- God repeats His commands and warns Moses and Aaron that it will be a long road (1-7)
- The first miracle before Pharaoh: Aaron’s staff becomes a snake and eats their priests snakes (8-13)
- The first plague: Nile and the rest of the water supply is turned into blood (14-21)
- The Egyptian magicians perform a similar feat and Pharaoh rejects Moses’ plea to let the Jews go (22-24)
What does it mean that Moses will be like God to Pharaoh? What does it mean that Aaron would be Moses’ prophet?
Why would God harden Pharaoh’s heart? Does God still harden people’s hearts today? Does this nullify personal responsibility?
What did God tell M and A would happen? Why do you think He tells them this ahead of time? How can this compare to God telling believers ahead of time that serving Him will be difficult or telling of the tribulation to the Jews? What we can do as messengers of God’s Word to better prepare new believers for the challenges ahead of them?
What pronoun does God use when referring to the divisions and people in verse 4? What does this tell us about His relationship to them? What then could they infer about they should treat God knowing that they belonged to Him?
What would the result/results of all of these miracles be?
What can we learn of Moses and Aaron from their response to God’s commands? (6)
Who was older, Moses or Aaron? So why would God choose the younger to be the leader? What principle can we get from this?
Verse by Verse Commentary
- Moses would be like God to Pharaoh. God will exalt Moses to have an esteemed position in front of Pharaoh. The words he spoke would be the very words of God. The power he demonstrated would be the very power of God. We can learn from this that God will use different people in different ways. He chose to exalt Moses to a position of great power in front of the most powerful human ruler in the world.
- Aaron would be Moses’ right hand man, his prophet. In other words Aaron would take Moses’ message to Pharaoh just like a prophet takes God’s message to His people.
- They were not to change God’s message at all. This an important point. As people, we do not have the right to add, take away, or modify what God’s Word says. As long as Moses and Aaron spoke what God told them to, they spoke with His authority, but if they strayed from that and started saying something different (like Moses with the rock later in the wilderness) or Aaron with the golden calf they would be speaking with their own authority and not God’s. And in this case no one needs to listen. We should make sure too that when we teach the Word, we teach it accurately and correctly. As long as we stick to what the Bible says, we can speak with confidence, boldness, and authority. But if we venture to speak on something the Bible doesn’t cover, or add in our own meaning to the text it is no longer God speaking, but a fallible, sinful, flawed human, which no one needs to listen to.
- God warned Moses and Aaron ahead of time that Pharaoh would not listen. We have discussed this point before. By telling them ahead of time, it could prepare them for the challenge they faced. They shouldn’t get discouraged if it didn’t go smoothly or easily the first time. By expecting challenges, they would be better prepared mentally to face them. The same applies to Christians today. God warns is in the Bible how difficult it will be to follow Christ so that we will be fully committed and prepared ahead of time. In case you didn’t know, it is guaranteed in the Bible that believers will face tests and trials so don’t be surprised when they come.
- One purpose (in addition to freeing the Jews) of God’s miracles would be to show the Egyptians that He was truly God. The plagues would be enough to show them the futility of their own man made religions and recognize God is supreme. Many still would pridefully refuse to turn to the Lord, but they would know, and some who feared God would turn to and worship Him. This would be a witness for God’s glory in the greatest nation on earth, meaning it would then go out to all parts of the world influenced by Egypt.
- Moses was the leader even though Aaron was older shows us that God doesn’t do things like the world. He looks at the heart not outward appearance or worldly standards. Age, rank, social status, ethnicity are inconsequential to Him. He had already prepared Moses for this task for a long time.
- They obeyed just as God told them to. This seems to finally be the turning point. Before there were lots of questions, excuses, and reluctance. It seems that now finally they are willing to just do as God says without any more excuses. And in the very next verse, they start getting right down to business.
Why would Pharaoh ask Aaron/Moses for a miracle?
What was God’s intended purpose for this miracle?
How might the Egyptian sorcerers and magicians have done the same thing? What can we learn from this? What does this tell us about Satan and false gods? What was the connection between the fact that they duplicated this miracle and the fact that Pharaoh hardened his heart?
