Notes on the Exodus (104)

“Exposing the Exodus”

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The way, the truth and the life!

The Duplicity of Pharaoh   (Chapter 10 Verses 16-20)

The world always refuses that God will do what he says, especially in relation to judgment. They mock such an idea. But there is a time when his judgment does and will come. But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up” (2Peter 3:8-10). We see in the king here this same tendency. He reacts emotionally to difficulty and danger, not with reason and certainly not with faith. We must be discerning and clear in this regard, even when spiritual and religious language is used. His admission here is not a confession (v16). We would like to think that church has matured to the point that it wouldn’t take Pharaoh’s words here as a conversion experience (v16-17). Sadly, not always the case. We must not accept words and promises that are made under duress as being such an experience. Certainly the king’s brashness has evaporated, he is now gripped with fear. He is faced with powers that he can neither understand or control. He pleads with Moses but notice twice the reference to “your” God (v16-17). He has not yielded to God, the true and living God one iota, there is no change in his heart. In his confession and plea for forgiveness, it is the voice of conscience, natural light, not supernatural grace. There is and absence of sorrow (v17). The words are wrung from his mouth the terror of the judgment he is faced with. Which is a characteristic of the wicked when faced with the recompense of their sin and its due penalty. In true conversion, there is a hearty confession, a true expression of sorrow wrought by the Holy Spirit in the heart. It is rooted in the love of God.

Pharaoh wants the forgiveness of Moses, not God. He is perhaps afraid that Moses will no longer entreat for him. But in the face of all God’s words and works of judgment he has continued to harden himself. And the more the process continues the  more he loses control and slips more fully into the grasp of Satan, the one whom he truly serves. Even in moments of panic he no longer capable or even desirous of changing. He is in serious trouble, great danger. The Lord is against him, the Lord further hardens his heart (v20). Pharaoh has made his choice and God simply confirms that choice. His judgment had come, handed over to Satan, for Satan. He is without remedy, as with, “Hymenæus and Alexander; whom I have delivered unto Satan, that they may learn not to blaspheme” (1Timothy 1:20). Do remember it took a long time to reach this stage. How many national, or natural disasters, acts of terror, reverses in the economy will it take for Britain to listen to God? See the working already of God’s wrath in the minds of men in our society already, “and even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient; being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers, backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, without understanding, covenant-breakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful” (Romans 1:28-31). As soon as God hardens his heart Pharaoh begins to rebel again. He convinces himself that he has been a fool to give way to Moses demand. Perhaps explaining away the locusts as just another natural phenomena? Be absolutely clear about this, nothing but the almighty, sovereign grace of God can cure the wicked. His heart is, deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked” (Jeremiah 17:9). It is because of the revelation of God’s wrath (Romans 1:18), we must be ready to preach the gospel to sinners far and wide (Romans 1:15). Because it is in that gospel that the righteousness of God is also revealed (Romans 1:17). For it is yet the power of God to save (Romans 1:16).

(© James R Hamilton, written Spring, 2015)
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