BECAUSE GOD IS SOVEREIGN AND SUFFICIENT, OBEDIENCE TO GOD’S CALL IS THE ONLY OPTION THAT MAKES SENSE
Like Moses, we can easily be overwhelmed with a sense of our own inadequacy. But God is unwavering in His commitment to His kingdom agenda. He assures us of His sovereignty and His sufficiency to enable us to fulfil our calling. He rules over the hearts of even the most powerful world leaders. He provides all of the resources we need for any situation. What he demands is that we respond in the simplicity of obedience – trusting only in Him. The bottom line that should silence all objections and eliminate all excuses is the simple declaration: “I am the LORD” – therefore obey what I command.
I. (6:28-30) GOD CALLS US TO PERFORM MISSIONS BEYOND OUR CAPABILITY
A. (:28) Resumption of the Dramatic Narrative – Based in the Unique Role of Moses
“Now it came about on the day when the LORD spoke to Moses in the land of Egypt,”
Ryken: Since this genealogy was something of a digression, the story now resumes with a brief recap: “Now when the LORD spoke to Moses in Egypt …” (Ex 6:28) and so on.
Believer’s Study Bible: Seemingly repetitious portions of the text (cf. Ex 4:10-17, 21) are not signs of different documents or different authors. The Bible was written to be read aloud to the people. Repetition clarified and maintained the unity of thought, and is typical of Semitic narratives.
B. (:29) Repetition of the Lord’s Overwhelming Charge – Based in His Kingdom Agenda
“that the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, ‘I am the LORD;
speak to Pharaoh king of Egypt all that I speak to you.’”
David Thompson: God is not asking Moses to be a great philosophical orator or communicator, he says you go give this big political leader My Word and I will take care of the rest. Now the emphasis of what God wants Moses to do here is not that he go back to the sons of Israel and try to convince the Hebrews and persuade them that He is going to lead them out of Egypt, both Moses and Aaron were to go directly to Pharaoh and speak to him. . .
Now we do learn here what the job of a prophet actually is and that is to speak the exact words of God. His job is not to invent his own views of things; his job is to speak the exact words of God.
C. (:30) Repetition of Moses’ Understandable Objection – Based in Inadequacy
“But Moses said before the LORD, ‘Behold, I am unskilled in speech;
how then will Pharaoh listen to me?’”
Ryken: What the prophet failed to understand was that Pharaoh’s stubborn resistance was part of God’s sovereign plan. Moses said, “It will never work, Lord. Pharaoh will never listen.” God answered, “Right! That’s exactly what I have in mind. I will harden his heart so that he will not listen to you.” God used Pharaoh’s rebellion to prove that God alone had the power to rescue his people.
The reason Moses had the wrong expectation was because he misunderstood his calling as a prophet. Moses was a pragmatist. He had a performance-based approach to prophetic ministry. He assumed that it was up to the prophet to get results. If people listened to him, then he was doing his job; if not, he should find some other line of work. This explains why Moses was always worrying about whether people would listen to him. “What if they do not believe me or listen to me …?” he would say (Exod. 4:1). Or, “Why would Pharaoh listen to me?” (Exod. 6:12, 30).
The problem with this approach to ministry is that spiritual results are always beyond human control. No matter how eloquent he is, and no matter how persuasive, there is nothing a prophet can do to make people believe God’s Word. It takes faith for someone to believe, and faith is a gift of God’s grace. The only thing that matters to God, therefore, is whether or not the prophet is faithful. The prophet is not responsible for the way the people respond to his message, but only for getting the message right. This is why he does not have the liberty to add anything to God’s message or to leave anything out. As God said to Moses, “You are to say everything I command you” (Exod. 7:2). And as long as the prophet communicates God’s message accurately, he is faithful in his calling, whatever the outcome.
John Mackay: This chapter ends with Moses’ self-doubt. He does not present himself as the typical hero who launches into bold exploits without any hesitation. Moses is well aware of the magnitude of the task facing him and of his own limitations. By stating the matter so clearly and repeatedly, he emphasizes the fact that the deliverance that follows is the work of God alone. No explanation for it can be found in Moses’ personal ability. The one who was really at work was God himself.
II. (:1-7) OBEDIENCE TO GOD’S CALL IS THE ONLY OPTION THAT MAKES SENSE
In light of:
A. (:1-2) The Sufficiency of God’s Enablement
1. (:1) Right Players in Place
“Then the LORD said to Moses, ‘See, I make you as God to Pharaoh, and your brother Aaron shall be your prophet.’”
2. (:2) Right Message for the Mission
“You shall speak all that I command you, and your brother Aaron shall speak to Pharaoh that he let the sons of Israel go out of his land.”
B. (:3) The Sovereignty of God’s Control Over Pharaoh’s Heart
“But I will harden Pharaoh’s heart that I may multiply My signs and My wonders in the land of Egypt.”
David Thompson: Most people in their theology want to change that word “that” to an Arminian “ because .” In other words, most people want to say God would harden Pharaoh’s heart because Pharaoh hardened his own heart. But that is not what this text says. We are not faithful to the Word of God if we say that. This text says God hardened Pharaoh’s heart that He might multiply His own signs and wonders in the land of Egypt.
