Moses goes before the Lord and asks, “Why are you treating this people so badly? Why did you send me to do this thing?” I think Moses is feeling pretty down about his duties. I thought I was supposed to deliver this people. Am I doing something wrong? Why me? Remember, he had talked to the Pharaoh and the Israelite burdens were increased exponentially. No one likes him at the moment.
Moses Needs a Pep Talk
He continues on by saying that ever since he came to Pharaoh to speak in His name, Pharaoh has done evil and the people haven’t been delivered. This pray is really perfect timing because the Lord tells Moses that now he is going to show him what he is going to do to Pharaoh. After God is done with him, Pharaoh will let them go. Moses is thinking, “Oh! Really?! Ok! I can hang on a little longer.” The time for waiting is over, the time for Egypt’s judgement has arrived.
God tells him that he is the Lord. He appeared unto Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. They know him, he established a covenant with them. And even now he is bringing to pass the fulfillment of that promise. He has seen the groaning and griveing of his people in Egypt and will bring them out and prosper them. All that they may know that God is their God. He will bring to pass the oath he made with their fathers, even to bring them to the land of their first inheritance. Quite the pep talk by the Lord. Moses is probably feeling a lot better and confident than he was before the prayer. The Lord told him to relate these things to the children of Israel.
Pharaoh Refuses to Listen (Again)
Moses obeys and unfortunately, the Israelites do not hearken unto Moses’ words. All on account of a broken spirit and their cruel bondage. Think of it from the perspective of slaves. They have been in bondage for two pharaohs, going on three. Pharaoh is a lifetime job so at least two to three generations of slavery. In that time, they felt like God never answered their prayers. Then Moses cames, declaring that God has heard their prayers and Moses will be negotiating their release. But, instead of leaving, they are forced to work and meet quotas without the material to do so. Up to this point, it is little wonder they did not believe what Moses had to say.
God tells Moses to go to Pharaoh again and ask him to let the people go. Moses asks why would Pharaoh listen if the one group of people who is most likely to listen (the Israelites) won’t? Especially if, footnote 12a, he has impaired speech? In response, the Lord tells Moses and Aaron they have stewardship over the children of Israel and that Pharaoh, as the current steward, needs to let them go.
Then the chapter launches into the lineage of Aaron and Moses to establish their credibility as people before backtracking to the story. Moses says he has stammering lips and is slow of speech. He stutters and talks slow? Why would Pharaoh listen to him? The Lord’s reply is simple. He has said it before and is probably saying it again to remind Moses. Say the things I put into your mouth. When you speak with the spirit and words God wants you to say, people will hear and understand.
Moses again is told he is to be the spokesman for God and Aaron the spokesman for Moses. They are to go to Pharaoh and tell them to let the people go. God says if Pharaoh won’t hearken unto Him, God will bring forth his armies and bring the children of Israel out of Egypt. The Egyptians will know that I am the Lord. It seems like God has already said this to Moses before. Is this the third time? I really like that he says that the Egyptians will know that I am the Lord. They will come to realization that the Gods they have worshipped heretofore are false. I like how the phrase “I am” has played into the story. Whether by mortal or God. In verse 5 of chapter 7, it says, “I am the Lord”. If you understand that “I am” is a title for Jesus Christ, you could replace it. The scripture would then say, “They shall know Jesus Christ the Lord”. Adds some coolness to the verse when you think of it that way.
Conjuring of the Snakes
Moses and Aaron did as they were commanded. Moses was 80 years old when he did this an Aaron was 83 years old. So the age difference is three years. That leave Miriam at either 81 or 82. I know people lived longer back then. I would like to know what was considered young, middle-aged, and old. If I were to base it off how long Moses and Aaron’s ancestors lived, 130 years ish, then they are 40-50s in our modern equivalent.
God says that when Pharaoh says to prove themselves by performing a miracle, to cast down his rod and it will become a snake. They go into Pharaoh and they are asked to perform a miracle. Moses tells Aaron to cast down the rod and it becomes a serpent. Pharaoah calls his wise men, sorcerers, and magicians to come do the same. It says that they did in like manner through their enchantments. Do you think it happened like in the movie with lots of smoke and mirrors and ended up being a big show? Or do you think through some devilish, unholy power, they were able to accomplish the same feat? I guess this is where the wording battle begins. But even looking at the wording doesn’t help. It says that they (magicians, sorcerers, and wise men) “did in like manner”. “Like” being the operative word here. If “like” means in a “similar” way, that would mean it had a close result but via a different method. Or if “like” means they did it in the same way, but not through God’s power, it would mean the devil helped out.
Personally, I am more inclined to believe they got the same result but through a different means. Whether that’s through smoke and mirrors I don’t know. My reasoning is because they turned every man’s rod in the room into a snake. But how could Pharoah’s men have that many snakes on hand? Let alone transform the staffs in an instant. I feel like that’s a good argument for the devil’s intervention. Regardless, God’s snake ate them all up.
I think it is interesting that “wise men” were involved in this act. What did it take to become a “wise man” in Egypt? Definitely wise as to worldly matters, not spiritual matters. I feel like if you can master learning things of a spritual nature, you can master things of temperal nature more quickly. I have heard stories about temple presidents saying you could learn more in a temple than if you spent your entire life at a university or library studying. It goes to show that temples are extremely important in learning things of a spiritual nature. A part of the the world where the veil is a little thinner and no worldly problems enter the doors. Imagine spending an entire day, reading, praying, and receiving revelation in the temple! How cool would that be!
Back to the story. Pharaoh hardens his heart at having been put to shame by Moses and refuses to let the people go. Very stubborn man! I think his feeling is if I can’t have the slaves, no one can, no matter how many people die because of it, or how high the cost may go. It’s the attitude of “If I can’t have it, no one can. If you try and take it from me, I’m going to take as many people with me so you have nothing when you finally get it.” Sound a little like what Satan did in the pre-earth life?
Moses Turns the River to Blood
Moses is told to go unto Pharaoh in the morning because he is going to be on a boat. Moses is to stand at the river’s bank and say, “The Lord has commanded you to let these people go, and because you will not, in order that you may know that God is in charge, I am going to smite the water and it shall turn to blood. The fish will die, the river shall stink and no one will want to drink from it.” But the extent of this goes further than the river (Nile). The streams, ponds, and anything that has water be it wood or stone will also change.
Aaron carries out the miracle in front of Pharaoh and all his servants. The water turns red into blood. Everything that Moses said would happen does. The fish die, the river stinks, and all the Egyptians were fearful to drink from the river. The magicians of Egypt manage to recreate the same thing. You know, the more I think about it, they probably did it through dye. Every time the magicians have “copied” what was done, Pharaoh’s heart was hardened. They are giving shortcut explanations of miracles God has wrought. If they fully understood what was going on, they could explain it through scientific means. Then maybe Pharaoh would understand it was through God it happened. There is a quote I remember reading once. It went something like this, “What we don’t understand we call magic. What we do understand we call science.”
The Egyptians dig around the river looking for water, but it continues to be blood. For seven days the river is blood. Pharaoh pays no heed to this. I wonder if they were able to get any water or had some stored up. I learned that 2-3 days without water is the longest you can go.
That’s it for this installment. I cut it short because the next section is about the plagues and I want to spend maximum time on that rather than having to cut it short after 1000 words. So check in in two weeks for the plagues post!