had acknowledged that God had the authority that God desired to reveal. When Pharaoh approached Moses to have Moses make his plea to God, Pharaoh confessed that he knew the frogs were not an accident, and that God's authority over the frogs was greater than any other god he knew of. Thus, Moses stated that he would go to God and relay the request, and that God's response to remove the frogs would further prove that there is no other being like Yahweh! Thus, while the children of Israel suffered in their labor, and the people of Egypt suffered with frogs, the identity of the Living God was being made manifest for the glory of God! Though God desired to reveal His identity to the people before He brought judgment, the unfaithfulness and wicked attitudes of both the Hebrews and Egyptians made it so that God had to resort to judgment to make Himself known. Not much has changed today.
Unfortunately, the scriptures do not paint a happy ending. While God did verify His authority and sovereign control over nature by making the frogs die out of the land and go back into the rivers, the scriptures explain that the heart conditions of the people did not change. The Bible explains that the land stank as a result of the judgment of God, and while the stench of dead frogs should have served as a potent reminder of God's authority, the Bible explains that Pharaoh hardened his heart and decided to go back on his word, and keep the children of Israel under his control. Though Pharaoh promised Moses that he would let the Hebrews go upon God removing the frogs, the Bible explains that when Pharaoh's circumstances were relieved by the absence of frogs, he further hardened his heart against God and kept the children of Israel in Egypt.
It is important to recognize the general tendencies of both God and people in this testimony. First, Exodus 8:1-15 starts by stating that God's Word and commands do not change, and neither do His purposes. God told Moses to tell Pharaoh, "Let My people go that they may serve Me." This would have been the third time Pharaoh would have heard that exact phrase from Moses. Second, the scriptures reveal that God is willing to exercise His authority over creation and circumstances to reveal His sovereign power in ways that might seem strange, but definitely point to the hand of God. Third, the Bible shows that people actually admit to God's work when they see it, though they are not often willing to submit to His commands. In addition to this point, it is critical to see the tendency of people to go to other people to combat the work of God rather than just submit to Him. The Bible shows that Pharaoh kept going back to his magicians, hoping that their "expertise" might trump the authority and power of God making it so that he wouldn't have to repent and submit to God, allowing him to live the ways that he wanted rather than the ways God wanted. This didn't work! The "expertise" of the magicians only compounded the problems. Those men who tried to match the knowledge, wisdom, power, and authority of God only made things worse as the "expertise" of flawed human beings typically does.
Lastly, it is important to recognize the human tendency to cry out and seek God somehow when life isn't as comfortable as some think it should be, so that there is an expectation for God to ease the discomfort. Yet when God eases the discomfort, there is also a tendency to turn on God again as Pharaoh did. Many times people will go through hard times and cry out to God, go to church, ask for prayer and even seek to read the Bible. Yet this motivation only lasts through the season of difficulty so that when God actually relents on the discomfort, many times those people harden their hearts against God again, and go back to the same sin that put them in difficulty to begin with. However, one thing remains - God is able to examine and know the hearts and intents of all people and will not be mocked. God will continue to reveal Himself in whatever way He needs to in order to ensure that all know the truth - He is God and there is no other like Him!
The Bible explains that God has purpose in every single thing He does. Usually that purpose is to reveal certain attributes or qualities of Himself to those people who witness His work; whether they acknowledge Him as the Author of that work or not. While many people find it difficult to accept the work that God does that results in death and destruction, it is important to know that God has great purpose in that work in order that the world would know His full identity and purpose. Thus, it is important to understand the patterns of God's work in judgment in order to know the full identity and work of the Living God.
In Exodus 7:14-25 the Bible documents the first major work of judgment that God did against Egypt and the hardening heart of Pharaoh. It is important to recall that God spoke His purpose for hardening Pharaoh's heart and it is important recall the work that God said He desired to accomplish while delivering the children of Israel from the bondage of Egypt. God said that He wanted to reveal Himself as Judge to the children of Israel and to the Egyptians. Before delivering His children from bondage, God saw it a critical matter that His children know Him to be a just and righteous judge that is able to administrate His perfect brand of righteousness and bring great consequence against those who deny Him. Therefore, it is appropriate that God turned the water into blood in Exodus 7:14:25.