What was the difference between the miracle done by Aaron and that done by the magicians? What does this show us about true God?
Verse by Verse Commentary
- God knew that Pharaoh would ask for a miracle so He prepared Moses and Aaron for this and even told them the exact miracle to perform. They knew they could because God had already showed this miracle to Moses and He had faith God would repeat it. God knows the future and He also knew Pharaoh’s heart.
- While the text doesn’t tell us, it is implied that Pharaoh did indeed ask them for a miracle. They were claiming to be representatives of God so it is natural he would want some kind of proof that they were who they said and that God was real. However, based on his continuous rejections it is safe to say he falls into the category of those asking for proofs out of skepticism and bitterness with no intention to believe no matter what proofs are shown rather than the sincere. We see that he later asked his magicians to perform a similar miracle, showing us that one likely reason for his request was to try to show that his gods were as good or better than YHWH.
- Like most miracles in the Bible, a big deal is not made about it. It doesn’t spend a long time describing the miracle. The miracle is a sidepoint, a means to an end and is not the focus.
- Pharaoh asked his own sorcerers and magicians, the best pagan religious minds in his country to replicate this feat. Why? He wanted to prove that the Egyptian gods had this same power. He looked for every excuse not to bow down to the authority of the true God. The passage does not tell us how they were able to replicate this feat. It could have been through magic, that is illusion. For example they could chant the snake to make it rigid and appear to be a stick, but it isn’t. They would have used normal magic tricks like misdirection and decoys. They could have done some sort of substitution. Or they could have channeled demonic power to to somehow make the sticks become alive and turn into snakes. The text does not tell us and the exact method is not very important. Suffice it to say that Pharaoh was satisfied with their miracle.
- We can learn one important lesson from this. Satan is a deceiver. He loves to imitate God’s miracles and counterfeit them. One such example will be the false prophet during the tribulation who will perform miracles. He will also imitate the resurrection with the antichrist and imitate the Trinity with Satan, false prophet, and antichrist. Because he is the created and not the Creator, it is understandable that he can not seem to come up with his own miracles, but only can do a cheap imitation. This is what the Jews accused Jesus of when they said that He cast out the demons by the leader of the demons. They recognized that Satan also had supernatural (above humans) power. However, they wrongly attributed Jesus’ works to Satan. How does this principle apply today? Satan is strong. He is nothing like God, but he can do some kinds of amazing things and some kinds of miracles to the human eye. He does these to deceive people and keep them in bondage to himself and to sin. Therefore Christians should be wary of idols and demonic forces. Also, don’t be surprised if these demonic forces can do something. Neither should we make the mistake of assuming everything supernatural comes from God. How can we tell? Rather, we need to be discerning and test the spirits and their doctrine.
- Pharaoh once again hardened his heart and refused to listen.
What was the difference between the first miracle done by Aaron and the second? Why the huge escalation of degree? Did God give Pharaoh a chance to change his mind and let the people go or just unilaterally call down judgment on him? Which verse can we see that in? What can we learn about God’s character from this? What do you notice about Moses’ message to Pharaoh from chapter 5 to chapter 7?
What was the result of the miracle? Who was affected? What can we learn from this? Why do you think God chose to this specific miracle?
What would you say to someone who said the plague was merely the result of a natural phenomenon such as a red seaweed invasion?
Verse by Verse Commentary
- God commanded a massive escalation of the conflict. He would take the battle right to the heart and soul of Egyptian economic stability and material prosperity, to strike the very source of their livlihood and land. Interestingly enough, He promised the Israelites a land flowing with milk and honey, but caused Egypt to be a land flowing with blood and stench. He commanded this drastic measure because Pharaoh wasn’t going to be a piece of cake. Nothing short of catastrophe after catastrophe would be able to convince him.
