EXODUS 7:1 – 9:35 AND MATTHEW 15:1–39
In verse 1 The Lord makes the statement to Moses that he will be as a god to Pharaoh. God is assuring Moses that he is now in a position to faithfully represent him before the king (Pharaoh) of the earth. What a wonderful declaration that is being made here. This does not mean that Moses is God. It merely makes the point that God is satisfied that Moses can operate in His stead. This is a position that took considerable time to develop. One has to be void of personalized ambitions and agendas. Such a person must also know the very heartbeat of God which is the result of intimacy and time spent with him. What we see here is one of the primary components of what constitutes a priest. In this case Moses is going to represent God before Pharaoh, Egypt and Israel. Let’s go back to Genesis to further elaborate on this truth.
Gen 3:5 For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.
One of the enticements that the enemy presented to Eve was that she could become like a god. It’s interesting to note that Satan seeks to offer us many of the same things that God has planned for us. In fact, in Gen 3:6 he entices Eve further by saying that it’s a tree to make one wise, containing secret knowledge that others do not have. The problem here is that he entices Eve by way of a shortcut. God indeed wants us to grow in knowledge and wisdom (Gen 33:6, 2 Pet 1:5, Hos 4:6, Dan 1:17,20) so that we will be able to stand strong in the last days. Satan offers a short-cut, a less demanding alternative that can be obtained on an easier basis.
Remember his approach to the Lord as he came forth from the wilderness? The kingdoms of the world were being offered to Him if he would just bow down and worship (Math 4:6-7). You do not have to go to the Cross or suffer miserably, you can obtain it now. This of course, was not the Father’s will. He authorised the Cross before the foundations of the world (Rev 13:8). Jesus would one day inherit the kingdoms of this world but it had to be on the Father’s terms. Satan is constantly seeking to get us to move outside God’s ordained will for our lives. This is why “sound doctrine” is so important. Moses is now in a position where he can stand as an ambassador of God at this climatic moment. We all want to rule as kings and have authority. Many seek today to move in the realm of the prophetic not knowing the true cost nor potential dangers of tapping into a realm prematurely. This is what happened at the time of the fall. Adam and Eve tapped into something that was forbidden to them at the time. God has His way of approach into knowledge, wisdom and his likeness (2 Pet 1:5-7). One of the aspects of God we can move into is that of godliness or god-likeness as seen 2 Pet 1:7. Remember, it must be on God’s terms. Satan offers short cuts; ways to circumvent the Cross. It’s the Cross that dethrones Satan of His power and we will soon see that it is the Passover Lamb (figurative of the Cross) that will destroy the power of Egypt (Exo 12).
In verses 3-7 we see a term that will be mentioned on a number of occasions in the passages to come. “I will harden his heart” We mentioned previously that our heart condition is reflective of the choices we make. If we are wronged and we respond with bitterness, it will affect our outer man as well as our heart. There comes a time when God gives a people up to a reprobate or ungodly spirit (Rom 1:26). Why does this happen? It starts subtly with unthankfulness and later develops into full blown rebellion. Let’s consider some other verses from Romans 1.
Rom 1:17 For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith.
Rom 1:18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness;
In verse 17 we see an unfolding revelation of His righteousness. It is linked in growing from faith to faith. With each unfolding Revelation or entrance of light, a decision or choice is required. Will we respond to the light or will we reject or be indifferent towards that truth. We must be aware that as we pursue more truth and light we will be accountable for what is revealed. Growing from faith to faith requires a decision; whether to appropriate it or dismiss it out of hand. This is why many churches desire a status quo mentality. They are comfortable and choose not to allow themselves to be provoked outside their sphere of life. In verse 18 we see the unfolding of what happens when truth is rejected. The wrath and judgement of God comes upon those who do not properly steward the richness of God’s Word. This can be done by alteration of doctrine that initially sounds good but eventually leads down a dangerous path. We see that path as we progress through Romans 1. This is how a heart becomes hardened. It is a consistent rejecting, denying or redefining of Truth. In the life of Pharaoh we will see a consistent rejecting or standing in the way of what God is looking to do. In His foreknowledge, God knew he would respond in this manner, this is why he can convey to Moses ahead of time what to expect. “Today, if you hear His voice, harden not your heart”.
In verse 8-13 we see a duality of anointing at work. This account is interesting for it should help to address some of the questions we have today as to whether a particular work is of God or the devil. Here we have Aaron and the magicians of Egypt in a demonstration of respective anointing’s. The magicians of Egypt are able to duplicate what Aaron is doing. In the end however Aaron’s rod swallowed up the others signifying who had the true authority. What we have here are two sources of power at work simultaneously in the same place at the same time.
