Category Archives: Exodus
Several times during the great plagues of judgment (7:4) in Exodus chapters 7-11, Pharaoh seems to have repented. He sort of repents.
For example, a vivid example is recorded during the plague of hail in Exodus 9:27-35. This was the worst hail storm in the history of Egypt (18). This is the first plague in which it is said that people will die (19). It is also the first indication given that some of the Egyptians feared the LORD and heeded the warning of the promised suffering (20).
And it appeared to bring about the desired result of causing Pharaoh to let the LORD God’s people go. For Pharaoh said to Moses and Aaron (27), “I have sinned this time; the LORD is the righteous one, and I and my people are the wicked ones.”
You likely know the rest of the story, but for a moment, pretend that you don’t. Play along and consider what you would do if that statement was uttered to you. Or what if it was said on Sunday morning by someone who was not a follower (Christian) of Christ? Or what if it was declared at church camp? What would you do with this person’s profession?
I suspect many of us, myself included, might be happy to say a disaster had been averted. We would praise the LORD. We would announce it on Twitter. We would get the baptismal waters ready. We would count it a victory, declaring: “Another one won for the Kingdom.”
And we would be wrong, at least as it relates to Pharaoh.
You see, to begin with, the hard heart is in the details of Pharaoh’s words. For from the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks (Luke 6:45). In 9:27, Pharaoh proclaims he has sinned “this time”. Just this time, Pharaoh? Now if we have read the text, we have to at least wonder about whether he had sinned the previous six times. And what about the rest of his life for that matter? He qualifies his sin. He tries to spin the scope of his sin.
But we also notice from the inspired word of God that Moses saw through to Pharaoh and his hard heart, saying in verse 30: “I know that you do not fear the LORD God.” And the proof that Moses was right was that just as he had done before, as soon as the pain of the plague receded, as soon as life was back to normal, Pharaoh’s hardened heart was exposed and he once again returned to all-out resistance warfare against the LORD God and His promises and people (34-35). Hardship and emotions may produce some semblance of repentance, but time will tell the truth.
Look, I get it. We want to see people escape the wrath that is to come. We want people to be saved. We want people to be on our side. We want to avoid the conflict with people that is produced by sin and rebellion.
But we better be careful not to declare too quickly that “sort of repentance” is real repentance. It isn’t. All-out-repentance is the only acceptable repentance for an all-mighty God who is all-out holy.
As was true for Pharaoh, you will know them by their fruit (Galatians 5:22-23); the fruit of their words (9:27 and 10:17) and what they do when life goes back to normal.
Sort of repentance is not repentance.
This past Sunday I noted the prominent role women played in the deliverance of God’s people in Exodus chapters one and two. I made the statement that the Bible raises women up by telling their stories and showing them to be heroes whom God used to fulfill His promises to the nation of Israel (Genesis 12:1-3; Genesis 15:1-7 and 13-16; Genesis 17:1-8; Genesis 35:9-12; Genesis 46:1-4 and 50:24).
Here are several examples of how the Spirit inspired God’s word to prominently and winsomely portray women as a part of God’s providential deliverance.
- (1:15) Pharaoh, the most powerful human in this story is left unnamed, while two Hebrew midwives are named – Shiprhrah (Beautiful One) and Puah (Splendid One). The naming indicates who is truly important and powerful in God’s sight.
- (1:10 and 17) Pharaoh acts out of fear because of the multiplying Israelites, but the Hebrew midwives act to disobey a direct command from Pharaoh because of their fear of God. In their fear they demonstrated real courage.
- (1:19) When Pharaoh confronts these women about their disobedience, they give Pharaoh the runaround, and Pharaoh does not execute them, indicating they were favored by God.
- (1:20-21) The writer of Exodus says God was good to the midwives and blessed the people because of the midwives fear of God. And because of their fear of God, He blessed the midwives with households.
- (2:1-3) Moses’ mother – and notice it does not mention his father as a part of the plan to hide Moses – hides Moses for three months and then entrusts him to God by putting him in the Nile in a mini-ark (Gen. 6:14).
- (2:4, 7) Moses’ sister (likely Miriam – Numbers 26:59), watched Moses from a distance and boldly suggested to Pharaoh’s daughter that she could find a Hebrew to nurse the Hebrew child Pharaoh’s daughter compassionately rescued. Miriam exhibited courage to interject with such an idea when the Hebrews were not favored in the land of Egypt.
- (2:8-9) Pharaoh’s daughter agrees and Miriam finds Jochebed, Moses’ mother (Exodus 6:20), who gets paid to nurse her own child that she released to God in the Nile. I suspect this helped Moses retain some of his Hebrew identity while being brought into the house of Pharaoh.
- (2:10) Pharaoh’s daughter brings into the house of Pharaoh the very deliverer (Moses) that the Pharaoh feared would cause the Israelites to depart Egypt.
- (2:10) Pharaoh’s daughter names the Hebrew child Moses “because I drew him out of the water.”
