Bible Study Preparation – Exodus 9.
The Lord Demonstrates His Sovereign Authority & Power over Pharaoh.
– “Pharaoh’s heart was hardened & he would not let the Israelites go” (9:35).
The story so far,
Refer and update the chart for the plagues described in chapter 9.
What was the Lords purpose in sending Moses & Aaron to Pharaoh?
To bring his people Israel out of Egypt (7:4).
Demonstrating to the Egyptians he was Lord (7:5).
What did he predict would be Pharaoh’s reaction?
His heart would hardened & he would not listen (4:21 & 7:3-4).
As we study Exodus 9 we will observe this continuing with the Lord seeking to demonstrate His sovereign power & authority over Pharaoh with a further 3 plagues.
The Fifth Plague: Egyptian Livestock Die – read Exodus 9:1 – 7.
God again sent Moses to Pharaoh to Pharaoh,
Requesting he let His people go to serve him (9:1).
If he refused God would send a plague on the livestock (9:2).
The previous 4 plagues had affected the environment around the Egyptians,
By targeting their livestock God came even more closer to the Egyptians – their economy & military depended upon animals.
Reflected in the list of animals the plague would affect (9:3).
It also had religious implications for them.
Egypt prized the bull by worshiping the Apis bull the sacred animal of the god Ptah.
The goddess Hathor represented a cow-woman image worshiped in several cities.
Emphasised his authority by setting the time when it would happen (9:5)
Why did God protect & make a distinction with the Israelite livestock (9:4)?
To emphasise it was Pharaoh & the Egyptians he was punishing
When Israel left Egypt, they still would have their livestock to take with them.
Application: despite confirming that it was only the Egyptian livestock that had died Pharaoh remained disobedient to the Lords requests,
Does this not remind us of the worlds rejection of God?
Were we like this before God ‘softened’ our hearts & brought us to a point of redemption thru acceptance and faith in Jesus?
The Sixth Plague: Boils – read Exodus 9:8 – 12.
Now the Lord brings a plague that directly affects each Egyptian,
Although not told we can only assume the Israelites were spared
Handfuls of soot were to be thrown in the air in the sight of Pharaoh (9:8).
Note the soot was from a kiln (9:10) – presumably one used in brick making which was so oppressive on the Israelites!!
Why do you think Pharaoh had maintained the presence of the magicians (9:11) despite their lack of previous success?
Pharaoh was not willing to grant the God of Israel recognition & sovereignty thus maintaining an outward show of his authority.
Scripture records that “the Lord Hardened Pharaoh’s heart” (9:12).
In each of the previous five plagues it is observed that Pharaoh hardened his own heart.
God had predicted to Moses before the plagues began that he would “harden Pharaoh’s heart” (4:21 & 7:3).
Ten times (4: 21; 7: 3; 9: 12; 10: 1, 20, 27; 11: 10; 14: 4, 8, 17) the scripture notes specifically that God hardened Pharaoh’s heart, and ten times (7: 13– 14, 22; 8: 15, 19, 32; 9: 7, 34– 35; 13: 15) scripture indicates the king hardened his own heart.
The Lords plan in taking his people from Egypt would not be thwarted despite the hardness of Pharaoh’s heart.
Application: whilst the sovereign Lord maintains the power to intervene as he chooses we will never lose personal responsibility for the outcome of our own actions.
His desired outcome will predominate.
We should always be prayerfully seeking His confirmation & guidance that our actions & decisions are within the outcome He desires.
Not easy, but as Christians this should be our objective & desire.
The Seventh Plague: Hail – read Exodus 9:13 – 34.
As indicated in our diagram Moses confronted Pharaoh by the river probably as he went to bathe in the Nile.
Again, it is emphasised that it was the Lords request to Pharaoh to “let my people go, that they may serve me” (9:13).
This time the plague would not only affect the Egyptian people but also be directed at Pharaoh personally, so that,
Pharaoh may know there is none like the Lord on earth (9:14).
God was being patient with Pharaoh & could by now have struck Pharaoh & the Egyptians from the earth (9:15).
God wanted Pharaoh to know who was in control – his stubborn rebellion only glorified God more in the end!
Paul spoke of God’s sovereignty over Pharaoh (Exodus 9:16 & Romans 9:17).
As we see in other parts of scripture – particularly the Old Testament – God raises up leaders & nations to a position of prominence in order to serve his purposes.
Pharaoh may have thought his position & actions were his own free choice but in reality, he was there to serve God’s purpose.
Application: Romans 9:18(ESV) – “So then he has mercy on whomever he wills, and he hardens whomever he wills”
This should be not only a warning but also an encouragement to the believer seeking to walk in the Lords will & purpose.
Note that unlike Pharaoh some of the Egyptians were beginning to fear & take heed of “the word of the Lord” (9:20 & 21).
Such hail had never been seen in Egypt before (9:25) – it is still rare today – it’s frightening intensity leading them to believe the wrath of God was being poured down from heaven.
The plague was only directed at Pharaoh & the Egyptians with the Israelites in the land of Goshen spared (9:26).
Pharaoh’s reaction to the plague was to,
Initially acknowledge his sin & God was right (9:27),
Then hardened when the hail had stopped (9:34).
Pharaoh remains stubborn in face of all the plagues – read Exodus 9:35.
Reflecting on the story so far, how do you think Moses & Aaron must have felt?
Moses was beginning to understand Pharaoh (9:30) & no doubt believed what God had foretold him Pharaoh’s reaction would be.
His obedience & reliance on the Lord was complete.
When God requested Moses go to Pharaoh he did.
When Pharaoh requested the plague be stopped Moses relied on the Lord to do so (9:33).
Again, scripture indicates Pharaoh’s heart was hardened – this time apparently by his own stubbornness.
Applications & takeaways.
We continue to observe Moses life as an example of faith, obedience & endurance for which he was commended in Hebrews 11:23 – 31.
He had chosen Moses & Aaron as his servants to achieve this.
The Lord looks not on the outward appearance but the heart. (1 Samuel 16:7) – what has he personally chosen us for?
Whilst the sovereign Lord maintains the power to intervene as he chooses we never lose personal responsibility for the outcome of our own actions.
His desired outcome will predominate.
This was demonstrated in both the Lord hardening Pharaoh’s heart and on other occasions Pharaoh’s own stubbornness leading to his heart being hardened (Romans 9:17).
Recognising the Lords sovereignty & authority – especially as it is challenged by others as Pharaoh did – how does this impact our lives?
The Lord had a plan & continued to encourage Moses to stick with it
Pharaoh would “Let my people go”!!
Do we find ourselves in similar circumstances today?