Greetings in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
But you, O Lord, are a God of compassion and mercy, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love and faithfulness. (Psalm 86:15)
So Moses and Aaron went to Pharaoh and did what God had commanded them. Aaron threw down the staff of God before Pharaoh and his officials, and it became a serpent. What a miracle of God! But Pharaoh looked not impressed because Pharaoh saw the same magic performed by his own people. Pharaoh remained calm.
Then Pharaoh called in his own wise men and sorcerers, and these Egyptian magicians threw down their staffs, which also became serpents!
Then the Pharaoh’s serpents started making a coordinated attack against God’s serpent. The Pharaoh’s serpents pushed God’s serpent into the corner, and the Pharaoh’s serpents were about to kill God’s serpent. Moses was truly frustrated because he believed that God’s serpent would change Pharaoh’s heart. Moses thought that it was the end of God’s serpent.
Moses felt that there was no more his mission to rescue his own people, the Israelites enslaved in Egypt. As he was in the deep despair, his brain replayed his life from being an Egyptian Prince, falling to a no-name shepherd hiding in the remote Midian wilderness, God’s calling in the Midian wilderness after 40 years of his shepherd life, his return to Egypt to save his own people while believing the demonstration of God’s power as God showed at the mount Horeb would convince Pharaoh.
Then Moses first met Pharaoh to deliver God’s message, but Moses could not deliver God’s message fully and wholesomely. Pharaoh and his splendor overpowered Moses. After his failure to speak, he came to God and argued not to be the person again who would deliver God’s message for the freedom of the Israelites. God encouraged Moses to go again, but Moses refused. Then God promised to let Aaron speak to Pharaoh and perform the miracle of God – turning the staff of God that God gave to Moses. Aaron did as God promised. As a result, Moses became the spectator. Moses just watched what was going on. Then he fell into deep despair while worrying about himself. His focus was on him, not God’s mission.
But God was not mad at Moses. Instead, God let it happen as Moses wanted. God knew the outcome would be the greatest disappointment to Moses, and Moses was greatly disappointed in his deep despair. It was ironic because Moses did not do anything except be there with Aaron. What a loser Moses was! Without doing anything, Moses wanted something to happen as he wanted. But God knew all, and God prevented this free ride from happening for Moses. The disastrous outcome came to Moses, and Moses thought it was the end of his journey of freeing the Israelites. However, it made Moses think deeply about the outcome while seeing the big picture of his own journey with God. Then Moses suddenly saw what he had done wrong.
Yet he was merciful and forgave their sins
and did not destroy them all.
Many times he held back his anger
and did not unleash his fury! (Psalm 78:38)
Moses saw he did nothing, and Aaron initiated and performed God’s miracle. Upon his serious sin before God, Moses closed his eyes. He was still for a while, and then Moses found his heart praying to God. Moses could not know whether he initiated the prayer or God did.
Soon, to Moses, whether God’s serpent was winning or not became the main concern. As he prayed, he saw his heavy reliance on his own thought, and he grungily executed God’s command. Then he became a spectator, and his brother, Aaron, did everything for him and God. Moses started listing out all his faults. His sins were against God, his brother, Aaron, and all the Israelites enslaved in Egypt. Moses confessed his sins and asked God for His forgiveness in his prayer. God heard his prayer and answered. Hearing God’s answer, Moses’ heart gets lighter and brighter, filled with God’s grace and peace instead of nervousness, anxiety, and desperation from the ultimate failure (to Moses’ eyes.)
Yes, God was always patient with Moses until Moses could see the reality that God was always and firmly in charge of everything. Initially, Moses did not believe this. So Moses refused to speak up to Pharaoh again, although God encouraged and promised to be with Moses. Moses needed to overcome the fear of Pharaoh, which is the power of the world, but it was impossible to learn by himself. Moses could not learn without his failure, fault, and sin. Moses gave his confession to God with his prayer, and God accepted it. Then Moses became extremely comforted by God. And Moses finally overcame his sin of not believing in God’s absolute omnipotent power. Moses opened his eyes.
As opening his eyes, Moses saw something truly unexpected. God’s serpent was about to swallow up one of the Pharaoh’s serpents. Then it quickly swallowed up the rest one by one. Then was there only one God’s serpent. God’s serpent swallowed up all serpents made by the magicians, and the magicians became fearful. However, Pharaoh’s heart remained hard.
