Exodus 7:1-8 - Homilies By J. Orr
A god to Pharaoh.
Moses was in the trying position of being sent out anew upon a mission in which hitherto he had not had the slightest particle of success. His discouragement was natural. Pharaoh, on a previous occasion, had repulsed him. He had lost the ear even of his own people. The situation, since his former interview with the monarch, had altered for the worse. To proceed further was like rowing against wind and tide, with little prospect of ever reaching shore. Discouragement wrought in the usual way. It led him to magnify difficulties. He brought up again his old objection of his deficiencies of speech. Even with Aaron as an intermediary, he felt how awkward it would be to appear in the presence of Pharaoh, and not be able to deliver his own message. His inability of speech would certainly, he thought, expose him to contempt. Yet observe, God forebore with him. His reluctance was not without sin, but God, who knows our frame, does not expect to find in us all at once the perfection of angels, and is compassionate of our weakness. We have here, therefore—
I. A DISHEARTENED SERVANT SUITABLY ENCOURAGED . God told Moses—
1 . That he would clothe him with an authority which even Pharaoh would be compelled to respect. "See, I have made thee a god to Pharaoh" ( Exodus 7:1 ). It was not with words only that Moses was sent to Pharaoh. Powers would be given him to enforce his words with deeds. The judgments he would bring upon the land would clothe him with a supernatural terror—make him a superhuman and almost a divine person—in the eyes of Pharaoh and his servants. (Cf. Exodus 12:3 .) So God gives attestation to his servants still, making it evident by the power of the Holy Ghost upon them, that they come in his name, and speak with his authority. He accompanies their word with Divine power, giving it efficacy to arrest, convict, and convert, and compelling the haughtiest of the earth to acknowledge the source of their message. So Felix trembled before Paul ( Acts 24:25 ). Paul's Gospel came to the Thessalonians, "not in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Ghost, and in much assurance" ( 1 Thessalonians 1:5 ).
2 . That the work of deliverance would be no longer delayed. This also was implied in what God said to Moses: the time had come for speech to be exchanged for action. Everything indicated that the "charge" with which Moses was now entrusted was to be the final one. It should encourage desponding servants to reflect that God has his "set time" for the fulfilment of every promise; and that, when this period arrives, all their mourning will be turned into joy.
II. THE COURSE OF ISRAEL 'S DELIVERANCE FORETOLD .
1 . Foretold because foreseen. It is God's prerogative that he knows the end from the beginning ( Isaiah 42:9 ). Nothing can take him by surprise. He knows all the way his purposes are to travel. The whole future lies mapped out, as in a clear-drawn chart, before him.
2 . Foreseen because pre-ordained. God, like Christ in the miracle of the loaves, knew in himself what he would do ( John 6:6 ). Nothing was left to chance in his arrangements. The steps in his plan were fixed beforehand. What would be done would be according to God's "determinate counsel and foreknowledge" ( Acts 2:23 )—would be "whatsoever (his) hand and (his) counsel determined before to be done" ( Acts 4:28 ). The deliverance was arranged in such a way as most to glorify the power and greatness of the Deliverer, and demonstrate his superiority to heathen idols. This in no wise implies that violence was in the very least done to human freedom, though it suggests that God can so interweave the volitions of men, in the situations in which he places them, into his purposes, as to leave not one of them outside his settled plan. The chief difficulty is in the hardening of Pharaoh's heart, here ( Exodus 7:3 ) represented as an ordained link in the chain of God's designs. But if this hardening simply means that God will place Pharaoh, already a bad man, in circumstances which he knows infallibly will harden his heart, and if this is done justly, and in punishment of former sins, the hardening taking effect through unalterable laws of the moral nature, which also are of God's ordainment, it is difficult to see what righteous objection can be taken to it.
1 . The manifestation of the utterly free and unconstrained character of his grace and mercy in the salvation of man; and
2 . What is the necessary counterpart of this, the manifestation of his power and justice in the infliction of judgments upon his enemies. Even evil is thus made to contribute indirectly to the ultimate and eternal establishment of the righteousness of God.— J . O .
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