By Ben W. Curtis
Pastor, First Baptist Church, Tracy City
As parents, we tell our kids not to play in the street. There are laws of the road we must follow, such as speed limits and seat belt laws. Construction workers have safety protocol they must heed. Refusing to heed instructions in any of these situations could lead to serious injury or even death. While hearing and obeying are important in all aspects of life, they’re essential when it comes to God’s Word.
God commands us to speak His Word to others, but we often react with questions and excuses just like Moses: “Who am I that my co-worker, my neighbor, or my spouse should listen to me?” When God calls us to speak His Word, whether it be preaching the gospel to unbelievers or calling other Christians to repent, we must remember that we’re acting on His authority (Exodus 7:1-2). Despite Moses’ initial objections, verse 6 says that he and Aaron “did just as the Lord commanded them.” God expects His people to hear and obey all His word, not some or most of it (James 1:22-25). At times, we may experience His loving, Fatherly discipline which is designed to bring us back in line with His Word and will (Heb. 12:6-11). But for true believers, the pattern of our lives will be one of obedience.
While Moses and Aaron demonstrate a humble posture of obedience toward God’s word, Pharaoh embodies a disobedient, unbelieving response toward God’s Word. In verse 3 God reminds us that He is going to harden Pharaoh’s heart (Exodus 4:21; Romans 9:14-23). Pharaoh is no blank slate, for the Bible teaches that all humans are sinners by nature and by choice (Psalm 51:5; Ephesians 2:2-3). Despite the multiplied signs, wonders, and miracles, Pharaoh will not listen to Moses and Aaron. As a result, God is going to bring the Israelites out of the land by “great acts of judgment” (Exodus 7:4; Genesis 15:14). This event serves as a merciful warning to every hard-hearted person. There will soon be no more opportunity for repentance, “but only a fearful expectation of judgment” (Hebrews 10:27).
In Exodus 7:8-9, Pharaoh attempts to discredit the message by asking the messengers for a sign. Yet even after Moses and Aaron perform the sign, Pharaoh still refuses to obey because his magicians could replicate it (vv. 10-13). Even in our day, Satan continues his counterfeiting tactics. It’s possible to have all the right theology, and yet not be a Christian (James 2:19; Mark 1:24). Reading the Bible, prayer, and regularly attending corporate worship are all marks of a genuine follower which can also be counterfeited by an unbeliever.
When Pharaoh rejects the messengers, he is rejecting the Lord who sent the message. But Pharaoh is about to discover that when the God of the universe says, “Let my people go!” He must be obeyed. God continues to tolerate no rivals and disobedience to Him is still just as dangerous. God offers disobedient rebels deliverance from His wrath through the judgment delivered on His Son. Though He was sinless at every point, Jesus knew well the cost of maintaining perfect obedience through His suffering (Hebrews 5:7-8). Mercy is possible only because God judged the obedient One as guilty so that the disobedient could receive Him by faith and be forgiven. Though the Exodus was certainly a mighty deliverance, it was only a foretaste of the deliverance that would come through the cross.