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And the Lord said unto Moses, See, I have made thee a god to Pharaoh: and Aaron thy brother shall be thy prophet. Thou shalt speak all that I command thee: and Aaron thy brother shall speak unto Pharaoh, that he send the children of Israel out of his land. And I will harden Pharaoh's heart, and multiply my signs and my wonders in the land of Egypt ( Exodus 7:1-2 ).
Now it is important that we point out to you at this point that we are going to be reading now, here God says, "I'm gonna harden the heart of Pharaoh." On cases we're gonna read, "And God hardened the heart of Pharaoh." Then God cracks his skull for having a hard heart. Now is that fair that God would harden a man's heart, and harden a man's heart and then wipe him out because he has a hard heart? So if we don't understand a little bit of the Hebrew language, we could come into real difficulty here in the understanding of God and the ways of God. Is God really fair?
Now to me that would be very unfair to harden a guy's heart, and then to whip him because he has a hard heart. There are two Hebrew words that are employed now in our text, but they are both translated "hardened". As we go through, you're gonna read in the text where "Pharaoh hardened his heart", and then where "God hardened the heart of Pharaoh". But there are two different Hebrew words employed. It's important that you know that. Because this word here in verse four, three, literally means "will make stiff" or "stiffen the heart of Pharaoh," where the other Hebrew word means "hardened" in the sense of hardened as we think of it. So Pharaoh hardened his heart, and God strengthened Pharaoh in that position.
Now God will let you set your course. Oftentimes He'll strengthen you in that course that you have set. This He did with Pharaoh. Pharaoh hardened his heart against God. God strengthened his position. "All right, you want to harden your heart against Me? All right, I'll strengthen your position, in order that I might magnify My power throughout the whole earth." But Pharaoh had that free choice to begin with. He exercised that choice in hardening his heart against God, and then God firmed up his decision.
It's a tragic thing when God firms up our decisions. Many times, unless the decision is the right decision, and then it's great that God firms up our decision. But God so often works this way, making firm your decision. That's a blessing to me, because I was so weak when I first made my right decisions for the Lord, but the Lord strengthened my decision. God made me strong in my position. God, in a sense, hardened my heart; that is, He made strong or stiffened the position that I made in committing my life to Him, strengthened my resolve. Even as God will strengthen yours as you submit your life to Him, He'll give you that strength for commitment. But if you exercise your will against God, and if you harden your heart against God, then it would be a tragic thing for God to stiffen you in that position. But that's what He did for the Pharaoh. Pharaoh hardened his heart. God made stiff, or strengthened the position that Pharaoh had taken.
But Pharaoh shall not hearken unto you, that I may lay my hand upon Egypt, and bring forth mine armies, and my people the children of Israel, out of the land of Egypt by great judgments ( Exodus 7:4 ).
Now you see God is speaking by foreknowledge. He knew what Pharaoh was going to do. He knew the decision that Pharaoh was going to make. God strengthened the Pharaoh in his position. Actually it would almost have to because of all this guy went through, and still he is saying, "No, you can't go". Man, he had to be the most stubborn, foolish person in history. Allowed Egypt to be wiped out because God stiffened his heart, made it strong in the position he has taken against God, and against the people of God.
But God knew that the Pharaoh wasn't gonna let them go. But that's just foreknowledge. You can't blame God for that; you can't fault God for that. If He knows what's gonna happen you can't say, "Oh well, God isn't fair because He knows what's gonna happen. He can't help it. He knows it. He's just God. So God deals from this advantage of foreknowledge, but it would be stupid to have foreknowledge and not to use it to your advantage.
Think of what you could do if you had foreknowledge like God has. Now if you went to the racetrack and you had foreknowledge of which horse is gonna win, wouldn't it be sort of stupid to bet on the losing horse? That's dumb. If you had the foreknowledge of knowing which horse is gonna win, you're naturally gonna bet on the winning horse. Now God having foreknowledge, knowing who's gonna win, wouldn't it be sort of foolish for God to invest in the losers? Of course it would. You can't blame God because He knows in advance what it's gonna be. The beautiful thing to me is that God has invested in me. He's invested in you. What does it mean? It means you're a winner. The fact that God is working in your life, He knows what He has planned for you, and it means you're on the winning side. God has chosen you. That shouldn't scare you; that should cause your heart to rejoice.
