Scripture: Exodus 7:1 The Lord said to Moses, “See, I have made you like God to Pharaoh, and your brother Aaron shall be your prophet. 2 You shall speak all that I command you, and your brother Aaron shall tell Pharaoh to let the Israelites go out of his land. 3 But I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and I will multiply my signs and wonders in the land of Egypt. 4 When Pharaoh does not listen to you, I will lay my hand upon Egypt and bring my people the Israelites, company by company, out of the land of Egypt by great acts of judgment. 5 The Egyptians shall know that I am the Lord, when I stretch out my hand against Egypt and bring the Israelites out from among them.” 6 Moses and Aaron did so; they did just as the Lord commanded them. 7 Moses was eighty years old and Aaron eighty-three when they spoke to Pharaoh.
Observation: This passage highlights the exclusive nature of the original covenant God made with the people of Israel – first through Abraham and again through Moses. God was not God for all peoples, but for one particular nation. Therefore, God hardened Pharaoh’s heart so that he would not listen to Moses and Aaron – and God could perform wonders through them. This served to both free God’s people from slavery as well as inspire fear in the hearts of the nations that God’s people would encounter on their way to the Promised Land. A good deal for Israel, a bad deal for Egypt.
Application: When God the Father sent his son Jesus, he made a new covenant through him. Jesus died and rose again for the sake of ALL people, not just the nation of Israel. And so, through the eyes of the new covenant, in which all people are welcome to receive Jesus as Lord, these episodes in the Old Testament are hard to read. I don’t like the image of God bringing wrath on people, particularly when scripture makes it clear it was God himself who hardened Pharaoh’s heart. Doesn’t seem “fair” or “just” to me. Perhaps one day I will see it differently, but for now there are some actions of God I just don’t get.
Prayer: Heavenly Father, you are God and I am not. Give me grace to make peace with things you do which I do not understand. I ask this in the name of Jesus. Amen.