Exodus 7:14-25 explains that the first form of judgment that God brought against Egypt was that He turned all of the water in the land to blood. The water in the rivers, the water in the pools and even the waters in buckets and pails had all turned to blood, thereby killing all of the life that was in them. The water became undrinkable and the Bible states that there was a great stench of death in all of the land of Egypt as a result. The first judgment that God executed against Egypt was such that proved God's authority over creation to the magnitude that He was able to affect the most important resource on the planet - water. God made it so that the most valuable resource in the land was rendered useless. The ability and quality of life that the Egyptians had depended on because of water was suddenly changed by God. As God desired to reveal His identity as Yahweh to Pharaoh and the Egyptians, the Lord proved His ability to affect creation in ways that would dramatically altar life. This work showed the Egyptians that whether they knew God or not, they were dependent on Him!
The Bible explains that Pharaoh's magicians and sorcerers took a shot at trying to duplicate the work of God. Exodus 7:14-25 explains that they were able to duplicate the work that God did. They too were able to turn the water into blood. While some have considered this to be a problem for God, it is important to recognize the context of the work of the magicians. The work that God originally did to turn the waters into blood was an act of judgment that severely affected the way of life in Egypt in a negative way. This was God's purpose to reveal Himself as Judge - the God of the most high and sovereign authority. However, the work that the magicians and sorcerers did was unable to teach that same lesson. The work of the magicians did not prove them to have greater authority than God since they were not able to undo God's work. Instead, the work of the sorcerers and magicians compounded the difficulty in Egypt and the Bible states that the affects of their work further hardened Pharaoh's heart, leading him farther from the Lord, and into more severe forms of judgment. The works of the magicians and the sorcerers only made things worse showing that their work was not an accurate duplication of God's ability and in no way showed that they held equal or greater authority than God.
It is for this reason that the Bible explains God will do this same work again in the last days. The Bible explains that God will once again turn the world's water resources into blood, thereby affecting the world's way of life in dramatic ways in order to reveal His authority as Judge. The Book of Revelation explains that God will judge the world that rejected His salvation through faith in His Son by revealing Himself having the greatest of all authority as Judge. He will turn the rivers, oceans, seas, and lakes into blood thereby killing all of the life that is in them and causing the world to resemble the stench that Egypt did in Exodus 7:14-25. God will show the world that He is God and there is no other. God will show that He alone has authority and dominion over all of His creation and can use any of it according to His purpose to glorify Himself.
It is also important to understand God's ability as Deliverer and Restorer. Exodus 7:14-25 explained God's introductory work to deliver His people from bondage. The purpose for God's judgment against the whole world in the Book of Revelation will be for the same purpose. As God dealt with the Egyptians to show His authority to the Israelites to deal with rejection and rebellion, God will deal with the world that rejects Him to teach the same lesson. However, just as God ultimately delivered His children from bondage and took them into the land that He promised, God will deliver His people from the full yoke of the bondage of sin and fulfill all His promises in the end in the same way. Though God exercised His power to bring death as Judge in Exodus 7:14-25, the Bible explains that God exercised His power to use water to bring life by parting the Red Sea for the children of Israel. In the same way, the Bible teaches that, as God will turn the waters into blood again to bring death while He flexes His authority as Judge in the last days, the Bible also teaches that upon Jesus' 2nd coming, He will bring life back to waters that currently have no life by restoring the Dead Sea and causing streams of water to flow out of His temple during the 1,000-year reign.
The patterns of God's work are incredible to recognize in the scriptures. It is important to recognize however that the Bible is clear to show that God is both Judge and Deliverer. God will first destroy to deal with sin before He restores to fulfill His promises. The patters of God's work show that God will exercise His righteousness and power to first bring death before He proves Himself as Restorer to bring life, and that more abundantly. The Bible teaches of the greatness of God. It is the responsibility of the reader to acknowledge both sides of God's greatness and submit in humility to the only One who is able to do such as Yahweh!
The Lord is able and willing to demonstrate His authority as God in whatever way He chooses at whatever time He wants. There are an ample amount of testimonies in the Bible that demonstrate the power and authority of the Living God. Since the Lord provides so many examples of His authority, it is the responsibility of witnesses to acknowledge His authority, and properly respond to it in humble submission. Thus, life is as simple as these two choices: witness the authority of God and submit, or witness the authority of God and deny. One response leads to a favorable result, and the other, not so favorable.
