Scripture: Then Pharaoh summoned the wise men and the sorcerers, and they, the magicians of Egypt, also did the same by their secret arts. For each man cast down his staff, and they became serpents. But Aaron’s staff swallowed up their staffs. Still, Pharaoh’s heart was hardened, and he would not listen to them, as the LORD had said. Exodus 7:11-13 ESV
Observation: It’s time for Moses to stop doubting himself and take action. For the first step, Yahweh informs Moses and Aaron that Pharaoh will demand a miraculous sign to prove themselves when they confront him. As evidence, Moses will command Aaron to cast his staff to the ground before Pharaoh, that it may become a serpent (7:8-9). And as the Lord predicted, each element of this first confrontation occurs as indicated. But God did not share with Moses and Aaron what would follow: Pharaoh’s magicians would duplicate the miracle, only to have Aaron’s staff swallow up their staffs (verses 11-12 above). And Pharaoh’s response? Again, just as the Lord foretold: a hardened heart (verse 13 above).
Takeaway: Overarching in this story is the reliability of God’s predicted word. His sovereign purposes guide Moses and Aaron and harden Pharaoh’s heart. Indeed, as mentioned in previous Daily Focus reflections, our Creator, unbound by time and space, accomplishes his perfect, covenant-keeping will by trumping our free-will decisions with a greater good. Pharaoh thinks he’s in control, that he knows better than those who speak for the Hebrew God, but he unwittingly and predictably plays his part in the script of Israel’s deliverance from bondage.
There is also a secondary takeaway. God does not spell out all the twists and turns along the way. There will be moments that surprise and baffle us: adversaries who appear at first to have the upper hand, only to be thwarted (as were Pharoah’s magicians). But our God will triumph; his overarching predictions will not fail.
So what does this mean for you and me? Assuming we can get our minds around the mystery of our free will subjugated to our Lord’s sovereign reign, it’s excellent news. The Lord’s predictions will play out; his word will not return void (Isaiah 55:11). We can rely on the truth of Scripture that foretells how the history of our world unfolds—even when enemies appear to have the upper hand. For the hearts of those called by God will turn toward him, and the hearts of those who think they are in control will harden against him to their demise. And in the last days, our Christ will return and make all things new. His staff will swallow up the Serpent and deliver creation from its bondage. Indeed, his unfailing predictions are the best news ever for those who know and love him!
Prayer: Father God, we thank you for your unfailing Word, that we can rely on Scripture that teaches us from its history and prepares us for what lies ahead. And we thank you that, in Christ, we know the ending to your meta-narrative of creation. So would you please help us rely on your unfailing predictions that promise our deliverance and our eternal place in your glorious kingdom? Amen.
Rev. Gordon Green, M.Div., M.A. Counseling