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Israel Brought Out; Egypt Judged
The LORD sends Moses and Aaron with His ultimatum to Pharaoh. The fact that the LORD has made Moses as “God” to Pharaoh means that Moses, God’s representative, must act as a judge against Pharaoh. Judges are also called ‘gods’ (Psa 82:6; Jn 10:34).
The LORD tells Moses what He purposed to do. Moses, in turn, must say it to Aaron, for Aaron is his “prophet”, that is, he is the mouthpiece of Moses. God informs His servants to encourage them, strengthen their faith and prepare them for their task. To this end, the book of Revelation has been given to us, Christians. It is given “to show to His bond-servants, the things which must soon take place” (Rev 1:1).
The LORD speaks to the encouragement of Moses about “My signs and My wonders” which He will multiply in the land of Egypt. What for Egypt are “evil things”, are signs and miracles for God’s people that indicate that their salvation is near. This is also the case for the Christian who sees how the plagues of the book of Revelation are already getting a kind of pre-fulfillment in our days. From this we can see that the coming of the Lord is near.
God could have allowed Israel to leave without the plagues. He could have killed Pharaoh without a doubt. But He wants to show through a clear testimony of His glory and majesty Who He is Who calls His people.
A beautiful description of this can be found in Psalm 105:
“He sent Moses His servant,
[And] Aaron, whom He had chosen.
They performed His wondrous acts among them,
And miracles in the land of Ham.
He sent darkness and made [it] dark;
And they did not rebel against His words.
He turned their waters into blood
And caused their fish to die.
Their land swarmed with frogs
[Even] in the chambers of their kings.
He spoke, and there came a swarm of flies
[And] gnats in all their territory.
He gave them hail for rain,
[And] flaming fire in their land.
He struck down their vines also and their fig trees,
And shattered the trees of their territory.
He spoke, and locusts came,
And young locusts, even without number,
And ate up all vegetation in their land,
And ate up the fruit of their ground.
He also struck down all the firstborn in their land,
The first fruits of all their vigor.” (Psa 105:26-36)
A Miracle for Pharaoh
Before the plagues occur, the miracle that Pharaoh asks, gives him as it were a last chance to meet God’s demand. But he doesn’t listen. On the contrary, he wants to destroy the power of the miracle by letting his magicians imitate it. Imitating something that comes from God has always been a success story of satan. Many have already been misled and are still being misled every day.
The turning of the staff into a serpent is an introduction to the plagues. This time it is the staff of Aaron which causes this sign for Pharaoh. First it was the staff of Moses, and he used it for the people (Exo 4:1-5). Because the staff of Aaron is now being used, the sign has a slightly different meaning. The staff of Aaron will sprout (Num 17:8). This is why the power of life from the dead, the power of the resurrection, is attached to his staff.
Aaron is a picture of the Lord Jesus as the risen Lord. Aaron comes to Pharaoh as the one in whose hand the staff is. He has, as it were, been given the staff that has returned in the hand of Moses and is now exercising his authority. We see with the Lord Jesus that after His resurrection He says that to Him has been given “all authority … in heaven and on earth” (Mt 28:18).
We do not yet see this in reality, but we do see it by faith (Heb 2:8-9). When we look at the world, it seems as if the devil is in control. However, that is in appearance only. The authority is in the hands of the Lord Jesus and He gives it to whom He will (Rom 13:1; Pro 21:1; Dan 2:21a). He is above all authorities and eventually devours all authorities. This introduction to the plagues shows us at the same time the outcome of the plagues: God is victorious, He destroys all opposition.
Paul mentions the names of the magicians of Pharaoh. He points to these magicians, because in the lives of certain nominal Christians the same corrupt traits of character are revealed as in these magicians: “Just as Jannes and Jambres opposed Moses, so these [men] also oppose the truth, men of depraved mind, rejected in regard to the faith” (2Tim 3:8). These are people who discredit the Christian faith, of whom Paul says to Timothy: “Holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power” (2Tim 3:5).
The plagues affect Egypt, which represents the world. By mentioning the magicians in 2 Timothy 3 we see that the plagues also relate to professing Christianity. This is because professing Christendom is linked with the world. In this way, professing Christianity shares in the judgment that God makes to come on the world. This is why the call comes to the true Christian: “Everyone who names the name of the Lord is to abstain from wickedness” (2Tim 2:19b; cf. Rev 18:4).
We live “in the last days” (2Tim 3:1). These are the days in which the magicians of Pharaoh with their magic try to explain away the power of God’s Word. At this stage there is no distinction between Israel and Egypt (Exo 8:22), between the world and God’s people. That is why we also have to deal with it.