So here with the Pharaoh, God knew what he was gonna-He said, "He's gonna harden. He's not gonna listen to you. He's not gonna hearken to what you have to say, in order that I might really lay My hand upon them and bring My people out.
And the Egyptians shall know [This is the purpose, in order that the Egyptians, and later on that all the world may know, but that the Egyptians may know,] that I am the Lord, when I stretch forth my hand upon Egypt, and bring out the children of Israel from among you. And Moses and Aaron did as the Lord had commanded them, and so they did. And Moses was eighty years old, and Aaron was eighty-three years old, [so Moses was the kid brother] when they spake unto Pharaoh. And the Lord spake unto Moses and unto Aaron, saying, When Pharaoh shall speak unto you, saying, Show a miracle for you: then thou shalt say unto Aaron, Take thy rod, and cast it before Pharaoh, and it will become a serpent ( Exodus 7:5-9 ).
So when you're standing before Pharaoh and he says, "Oh then show me a miracle", just have Aaron throw the rod down and it'll become a serpent.
So Moses and Aaron went in unto Pharaoh, and they did so as the Lord had commanded: and Aaron cast his rod before Pharaoh, and his servants, and it became a serpent. Then Pharaoh also called the wise men and the sorcerers: now the magicians of Egypt, they also did in like manner with their enchantments. For they cast down every man his rod, and they became serpents: [but God got the best of it for,] Aaron's rod swallowed up the other rods. And he hardened Pharaoh's heart, that he hearkened not unto them; as the Lord had said ( Exodus 7:10-13 ).
Now it is interesting to me that the magicians of Pharaoh were able to duplicate the feat of Aaron and Moses. There are powers of darkness that are able to counterfeit the work of God. Satan is a great counterfeiter. Just because a particular situation has sort of an aura of, miraculous; I can't understand it, does not ensure that that is actually a legitimate work of God. Satan is able to counterfeit much of God's work, and often does counterfeit much of God's work. One of the things that is to mark the Antichrist is the tremendous ability that he'll have to work miracles and signs and wonders in the eyes of the people. He'll be able to do miraculous feats.
Now we are told concerning Satan that he is able to transform himself into an "angel of light" in order to deceive ( 2 Corinthians 11:14 ). He is able to counterfeit the work of God in order to deceive people. Now because Satan is able to counterfeit the work of God, should we then just say, "Well, I want nothing to do with miracles because Satan can counterfeit miracles." Notice that a counterfeit never disproves the genuine, but only the opposite. You cannot have a counterfeit unless there is a genuine. It's got to be a counterfeit of something; it's a counterfeit of the genuine article. The counterfeit then never disproves the genuine, only affirms the genuine to exist.
So if people tell you, "Well, there are counterfeit gifts." Yes, that is no doubt true. But that doesn't disprove the genuine gifts of God; it only affirms the genuine gifts of God. "But how do I know whether I'm gonna get a counterfeit gift or a genuine gift from God?" Well, if that is a concern to you, then you first of all need to just get your relationship with God right and your concepts of God right. For if you think when you have your heart open to God, and you're really seeking God with all your heart, He's gonna lay some counterfeit gift on you, then you do not know nor are you serving the same God that I know and serve.
You think that your Father is going to give you a stone when you ask for bread? "Lord I'm hungry I need a fish." "Well here try this scorpion on." What kind of a Father is that? That's not my loving, heavenly Father. Even so if I come to Him with an open heart and say, "Oh God I need You and I desire Your fullness in my life." It would be blasphemous to think that God would allow Satan to move in with some kind of a counterfeit experience when my heart is genuinely, sincerely open to God. What kind of a Father would He be? So Jesus said, "How much more will Your Father give the Holy Spirit to those that ask of Him"( Luke 11:13 ). Oh your blessed, loving Father will give you the genuine; you'll never need to worry about that. He would never allow anything else.