There was a recognized move of God in the year 2008 in the USA. It was a movement that had genuine salvations and healings but it also had some very peculiar “anti-biblical” manifestations taking place. Someone asked me the question as to whether this movement was of God or not. The Lord brought me to this account where we see both anointing’s at work at the same time. It is possible to have God working and moving sovereignly in a meeting. It is also possible for the enemy to seek to duplicate manifestations as well. We must be discerning. Oftentimes you could have two different sources of anointing at work in the same meeting or movement. We will see this when looking at the upcoming plagues. Both sources of anointing will be seen up to a point. This scenario will be re-enacted on a heightened scale in these last days. Perhaps one of the greatest gifts that we can possess in the last days is the Discerning of Spirits. Simply put, it’s the ability to determine the source of anointing and power at work.
The plagues are now underway. The next plague is that of frogs. The other account where frogs are mentioned is in Revelation 16:13.
And I saw three unclean spirits like frogs come out of the mouth of the dragon, and out of the mouth of the beast, and out of the mouth of the false prophet.
In this judgement there is a release of frogs which can have the spiritual connotation of unclean spirits. In many ways we are seeing this happening in our day. With the breakdown of law and order there are the growing perils of uncleanness. When a nation and its leaders turn their back on God the result is an “Egypt of old” type of environment. This is why Egypt is oftentimes linked to the world. Moses here has the power and authority to both release and remove this plague under God’s direction.
Pharaoh was affected by this plague and sought relief from its assault. He also mentioned that he would let Israel go conditionally (vs 8-9). So far, the magicians of Pharaoh were able to duplicate these plagues to a certain extent with the intent of proving that there is no God of Israel since others can duplicate as well. The next plague is that of the lice and once again Pharaoh seeks relief. It is here where the magicians testified that it was God indeed bringing forth these plagues. They no longer could duplicate. The next plague is that of the flies. God, through these plagues is making a distinction between Egypt and Israel. The flies did not come against them. The earth (Egypt) was now becoming more corrupt. Pharaoh agreed again to make concessions if the plague was removed. Herein lies another tactic of the enemy that needs to be examined.
If we were to examine the Book of Nehemiah we would see a man of God who stood strong throughout the period he lived in. He had to battle the enemy on many occasions. The enemies here came in the form of Sanballat, Tobiah and Geshom. At first the enemy attacked openly and aggressively. He took no note of Nehemiah until he purposed to go towards Jerusalem to rebuild the walls. This was clearly mandated by God and we see the enemy now stirred, rising up to oppose.
Neh 2:10 When Sanballat the Horonite, and Tobiah the servant, the Ammonite, heard of it, it grieved them exceedingly that there was come a man to seek the welfare of the children of Israel.
The enemy through Sanballat and others held the territory for many years. Jerusalem and the city were broken down and for many years they were not threatened. Now Nehemiah is on a God ordained Mission and the enemy is alerted and stirred. He comes against Nehemiah brazenly at first, mocking and seeking to discourage Nehemiah and the workers. When this proves unsuccessful he changes tactics and now approaches him with subtlety. This is what we are seeing with Pharaoh. He makes concessions while the plagues are ongoing but quickly back tracks once they are lifted. The enemy is very good in establishing agreements from a position of weakness. We soon become more comfortable with the real possibility of letting down our guard. Nehemiah is a wonderful model for us, as is Moses in showing how to deal with an enemy. In Moses case, he is confronting the king of the known earth at this time. This battle and playing out of plagues has similarities to the releasing of judgements in the days to come. Speaking of the last day releasing of judgements, as seen in Revelation there is a point to consider that is oftentimes overlooked. Yes, God is judging sin with iniquity coming to a certain ripeness. Still, in these judgements God is looking for those who would repent. (Rev 9:21) In many ways He is demonstrating mercy with the hopes that some would repent and turn from their ways. For the most part though, people, like Pharaoh here in Exodus only allow their hearts to become further hardened against God. Remember, God allows us to make choices. He is constantly exhorting us to come out from among those in modern day Babylon (2 Cor 6:17).
Rev 18:4 And I heard another voice from heaven, saying, Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues.
Rev 18:5 For her sins have reached unto heaven, and God hath remembered her iniquities.
I feel the above verses can be linked to the Tower of Babel in Gen 11. This city, founded by Nimrod is a picture of what is now coming to fruition in these verses. We cannot think that we can live in these last days for God on our terms. If so, we will be positioning ourselves where we will make adverse choices, which may include coming under significant judgement.
One final thought from Revelation that I find interesting. God allows for a 5 month torment to come upon the earth. The suffering is so bad that many seek death as a means for relief but are unable to find it. Today, many people are opting for suicide for many reasons. Many are losing hope and see no way out. It appears that suicide will not be an option during these 5 months. It seems that the spirit of death is taken away at this time. To me, I feel it’s God’s mercy in giving a people a taste of what an eternal hell would be like (Rev 9:4-6). In hell, it’s over and there is no turning back. Here we see God allowing extreme torment to come upon a people who are not allowed to die for 5 months. Surely, one would think that people would repent after such suffering, right? Rev 9:21 Neither repented they of their murders, nor of their sorceries, nor of their fornication, nor of their thefts. This is a chilling and sobering indicator of the potential of a hardened heart. Lord, have mercy on us!
