Beyond the Lectionary Text: Exodus 7:1-7

by Mary Stegink

Comments, Observations, and Questions to Consider

As we all know, life is full of hard, impossible questions.  And the question “why?” often tops the list – especially when we’re looking at events that simply don’t make sense to our human brains.   We hear anguished parents cry it at the graveside of a child.  We hear people groups call it out as they flee for their lives.  Let’s be honest – sometimes we wonder what God is up to.

In this reading of Scripture God is giving his reluctant servant Moses instructions for the task ahead.  God has already called Moses out of the wilderness and away from his sheep.  He’s listened to all of Moses’ “yeah, buts” and has allowed Aaron – the better speaker of the two – to accompany him on his quest to free the people of Israel from their Egyptian bondage.  Moses has just asked the question, “Since I speak with faltering lips, why would Pharaoh listen to me?”  And this reading is God’s answer.  And, not only is it God’s answer – it’s a complete summary of what is about to happen.  That is – God is giving Moses and Aaron the play-by-play of his great plan of redemption.

But, back to God’s answer!  First, God tells Moses that, in Pharaoh’s eyes, Moses will seem like a god – that is, he will be able to do things Pharaoh hasn’t seen before.  (Imagine that kind of power!)  Second, Moses and Aaron are to do exactly what God tells them to do.  (Okay, so far, so good).  But then – third – God tells Moses that he will harden Pharaoh’s heart.  (Why? – we’ll get to that).  Fourth, the miracles will just get greater and greater (but Pharaoh still isn’t going to listen) until – fifth – judgment will fall on Egypt (which will get their attention), and in that judgment they will “know that I am the LORD, because sixth – the Israelites will be brought out.  And then we’re told that “Moses and Aaron did just as the LORD commanded them” at the ripe old ages of 80 and 83!

Textual Observations

Contemporary Significance

Illustration Idea