In Exodus 7:8-13 the Bible documents one of the first miracles that God performed before Pharaoh in order to begin the process of deliverance that He would bring. Before sending Moses and Aaron back to Pharaoh, the Lord armed Moses and Aaron with instruction that would demonstrate the authority of God as being greater than the authority of Pharaoh. The Lord said that if Pharaoh demanded a sign or a miracle to justify their demand to free the children of Israel, God instructed Aaron to throw his staff to the ground at which time it would become a serpent. However, the Lord never stated that this transformation would be the miracle. The miracle would be demonstrated in a greater way.
Exodus 7:8-13 explains that when Moses and Aaron went to see Pharaoh and tell him to let the children of Israel go free, as God stated, Pharaoh asked to see a miracle to prove that God was commanding them. Pharaoh wanted to see evidence of the Living God and proof of His authority. Therefore, Aaron did just as the Lord had instructed and threw his staff upon the ground, at which time it became a serpent. Yet the Bible states that Pharaoh, having called the local magicians and sorcerers, allowed these men to perform their "enchantments" and they were able to replicate the work that Aaron had performed. The Bible testifies that the magicians and sorcerers were able to transform their staffs into serpents as well. The Bible uses the word "enchantments" to describe a sort of devilish ritual involving fire (today we would say smoke and mirrors) that they used to mimic the work of God. Thus, because the magicians were able to duplicate the transformation, the miracle of God was not the work He performed to transform the staff into a serpent.
The Bible explains that the miracle of God was directed at the heart of Pharaoh. Recall that the Lord's purpose was to harden the heart of Pharaoh so as to reveal Himself as Judge to the children of Israel and the rest of Egypt. It is for this reason that the miracle that God performed had to challenge the authority of Pharaoh and not the ability of his magicians. It is for this reason that Exodus 7:8-13 explains that after the groups of magicians and sorcerers turned their sticks into serpents that the scriptures explain that Aaron's serpent consumed the others. Though the masters of Egyptian pagan rituals were able to imitate the work of God, their work did not possess the authority of God. The staff of Aaron consumed the staffs of the Egyptians to show that God is the Most High God, is supremely sovereign, and is all powerful! God proved in that demonstration that no amount of human effort was going to match His. The miracle that God performed was in that God was able to use the staff of Aaron to destroy the efforts and works of Pharaoh's men.
God proved in simple fashion that no matter how many people seek to imitate His work, they cannot. God proved in simple fashion that no matter how much the work of another may resemble the work of God, it is not. God proved in a simple fashion that no matter what the circumstances may look like against the work of God, He will remain supremely victorious! He is the Lord God and there is no other! Therefore, Pharaoh was a witness that was put in position to make a choice. The Lord had demonstrated His authority and power in a simple yet obvious way. The men of Pharaoh had been embarrassed and defeated. Pharaoh, who was at that point, a witness to God's authority, needed to choose to either submit to His authority, or deny it. Yet, God knowing all things, had previously communicated to Moses and Aaron that Pharaoh would deny God's authority, harden his heart against God and God's people, and rebel against the command of God to let the children of Israel go. Exodus 7:8-13 explains that Pharaoh's heart grew hard, "just as the Lord had said." Thus, the future for Pharaoh would be extremely difficult since He rejected the authority of God, as is the case for all others who choose to do the same.
God is determined to show and teach His creation about Himself. The scriptures show that God is willing to go incredible lengths in order to do so. In fact, the Lord is even willing to transform His very creation to more closely match Him so that those who don't know, would come to know. The Lord is all about presenting pictures of Himself through the simple actions of His people. He is all about revealing His power though the work He performs having sovereignty over daily life and its consequences. One way or another, the Lord will make Himself known so that those who deny Him will be without excuse, and those who accept Him will only be able to glory in Him!
In Exodus 7:1-7 the Bible shows how God re-explained His plan to Moses. Moses, Aaron, and the children of Israel were discouraged and unfaithful upon Pharaoh's first rejection of Moses' request to set free the children of Israel. Though God had told the children of Israel through Moses that freedom would come through difficulty, the children of Israel and Moses panicked when the difficulty arose and became bitter. Thus, God re-communicated the plan. God first explained that the plan had not changed. There would still be difficulty required to realize freedom from the bondage of Egypt. Moses and Aaron would still be God's instruments of liberation. Egypt would still be judged. Though the people of Israel doubted, that would not cause God to change His course. Instead, God provided revelation about the purpose for His course.