The judgements are now reaching to the livestock of Egypt (vs 1-7). In verse 4 God continues to make a distinction between the cattle of Egypt and Israel. He is able to preserve His own. If one were to be a geo-political observer of events it would be obvious that things are quickly deteriorating in the earth. The economy, the tensions among nations are all coming to a head. You have nations with biological, chemical and nuclear capabilities who are under threat and could well be moved to use them. We need to wake up and see what is happening. A very strong wakeup call is needed in the church, especially the church. Things can become unhinged in an instant. Are we prepared? It is comforting to note how God was able to preserve His own during the plagues of Exodus. The same God is able to protect His own in these last days.
Exo 15:26 And said, If thou wilt diligently hearken to the voice of the LORD thy God, and wilt do that which is right in his sight, and wilt give ear to his commandments, and keep all his statutes, I will put none of these diseases upon thee, which I have brought upon the Egyptians: for I am the LORD that healeth thee.
Deu 7:15 And the LORD will take away from thee all sickness, and will put none of the evil diseases of Egypt, which thou knowest, upon thee; but will lay them upon all them that hate thee.
You can see above that there are qualifications in coming under this protection. We have mentioned before about the garment of meekness and its ability to cover in the midst of the Lord’s anger (Zeph 2:3). We too can be hidden and distinguished from Egypt under the protective shadow of the Almighty.
The sequence of events in chapter 9 is following the familiar path of released judgements and Pharaoh’s promise of release. Yet, once again his heart hardens against Moses and God with each respite from the plague. Can you see that Pharaoh has now crossed over a line? There seems to be a limit with God in the opportunities he gives for people to respond to His overtures. Please remember that God is a God of Long-Suffering and goes to extreme lengths to see wayward ones return to the fold. In verse 27 Pharaoh even goes so far to say that he has sinned, acknowledging the Lord to be righteous and Himself to be a sinner. Moses, by now knew he did not mean it as seen in verse 29.
Mat 3:8 Bring forth therefore fruits meet for repentance:
The subject of Repentance will be examined in a future summary. It is a most important subject and it needs to be understood. I would like to make one further comment from Chapter 9. God gives a specific timetable of the next plague in verse 18-19. If heeded, their livestock would be preserved, if not they would suffer loss. God is speaking today, perhaps not yet with exact specificity but enough so that we are sufficiently warned. Lord, may we have ears to hear what your Spirit is speaking. (Amos 3:7)
The Lord is having a discourse with some of the scribes and Pharisees. (The religious of His day) These men were taking issue with the disciples of Jesus over the tradition of the washing of hands while eating bread (vs 1-2). It is worthy to note how the Lord responds. Our tendency is to grow defensive and say something like well; we are no longer under the Old Testament traditions etc. That is not what Jesus did. He responded by asking them a question. Absolutely Brilliant! He puts the pressure back upon them and He can do this because it is easy to expose their hypocrisy.
There is an interesting truth that can be derived from a familiar Gospel story which is illustrated here. In John 21, the Lord appears to the disciples and instructs them to cast their net afresh. They bring in a huge haul of fish. In fact, the Bible says they were great fish and the number of them was 153. Why the mention of that number? One of the reasons perhaps is that 153 represents the number of questions that Jesus asked in the Gospels. This was one of the keys to His effectiveness. A well versed person can recognize the dynamic of a conversation. He or she can separate from the emotion and skilfully address the issue at hand. Such a person can discern what is in the heart of an aggressive personality as is evidenced in this conversation. A person who can skilfully ask the right questions can control a conversation.
The Lord uses the issue of not washing hands by mentioning the tradition, the law of honouring father and mother. Don’t you think the level of “tradition” that the Lord expressed was higher than that of unwashed hands? This can only be achieved by conviction and having knowledge and understanding of that which is in the heart of man. This can only happen if we are acquainted with our own heart as well. In verses 10-20 the Lord further builds upon the above discourse. He makes clear that it is what comes out of the mouth that ultimately defiles. He further elaborates that all issues of evil emanate from the heart.
This dialogue is also a window into the truths of the new Covenant. I know I keep bringing it up but it’s clear that the Lord did as well. The power of the New Covenant is its ability to get to the root of where all sin originates. (The Heart) We must not neglect the Law but rather embrace its value. The Bible says the Law is Holy (Rom 7:12). The Law is not meant to be a set of regulations based on legalism as expressed by the Pharisees and Scribes. The Law defines God, it defines man (who we really are) and it gives strength to sin. The more you embrace the Law the more awareness you have of sin. The more you embrace the Law the more you see the need for “divine enabling grace”. The more you embrace the Law the greater revelation you have of who God really is. The Law is Holy and so is God. The Law also has the power to bring us to holiness as well.
Col 1:22 In the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in his sight.
The law should not be ignored nor misinterpreted. In verses 21-39 the Lord resumed His public ministry to multitudes. Once again we see the Lord being moved with compassion. He was always putting the needs of others before His own. What a wonderful antidote for a narcissistic, self-filled society. Jesus sets the example and pattern for us all.