Reflections on Scripture

by Wayne Bandy

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Scripture Passage

      Exodus - Chapter 07 (Contemporary English Version)
    1. The LORD said: I am going to let your brother Aaron speak for you. He will tell your message to the king, just as a prophet speaks my message to the people.
    2. Tell Aaron everything I say to you, and he will order the king to let my people leave his country.
    3. But I will make the king so stubborn that he won't listen to you. He won't listen even when I do many terrible things to him and his nation. Then I will bring a final punishment on Egypt, and the king will let Israel's families and tribes go.
    4. (SEE 7:3)
    5. When this happens, the Egyptians will know that I am the LORD.
    6. Moses and Aaron obeyed the LORD
    7. and spoke to the king. At the time, Moses was eighty years old, and Aaron was eighty-three.
    8. The LORD said, "Moses, when the king asks you and Aaron to perform a miracle, command Aaron to throw his walking stick down in front of the king, and it will turn into a snake."
    9. (SEE 7:8)
    10. Moses and Aaron went to the king and his officials and did exactly as the LORD had commanded--Aaron threw the stick down, and it turned into a snake.
    11. Then the king called in the wise men and the magicians, who used their secret powers to do the same thing--
    12. they threw down sticks that turned into snakes. But Aaron's snake swallowed theirs.
    13. The king behaved just as the LORD had said and stubbornly refused to listen.
    14. The LORD said to Moses: The Egyptian king stubbornly refuses to change his mind and let the people go.
    15. Tomorrow morning take the stick that turned into a snake, then wait beside the Nile River for the king.
    16. Tell him, "The LORD God of the Hebrews sent me to order you to release his people, so they can worship him in the desert. But until now, you have paid no attention.
    17. "The LORD is going to do something to show you that he really is the LORD. I will strike the Nile with this stick, and the water will turn into blood.
    18. The fish will die, the river will stink, and none of you Egyptians will be able to drink the water."
    19. Moses, then command Aaron to hold his stick over the water. And when he does, every drop of water in Egypt will turn into blood, including rivers, canals, ponds, and even the water in buckets and jars.
    20. Moses and Aaron obeyed the LORD. Aaron held out his stick, then struck the Nile, as the king and his officials watched. The river turned into blood,
    21. the fish died, and the water smelled so bad that none of the Egyptians could drink it. Blood was everywhere in Egypt.
    22. But the Egyptian magicians used their secret powers to do the same thing. The king did just as the LORD had said--he stubbornly refused to listen.
    23. Then he went back to his palace and never gave it a second thought.
    24. The Egyptians had to dig holes along the banks of the Nile for drinking water, because water from the river was unfit to drink.
    25. Seven days after the LORD had struck the Nile,

Exodus - Chapter 07

Entered: September 19, 2006
Since arriving in Egypt under God's direction to free the Israelites, Moses was still reticent to step forward as God's leader for this task. God assured him again that Aaron would do the speaking, saying whatever God commanded Moses to say. So Moses was obedient. At this point Moses was 80 years old and Aaron 83. The first demonstration of God's power, and thus Moses' authority, was turning Moses' staff into a serpent as God had done for Moses in the desert. But Pharoah's court magicians mimicked this trick through their occult practices. However, Moses' staff swallowed their staffs. The start of the plagues came the following morning when Moses met Pharoah at the river Nile and struck the water with his staff. At that, the water was turned to blood. Again, the magicians of Egypt did the same thing and Pharoah was unimpressed.

Entered: February 29, 2012

Moses was demoralized following his first audience with Pharaoh. Besides Pharoah's refusal to let the Israelites go into the wilderness to worship their God, he increased the oppression against the Israelites. Then the Israelites also turned against Moses. God sent Moses back to talk to the Israelite elders but they refused to listen to him. Moses must have been ready to quit in failure, but all was going according to God's plan, and through these rejections He would eventually be glorified through multiple demonstrations of His power. 

Moses may have been through with this whole venture but God was not. Dealing more sternly with Moses, God commanded him to go back to Pharaoh. In God's instructions to Moses He told him to "declare" to Pharaoh that he was to "let the Israelites go from his land." (7:2) But God also made it clear that "I will harden Pharaoh's heart and multiply My signs and wonders in the land of Egypt. Pharaoh will not listen to you, but I will put My hand on Egypt and bring out the ranks of My people the Israelites, out of the land of Egypt by great acts of judgment." (7:3-4) Did this give Moses confidence to continue his assignment? That seems to be the case for he no longer objected to doing it.

The remainder of chapter 7 gives the account of the first two signs that God performed for Pharoah. With the first sign Aaron threw down his staff and it became a serpent. But Pharaoh was unimpressed, calling his magicians who were able to do the same thing. However, Aaron's staff (serpent) swallowed their staffs (serpents) showing God's superiority over the power behind their magic which was likely Satan. As God had foretold, "Pharaoh's heart hardened, and he did not listen to them, as the LORD had said." (7:13) Each of the signs God performed through Moses and Aaron were aimed at discrediting the gods of the Egyptians. Though this first sign did not discredit a specific belief or god of the Egyptians, it did, as noted, show God's superiority over the powers of the Egyptian magicians.

Following this initial sign God sent Moses and Aaron back to Pharoah to begin the ten signs known as the Ten Plagues. God told them to be waiting for Pharaoh when he took his walk in the morning out to the banks of the Nile River. They were to take with them the staff they had used in their previous visit that had become a snake. They were obedient. Their messages to Pharaoh were becoming more demanding and more explicit about the God who was making the demand. He was the "God of the Hebrews" and Pharaoh was to "Let My People go." (7:16) Before Pharaoh even responded to the demand, God performed His sign before him. Through Aaron He said, "Here is how you will know that I am the LORD. Watch. I will strike the water in the Nile with the staff in my hand, and it will turn to blood. The fish in the Nile will die, the river will stink, and the Egyptians will be unable to drink water from it." (7:17-18)

Aaron did as he was told and in the sight of Pharaoh and his officials raised his staff and struck the waters of the Nile. Immediately the waters of the Nile turned to blood killing the fish and raising a huge stink. The Egyptians were unable to drink the water. However, Pharaoh's magicians did the same thing "by their occult practices." (7:22) Since the Nile was already blood they evidently used another water source. Again, Pharaoh's heart was hardened and "he would not listen to them." (7:22) A reader's initial thoughts in reading this account might be that God was in a battle to prove Himself superior and at this point running neck and neck with the magicians. That was not the case at all. God was doing battle alright but He was in control from beginning to end. He knew the capabilities of the magicians and intentionally drew them out to show Himself to be more powerful than any of the gods or occult pratices of the Egyptians.