- Notice that God’s message to Pharaoh is the same. It is like the refrain of a song repeated again and again. He doesn’t try to compromise or change his message or make it easier to accept. He doesn’t sugar coat things. He doesn’t attempt to negotiate. He simply orders Pharaoh to let His people go. He makes it clear that the reason for this plague is Pharaoh’s refusal to listen. He also has Moses announce it in a public place where anyone could hear, perhaps so that the general public would know it was Pharaoh to blame and people would start to put some pressure on him to capitulate.
- Although God’s clear authority and justice and even wrath can be seen in this passage, so is His grace. Each time before launching a new plague, God gives Pharaoh a chance to repent and let His people go. He doesn’t do the plagues unilaterally. He gives Pharaoh opportunity after opportunity to change his mind. God’s justice, as far as I can see, is always like this. He tells people on earth He is going to judge them, gives them an opportunity to repent, and then judges those who don’t take the way out. The flood, the exile, Egypt, and before the Rapture are all examples of this.
- The purpose of this plague was two fold, so that they would recognize God’s power and that through this punishment they would be forced to reconsider and let Israel go. God struck hard and fast and put the ball back in Pharaoh’s court.
- Some people attempt to reason away this miracle as a natural phenomenon. However, the text makes it clear that it is blood, not just blood like or appearing to be blood. There is really no room for doubting this miracle and accepting the Bible as God’s inspired Word. If you want to explain away this miracle you might as well explain away all others as well. In addition, the sheer magnitude of this miracle should do away with any natural explanations.
- The turning to blood affected not only the Nile itself, but all its tributaries. In other words, it appears to have affected the entire water supply except the underground water table (wells). Even in the middle of this judgment, God mercifully gave a way out so that all the people would not die. If He even destroyed this water supply it would have meant the death of most Egyptian probably. God meant to strike a terrible and painful blow, but He stopped short of the ultimate blow, execution. This plague not only affected the water supply, but commerce up and down the Nile (which now stank and most people would surely want to avoid navigating)and as well as the food supply (all the fish and other food that could be harvested from the Nile). God did this miracle in the presence of Pharaoh his officials through Moses so there could be no doubt in their minds that it was God doing this miracle as judgment for refusing freedom to His people.
What was the Egyptian response? Did this help their people? How do you think they were able to repeat the same thing (albeit in a much smaller scale)? Why do you we know that their power was greatly limited (they couldn’t undo it)?
What was Pharaoh’s response to this plague? What can we learn about him from this?
What did the Egyptian people do? Why do you think God didn’t turn all of that underground water to blood also?
Verse by Verse Commentary
- The Egyptian magicians/sorcerers did the same thing again. It should be noted they did it on a way way smaller scale, probably with some buckets or barrels of water (which would have been gotten by digging). This in itself shows the vast difference in power between God and the Egyptian gods. It should also be noted that they were clearly unable to reverse the affects. If their gods were truly superior they would easily be able to turn the blood back into water and restore the vitality of the Nile and the water supply and then to strike the Israelites with some similar plague. Their ineptitude and measly abilities compared to the LORD is clear.
- Pharaoh looked for every excuse to reject God’s command and keep faith in his own gods. Even a measly miracle like this was enough to convince him. This is yet another example that people will believe what they want to believe even in spite of great evidence to the contrary. I read some comments online about the rapture prediction and atheists were saying they still wouldn’t believe in God even if the rapture did happen. This is true. I think most wouldn’t. No amount of evidence would convince them and it is because of pride.
- God had already said Pharaoh wouldn’t listen, but P was still culpable. We all have our own responsibility in spite of God’s foreknowledge or predestination. These are like two sides of a coin that God balances.
- Pharaoh was unbelievably callous. He cared nothing for the plite of his people. The verse says that he “turned and went into his palace, and did not take even this to heart.” He didn’t care about his own people. It didn’t effect him so he didn’t take it to heart. In the palace everything would be provided for him. He would still have food to eat. He would still have clean water to drink, gathered by some low slave sweating and toiling away. Even if everyone else starved or died of thirst, he wouldn’t, so why bother? This is selfishness and pride personified. This should be a reminder to us not to apathetic about others, but to be selfless and considerate.
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