Seven times God has sent Moses into Egypt with a prophetic word and warning. Seven times Pharaoh has rebelled. By this point both Moses and Pharaoh must be getting weary of the repetitious nature of it all.
God is not.
For an eighth time, God speaks to Moses. For an eighth time, God sends him to Pharaoh with an unwelcome warning. He gave Moses two extra pieces of information this time, though. Consider Exodus 10:1-2.
Then the Lord said to Moses, “Go in to Pharaoh, for I have hardened his heart and the heart of his servants, that I may show these signs of mine among them, 2 and that you may tell in the hearing of your son and of your grandson how I have dealt harshly with the Egyptians and what signs I have done among them, that you may know that I am the Lord.”
Moses knew before even setting out to speak to Pharaoh once again that this man would not listen. It did not stop him from talking, though. Moses knew God had blinded his eyes and hardened his heart to the truth. That had to be discouraging, huh? Really. Imagine this scenario if it was you.
Hey, Lori. Go tell the CEO what God wants. Tell him what he needs to do. Tell him there is punishment coming if he doesn’t do it. One more thing…he won’t listen because I hardened his heart.
Verse two is the encouragement God gave. Don’t worry, Moses. The purpose of your obedience is not about this man’s repentance. That is not your problem and it is is not my goal. My purpose is something entirely different. I have hardened Pharaoh in order to bring my people to a saving knowledge of myself. This is for the growth and the faith of my people, not Pharaoh. It is for the telling and retelling of my glory to your children and your grandchildren. Don’t worry, Moses. You are not failing. You are obeying. I am working toward outcomes you cannot even fathom.
Hey, Lori. Did you hear what I said to Moses? Some people are blind. Some I have hardened to the truth. That is my business. You still have to speak. My purpose for you is still to obey and to say every single word I command you. They aren’t going to listen. Don’t worry, though, because that is not my purpose in it. My purpose is your obedience, your trust in me, your faith, and the faith of my people. Keep remembering what I did in the past. Keep repeating my signs, my wonders, and my great faithfulness to you. Teach it to your children and your grandchildren who are yet to be. Never forget my great and mighty works. Keep talking about them as long as you live. Don’t ever be discouraged. You are not failing. You are obeying.
Oh, that we would remember God’s wisdom! We so often do not understand his ways and his working. We serve a God who hardens one to save another. He is amazing and big and wonderful and surprising and stupefying and shocking. Who wouldn’t love to obey a God like that?!
Moses did. Moses obeyed. Moses kept talking. He kept going back and back and back and back with more bad news; more warnings. Because he and Aaron keep having to speak God’s true words, it looks as though the collateral damage is their fault. The truth is that Pharaoh is responsible. If his heart were not hard he would know that. Even Pharaoh’s servants were urging repentance at this point. It wasn’t because they even cared about God. They just knew enough to care about themselves!
Then Pharaoh’s servants said to him, “How long shall this man be a snare to us? Let the men go, that they may serve the Lord their God. Do you not yet understand that Egypt is ruined?” ~Exodus 10:7
Don’t you get it, boss?? If you don’t listen to these two clowns, we are going to suffer. We are going to suffer more and more and more and more until you do what they say. Please listen!
How must it have felt to be Moses and Aaron after eight encounters with mister big man on campus? By now everyone is thinking, “Here comes these guys again. What next?” This is Moses’ hometown, after all. He doubtless had people he loved who were Egyptian as well as the Hebrews. Both sides faulted him as being the bad guy for merely doing what God commanded. It can’t be easy being that guy.
Pharaoh resorts again to his under pressure penitence, but this time he makes it conditional. He tells Moses the people can go but that they cannot take the kids. This condition was meant as a type of collateral – a hostage situation if you will. You can go but I’ll make sure you come back because I’ll keep your children here. He even went so far as to cast darkness and doubt upon Moses’ intentions saying:
But he said to them, “The Lord be with you, if ever I let you and your little ones go! Look, you have some evil purpose in mind. ~Exodus 10:10
With his conditions and accusations, boss man had one goal. He sought to stay in complete control and have the ultimate upper hand, always. He wanted to call all the shots and he refused to submit to the fact that God was not only the authority, but that God was ultimately going to call the shots regardless of what he thought he was doing.
No compromise, Pharaoh. No can do. Sorry, big man, judgement is coming and it is coming because of your stubborn rebellion to God himself.
Come it did. Locusts filled the land so full that it was literally dark. Pharaoh fumbled his fake repentance once again and God graciously removed the locusts. No Israelites left Egypt, though. Pharaoh would still not let them go.