Pharaoh waited. As soon as God’s serpent turned back to the staff of God, Pharaoh ordered to expel Moses and Aaron from his palace. The first miracle did not work, but Moses learned a truly valuable lesson about his sin of not believing God’s omnipotent power and committing himself in faith, and following through God’s command. God was so faithful and gracious that God let Moses go through another lesson about God and his faith and sins.
Then Moses and Aaron came back empty-handed to the people of Israelites. What a disgraceful moment! But Moses learned the most previous lesson: how to walk with God, not by his own might and knowledge, but by faith.
Moses immediately went back to God and prayed because Moses determined to follow through with God’s command in faith and not become a spectator or a passenger of God’s work forever.
As Moses prayed to God, God came to Moses. God said to Moses, “Pharaoh’s heart is stubborn, and he still refuses to let the people go after watching God’s miracle turning God’s staff into a serpent. And it was told to you even before Aaron and you went to Pharaoh. Therefore, now go to Pharaoh in the morning as he goes down to the river. Stand on the bank of the Nile and meet him there. Be sure to take along the staff that turned into a snake. Then announce to him, ‘The LORD, the God of the Hebrews, has sent me to tell you, “Let my people go, so they can worship me in the wilderness.” Until now, you have refused to listen to him. So this is what the LORD says: “I will show you that I am the LORD.” Look! I will strike the water of the Nile with this staff in my hand, and the river will turn to blood. The fish in it will die, and the river will stink. The Egyptians will not be able to drink any water from the Nile.’”
Moses promptly answered God because his heart was full of faith in God for this time. Moses did not argue with God not to send him again to Pharaoh. Moses used to say “But LORD! My own people won’t listen to me anymore. How can I expect Pharaoh to listen? I’m such a clumsy speaker!”
As Pharaoh went down to the Nile River in the morning, Moses went to Pharaoh. For this time, Moses led Aaron. Then God said to Moses: “Tell Aaron, ‘Take your staff and raise your hand over the waters of Egypt—all its rivers, canals, ponds, and all the reservoirs. Turn all the water into blood. Everywhere in Egypt, the water will turn to blood, even the water stored in wooden bowls and stone pots.’” God was ready to execute His first plague over Egypt because Pharaoh did not let His people go. God’s plague was about to be poured over everywhere in Egypt. Even the water in wooden bowls and stone pots would turn into blood.
So Moses did just as the LORD commanded. As Pharaoh and all his officials watched, Moses gave the staff of God to Aaron, and Aaron raised his staff and struck the water of the Nile. Suddenly, the whole river turned to blood! The fish in the river died, and the water became so foul that the Egyptians couldn’t drink it. There was blood everywhere throughout the land of Egypt. However, Pharaoh was not so impressed by God’s miracle.
Pharaoh called his magicians. The magicians of Egypt used their magic, and they, too, turned water into blood. So Pharaoh’s heart remained hard.
Pharaoh refused to listen to Moses and Aaron, just as God had predicted. Pharaoh returned to his palace and put the whole thing out of his mind. But all the Egyptians suffered. They dug along the riverbank to find drinking water, for they couldn’t drink the water from the Nile. It was the first plague of God poured on Egypt because Pharaoh did not let the people of Israel go. However, Moses was not disappointed because Moses believed Omnipotent God.
Seven days passed from the time God struck the Nile.
Then God said to Moses, “Go back to Pharaoh and announce to him, ‘This is what God says: Let my people go, so they can worship me. If you refuse to let them go, I will send a plague of frogs across your entire land. The Nile River will swarm with frogs. They will come up out of the river and into your palace, even into your bedroom and onto your bed! They will enter the houses of your officials and your people. They will even jump into your ovens and your kneading bowls. Frogs will jump on you, your people, and all your officials.’”
Then Moses immediately left for the palace and went with Aaron. Moses and Aaron stood before Pharaoh. Then God said to Moses, “Tell Aaron, ‘Raise the staff in your hand over all the rivers, canals, and ponds of Egypt, and bring up frogs over all the land.’”
Moses said to Aaron as God commanded, and Aaron raised his hand over the waters of Egypt, and frogs came up and covered the whole land! But the magicians were able to do the same thing with their magic. They, too, caused frogs to come upon the land of Egypt.
The flog plague was equally unbearable to Pharaoh, his officials, and all the Egyptians because the flogs invaded their lives, unlike the first plague turning the Nile River water into blood, which stayed away from their homes. All Egyptians complained to Pharaoh. Pharaoh became sick and tired of hearing the complaints. Pharaoh also realized that there was no other way except to ask Moses to eliminate the flogs bothering the entire nation. Then Pharaoh summoned Moses and Aaron and begged, “Plead with the LORD to take the frogs away from me and my people. I will let your people go, so they can offer sacrifices to the LORD.”
