Introduction: We pause this week from our in-depth study of the plagues to consider the relationship between Pharaoh and Moses, which has been a subplot throughout all the plagues. Yes, Pharaoh’s rebellion is against the one true God, ever since this king of Egypt arrogantly declared, “Who is the LORD, that I should obey Him” (Ex. 5:2)? But underlying this has been Pharaoh’s painful, abusive treatment of God’s messenger Moses, resulting ultimately in Pharaoh’s banishment of Moses in Ex. 10:28-29. In this week’s notes, then, may God Himself teach us the sweetness of communion with Him when the world forsakes us, like it did Moses.
Monday: read Exodus 5:1-9; 10:7-11 & 10:28-29. The expulsion in Ex. 10:28-29 is not the first time Pharaoh abused Moses or hardened his heart towards Israel. The earlier verses above remind us of his tyrannical anger. Were it not for God’s power, by which He awed Pharaoh into viewing Moses as “God-like” (Ex. 7:1), the king of Egypt would have long ago destroyed Moses and every witness in Egypt to the one true God. How thankful we should be, therefore, for God’s restraining hand over the wickedness of men! God allowed Pharaoh’s wrath to expel Moses only when the time had fully come for the Exodus from Egypt to begin! Only that sin which God could use for the deliverance of His people was Pharaoh permitted to act out! As Psalm 76:10 (NKJV) puts it: Surely the wrath of man shall praise You; With the remainder of wrath You shall gird Yourself.
Meditate and Pray: Thank God that He never allowed Pharaoh to have his way in carrying out all his evil desires against Moses and Israel. Praise be to God the restrainer of wicked men! Even the timing of Pharaoh’s sin was perfectly used by God. Sing of God’s sovereign, glorious over-ruling of the wrath of men like Pharaoh in hymn # 95 in our Trinity hymnal:
|Though troubles assail us and dangers affright,
Though friends should all fail us and foes all unite,
Yet one thing secures us, whatever betide,
The promise assures us, “The Lord will provide.”
When Satan assails us to stop up our path,
|No strength of our own and no goodness we claim;
Yet, since we have known of the Savior’s great Name,
In this our strong tower for safety we hide:
The Lord is our power, “The Lord will provide.”
Tuesday: read Exodus 10:27-29 & 11:3; Acts 7:22 and Hebrews 11:24-26. Exodus 10 closes with Moses expelled from the court in which he had been raised in the wisdom and favor of the Egyptians. What a crisis of career, family and all worldly hopes to be banished from the court of the mighty nation which had educated you (Acts 7:22), adopted you, and hailed you as “highly regarded by all government officials and by the people” (Ex. 11:3)! It was a lot for Moses to turn his back on and walk away from! But this is precisely what Moses did as he turned and left Pharaoh to prepare to leave Egypt once and for all. What could enable Moses to forsake all the power and fame which the world and Egypt had to offer, and simply walk away from the court of Pharaoh… rejected? Ah, Hebrews 11:26 has our first answer.
Meditate and Pray: Thank God that, in the words of Hebrews 11:26, faith has its own reward. “Moses by faith regarded disgrace for the sake of Christ as of greater value … because he was looking ahead to his reward.” He knew that God would provide the eternally valuable blessings which he needed. He didn’t need Pharaoh’s or Egypt’s favor. He had the reward of faith! Thank God that He makes Himself to be the “Great Provider,” the Reward for our faith and the great compensation for all the losses we sustain in this world! In the words of hymn # 95, verse 3:
When Satan assails us to stop up our path,
And courage all fails us, we triumph by faith.
He cannot take from us, though oft he has tried,
This heart cheering promise, “The Lord will provide.”
Wednesday: read Exodus 10:27-11:3; Acts 7:22; Hebrews 11:26 and Genesis 15:1. We ended yesterday’s reading by identifying from Hebrews 11:26 the great compensation which for Moses far outweighed the tremendous loss of all the wealth and power of Egypt. In the words of Hebrews 11:26, “Moses by faith regarded disgrace for the sake of Christ as of greater value than the treasures of Egypt, because he was looking ahead to his reward.” In other words, Moses had a faith from God which could compute the vast difference between the slights and wounds of Egypt compared to the greater glory which God had in store for his faith! Just as God had come to Abraham in Genesis 15:1 with the great personal assurance, “Do not be afraid, I am your shield, your very great reward,” so Moses knew God to be his reward!
Meditate and Pray: Sing of this glorious relationship and friendship with God which far outweighs the slings and arrows which the wicked can throw at us, with the words of hymn # 657, taken from Psalm 73:
|In sweet communion, Lord, with Thee
I constantly abide;
My hand Thou holdest in Thy own
To keep me near Thy side.