We cannot water this down to make it say what we want it to say. God is taking full initiative here for the hardening of Pharaoh’s heart. He does not apologize to Moses or us, nor does He debate this point like Arminius wanted to with Calvin. God gives one reason why He is going to harden His heart; “so that” He can show Himself to be the only true, all-powerful God through His signs and wonders.
Warren Wiersbe: The miracles and plagues were also God’s way of judging the gods of Egypt and proving them false and futile. “Against all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgment: I am the Lord” (Ex 12:12; and see Ex 18:11 and Num. 33:4). More than eighty different deities were worshiped in Egypt, but they could do nothing to deliver the land and the people from the terrible judgments Jehovah sent. If nothing else, the Egyptians learned that Jehovah was the true and living God. But the people of Israel also needed to learn this lesson. According to Ezekiel 20:1–9, some of the Jews had begun to worship the Egyptian gods; and when they were delivered from Egypt, they took their gods with them! Did they compromise their faith in an attempt to please their captors and receive better treatment? But how could they forsake Jehovah after seeing all the demonstrations of His power? “Our fathers in Egypt did not understand Your wonders; they did not remember the multitude of Your mercies.”
John Mackay: But I will harden Pharaoh’s heart (7:3). The interpretation of this statement has caused much theological controversy. ‘Heart’ in Scripture is a broad term used to describe the entire inner life of an individual, including his thinking and decision-making as well as his emotions.
The concept of ‘hardening’ is conveyed by three different Hebrew roots.
(1) The first of these occurs in two different verb forms: ‘to be/become strong’ (4:21; 8:19; 9:35) and ‘to make strong’ (7:13, 22; 9:12; 10:20, 27; 11:10; 14:4, 8, 17). Although all the roots are used with very similar meanings, it is perhaps possible to detect in this verb the idea of characteristically unyielding inner attitudes of heart and mind.
(2) The second root is associated with the idea of ‘to be/make heavy’ (8:15, 32; 9:34; 10:1; ‘unyielding’ 7:14; 9:7), and suggests slowness to move in response to external stimuli.
(3) ‘To be severe’ (7:3; ‘stubbornly refused’ 13:15) is the form found in this verse, but it occurs less frequently than the others overall.
All three point to an individual whose spiritual reactions are not as they should be. Rather than joyfully obeying the commands of God and learning the lessons he would teach, the hard heart is spiritually insensitive and so not able to function properly. It will not listen; it will not obey; it stubbornly goes on its own way. The more such behavior is engaged in, the less inclination is there to do otherwise. Eventually in the sovereign determination of God the power to change and reform is lost altogether. That is the Scriptural presentation of the resolute inner defiance of humanity in their rebellion against God.
C. (:4-5) The Severity of God’s Judgments to Accomplish His Purposes
1. (:4) Promise of Plagues
“When Pharaoh will not listen to you, then I will lay My hand on Egypt, and bring out My hosts, My people the sons of Israel, from the land of Egypt by great judgments.”
2. (:5) Purpose of the Plagues
“And the Egyptians shall know that I am the LORD, when I stretch out My hand on Egypt and bring out the sons of Israel from their midst.”
MacArthur: This purpose of the Exodus finds repeated mention in God’s messages to Pharaoh and in God’s descriptions of what He was doing (cf. Exodus 7:16; 8: 10, 22; 9:14, 16, 29; 14:4, 18). Some of the Egyptians did come to understand the meaning of the name Yahweh, for they responded appropriately to the warning of the seventh plague (Ex 9:20), and others accompanied Israel into the wilderness (Ex 12:38). In the final analysis, Egypt would not be able to deny the direct involvement of the God of Israel in their rescue from bondage and the destruction of Egypt’s army.
Constable: The ultimate purpose of God’s actions was His own glory (Ex 7:5). The glory of God was at stake. The Egyptians would acknowledge God’s faithfulness and sovereign power in delivering the Israelites from their bondage and fulfilling their holy calling. God’s intention was to bless the Egyptians through Israel (Ge 12:3+), but Pharaoh would make that impossible by his stubborn refusal to honor God. Nevertheless the Egyptians would acknowledge Yahweh’s sovereignty.
D. (:6-7) The Simplicity of Obedience
1. (:6) Actions Must Conform to the Lord’s Commands
“So Moses and Aaron did it; as the LORD commanded them, thus they did.”
Not enough to have good intentions; you must do the will of God.
2. (:7) Age Grants No Exemption
“And Moses was eighty years old and Aaron eighty-three, when they spoke to Pharaoh.”
Why do people think when they grow older that they are somehow excused from obeying or serving the Lord?
Guzik: This is retirement age for many, but Moses knew that God’s will was more important than retirement. We also see from this that Aaron was Moses’ older brother, so God went against the conventional customs of that day by making the younger brother more prominent.
John Hannah: After 40 years in the wilderness wanderings Moses died at age 120 (Deut. 34:7) and Aaron at 123 (Num. 33:38-39).