Exodus 7:1-7 explained that God had purpose in selecting Moses and Aaron, and that He had purpose in hardening Pharaoh's heart. God first explained His purpose in selecting Moses and Aaron as His instruments. The Bible states, "See, I have made you as God to Pharaoh, and Aaron your brother shall be your prophet." The Lord desired to reveal Himself to Pharaoh, but in a relationally tangible way. Therefore, God chose Moses and Aaron to represent Him as illustrations of Him. Moses and Aaron would work together in a way that would represent the ways that God works. God desired to make Himself known to Pharaoh and so worked in and through Moses and Aaron so that Pharaoh would be without excuse. This is a critical point for believers to understand! The Lord desires to make His people as Himself in order to reveal Himself to those who do not believe. Thus, the expectation is that God's people would resemble His qualities as God more than human qualities as sinners. As God does this work, and as God's people submit to this work, God is able to reveal Himself to those who He transforms as well as those He works on such as Pharaoh.
The scriptures also state that God was going to harden the heart of Pharaoh. The Book of Romans teaches that God, resembling a potter that has charge over his clay, chose to use Pharaoh as an instrument of unrighteousness to accomplish a greater work to reveal His power and other unique qualities. God, knowing that Pharaoh would deny God, leveraged the wickedness for His benefit and exercised His control over Pharaoh to show Himself as a just judge. It is interesting to see that, though Moses, Aaron, and the children of Israel hated God's plan to enduring more difficult suffering through the course of their salvation, that God did not relent on the difficulty. Exodus 7:1-7 explains several times that God would harden Pharaoh's heart, that Pharaoh would not listen to Moses, and that judgment was coming. God desired to reveal Himself as Judge.
Since the children of Israel were discouraged by the first wave of difficulty that came from Pharaoh, God desired to speak about why He was allowing such difficulty. God stated that He was allowing this difficulty to take place, and was facilitating it in many ways, so that He could reveal Himself as a righteous Judge to both the children of Israel and Egypt. Before God delivered the children of Israel, God wanted to ensure that His people knew He was a righteous judge that dealt harshly with sin and rebellion. Before God destroyed the people of Egypt and Pharaoh, God wanted them to have the opportunity to know Him as Judge to have an adequate opportunity to repent before judgement, thereby showing God to be fair. The Lord stated that He would bring out the children of Israel from bondage, but that their freedom would come by great judgment. The Lord stated that Israel would be able to leave Egypt, but that Egypt would be brought to its knees through God's judgement. God wanted His people and the people around to know His identity as Judge.
Since the testimony of God's work to deliver Israel from Egypt serves to be a picture of God's work to deliver His people from sin, it is critical that one see God as a righteous and holy Judge. God must judge sin! There is no getting around it. Since Egypt represented the bondage of sin, the testimony of Exodus 7:1-7 explains God's necessity to deal with sin. Thus, when God took the form of a man and allowed Himself to be crucified as Jesus Christ, He judged sin. Since the wages of sin is death, He took on the penalty of death to show the severity of sin. Thus, those who choose to reject God and identify with sin, must know and understand that God must judge sin and those who choose to identify themselves by sin rather than the righteousness of His Son, Jesus Christ. Many today would state that God is love, and rightly so. However, if one's perspective of God as love compromises one's understanding of God as righteous judge, then one does not know the God of the Bible.
Exodus 7:1-7 shows God explaining that He was going to allow difficulty through the course of salvation in order to make Himself known as Judge. Before the children of Israel could receive the benefits of God's promises, God wanted to ensure they understood His position as righteous judge so that they would submit to Him in salvation, and show thanks in salvation, having a greater understanding of the magnitude of God's grace. Since the Bible teaches that none are righteous, and that God must judge sin, then those who are able to escape the wrath of God's judgment against sin by faith in Jesus Christ should be so much more thankful for the grace that God offers!
When talking about the Lord in conversation or in any sort of teaching/explanation, it is important to be very careful in how one refers to the Lord. One must ensure that the Lord is not compared to people or made as common. It is important to choose one's words carefully to describe who the Lord is, especially since the Bible works so hard to teach that God is holy and not like that which He created. While the Bible does say that God formed humans in His own image, this does not mean that He made people like Him. God is unique in a variety of ways and there are none who possess His attributes. When people of the Bible come into contact with God, there is always an dramatic contrast presented between the man and the Lord. The man always confesses his inadequacy and uncleanness. There is a thought that even Jesus was sent into the world to identify with mankind. This is untrue. He is God. He did not need to identify Himself with mankind. The identification that Jesus had with mankind was for the purpose of death since God was determined to deal with sin; and God the holy nature of the triune God is what uniquely qualifies Him to deal with sin.