Thy counsel through my earthly way
|Whom have I, Lord, in heaven but Thee,
To Whom my thoughts aspire?
And, having Thee, on earth is naught
That I can yet desire.
Though flesh and heart should faint and fail,
Thursday: read Exodus 11:1-10 and Hebrews 11:27-28. We may take Moses’ anger in Ex. 11:8 to be a gauge of how much it cost Moses, the “prince of Egypt,” to be rejected so unjustly by Pharaoh. Given his greatness and “highly regarded” status in all of Egypt (Ex. 11:3), so that all of Egypt would soon bow before him (Ex. 11:8 again), and given the recognition by all of Egypt that their current leader Pharaoh had destroyed the land in his stubborn refusal to bow before Moses (Ex. 10:7), it would have been easy for Moses to realize his goal of forty years earlier to start by bloodshed a revolution in Egypt – remember Ex. 2:11-13! How easy for Moses to exalt himself into God’s place, and wreak vengeance with his own hand upon the nation which had so cruelly enslaved his people for 400 years!
Meditate and Pray: Thank God that Moses saw beyond the bloodshed of Egyptians, and was able to leave vengeance in God’s hands. Why? Once again, Hebrews 11 gives us the answer – but this time verses 27-28: “By faith Moses left Egypt, not fearing the king’s anger … By faith he kept the Passover and the sprinkling of blood, so that the destroyer of the firstborn would not touch the firstborn of Israel.” Thank God today that Moses didn’t want the blood of Egyptians to be sacrificed on the altar of his own personal vengeance! Instead, he saw by faith the “One Lamb” whose blood would cover Israel at Passover, and one day be shed on the far greater altar of Calvary! Sing of this Lamb in hymn # 157:
|None other Lamb, none other Name,
None other hope in Heav’n or earth or sea,
None other hiding place from guilt and shame,
None beside Thee!
My faith burns low, my hope burns low;
|Lord, Thou art Life, though I be dead;
Love’s fire Thou art, however cold I be:
Nor Heav’n have I, nor place to lay my head,
Nor home, but Thee.
Fri./Sat./Sun: read Hebrews 11:27-28 and 2 Corinthians 4:16-18. How amazing to see Moses’ faith “in what is invisible” at work, enabling him to disregard not only the allure of Egyptian wealth but also the sufferings which Egypt inflicted! He “does not fear the anger of Pharaoh” (Heb. 11:27), nor is he cowed by Pharaoh’s abusive threats. How is this possible? Because he sees the eternal glory of Christ. Like the Apostle Paul in 2 Corinthians 4:16-18, “He does not lose heart… for his eyes are fixed not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”
Does this mean that Moses or Paul were stoics, spiritual robots who enjoyed suffering, and simply gritted their teeth and screwed up their human courage to face whatever came? Were they supermen or unfeeling fatalists? No! Many places record both Moses’ and Paul’s grief, heavy-heartedness and even anger in the face of hard-hearted humanity. For both men, the spiritual warfare demanded by God’s Word was very hard. “Outwardly, they wasted away…,” as 2 Corinthians 4:16 says. They were worn down physically, mentally and emotionally by their struggles with the dark forces of this world. But inwardly, in the realm of faith, love and hope; in the realm which is dependent on the daily supplies of the Holy Spirit’s grace, they were being renovated and renewed day by day (2 Corinthians 4:16 again).
Meditate and Pray: Let us fix in our minds both the impossibility of living the life of faith in our own strength, and, at the same time, the sure and certain renewing work of the Spirit of Christ which will ultimately triumph in our lives. Yes, the warfare of the Gospel forces us to endure many afflictions, piled upon us like the many burdens of slavery in Egypt. We with Israel of old “cry out” under the burdens of the world, flesh and the devil, which cross our path at every turn. But let us also be refreshed, and renewed by the work of the Holy Spirit within us, a work which is “new every morning.” Use hymn # 338 as your daily prayer this weekend, asking for the Holy Spirit’s renovating, renewing work to refresh and embolden you to face warfare with the world again next week:
|Spirit of God, descend upon my heart;
wean it from earth; through all its pulses move;
stoop to my weakness, mighty as thou art,
and make me love thee as I ought to love.
I ask no dream, no prophet ecstasies,
no sudden rending of the veil of clay,
no angel visitant, no opening skies;
but take the dimness of my soul away.
|Has thou not bid me love thee, God and King?
All, all thine own, soul, heart and strength and mind.
I see thy cross; there teach my heart to cling.
O let me seek thee, and O let me find.
Teach me to feel that thou art always nigh;
teach me the struggles of the soul to bear.
To check the rising doubt, the rebel sigh,
teach me the patience of unanswered prayer.