But Pharaoh said, “Who is the LORD that I should obey His voice to let Israel go? I do not know the LORD, and besides, I will not let Israel go.”
Moses and Aaron have met with one another and met with the elders of the Israelites. After all that meeting and relating of what God said and showing the signs that God gave to convince the elders, Moses and Aaron stood before Pharaoh. They say to Pharaoh what God told them to say — and what, incidentally, God told them would not work — and receive the answer in this morning’s verse.
Pharaoh’s reply comes in three parts.
First, the ancient Egyptians, like many ancient peoples, were polytheistic. They had dozens of gods and goddesses that they worshiped. In this context, Pharaoh’s question — Who is the LORD — could be understood along the lines of “Wait, which god are we talking about? Never heard of him.” Pharaoh says, in essence, that he does not know where the LORD sits with regard to the hierarchy of deities in his pantheon. How powerful is this LORD of yours?
Second, Pharaoh does not know the LORD. More than just not knowing where God sits with regard to the pecking order of the polytheistic mess that is many ancient religions, Pharaoh is not acquainted with the LORD. Pharaoh says I do not know the LORD. He has no knowledge of God. Who, exactly, is this God of yours?
Third and finally, Pharaoh states simply that he will not let Israel go. Israel was a slave labor force at this point and nations that become reliant on slave labor have historically had trouble coping if/when that slave labor force is removed. It makes sense, then, that Pharaoh is unwilling to part with his slave labor force. A three day trek into the wilderness is enough that it could become difficult to follow if they got it into their head to keep right on walking.
Does my life answer the questions? Can people see how powerful my God is and Who He is through my life — my actions and words and choices? If no, then I have some surrendering to do.
Father, thank You that the questions are there to be heard if I will listen. Please make my life such as answers them. Make my life a testimony to Who You are and to Your power.