Yet Pharaoh’s heart was hardened, and he did not listen to them, as the LORD had said.
Moses and Aaron go in and reiterate God’s demand that His people, the Israelites, be allowed to leave Egypt. Pharaoh demands a miracle, as God says he will, and Aaron throws down his staff, as God told him to. Aaron’s staff becomes a snake. At this point, many of us would be seriously considering letting the Israelites go have their retreat. Not Pharaoh. He calls in his wise men and wizards and has them turn their staves into snakes. But the snake that had been Aaron’s staff goes on to eat all of the staves of Pharaoh’s wise men and wizards.
Something about the preceding prompts the writer of Exodus to begin this verse with the word Yet. As if seeing the staff become a snake, then eat the other staves-turned-snakes should have been convincing enough. I cannot claim to understand. I think that the staff turning into a snake should have been sufficient. Clearly, it was not.
But there are two things said about Pharaoh and one thing said about God in this verse.
One, Pharaoh’s heart was hardened, literally his heart was strong. He was being stubborn. As a person who can be stubborn, I have had to learn that there are times when stubbornness is good and right and times when it is going to get me into trouble. This, for Pharaoh, is a time of the latter type.
Two, Pharaoh did not listen to them. Maybe they could reasonably have expected to be heard out after this show of God’s power, but it went the other way. Maybe they just wanted to spare Pharaoh what they knew or suspected was over the horizon for him if he did not listen to God, plenty of believers have tried to spare me heartache over the years by warning me. Sometimes I listen and other times … not so much.
The one thing said about God is that this happened as the LORD had said. But that one statement is rich in meaning. One of the tests that God offers is prophecy. How can I know that God is Who He says He is and that He is, in fact, all-knowing? Answer: Prophecy. God says that He tells us the end from the beginning and He had already told Moses and Aaron how their exchanges with Pharaoh were going to play. God’s wonders were going to prove to the Egyptians that He is God and their pantheon could not stand up to Him and His ability to tell Moses and Aaron and the Israelites how the whole ordeal would play from before the word “Go” would reaffirm to them that He is, in fact, the God Who tells us the end from the beginning.
God has done much the same for me. The Bible is filled with prophecies, some of which have been fulfilled in relatively recent times — AD 1948 is recent, compared with AD 33. The test that God offered is still valid and still something to which He holds Himself. And why not? He does not change.
I can know that God is Who He says He is if only I take the time to look at prophecy and realize that things happen as the LORD had said.
Father, thank You for this reminder that You have given insights into how things are going to happen and that these prophecies are the litmus test for whether or not You are Who You claim to be. Thank You for being exactly Who You claim to be. As I read through The Bible, please call my attention to the prophecies that have been more recently fulfilled.