The Lord Commands
28When the Lord spoke to Moses in the land of Egypt, 29he said, “I am the Lord. Tell the king of Egypt everything I say to you.”
30But Moses answered, “You know I am a very poor speaker, and the king will never listen to me.”
1The Lord said:
I am going to let your brother Aaron speak for you. He will tell your message to the king, just as a prophet speaks my message to the people. 2Tell Aaron everything I say to you, and he will order the king to let my people leave his country. 3-4 But I will make the king so stubborn that he won't listen to you. He won't listen even when I do many terrible things to him and his nation. Then I will bring a final punishment on Egypt, and the king will let Israel's families and tribes go. 5When this happens, the Egyptians will know that I am the Lord.
6Moses and Aaron obeyed the Lord 7and spoke to the king. At the time, Moses was 80 years old, and Aaron was 83.
8-9The Lord said, “Moses, when the king asks you and Aaron to perform a miracle, command Aaron to throw his walking stick down in front of the king, and it will turn into a snake.”
10Moses and Aaron went to the king and his officials and did exactly as the Lord had commanded—Aaron threw the stick down, and it turned into a snake. 11Then the king called in the wise men and the magicians, who used their secret powers to do the same thing— 12they threw down sticks that turned into snakes. But Aaron's snake swallowed theirs. 13The king behaved just as the Lord had said and stubbornly refused to listen.
The Nile River
14 The Lord said to Moses:
The Egyptian king stubbornly refuses to change his mind and let the people go. 15Tomorrow morning take the stick that turned into a snake, then wait beside the Nile River for the king. 16Tell him, “The Lord God of the Hebrews sent me to order you to release his people, so they can worship him in the desert. But until now, you have paid no attention.
17 “The Lord is going to do something to show you that he really is the Lord. I will strike the Nile with this stick, and the water will turn into blood. 18The fish will die, the river will stink, and none of you Egyptians will be able to drink the water.”
19Moses, then command Aaron to hold his stick over the water. And when he does, every drop of water in Egypt will turn into blood, including rivers, canals, ponds, and even the water in buckets and jars.
20Moses and Aaron obeyed the Lord. Aaron held out his stick, then struck the Nile, as the king and his officials watched. The river turned into blood, 21the fish died, and the water smelled so bad that none of the Egyptians could drink it. Blood was everywhere in Egypt.
22But the Egyptian magicians used their secret powers to do the same thing. The king did just as the Lord had said—he stubbornly refused to listen. 23Then he went back to his palace and never gave it a second thought. 24The Egyptians had to dig holes along the banks of the Nile for drinking water, because water from the river was unfit to drink.
Pharaoh asks the question, “Who is this LORD and why should I obey him . . . ?” (Exodus 5:2), and Moses is God’s mouthpiece to answer him. Moses has been specially preserved and prepared by God for eighty years to be Israel’s deliverer. Now God will prepare Pharaoh and the Egyptians to fulfill his plan of redemption. Pharaoh’s unwillingness to acknowledge the all-powerful God unleashes a series of plagues that show God’s power over all the gods of Egypt. They are God’s answer to his question and Moses is the messenger. Moses begins his mandate at the banks of the Nile River which was worshipped by the Egyptians and was their source of life and power.
We encounter people on a daily basis who ask the same question as Pharaoh did. Whether they are religious pluralists like the Egyptians, atheists or agnostics like many in the Western world or too busy to pay attention to God, we are called to be God’s messengers to them. I’ve had excuses like Moses did when God commanded him to speak but I realize that my mandate is not based on my skill or “poor speaking” (Exodus 6:30) but on God’s nature. When the world appears to be as powerful as God, we remember that the magicians could not undo what he had done (v22).Believers are God’s Story written by Jesus that the whole world reads (2 Corinthians 3:23).
As followers of the mighty God, we are mandated to share God’s Story with a world that has hardened their hearts against him. We need God’s empowerment as Moses did. We have his Spirit to enable us in this task. God continues to confront the gods of our day with his unique power and sovereignty. He has chosen us as his messengers to introduce people we encounter to the Creator of life and light.
God of Israel, you are all-powerful, patient and loving. Help us in our weakness to be faithful messengers of your Story to people you have placed in our lives. We ask that many in our circles of influence would choose to follow you into eternity. Through Jesus the Messiah, Amen.