God’s promise to deliver the Israelites from Egyptian bondage (Exodus 2:23-25; 3:7-9) seemed unlikely considering the opposition Moses had already experienced from the king of Egypt (Exodus 5). Moses’ first encounter with Pharaoh resulted in an increased workload for the Israelites (Exodus 5:1-19) and they blamed Moses and Aaron for their plight (Exodus 5:20-21). In a moment of desperation Moses cried out to God saying, “Lord, why have You brought trouble on this people? Why is it You have sent me? For since I came to Pharaoh to speak in Your name, he has done evil to this people; neither have You delivered Your people at all” (5:22-23). Moses’ questions evoked a response from the Lord who said, “Now you shall see what I will do to Pharaoh. For with a strong hand he will let them go, and with a strong hand he will drive them out of his land” (6:1). God was aware of the opposition Moses was experiencing, but He guaranteed him that Israel would be delivered. To support His claim, God reminded Moses about the covenant He had made with the patriarchs regarding their inheritance of the land of Canaan, which meant that the Israelites would soon be released from Egyptian bondage (6:2-5). After reminding Moses of His everlasting covenant, God commanded him to also remind the children of Israel that He would keep His promise and personally be involved in bringing them safely to Canaan (6:6-8); however, when Moses stood before the Israelites and told them the words of the Lord “…they did not heed Moses, because of anguish of spirit and cruel bondage” (6:9). The Lord then told Moses to approach Pharaoh again to ask for the release of the Israelites, but Moses objected saying, “The children of Israel have not heeded me. How then shall Pharaoh heed me, for I am of uncircumcised lips?” (6:10-12). God seemed to ignore Moses’ fears and gave him a stern command to lead the children of Israel out of Egypt (6:13). Following the interaction between Moses and the Lord, there is a slight break in the narrative as Moses provides the genealogy record of his family as well as the family of Aaron (6:14-25). This information is provided in order to confirm the identity of these two men, Moses and Aaron, as the ones appointed by God to deliver the children of Israel from Egypt (6:26-27).
The narrative resumes with God repeating Moses’ mission to confront Pharaoh and ask for the release of the Israelites (6:28-7:2). Although Pharaoh would not heed the voice of Moses, God promised to send great judgments upon Egypt for Pharaoh’s refusal to listen (7:3-4). God told Moses that through these judgments “…the Egyptians shall know that I am the Lord, when I stretch out My hand on Egypt and bring out the children of Israel from among them” (7:5). Moses and Aaron obeyed the voice of the Lord and spoke to Pharaoh (7:6-7) and to authenticate their message Aaron threw down his rod before Pharaoh and it became a serpent (7:8-10); however, Pharaoh’s magicians replicated this sign, which was obviously an act of Satan (7:11-12a). Even though the magicians of Egypt had mimicked the sign, “Aaron’s rod swallowed up their rods” which demonstrated God’s superior power (7:12b). Upon seeing these events take place, “Pharaoh’s heart grew hard, and he did not heed them, as the Lord had said” (7:13). The fierce battle between Moses and Pharaoh had begun, but God had already guaranteed the victory and Moses would just need to follow God’s instructions.
Dear God, keep me faithful when all hope seems lost.