We are aware that counterfeit does exist. We are aware that there is power in those areas of darkness. They're able to perform magical feats and miraculous feats that we cannot understand or explain. They were able to throw down their rods and they became serpents too. Thus, when you get into books of magic, which you should never do, you'll find that the deeper you get involved in those kind of books, the more they have-the book of Moses, and the book of the magic of Egypt, and so forth. Because they definitely were tuned into the counterfeit world of darkness and were able to perform uncanny feats through the works of Satan, the counterfeit of the work of God.
"And they cast down every man his rod: and they became serpents: Aaron's rod swallowed up their rods."
And he hardened [or made stiff] Pharaoh's heart that he hearkened not to them as the Lord had said that he wouldn't. The Lord said unto Moses, Pharaoh's heart is hardened, he refuses to let the people go. Get thee unto Pharaoh in the morning; lo, he is going out unto the water; and thou shalt stand by the river's brink where he's coming; and the rod which was turned into a serpent take it in your hand. And thou shalt say unto him, The Lord God of the Hebrews hath sent me unto thee, saying, Let my people go, that they may serve me in the wilderness: and, behold, hitherto you would not let them or hear. Thus saith the Lord, In this thou shalt know that I am the Lord: behold, I will smite with a rod that is in my hand upon the waters which are in the river, and they shall be turned to blood ( Exodus 7:13-16 ).
Now you remember when Moses first went before Pharaoh and said, "The Lord has sent me to tell you to let His people go." He said, "Who is the Lord? I don't know Him." Well, the purpose of this whole little episode here is that he might get acquainted with Him and find out who He is. So Moses said, verse seventeen,
In this thou shalt know that I am the Lord: ["You want to know who I am? You'll find out. Behold, I'll smite with a rod that is in my hand on the waters in the river, they'll be turned to blood."] And the fish that are in the river shall die, and the river shall stink; and the Egyptians shall loathe to drink of the water of the river. And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying, Say to Aaron, Take thy rod, and stretch out thine hand upon the waters of Egypt, upon their streams, upon their rivers, and upon their ponds, and upon all their pools of water, that they may become blood; and that there may be blood throughout all the land of Egypt, both in the vessels of wood, and in the vessels of stone. And Moses and Aaron did so, as the Lord commanded; and he lifted up the rod, and smote the waters that were in the river, in the sight of Pharaoh, and in the sight of the servants; and all of the waters that were in the river were turned to blood. And the fish that were in the river died; and the river stank, and the Egyptians could not drink of the water of the river; for there was blood throughout all the land of Egypt. And the magicians of Egypt did so with their enchantments ( Exodus 7:17-22 ),
Again we find here a counterfeit once more. But you know, they're sort of dumb. I mean what does that help the Pharaoh? They're adding to the plagues now. It would be better if they would smite them and turn them back to pure water rather than going around and further polluting the water systems.
And Pharaoh turned and went into his house, neither did he set his heart to this also. And the Egyptians digged around about the river for water to drink; for they could not drink of the water of the river. And seven days were fulfilled, after that the Lord had smitten the river ( Exodus 7:23-25 ).
Now there is a book called "Worlds in Collision", written by Immanuel Velikovsky, in which he tries to give an explanation for the waters turning to blood, as a near approach to the planet Venus. He has a very interesting book. He has a lot of conjecture in it. The methods by which God did these things, we are not told. I prefer to just think it was miraculous and let it go at that. I have no problems with God working miracles. He's, you know, He's able to do many things. If He can turn water to wine, surely He could turn water to blood. Thus this doesn't-I don't need to help God out in my own concepts of God, because He's great enough to do any of these things. In fact, it'd be nothing at all. "
Copyright © 2014, Calvary Chapel of Costa Mesa, Ca.
Smith, Charles Ward. "Commentary on Exodus 7". "Smith's Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/
the First Week of Advent