The Bible makes it very clear that the glaring difference between God and His creation is that He is pure and His creation is corrupted with sin. While God is committed and faithful to save His people from the corruption of sin, the Bible is clear to show the difference, and this difference is critical to acknowledge. In Exodus 6:28-30 the Bible reminds readers of this truth. The Bible recounts the response of Moses when God told Moses what His name is - I AM. Moses asked God what he should tell Pharaoh and the Hebrews if they should ask what God's name was. God responded by stating, "I AM THAT I AM," referring to God's self-existing nature. God has no creator. God has no beginning and no end, and in this way, is unlike any other being. It is for this reason that He is all knowing, all powerful, and many other things.
In contrast, Exodus 6:28-30 reminds readers of Moses' response. Upon learning the name of God, Moses responded by stating that he was a man of "uncircumcised lips." This refers to the uncleanness of Moses. Moses was trying to tell God that he was unqualified to do the work that God had commanded because his lips were not pure. Moses' speech was impaired. Moses was not perfect. Moses was not like God. It is impossible to examine this testimony and see how mankind contrasts from God. God is self-existing and perfect in every way, and mankind's response to that is the acknowledgement of shame while realizing the extent of inadequacy in the presence of God.
The scriptures show that the holiness of God are always sufficient to expose the weaknesses and faults of His creation. God's holiness is so great that He is not only able to demonstrate His glory, but expose the corruption of His people at the same time. The response that Moses had to the holiness of God is similar to the response that the prophets Ezekiel and Isaiah had upon their visions of God as well. The Bible's purpose in presenting these contrasts is to show that mankind is not like God, not worthy to be in the presence of God, but in spite of these truths, God initiates contact, facilitates purification, encourages participation, and draws His people unto Himself through the work He does on them anyway. God's ways are not our ways. God is not like people in any facet. God is holy, pure, righteous, just, and all powerful. The scripture and history show that people aren't any of those things and cannot become any of those things unless by the power of the Living God.
It is important to recognize that Exodus 6:28-30 is an event that took place previously in scripture. The Lord repeats it in scripture for a purpose. While Moses and Israel were not responding to God's work in an appropriate way, and while Moses continued to profess His lack of qualities to "perform" for God, the Lord sought to remind readers of the truth - God is not like people and people are not like God. The basis of God's promises had nothing to do with the merits of the people who stood to benefit from them. The willingness of God to involve His people in His work was not based on the ability of that person to perform. God was always holy, pure, righteous, just and powerful, and His people never were, and were never going to be unless He made them that way. The scriptures serve to provide a stern reminder that the work that God does is not dependent on the people that He does the work for. This is one of the beautiful truths about God, and it is good that God exercises His unique qualities for the benefit of His people even though His people are unable to be as He is. It is for this reason that God's people should uniquely praise God!
The Bible explains that when the Lord calls a person to do a work as an instrument of His righteousness for His glory sake, He calls the person as they are with the motivation to change the person during the course of His work in order to meet His needs. God is not just glorified in the work that is accomplished, but also in the transformation of the person that He does the work through in order to make them a useful instrument for His purpose. God is glorified in the finished work of righteousness as well as the work He does to transform that which is unprofitable (Romans 3:12), into something of value in His eyes. The scriptures never show God explaining that His servants need to meet any sort of requirements in order to be used. The Bible never shows the people of God needing to achieve certain merits in order to considered His children. The Bible explains that God makes certain choices based on His sovereign will and only expects the humble submission of the people He selects and that those people trust in His ability rather than their own to accomplish that which God sets forth to do.
In Exodus 6:10-27 the Bible explains that God recommissioned Moses to the work He desired to do to free the children of Israel from the bondage of Egypt. Moses had been called once and had God's plan thoroughly explained to him before, but had doubt as he engaged in the work because the results did not meet his own expectations. Though the plan was going exactly as planned according to the things God communicated, Moses and doubted because of the response of the children of Israel. Nevertheless, God called Moses again, spoke to him the same plan, gave Moses the same instructions and told him to do as he was told to do the first time. Though Moses' confidence had changed, God's will and the method by which He would accomplish it did not change.
