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Exodus 7:1. I have made thee a god. אלהים Elohim. The Chaldaic renders it תחי ליה לרב Thou shalt be to him for a prince. The divine sense of the word is, I have invested thee with Godlike powers to save and to destroy; yea, in the ten plagues about to follow, to move nature at thy command. The title of Elohim is in several places given to supreme magistrates; and Moses on this occasion was God’s vicegerent.
Exodus 7:3. I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, or allow him to remain in full revolt, that the nation may know my name in all the chastenings of my rod. We have had painful disputes about the doctrines of grace. Tirinus, the jesuit, has a rough note here. “Not harden his heart by willing, intending, or acting, much less by impelling or compelling, as Calvin impiously blasphemes, and other heretics of our own age; but only indirectly causing, and not hindering him. Here Pharaoh was less wicked than Calvin, who ascribes the evils, not to God, but to himself, saying to Moses and Aaron, I have sinned against the Lord, and against you.”
Exodus 10:16. Such was the harsh language of divines in those uncouth and darker times. Vide Calv. in Exodus 4:21.
Exodus 7:12. And they became serpents. Josephus says, that they had but the appearance of serpents. Among those magicians who withstood Moses, it would seem, were Jannes and Jambres, 2 Timothy 3:8. They were prompted by the worst of motives to mimic the miracles of Moses.
Exodus 7:13. He hardened Pharaoh’s heart. At the twenty second verse of this chapter the same words are translated, And Pharaoh’s heart was hardened, or stout.
Exodus 7:17. Thou shalt know that I am the Lord. Pharaoh had stained the waters with the blood of infants, now they are changed into blood for his punishment. He had proudly said, Who is the Lord that I should obey him? Now the Lord acquaints him with his name by his judgments.
Exodus 7:19. Stretch out thy hand upon the waters that they may become blood. In those waters they drowned the male children of the Hebrews, and now they must drink of the bloody streams and pools!
Exodus 7:22 . The Magicians of Egypt did so. They sunk wells for water, as in Exodus 7:24, and by some trick changed the colour of the water. But the Lord’s miracle continued seven days, till it destroyed the fish and became offensive, giving admonition to the people and time for sober inquiry.
Moses and Aaron, addressing Pharaoh in a divine mission, produced the seal of divine works. The rod was changed to a serpent to inspire the people with terror, and the waters were changed to blood to remind them of their sin. So God will still counsel and aid his servants; he will enable them, in the course of their meditations and preaching, to acquire proper ideas and language, to impress and strike with awe the unbelieving crowd; and their ministry shall be attended with an unction to prove that they are sent of God.
In Pharaoh’s suspicion, that these miracles were the effect of magic, we have an awful instance of the nature and consequences of unbelief. Awful still is the state of that man who by books, vice and bad company, has at length established his heart in the sentiments of infidelity. He allows in general that there is a God, but denies that he has any intercourse with mortals, either by revelation or any particular providence. Whatever calamities befal him, there is not the least connection between his sufferings and his sins. His sickness proceeded from a cold, the fall from his horse was occasioned by an accident, and the aspersions of his character resulted from the malice of his enemies. These calamities are all common to the best of men. So God who made the world has no share in its government; chance, luck and accident, are the only gods which trouble the wicked. Alas, alas! This poor man, with all his superiority of views above the vulgar, is completely blind to this grand point, that the same fire of affliction about to consume his flesh, and plunge his soul in the abyss, will elevate the purified soul of a saint, as in the chariot of Elijah, to the empire of everlasting repose.
The magicians, instead of investigating these prodigies with a philosophical scrutiny, and with proper deference to so divine a stroke, accommodated themselves to the passion of the king, and confirmed the obduracy of his heart.
The higher shepherds also, the accommodating pastors of the christian church, have acted a part not less injurious to the cause of religion. Men in the higher walks of life fix their eyes on these dignitaries; they are almost the only books in which they study christianity. And where do they see a God-like zeal for the conversion of the age? Thank God the poor have pastors; but where do they see ministers, whose duty it peculiarly is in a time of general distress, making every effort to reform and convert the rich, the great, the multitudes who dash away in the circles of gaiety and dissipation. Where are the men animated with the spirit of the Hebrew prophets, labouring with all their might, and ready to wear out life in efforts to save their country from the sure ruin attendant on the prevalence of vice? The eyes of the world are fixed on these pastors, and they see no divine zeal, no self-denial, no fervent charity, nor energy of soul which should distinguish the first servants of God. On the contrary, they see an accommodating spirit, the more decent vices flattered, and self-interest pursued. And the most dissipated sinners having yet a conscience, having yet reflection, and seeing those pastors captivated with passions similar to their own, first despise the minister, next the ministry, and at length revelation is discarded, as productive of imposture and hypocrisy. Oh that God would aid us by his power, and clothe his faithful servants with glory and salvation.
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Sutcliffe, Joseph. "Commentary on Exodus 7". Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments. https://studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 21 / Ordinary 26