The LORD Is God
The LORD is God
Exodus 5:1-2 1 Afterward Moses and Aaron went and said to Pharaoh, “Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, ‘Let my people go, that they may hold a feast to me in the wilderness.’ ”
2 But Pharaoh said, “Who is the Lord, that I should obey his voice and let Israel go? I do not know the Lord, and moreover, I will not let Israel go.”
With this meeting Moses introduces Pharaoh to the LORD. Egypt was not without gods but it had no knowledge of the true God. They were so religious that they worshiped almost everything: the Nile, the cow, the Sun. I have read that every plague was directed towards a specific god of Egypt. Some of the proof for that seems to me to be a bit of a stretch. Be that as it may, the Egyptians did consider themselves to be the special people of the gods and that their gods provided and protected them. In the end God did show his power against these so-called gods by exerting HIS will over all of Egypt. God spoke concerning the final plague: 12 For I will pass through the land of Egypt that night, and I will strike all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and on all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgments: I am the LORD" (Ex. 12:12).
After this meeting with Pharaoh the situation of the Israelites takes a turn for the worse. The Egyptians increase the demands upon them and decrease their provisions. Life becomes unbearable. God again appears and informs Moses: "I am the LORD, I appeared to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob as God Almighty, but by my name the LORD I did not make myself known to them" (6:1-3). They did know the linguistic aspect of the name but now God would reveal the true depth and meaning of His name. When He gets done Pharaoh will KNOW THE LORD and so will Israel.
God however warns Moses that " Pharaoh will not listen to you" (7:4). In response to Pharaoh's rejection of God's word God says " Then I will lay my hand on Egypt and bring my hosts, my people the children of Israel, out of the land of Egypt by great acts of judgment" (7:4) The result will be that not only Pharaoh but "the Egyptians shall know that I am the Lord, when I stretch out my hand against Egypt and bring out the people of Israel from among them” (7:5).
The plagues can be divided into 3 sets of 3 with a final plague at the end. Each of these sets begins with a purpose clause about God. The first set says: (7:17): “By this you [Pharaoh] will know that I am the Lord” (7:17, and this is repeated in 8:10 and in effect in 8:19). Thus Pharaoh would come to know just who Yahweh was and what the dynamic presence of his name signified. Egypt then experiences the water being turned into blood, including the water of the Nile river. This is followed by the whole country being plagued with frogs (8:1-15) and then with gnats (8:16-19). Yet, Pharaoh's heart was hardened and he would not listen to them, as the LORD had said (8:19).
God then begins the second set of plagues by stating He would do these in order “that you will know that I, the Lord am in this land,” (8:22). With these plagues they will learn of God’s overseeing providence and guidance of the world, even over all of Egypt. In succession the Egyptians experience their land being filled with the swarms of flies (8:20-32), their livestock dying (9:1-7, and themselves being afflicted with boils (9:8-12). It is the LORD that is in control of their land, their animals, and their health.
Even with all this, we read that Pharaoh's heart was hardened and he would not listen (9:12). The Lord introduces the third set of plagues by declaring: “So you may know that there is no one like me in all the earth,” (9:14; cf. 9:16, 29–30; 10:1). With these they would perceive the scope and force of God’s power and learn that such were beyond anything known to man in all the earth. God brings hail upon the land Egypt but NONE fell upon the land of Goshen (9:13-35). He then brings the locusts (10:1-20) and concludes by exerting His power over the sun, producing darkness over all the land (10:21-29).
YET Pharaoh's heart was hardened and he refused to let Israel go (10:27). With the death of the first-born of both man and beast among the Egyptians we see the last plague. Here Israel was so protected that not even a dog would growl against them (let alone any of them should die) that truly they would "know that the LORD makes a distinction between Egypt and Israel" (11:7).
Even after this, Pharaoh changed his mind and pursued Israel to bring them back into slavery. God overthrows the whole Egyptian army and all their chariots in the sea. As Israel stands on the other side they can sing: “I will sing to the Lord, for he has triumphed gloriously; the horse and his rider he has thrown into the sea. The Lord is my strength and my song, and he has become my salvation; this is my God, and I will praise him, my father’s God, and I will exalt him. The Lord is a man of war; the Lord is his name" (Ex. 15:1-3).
This is the LORD.
The thought for this article came from The Expositor's Bible Commentary on Exodus.