“I am the LORD”
In the above passage of Scripture, the Lord is commanding Moses to speak once again to Pharaoh and petition him that he send the children of Israel out of the land of Egypt. However, in verse three, God tells Moses beforehand that God will deliberately harden Pharaoh’s heart and that God will multiply his signs and wonders in the land of Egypt. Even after the signs and wonders, God still says that Pharaoh shall not hearken (or listen) to Moses. You might be thinking: why would God deliberately allow Pharaoh’s heart to be hardened and consequently allow the Israelites to be kept in bondage when they have already been enslaved for almost 400 years? The answer is because God wanted to show the Egyptians that He alone was God. God wanted to make it absolutely certain that when the Israelites departed out of Egypt, there would be no question that the LORD God of the Hebrews, not Pharaoh, delivered the Israelites out of the land of the Egyptians.
God Manifested His Power Upon the Egyptians
Let’s take a look back at verses four and five:
(4) But Pharaoh shall not hearken unto you, that I may lay my hand upon Egypt, and bring forth mine armies, and my people the children of Israel, out of the land of Egypt by great judgments.
(5) And the Egyptians shall know that I am the LORD, when I stretch forth mine hand upon Egypt, and bring out the children of Israel from among them.
The Bible says in verse four that the reason why Pharaoh would not listen to Moses’ petition is so that God could “lay his hand” upon Egypt. The Hebrew for the word “hand” literally means power. Thus, what God is saying is that Pharaoh will not listen to Moses so that God’s mighty power can be shown upon Egypt; God brought forth his armies to fight for Israel and to bring the Israelites out of Egypt by his judgments. You might be asking: why would God choose to let the Israelites suffer just so his power could be displayed? The reason is stated clearly for us in verse five: “And the Egyptians shall know that I am the LORD…”
God Made Himself Known to Egypt by His Judgments
Throughout the ages, God has always been known for His great and mighty works, including his judgments. Even lost people who are bound for a devil’s Hell are familiar with the ten plagues that God sent upon Egypt, and though they may deny God irrefutably, they have an innate knowledge that the God of the Bible must exist because of the mighty works which only he alone has done. Consider the following verses:
(16) The LORD is known by the judgment which he executeth: the wicked is snared in the work of his own hands. Higgaion. Selah.
(17) The wicked shall be turned into hell, and all the nations that forget God.
(18) For the needy shall not alway be forgotten: the expectation of the poor shall not perish for ever.
Okay, let’s break down the above verses piece-by-piece
“The LORD is known by the judgment which he executeth…” In the context of Exodus, God sent plagues upon the Egyptians that would specifically convict the Egyptians that absolutely no one else could be bringing these plagues upon them other than Almighty God. The final plague of the death of the firstborn and the consequent institution of the Passover for the Israelites proved that the God of the Hebrews is the Almighty God. All the Egyptian firstborn sons and firstborn animals were killed in one night, but the Israelites who placed the blood of a lamb over the doorpost were spared from the plague. There was no doubt in Pharaoh’s mind by this point that Almighty God had done this. Thus, the LORD was made known in Egypt by this judgment which he executed.
Even thousands of years later, the Passover and the judgment of God upon the Egyptians remains a prominent picture of what Jesus did on the Cross. The Bible says in Romans 6:23 that the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Jesus Christ our Lord. Jesus shed His Blood upon an old rugged cross to pay for your sin and mine. Jesus is also referred to as the Lamb of God. When someone accepts the sacrifice that Jesus made on Calvary’s Cross by believing on Him as Savior, we are told in John 5:24 that we are “passed from death unto life.” Just like how a lamb’s blood protected the Israelites from death during the Passover, so does Jesus’ blood save us from the wrath of God and the eternal punishment of sin, which is death in Hell.
Had the Israelites never been enslaved and had Pharaoh’s heart not been hardened and had God not punished Egypt via the ten plagues, this critical picture of Christ and the blood of Christ would have never occurred. Wow! What an amazing God we serve!
“The wicked shall be turned into hell, and all the nations that forget God.” In the context of Exodus, the Egyptians clearly had forgotten God. They worshipped and served idols and they had forgotten the God of Joseph that had blessed them and given them food during the famine. Thus, God rained down his final judgment from Heaven upon the Egyptians in the form of the ten plagues. Likewise, God’s final judgment upon all nations that forget Him and serve wickedness and idolatry is an eternal, everlasting punishment in hell. This is true even today. God has not changed. He is not only known for his love which was demonstrated on Calvary’s Cross, but he is also known by his righteous judgment which he executes upon those that reject Him and His Son’s sacrifice on the Cross.
“For the needy shall not alway be forgotten: the expectation of the poor shall not perish for ever.” In the context of Exodus, God would not let the Israelites suffer forever. While God did temporarily prolong the Israelites’ slavery and bondage, when the Israelites were delivered, they knew that it was no one else but the Lord God Jehovah that delivered them out of Egypt. Had Pharaoh just let them go when Moses petitioned him the first time,God forbid that the Israelites would have proclaimed that Pharaoh delivered them out of Egypt. God, therefore, had to make it known to both Egypt and the Israelites that only he alone could deliver the Israelites out of the land of Egypt. God came through with his promise and the Israelites were certainly not forgotten nor did they perish for ever. God always keeps His Word.
Sometimes, God lets us continue in trials and afflictions so that when we are delivered, no one but Him alone can get the glory. Consider the following verse:
(6) “…saying, Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, saith the LORD of hosts.”
Whatever mighty deliverance from a trial that we experience, it is not because of our own strength or power. It is by the Lord’s Spirit that we were delivered out the trial or overcame the temptation. Sometimes, God has to chasten us just a little bit more so that we will not get prideful and think we delivered ourselves out of the trial.
For that reason, may we always trust God during the trial, even if we feel as if it has been prolonged or extended beyond what we think we can bear. May we rest upon the fact that regardless of the length of the afflicton, God will never relent on his promises. It may be that God needs to declare to us, “I am the LORD…”