As we saw last week, Moses is finally on board with the mission that God had given him. He’s done making excuses and complaining about how hard it’s going to be to get the Jews out of Egypt. Him and his brother Aaron are ready to take God’s Word to Pharaoh.
But as you’re reading the story in Exodus chapter six, Moses takes a break from the dialogue and inserts a partial genealogy of the heads of Israel which included the line of Reuben, Simeon and his line, the line of Levi. It seems a little out of place here, but actually Moses needed to rightfully establish his and Aaron’s identity since they would hold such prominent positions in the nation.
This Moses and Aaron were the ones who were definitely from the line of Levi.
So after he establishes their identity, he gives us a mission summary of what God had called them to do.
[Read Exodus 6:28 – 7:7.]
Within this mission summary, God shows us why He so dramatically delivered His people from Egypt. Verse five says, “The Egyptians shall know that I am the Lord.”
For the Egyptians to understand that the Jewish God was the God of the universe, they needed to see proof. So the ten plagues that were going to come upon them would be a display of God’s great power and authority over the universe.
You see, the Egyptians were a very superstitious and spiritually-minded people. They had gods for everything! They had gods for animals, for reproduction, for celestial bodies, for the earth – they had gods for everything. And so when the Lord unleashed his plagues upon the people, in reality it was a battle between Him and the Egyptian gods. Every plague undermined the power, the authority and even the validity of one or more of the Egyptian gods. So when the people saw misfortune come upon them, misfortune their gods couldn’t protect them from, they had the opportunity to realize that the Hebrew God that was bringing the plagues, that He alone is God. And for some of the Egyptians it worked! Some realized that Yahweh was the One, True God. Others, like Pharaoh, hardened their hearts towards God.
And you know what, that’s why God went though all this trouble in the first place – for those that would believe. He could have just wiped out Egypt like He did Sodom and Gomorrah and lead the Jews right to the promise land. But these particular works caused the Jews to have faith and these particular works caused even some of the Egyptians to have faith. God loves the world and it was worth it for those who would believe.
But before He unleashed on the Egyptians, He gave them a warning shot.
[Read Exodus 7:8-13.]
Moses and Aaron approach Pharaoh and give him God’s proposal. He asks them to work a miracle to prove that they really are messengers of God. Aaron throws his staff down and it becomes a snake. Pharaoh says, “Not bad.” And calls for his own magicians who come in and do the same thing. Several of them turn their staffs into snakes right before them. But then comes the warning shot – Aaron’s one staff/snake eats all of the magician’s staffs/snakes.
Right away God is showing them that He is the one with the power of the universe. It’s like He’s saying, “Before anyone gets hurt, let me just show you who you’re messing with.” But Pharaoh just thinks it’s a nice trick and hardens his heart just like the Lord said he would. So now it’s time to get serious.
1st Plague: water to blood transformation
[Read Exodus 7:14-25.]
God tries to get their attention by attacking the most important part of their civilization – the Nile River. The river was their life, but now it was lifeless!
Now some have tried to minimize this miracle and say that maybe the light of the sunrise hit the water in such a way that the water appeared red. Or maybe it was a natural occurrence of the clay in the area mixing with the water of the Nile turning it a reddish color. But make no mistake about it, God turned that water into blood. That was evidenced by the dead fish, the foul smell and the Egyptian’s inability to drink from the river. It also says that all the water in Egypt was affected, even water that was standing in containers or ponds not linked to the Nile River. God did something amazing that couldn’t be disputed.
But the magicians, probably dug down and got some water from underground like the people were, and replicated the sign that Moses and Aaron did. They turned some water into blood as well. That was all Pharaoh needed to justify not giving in to Moses’ demands.