Finally, Pharaoh softened his heart. Moses seized the moment and responded, “You set the time! Tell me when you want me to pray for you, your officials, and your people. Then you and your houses will be rid of the frogs. They will remain only in the Nile River.”
Pharaoh still wanted to make sure whether the frog plague really came from God or not. If it were just a coincidence, it would go away by itself. Thus, Pharoah said, “Do it tomorrow.” Pharaoh wanted to wait and see.
“All right,” Moses replied, “it will be as you have said. Then you will know that there is no one like the LORD our God. The frogs will leave you and your houses, your officials, and your people. They will remain only in the Nile River.”
Then Moses took Aaron and went out of the palace in joy because Pharaoh said he would release the people of Israel enslaved in Egypt. Then Moses looked high and cried out to the LORD about the frogs he inflicted on Pharaoh while requesting to remove all flogs tomorrow.
And God did just what Moses had cried out to God with his prayer. The frogs in the houses, the courtyards, and the fields suddenly all died on the following day. The Egyptians piled them into great heaps, and a terrible stench filled the land.
Pharaoh got what he wanted. Pharaoh saw that relief had come, and he became stubborn again. He did not keep his promise and refused to listen to Moses and Aaron, just as the LORD had predicted.
The 2nd plague touched Pharaoh’s heart. Pharaoh promised to send away all the Israelites enslaved in Egypt, but Pharaoh did not keep his promise because the 2nd plague passed him. By the way, Pharaoh’s stubbornness was Pharaoh’s choice. But by letting Pharaoh stubborn, Pharaoh would go deeper and deeper as much as he could. Then God’s glory would be magnified more and more as a star gets brighter as the sky gets darker.
Moses prayed to God and waited because Moses completely trusted in God. Moses learned through many years of walking with God while making many mistakes and falls and learning from his mistakes and falls. Moses believed in God, although the first two plagues could not make Pharaoh change his heart and free the people of Israel. However, the 2nd plague was really close. Pharaoh said he would free the people of Israel, but Pharaoh changed his mind later.
After the 2nd plague, Moses prayed to God, and God came and said to Moses, “Go to Pharaoh and command Pharaoh to let my people go.” Moses again obediently went to Pharaoh with Aaron. Moses truly believed in God in faith.
As firmly standing before Pharaoh in faith, God said to Moses, “Then raise your staff and strike the ground. The dust will turn into swarms of gnats throughout the land of Egypt.’”
So Moses did just as the LORD had commanded. Moses asked Aaron to raise the staff of God and strike the ground, and Aaron did as God commanded. When Aaron raised his hand and struck the ground with his staff, gnats infested the entire land, covering the Egyptians and their animals. All the dust in the land of Egypt turned into gnats.
Again, Pharaoh called his magicians to replicate what Moses and Aaron did. Pharaoh’s magicians tried to do the same thing with their secret arts, but this time they failed. And the gnats covered everyone, people and animals alike.
“This is the finger of God!” the magicians exclaimed to Pharaoh. Finally, the magicians understood the power of God. Their secret arts could not match God’s power, and they made a true confession about God.
But Pharaoh did not listen to his own magicians. Pharaoh was getting isolated from the reality. His own officials could not help but say, “This is the finger of God!” but Pharaoh could not hear. Although Pharaoh should have listened to his officials, Pharaoh was deaf and followed his heart by hardening his heart against God and the power of God’s finger that his officials could see.
God gave multiple opportunities to Pharaoh so that Pharaoh might know who God was, but Pharaoh hardened his heart repetitively without fearing God. Pharaoh was the best example of a worldly person. The Scriptures say,
Destruction and misery always follow them.
They don’t know where to find peace.
They have no fear of God at all.” (Romans 3:16-18)
Pharaoh kept refusing to hear God going fast to his destruction. Even his magicians understood the 3rd gnat plagues were from Omnipotent God, and they declared, “This was the finger of God!” but Pharaoh did not hear. Indeed, he heard his own heart because he hardened his heart. Later, we will see how God would utterly destroy Pharaoh, and Pharaoh would surrender to God after losing the most precious in his entire life. One who keeps being against God would be like Pharaoh, utterly destroyed because of one’s stubbornness before God.
God is always calling us with His merciful and loving voice and unfathomable love. When we hear God’s voice, we should not harden our hearts. We will experience His mercy and saving grace in His love.
Today when you hear His voice,
don’t harden your hearts! (Hebrew 3:7b)