Summary: God shows his power to deliver Israel and to destroy Egypt.
God called Abraham out of Ur and made a covenant with him to bless all the nations of the earth through him: he would be the father of many nations, and his seed would inherit and possess what is called the Promised Land. He died without seeing that promise fulfilled but went to the grave trusting that God is faithful and that one day his descendants would receive it all. His son, grandson, and great-grandsons also died without having received, but they too knew that that El Shaddai was trustworthy, and they quit this life in faith.
We know the story of Israel and how they ended up in Egypt during a severe worldwide famine. At first they were welcomed and honored, but in time the Egyptians sought to control their numbers and their activities by making them slaves for the nation. Four hundred years passed and the people cried out to God for deliverance until he finally called Moses, a descendant of Levi, to go and speak to Pharaoh and demand their freedom.
But Pharaoh wasn’t impressed with Moses or with Moses’ God. He simply refused to let the people go and asked, “Who is Yahweh that I should obey him?” (Ex. 5:2). In our last study we saw that God intends to answer that question; he’ll reveal to Israel that Yahweh is their God and Savior, and to Egypt that he is a mighty foe against them. He will supernaturally harden Pharaoh's heart and the hearts of his servants so that they’ll be unwilling to let Israel go even after several devastating plagues. Each refusal will result in another catastrophe until ten plagues have fully demonstrated that God puts a difference between the two peoples and that he’s able to save one and cripple the other.
This, of course, has enormous spiritual value when we learn in the New Testament that Abraham’s descendants aren’t necessarily the physical Jews but all who believe by faith (Rom. 4:13; 9:6). Our struggle isn’t against an earthly Pharaoh but against spiritual forces and Satan himself (Eph. 6:12). Our bondage isn’t one of physical captivity but to sin and death (Heb. 2:15), and Jesus has preached the good news to all who hear by faith: if the Son has set you free, you are free indeed! (Jn. 8:36).
So, as we read the account of Israel’s Exodus from Egypt we’re comforted in seeing what Christ has done for us, and we glorify him as our God and Savior who delivers these promises and overcomes our enemies with a mighty hand!
God sends Moses back to Pharaoh:
6And Moses and Aaron did as the LORD commanded them, so did they. 7And Moses was fourscore years old, and Aaron fourscore and three years old, when they spake unto Pharaoh.
Remember that we want to be careful about assigning subjective meaning to the things we’ll read here. I’m not sure why God tells us about their ages, but two things stand out in my mind: first, Acts 7:25 tells us that Moses knew he was Israel’s savior way back when he killed the Egyptian taskmaster. That’s at least forty years before the Exodus actually begins, and it must have seemed like a long time in between. God doesn’t necessarily move on our schedules, but you can bet that it’s all right on time.
Maybe even more to the point here is the fact that Moses is well past his prime when God uses him for the task. He lived another 40 years after the Exodus, and he had plenty of strength the day he died (Deut. 34:7), but imagine his abilities when he was only 40 years old. How much more could he have done if God had used him while he was still connected and powerful in Egypt (Acts 7:22)?
But that’s exactly the point of the whole story, isn’t it? No one could change Pharaoh’s mind or help Israel except God. It’s like when God promised Isaac to Abraham; he purposely waited until Abraham was 100 years old just to prove that it was his own work. So now God waits until Moses is 80 years old and a stranger to both the Egyptians and the Israelites, and then he commands him to lead. This principle of using the weak is one we see carried into the New Testament:
For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called: 27But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; 28And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are: 29That no flesh should glory in his presence. 30But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption: 31That, according as it is written, He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord (1 Cor. 1:26-31).