Exodus 6:10-27 then explains that Moses questioned God. Moses did not respond in obedience, but instead asked God, "How is this going to happen?" Moses continued to display doubt in God's ability to accomplish His will. Moses was intimidated in his own ability to convince Pharaoh to let the children of Israel go. Moses figured that since he could not encourage his own people, he would not be able to sway Pharaoh. Moses even referenced his speech issues again as the reason he would likely be unsuccessful. However, Moses demonstrated that he was not paying attention to the Word of God! Never at any time did God say that Moses would be the one to cause Pharaoh to submit. Never at any time did God say that Moses would be the one to set the children of Israel free. Never at any time did God say that Moses would be the one to bless the children of Israel by taking them into the Promised Land. Never at any time did God say that Moses would fulfill God's own promises. Yet Moses was evaluating the circumstances and the command of God as if those things were his own responsibility.
The Bible explains that God selected Moses with special purpose, but never highlights any of Moses' qualifications to do as God commanded. The Bible explains Moses' lack of merits more than any good qualities. Nevertheless, Moses was God's selection. The problem that Moses had was that he heard the command of God without paying attention to God Himself. God said that He would do the work. God said that He would harden Pharaoh's heart then cause him to relent. God said that He would save the children of Israel. God said that He would usher His children into the Promised Land. God said that He would fulfill His own promises since He even made the promises with Himself because there was no one greater to swear by. Moses was simply an instrument. Moses was like a hammer for a construction worker. The hammer is a tool, but the worker (in this example, God) makes it function successfully to achieve its purpose. Moses would be as a hammer in the hand of the Living God. It would be the strength, precision, and purpose of God that would make Moses functional as a hammer. Such is the case for any of God's tools.
Exodus 6:10-27 then goes on to drill this point into the heads of readers. As Moses asked, "Lord, how will this get done by me," the Bible does not show God answering the question. Instead, the Lord simply repeats the command. The Lord was done pumping Moses up. The Lord simply said, "Go!" Then the scriptures provide a genealogy. One might think that this is a strange place for a genealogy. The scriptures provide the genealogy of both Moses and Aaron, then this section of scripture ends by God saying the same thing three times. Upon completing the genealogy, the scriptures say, "These are the same Aaron and Moses." In other words, the genealogies don't reveal any special traits or characteristics or qualifications that Moses and Aaron possessed to be in the position that God called them to be, yet these were the same Aaron and Moses that God selected. God didn't care about the background of Moses and Aaron. God didn't care about their heritage or abilities. Yet these were the same Moses and Aaron that God used to remove the children of Israel from the bondage of Egypt.
The point is, God doesn't need "qualified" people. God doesn't need anybody. God desires to use faithful people. God desires to use people that will trust in Him to do the work that He promises He will accomplish. God desires to glorify Himself as He uses unqualified people to do great and miraculous works so that upon the completion of that work, witnesses will attribute the results to God seeing that greatness came from one that has no greatness. God was not just glorified in the work He did to remove Israel from Egypt, but also in the work of transformation He did in Moses and Aaron since these men began as ill-equipped and unfaithful men, but became leaders empowered by God's Spirit to serve as examples of God's own righteousness. Exodus 6:10-27 proves that Moses and Aaron did not start out as heroes of the Bible, but that God is able to take that which is common, simple, and unprofitable, and transform it into that which is righteous, holy, and profitable to bring God glory.
The human mind works in interesting ways. The mind is powerful in the ways that it interprets realities. There is a saying that say something along the lines of, "Your perception is your reality," suggesting that there are an infinite amount of "realities" based on the numerous subjective perceptions of the true reality. The mind can play tricks on people. The mind can cause people to see things that aren't true. The mind can cause people to accomplish things that are seemingly impossible for others. The mind can either be a great asset or lead to absolute destruction. The challenge is that controlling the mind is nearly impossible. Thoughts just pop in. Ideas just come out of no where. Feelings are often difficult to temper. Memories sometimes don't go away, or sometimes go away too quickly. All of these things affect a person's world view and their interpretation of reality. The Bible explains that this is problematic for people and affects the way a person relates to God and the truth that He speaks.
In Exodus 6:9 the Bible explains that after God reassured Moses of His plan and confirmed His ability to fulfill His original promise to free the children of Israel, Moses relayed the message. However, Exodus 6:9 explains that the children of Israel did not heed the message that Moses gave. Though God clearly communicated His willingness and ability to overcome Pharaoh and the difficult circumstances of the children of Israel, the children of Israel were not encouraged. Though God revealed Himself in a new way to Moses, which should have excited the children of Israel, they were not encouraged. The scriptures explain that the children of Israel didn't receive the words that Moses spoke to them.
