Studying Exodus online with Pastor Jim Cymbala for my daily devotionals. He’s been talking about the spirit of Pharaoh. We know the story of Pharaoh and Moses. (See Exodus 7-11) but I’m seeing a new perspective on Pharaoh.
In the midst of ten plagues, Pharaoh tells Moses the people can leave, seven times. Seven times, he says “go” and seven times, he changes his mind. Analysis of this makes me squirm.
Every drop of water in Egypt turns to blood and Pharaoh doesn’t even flinch. Frogs cover the land and he agrees to let the people go if the frogs do. The frogs go, but the people don’t. Scripture says, “when Pharaoh saw that relief had come, he became stubborn.” Here come the gnats. No response from Pharaoh. Here come the flies. Again, Pharaoh says “Go” with conditions. Moses refuses the conditions and Pharaoh gives in, for a minute.
The Egyptians and their economy are in trouble. Egypt is an agricultural state so these plagues are taking a toll. Now, the livestock are dying and still, Pharaoh remains “stubborn”. Every Egyptian is covered in boils, including Pharaoh, even so, stubborn. Next, God sends a hailstorm. This is an affliction I can relate to. Living in Oklahoma and Colorado, I know firsthand what hail can do to your plants, house and cars. Pharaoh doesn’t even speak to Moses.
At this point, Pharaoh’s officials come and say the country is ruined, get these people away from us. They are killing us! Pharaoh calls Moses in and says okay, only the men can go. Such audacity, after bloody water, frogs, gnats, flies, dead cows, painful skin, and hail; this guy still has the guts to argue. Moses says no, and so does Pharaoh. Enter locusts. Now, Pharaoh “quickly” calls for Moses. He pleads for forgiveness and the locusts to be eradicated. Moses prays, locusts gone and Pharaoh refuses again. The whole land is covered in darkness for three days, pitch black, no one could even move. Pharaoh tells Moses they can go but can’t take their livestock. BTW, the only living livestock was Israel’s, Egypt lost all theirs 4 disasters back. Of course, Moses cannot negotiate with this guy. He’s got a mandate from God.
Finally, “. . . the Lord struck down all the firstborn sons in the land of Egypt, from the firstborn son of Pharaoh, who sat on his throne to the firstborn son of the prisoner in the dungeon. . .. loud wailing was heard through the land of Egypt. There was not a single house where someone had not died.” (Exodus 12:29-30 NLT) Pharaoh can’t get the Israelites out of Egypt fast enough.
I’ve always focused on the unreasonably obstinate Pharaoh, the guy who just wouldn’t give in. Today I’m thinkin’ about the Pharaoh who SEVEN times did give in. Seven times he told Moses to go, but when relief from his trouble came, he changed his mind.
I live in a world where the spirit of Pharaoh is alive and well. People make all manner of promises in the midst of trouble. When trouble abates, those are forgotten or modified. Remember when your community clapped, hollered or howled for healthcare workers every night? Remember when the only news was Rona numbers. Remember when governors did daily news conferences? Then, when the “models” were wrong, those events died down. Even we, who proclaim to be God’s people fall back into complacency when things get better. Like Pharaoh, we make all kinds of promises during a plague and back off our fervency in the relief. During a crisis, it’s easy to spend time in the Word and in prayer, in desperation for God to act.
As we move forward and Rona numbers decrease, our cities reopen and life becomes a little more normal; we dare not embrace the spirit of Pharaoh. There has never been a crisis in our lifetimes like this one. Never before have we been so dependent on the God of the Bible. When we can hug again, have dinner together again, take trips again, join in our houses of worship; let’s remember to keep the promises made in desperate times. Let’s remember to acknowledge the God of the plague.
Thinkin’ on that today.