Reading: Exodus 8:8-15; 9:27-35.
When Moses and Aaron first went to the palace they told Pharaoh “Thus says the LORD God of Israel: ‘Let My people go’ ” (Exodus 5:1). Pharaoh believed he was the incarnation of Amon-Ra and Horus, Egypt’s two main gods, and therefore controls everything in Egypt. Pharaoh absolutely refuses to even recognise Israel’s God, let alone obey Him. He proudly replies “Who is the LORD, that I should obey His voice to let Israel go? I do not know the LORD, nor will I let Israel go” (Ex 5:2).
But then the trouble starts. The God of Israel demonstrates in a public way that He, and not Pharaoh or Egypt’s gods, controls everything. Two miracles and the first plague do not move Pharaoh; he stubbornly clings to his claim that he does not know the LORD. But while frogs hop around in his palace Pharaoh realises he is fighting with a strong God, and acknowledges Him, asking Moses “Entreat the LORD that He may take away the frogs” (Ex 8:8). But when the frogs are gone he hardens his heart and refuses to obey God.
So God sends more plagues. Pharaoh’s advisors are concerned. When lice infest man and beast they warn Pharaoh “This is the finger of God” (Ex 8:19), and “Let the men go, that they may serve the LORD their God. Do you not yet know that Egypt is destroyed?” (Ex 10:7).
After more plagues Pharaoh agrees to release Israel. One time he even confesses, “I have sinned this time. The LORD is righteous, and my people and I are wicked” (Ex 9:27). But when the plague is removed he hardens is heart and rejects God’s command to let Israel go.
We need to be clear why Pharaoh acknowledges God’s existence, confesses the Lord is righteous and why he agrees to let the people go. He fears God’s wrath, but refuses to truly repent, love and worship God. He is only concerned about his own safety and status. This is very common among people, also today. When there are difficulties they call out to God for help. As soon as the problem is over, they ignore Him again. This is very wicked and will only result in God’s curse. We too should be careful that our worship of God is motivated not fear but by humility, love and reverence for the God who created and sustains us.
Key text: Exodus 9:27-28 “And Pharaoh sent and called for Moses and Aaron, and said to them, “I have sinned this time. The LORD is righteous, and my people and I are wicked. Entreat the LORD, that there may be no more mighty thundering and hail, for it is enough. I will let you go, and you shall stay no longer.”
Question: Should fear be part of our faith and worship of God? Why?