1 April 2019

Exodus 17

Then the Lord said to Moses, ‘See, I have made you like God to Pharaoh, and your brother Aaron will be your prophet. You are to say everything I command you, and your brother Aaron is to tell Pharaoh to let the Israelites go out of his country. But I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and though I multiply my signs and wonders in Egypt, he will not listen to you. Then I will lay my hand on Egypt and with mighty acts of judgment I will bring out my divisions, my people the Israelites. And the Egyptians will know that I am the Lord when I stretch out my hand against Egypt and bring the Israelites out of it.’
Moses and Aaron did just as the Lord commanded them. Moses was eighty years old and Aaron eighty-three when they spoke to Pharaoh.
Aaron’s staff becomes a snake
The Lord said to Moses and Aaron, ‘When Pharaoh says to you, “Perform a miracle,” then say to Aaron, “Take your staff and throw it down before Pharaoh,” and it will become a snake.’
10 So Moses and Aaron went to Pharaoh and did just as the Lord commanded. Aaron threw his staff down in front of Pharaoh and his officials, and it became a snake. 11 Pharaoh then summoned the wise men and sorcerers, and the Egyptian magicians also did the same things by their secret arts: 12 each one threw down his staff and it became a snake. But Aaron’s staff swallowed up their staffs. 13 Yet Pharaoh’s heart became hard and he would not listen to them, just as the Lord had said.

The plague of blood
14 Then the Lord said to Moses, ‘Pharaoh’s heart is unyielding; he refuses to let the people go. 15 Go to Pharaoh in the morning as he goes out to the river. Confront him on the bank of the Nile, and take in your hand the staff that was changed into a snake. 16 Then say to him, “The Lord, the God of the Hebrews, has sent me to say to you: let my people go, so that they may worship me in the wilderness. But until now you have not listened. 17 This is what the Lord says: by this you will know that I am the Lord: with the staff that is in my hand I will strike the water of the Nile, and it will be changed into blood. 18 The fish in the Nile will die, and the river will stink; the Egyptians will not be able to drink its water.”’
19 The Lord said to Moses, ‘Tell Aaron, “Take your staff and stretch out your hand over the waters of Egypt – over the streams and canals, over the ponds and all the reservoirs – and they will turn to blood.” Blood will be everywhere in Egypt, even in vessels[a of wood and stone.’
20 Moses and Aaron did just as the Lord had commanded. He raised his staff in the presence of Pharaoh and his officials and struck the water of the Nile, and all the water was changed into blood. 21 The fish in the Nile died, and the river smelled so bad that the Egyptians could not drink its water. Blood was everywhere in Egypt.
22 But the Egyptian magicians did the same things by their secret arts, and Pharaoh’s heart became hard; he would not listen to Moses and Aaron, just as the Lord had said. 23 Instead, he turned and went into his palace, and did not take even this to heart. 24 And all the Egyptians dug along the Nile to get drinking water, because they could not drink the water of the river.

The plague of frogs
25 Seven days passed after the Lord struck the Nile.

Moses, Aaron, magicians and Pharaoh are the cast in the two stories of rods and snakes and water into blood. This is all so remote to our life context in Cape Town, 2019. Or is it?

Not if we think about the human heart and our extended family. Because hardened hearts take different shapes and forms.

We can imagine Pharaoh’s face—scornful, amused, scowling, proud, stoney. But there’ll be those in our families who are blocking out God but who are pleasant, mostly friendly, join in birthday celebrations, and yet who resist the Gospel. Sometimes they just change the subject. They certainly won’t sit down and read Mark or Luke’s story for themselves, or consider the evidence for Jesus risen from the dead. They may not use scornful retorts, or be openly hostile or ridiculing of our faith. Yet they seem obstinate. They have a vested interest, like Pharaoh, to remain enthroned in their own chosen life and lifestyle.

Despite His miracles and the evidence these miracles provided, like Lazarus being raised from the dead, Jesus had the same problem with His half-brothers and with the Temple hierarchy.

As readers of Exodus 7, we need to take heart. We have the God of Moses and Aaron who supports us. We have Jesus who wept over Jerusalem as He thought about its refusal to accept Him.

Prayer: Father God, it’s discouraging when I pray for my family members who don’t want to know, don’t want to listen, don’t want Jesus. Remind me of Jesus and the opposition He faced in his life and the way He stayed true to Your calling and purpose. And remind me too not to harden my heart against Your Spirit, but instead to open my heart daily to Your love and encouragement.