Announcement of the First Plague
Before looking at the individual plagues, first a general introduction to the plagues. The first nine plagues can be divided into three groups of three plagues. The tenth plague stands alone. At the first, fourth, and seventh plague, Moses must go to Pharaoh early in the morning (Exo 7:15; Exo 8:20; Exo 9:13). This refers every time to a new beginning. The third, sixth and ninth plagues come each without prior warning.
The plagues 1-3 come all three from the earth and happen by the staff of Aaron. The plague is affecting the Egyptians as well as the people of Israel. In these first three plagues the Egyptian magicians play a role. They try to imitate the plagues of God. As said, because of the mention of these magicians in 2 Timothy 3, especially these plagues have a special message for us, who live in the last days of Christianity.
The plagues 4-6 happen without mentioning the staff of Moses or the staff of Aaron. Also their origin – from heaven or from earth – is not mentioned. It simply says that the LORD does it (Exo 8:24; Exo 9:6). With the sixth plague, Moses is the executor. He scatters ash from the oven into the air. Israel remains free from these plagues (Exo 8:22). Egyptian magicians cannot imitate these plagues.
The plagues 7-9 do not affect Israel either. They come directly from heaven over Egypt and are executed by the staff of Moses.
Almost all of the plagues we find here we find in Revelation also. We find therein “the hour of testing, that [hour] which is about to come upon the whole world” (Rev 3:10), not only upon Israel (Jer 30:7). In Revelation 16 it says that these are the plagues of God and especially also about professing Christianity (Rev 16:9). In the seven bowls in Revelation 16, many of the plagues that stroke Egypt are found.
We now continue to follow the reports of the plagues. Moses is given the task to go to Pharaoh in the morning with the message to let God’s people go to serve Him in the wilderness (Exo 7:16). God now claims the right to His people. He wants them to serve Him and not Pharaoh. Pharaoh wants it the other way around: he wants the people to serve him and not God.
The LORD lets Moses announce the first plague because of the unrelenting heart of Pharaoh. Therefore Moses must take the staff of Aaron, the staff that has been turned into a serpent, and strike the water of the Nile with it. The water of the Nile will then turn into blood and become undrinkable (cf. Rev 16:3-4).
The Nile is the idol of the Egyptians. From it they derive all their wealth. The fish of the Nile serves as food (Num 11:5a). The plague will kill the fish and turn their source of wealth into a stinking river. If God is kept out of the blessing we enjoy, it can just happen that the blessing turns into a curse and that life (water) turns into death (blood). It is God’s purpose by this that man should acknowledge that He speaks, just as Pharaoh will know from this judgment of the LORD that He is the LORD.
The First Plague: Water Becomes Blood
Moses and Aaron do just as God has said. Aaron stretches his staff not only over the Nile, but over the waters of Egypt. The Nile is mentioned separately from the waters as a target of the plague. The Nile is worshiped by the Egyptians under a wide variety of names. It represents all that is good. God destroys this great power on which the Egyptians rely. He strikes them in what gives them pleasure and prosperity. The fish die, the Nile starts to stink, and the water is no longer drinkable.
Water speaks of what invigorates and gives life. Blood that has been shed speaks of death. In God’s Word, the Nile stands for earthly blessings that are enjoyed without thanks to God in any way. Enjoying all kinds of blessings in this way can only lead to death, because everything that is apart from God is dead and works death.
Life on earth can give opportunity “to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin” (Heb 11:25), but its end is death. Its stench fills the air. In today’s society, we are increasingly observing its forerunners. Man wallows in prosperity and perishes in it. The depravity of his thinking is taking on ever coarser proportions. What man thinks up is becoming more and more repulsive.
The magicians can imitate what Moses did, but they cannot take away the ailment. They only make the plague worse. It can be seen in politics and in society where excuses are always sought for the follies that man commits. The solutions that are offered only make the ailment worse. For example, pregnancy is a blessing from God, but it is not considered that way in the corrupt thinking of man who wants to be independent of God. Man wants to be able to intervene, both in the ‘making’ of life through, for example, test tube fertilization and in the removal of what is not desired through abortion. The result is repulsive to all who love God.
The plague lasts for “seven days”, which means a fullness of time determined by God. Of any reaction of Pharaoh, we read nothing.
Kingcomments on the Whole Bible © 2021 Author: G. de Koning. All rights reserved. Used with the permission of the author
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de Koning, Ger. Commentaar op Exodus 7". "Kingcomments on the Whole Bible". https://studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 21 / Ordinary 26