Pharaoh sought to control the Hebrews by oppression and stunt their growth as a nation by murdering their sons, but God used Pharaoh’s daughter to draw Moses of the water so God could use Moses to draw His people out of Egypt and redeem them.
Women are portrayed as very important and powerful in the first two chapters of Exodus.
As I have begun to study through Exodus, I have noticed with the help of commentators, more than a few ironies or reversals. Here are elevn from the first two chapters.
- The LORD God uses the weak and seemingly powerless to overthrow the strong and mighty. For example, in Exodus it is the “daughters” that Pharaoh chose not to kill (Exodus 1:16 and 22), but as it turned out, it was daughters who were his downfall.
- The Pharaoh who targeted the sons of Israel (1:15-22) brought about the death of Egypt’s firstborn sons (11:4-6).
- Pharaoh’s house decreed destruction, but it was Pharaoh’s house who sheltered and raised the deliverer, Moses (2:1-10).
- Moses is drawn out of the dangerous water of the Nile (2:10) by Pharaoh’s daughter, and it is Moses who becomes the one who leads God’s people through the water of the Red Sea to safety.
- In fleeing to Midian (2:15), Moses fled from the children of Abraham to another branch of Abraham’s family (Gen. 25:1-2). Also this may explain Jethro’s inclination to worship the One true God.
- Pharaoh wants to prevent Israel from rebelling and leaving (1:10), yet it is his fearful and aggressive actions that God uses to fulfill His promise of departure (Exodus) from Egypt.
- By keeping the Israelites in bondage, he actually helped make them a great nation (1:12).
- The more Pharaoh tried to thwart God’s plan, the more Pharaoh failed and God’s purpose thrived.
- God saved the child Moses so that He could save His children the Israelites.
- Moses tried to deliver some Israelites from the Egyptians his way (2:12-14), but he was rejected and fled for fear of his life. Moses stepped aside into 40 years of banishment and God took center stage in response to the desperation of His people (2:23-25).
- Moses tried to deliver the Hebrews in Egypt but ended up in Midian. In Midian he delivered Jethro’s daughters and found a home (2:16-22).
In John 15:1 Jesus proclaims about Himself: “I Am the True Vine…”
From Old Testament passages Isaiah 5:1-7, Jeremiah 2:21 and Hosea 10:1-2, we learn that Israel was also called God’s vine. God planted Israel and cared for them in every way and yet they acted like the nations and became a “degenerate shoot.”
Jesus, according to John, sees Himself as the true, better and perfect Vine. With reference to Jesus, this kind of Christologic, fulfillment typology runs throughout the Bible.
In Exodus 4:22 Moses is to tell Pharaoh on behalf of God that “Israel is My Son, My firstborn Son.” Biblical scholar, J.A. Motyer, points out that this is where Matthew’s gospel account begins in showing that Jesus is the “Son of David, son of Abraham” (1:1), “my Son, whom I love; with Him I am well pleased.” (3:17)
As noted by Motyer, Matthew doesn’t stop in the first chapter His gospel with the comparisons between Israel in Exodus and Jesus the Son. Consider these similarities:
- Jesus, like Israel, was “threatened by the contemporary political authorities , and, like the, he even made the journey into Egypt (Matt. 2:13-15).”
- Like Israel, Jesus also faced adversity and satanic opposition (Matt. 4:1-11).
- Just as Israel left Egypt and came to the Red Sea in Exodus 14, so Jesus returns from exile in Egypt and then comes to the Jordan River to be baptized (Matt. 2:23; 3:1).
- Just as Israel emerged from the Red Sea to go into the wilderness (Exodus 15:22), so Jesus went through the waters of baptism into the wilderness of temptation (Matt. 4:1).
- Israel experienced an absence of water and food in the wilderness (Exodus 15:23 and 16:3), so did Jesus during His temptation (Matt. 4:1-4).
- Unlike Israel when they put the LORD God to the test (Exodus 17:2), Jesus refused to do this in His second temptation (Matt. 4:7).
Note: Jesus is like Israel, but is the better and perfect Son.
- Israel came to Mount Sinai (Exodus 19) where they turned to idol worship (Exodus 32:1-6), but Jesus, who was tempted from a very high mountain with all the kingdoms of the earth, proclaimed that there is only one God worthy of worship (Matt. 4:8-10).
Motyer concludes after this short juxtaposition: “In other words, Exodus is the story of the son of God who stands in need of salvation, failing at every point of life and even of privilege; Matthew tells of the Son of God who brings salvation (Matt. 1:21), perfect and righteous at every point and in every circumstance and test.”
Coupled with Matthew, Exodus reminds us that the life of Jesus is the turning point of history. Others walked where Jesus walked, but no one walked the earth like Jesus Christ. He is everything that Israel was meant to be. He is the true, better and perfect vine that is Israel. John and Matthew saw this vividly. We would do well to see it too.