The Bible explains that the Hebrews rejected the message of the Lord because "of anguish of spirit and cruel bondage." In other words, the difficult circumstances caused the children of Israel to reject the Word of God. The difficult circumstances that the children of Israel experienced caused them to harden their hearts and resent the messenger of God. The children of Israel had allowed their circumstances to cloud the reality of God's work. The children of Israel had allowed their circumstances to consume their minds so that they were unwilling to receive the message of hope that God had communicated. The children of Israel dwelt so much on their suffering and considered themselves victims to the degree that they were unable to recognize the work and word of the Living God!
It is interesting to see how the children of Israel focused on their problems so that they were unable to see reality. Since God previously communicated that suffering would come before deliverance, then truth of reality was that the children of Israel were on their way to deliverance based on the presence of suffering. The suffering of the children of Israel was actually the fulfillment of God's prophetic Word. Therefore, the suffering and hardships of the children of Israel should have served as evidence that God was leading to the fulfillment of His promises, and that the children of Israel would soon be saved. Yet the scriptures show that the minds of the Hebrews saw things very differently. The scriptures show that the focus that the children of Israel had on their pain caused their attitudes to resent God's messenger and the message that he carried.
This portion of scripture should serve as a stern warning to the people of God. One who is determined to focus on the difficulty of one's circumstances runs the risk of a hardened heart, which may affect one's ability and willing to hear and receive the Word of God! This is a dangerous place to be. The scriptures instruct the children of God to look to Christ in heaven. The scriptures do not instruct the children of God to focus on the events of one's circumstances and dwell on those things. The scriptures instruct the children of God to have a vertical focus, looking up, not a horizontal focus, looking around so that one's focus becomes purely inward. The example of Jesus shows that He continually looked to the Father, and did not look within Himself to dwell on the difficult of His pain and suffering. Instead, the example of Jesus shows that He trusted the Father as He looked up, looking to the results of His suffering in salvation, and only looked outward to help others have the same focus for salvation.
Thankfully, the scriptures show the patience and mercy of God once again. God was in the process of fulfilling His Word, working on the salvation of His people. The events that were taking place that involved the children of Israel served as evidence of this reality. However, the children of Israel rejected reality and interpreted it differently because they were unwilling to take their focus off of their personal feelings and circumstances. They wouldn't focus on the promises of God and see that they were being fulfilled. Their focus caused them to be blind to the Word of God and the work of God. Nevertheless, God was patient and merciful. Though the children of Israel rejected the message of God as they rejected the messenger of God (Moses), God continued to fulfill His promise to save His children. The children of Israel demonstrated a miserable attitude that should have disqualified them from the favor God desired to share. Yet the scriptures explain that God remained faithful to Himself and continued to work towards the salvation of the Jews in spite of them.
It is amazing to see how the wrong focus to affect one's ability to hear the Word of God and see the work of God. It is more amazing to see how God responds to the attitudes of His creation, and how He remains faithful when people are faithless. It is amazing to consider the extent that God is willing to go to reveal Himself to people that are determined to manufacture their own reality and reject the work of blessing that God desires to do. While God does have His limits regarding His patience, it is incredible to see the extent of patience God is willing to show. Thus, the scriptures show that one should not test the patience of the Lord, but keep focus on His Word and the promises that come in it - even the promise of suffering on the way to salvation. One would be wise to focus on the outcome of God's work while trusting in the process to produce such an outcome. God was helpful to show what it really takes for the children of God to be brought into His presence in glory. It's not easy. It's not always comfortable. Nevertheless, the results far outweigh the difficulty required. Therefore, the children of God should not let the mind play its tricks, causing a false reality of misery to dominate focus. Instead, the children of God should respond to the grace of God with patience, endurance, and hope, looking past the pain, into eternity, and dwelling not on the difficulty but on the hope of God's promises.
There is a common question that exists amongst both Christians and non-Christians. This question has to do with God's purpose. The question that many people are curious about concerns God's all-knowing nature. The question usually goes something like this: If God knows everything, and knew that people would sin and cause the destruction that can be seen today in the world, why did He create the way that He did and why does He allow it to happen? This question has brought a lot of difficulty to many people. Even many Bible teachers have struggled to answer this question with any sort of confidence. Thankfully, the Lord, knowing all things, responded to this question long before the question was asked.
