Exodus 5–8: Pharaoh & Plagues

Read the Bible in 2011 ◊ Week 15: Monday

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.”
Exodus 5:2

Monday’s Bible reading of Exodus 5–8, finds Moses and Aaron before Pharaoh telling him to let God’s people go. Read carefully as God tells Moses He appeared to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, but He did not make Himself known to them by His name (cf. Exodus 3); He then repeats the covenant He made with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

The first four of the ten plagues that God brings on Egypt are in today’s chapters. As you read, in addition to noting the different plagues also look at Pharaoh’s reactions, the reactions of the Egyptian magicians and how they change from plague to plague. Remember that in Exodus 3:19–20, God said:

“But I know that the king of Egypt will not permit you to go, except under compulsion. So I will stretch out My hand and strike Egypt with all My miracles which I shall do in the midst of it; and after that he will let you go.”

Now in 6:1, He says:

Then the LORD said to Moses, “Now you shall see what I will do to Pharaoh; for under compulsion he will let them go, and under compulsion he will drive them out of his land.”

On the hardening of Pharaoh’s heart, Hywel R. Jones writes:

“Pharaoh’s heart was already filled with blind pride and self-will when Moses appeared to him on the first occasion (5:1ff.; cf. 1:9, 10, 16; 3:19). He heart was hard already and for this he was responsible. God might have softened his heart and disposed him to allow the Israelites to departs, but He chose to act otherwise (9:16; cf. Rom. 9:17), and, by an outpouring of His just wrath, to bring to naught Pharaoh’s inveterate and increasing opposition, and to judge him for it….God is at perfect liberty to use His words and works to soften hearts as in the case of Moses (3:6), or so to ordain it (Rom. 9:18) that they should be the means of throwing into marked relief the natural and deep-seated antipathy of others, as in the case of Pharaoh (5:1-10; 7:10-13, 22, 23, etc.). Pharaoh hardens his heart, i.e., resists God, when given a command or a temporary alleviation of chastisement (e.g. 9:34, 35). This is no chance happening, however, and it is itself the outworking of the wrath of God who ‘gives men up’ to the dominating power of their own innate desires as a present judgment on their sin (Rom. 1:24, 26, 28).”1

Hard hearts is a theme of the Bible that begins in the Old Testament and continues into the New Testament, and it’s one I’ve written about before. It’s a theme of warning and a call to repentance—that when we hear God’s Word we not harden our hearts as Pharaoh did, but hear, heed and obey.

Isaiah 42 Photograph: ChristianPhotos.net – Free High Resolution Photos for Christian Publications
1Hywel R. Jones, “Exodus,” The New Bible Commentary: Revised, D. Guthrie, J. A. Motyer, eds.,
A. M. Stibbs, D. J. Wiseman, contributing eds., p. 125.

Original content: Copyright ©2011 Iwana Carpenter

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