In Exodus 6:1-8 the Bible documents God's response to Moses' uncertainty about God's plan and the complaining of the children of Israel. When Moses and Aaron went to Pharaoh to speak on God's behalf to set free the children of Israel for the purpose of worship, Pharaoh hardened his heart just as God said he would. Everything was going according to the plan that God had previously communicated. However, the children of Israel did not like the suffering they had to endure while waiting for God's plan to come to completion, resulting in their salvation. Therefore, the Bible explains that the children of Israel resented God by verbally attacking Moses and Aaron, and seeking their judgment because of Pharaoh's response.
Exodus 6:1-8 explains how God responded to these events. Knowing that Pharaoh would harden his heart, God obviously knew that the children of Israel would complain and that Moses would doubt. God stated that the doubt and complaints of Moses and Israel would not cause God to change His plan, and that His plan would still be successful. God stated that Pharaoh would still possess a hardened heart, causing the deliverance of Israel to be a gradual process that took time. God stated that the children of Israel would still be freed from the bondage of Egypt. God was not going to sway on His plan, the methods He took to fulfill them, and would not go back on His promises that He made. The doubt and complaining that the people demonstrated would not cause God to change.
The scriptures then provide some of the most powerful verses in all of the Bible. After the Lord restated the plan to Moses, and verified that everything would remain the same, God introduced Himself to Moses in a new way. In the English translation of the Bible, God says, "I am the Lord." However, in the Hebrew translation, the name that the Lord uses to refer to Himself by is Yahweh. This is the first time in all of scripture that the Lord refers to Himself in this way. The name is first attributed to God in the creation account. However, the first time that God calls Himself by this name is in Exodus 6:2. This is important. God restated His plan to free Israel and stated the processes He would execute to complete His work. He promised Moses that these things would come to pass because He is Yahweh. God used His name "Yahweh" as His badge of qualification. Since God is Yahweh, He would be able to do exactly as He said.
Understanding that the scriptures identify God as Yahweh first in creation, it is important to tie in the context of God as Creator to His ability to deliver as stated in Exodus 6:1-8. God used this name to reassure Moses because He is able to deliver His people since He was able to create the universe out of nothing. If God can create the universe out of nothing, surely the rebellion of Pharaoh is a minute matter that will not affect God's ability. In the same way, the complaining and doubt of the children of Israel would not cause God to be unable or unwilling. The Lord explained to Moses that He had previously revealed Himself to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob as "The Lord God Almighty," which is El Shaddai in the Hebrew language. This is critical to recognize! God reveals different parts of Himself at different times to different people for different purposes.
Consider that God revealed Himself to the patriarchs as El Shaddai. The thing that these three men have in common are that they are the heirs of the promises that God made to Abraham in Genesis 12:3 (great nation, land, blessing). Thus, God revealed Himself as El Shaddai to these men in order to prove that He had the power to fulfill those promises. Since God is "The Lord God Almighty," He is able to fulfill the promises that He made to Abraham. Yet Exodus 6:1-8 explains that God was revealing Himself to Israel in a new way - as Yahweh, relating to His identity as Creator. There is a contrast that God presents. God actually told Moses that, although He revealed Himself as El Shaddai to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, they really didn't know Him fully because they didn't know Him as Yahweh. The name of Yahweh is the name that more fully reveals the character and nature of God.
The scripture then explain why God was working this way, answering the question of all questions that was posed above. The Lord told Moses that He would bring out the children of Israel from their bondage in Egypt as Yahweh. The Lord told Moses that it would be the work of deliverance that God did that would cause the children of Israel to know God as Yahweh. The Lord told Moses that upon delivering the children of Israel, and the children of Israel recognizing God as Yahweh, He would be their God and they would be His people. In other words, it is the work of God to deliver His people from bondage that reveals His complete nature as Yahweh, which then facilitates the relationship He desires to have with His people!
So then the question that is asked is: Why did God create the world so that sin could penetrate it, and people would be wicked and destructive? The Living God answers this question Himself in Exodus 6:1-8! The Bible states that the people of God are only able to know the real identity of God as Yahweh by witnessing and experiencing the work that God does to remove His people from bondage and oppression, speaking more fully of sin. The people of God are only able to really know God based on the work that He does to save people from sin. Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob knew the power of God, but they didn't know the true essence of God because they didn't receive deliverance from God in the ways that the children of Israel did. God allows sin so that He can reveal His true nature to those who seek to know Him. It is the work of God as Deliverer and Savior that fully reveals the character and nature of God, which facilitates the relationship that He desires to have with His creation - where He can be our God and we can be His children.