Lesson 4 | Sabbath, 25 January 2020
“Pharaoh desired to justify his stubbornness in resisting the divine command, and hence he was seeking some pretext for disregarding the miracles that God had wrought through Moses…. Satan hoped also to shake the faith of Moses and Aaron in the divine origin of their mission, that his instruments might prevail. He was unwilling that the children of Israel should be released from bondage to serve the living God…. Moses, in breaking the yoke of bondage from off the children of Israel, prefigured Christ, who was to break the reign of sin over the human family.” –Patriarchs and Prophets, pp. 264, 265.
Called to lead
- What commission did Moses receive on Mount Horeb, the mountain of God?
Exodus 3:4, 10 And when the Lord saw that he turned aside to see, God called unto him out of the midst of the bush, and said, Moses, Moses. And he said, Here am I…. 10Come now therefore, and I will send thee unto Pharaoh, that thou mayest bring forth my people the children of Israel out of Egypt.
“The time for Israel’s deliverance had come. But God’s purpose was to be ac- complished in a manner to pour contempt on human pride. The deliverer was to go forth as a humble shepherd, with only a rod in his hand; but God would make that rod the symbol of His power….
“As Moses waited in reverent awe before God the words continued: ‘… Come now therefore, and I will send thee unto Pharaoh, that thou mayest bring forth my people the children of Israel out of Egypt.’” –Patriarchs and Prophets, pp. 251, 252.
- What request was he instructed to present to Egypt’s monarch? What did God tell him would happen after the request was made?
Exodus 3:18-20 And they shall hearken to thy voice: and thou shalt come, thou and the elders of Israel, unto the king of Egypt, and ye shall say unto him, The Lord God of the Hebrews hath met with us: and now let us go, we beseech thee, three days’ journey into the wilderness, that we may sacrifice to the Lord our God. 19And I am sure that the king of Egypt will not let you go, no, not by a mighty hand. 20And I will stretch out my hand, and smite Egypt with all my wonders which I will do in the midst thereof: and after that he will let you go.
“Moses was commanded first to assemble the elders of Israel, the most noble and righteous among them, who had long grieved because of their bondage, and to declare to them a message from God, with a promise of deliverance. Then he was to go with the elders before the king, and say to him–
“‘The Lord God of the Hebrews hath met with us: and now let us go, we be- seech thee, three days’ journey into the wilderness, that we may sacrifice to the Lord our God.’
“Moses was forewarned that Pharaoh would resist the appeal to let Israel go. Yet the courage of God’s servant must not fail; for the Lord would make this the occasion to manifest His power before the Egyptians and before His people. ‘And I will stretch out My hand, and smite Egypt with all My wonders which I will do in the midst thereof: and after that he will let you go.’” –Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 253.
- Although Moses and Aaron spoke in God’s name, what did Pharaoh reply?
Exodus 5:1-5 And afterward Moses and Aaron went in, and told Pharaoh, Thus saith the Lord God of Israel, Let my people go, that they may hold a feast unto me in the wilderness. 2And Pharaoh said, Who is the Lord, that I should obey his voice to let Israel go? I know not the Lord, neither will I let Israel go. 3And they said, The God of the Hebrews hath met with us: let us go, we pray thee, three days’ journey into the desert, and sacrifice unto the Lord our God; lest he fall upon us with pes- tilence, or with the sword. 4And the king of Egypt said unto them, Wherefore do ye, Moses and Aaron, let the people from their works? get you unto your burdens. 5And Pharaoh said, Behold, the people of the land now are many, and ye make them rest from their burdens.
“Moses had been charged also with a message for the king. The two brothers entered the palace of the Pharaohs as ambassadors from the King of kings, and they spoke in His name: ‘Thus saith Jehovah, God of Israel, Let My people go, that they may hold a feast unto Me in the wilderness.’
“‘Who is Jehovah, that I should obey His voice to let Israel go?’ demanded the monarch; ‘I know not Jehovah, neither will I let Israel go.’…
“Tidings of them and of the interest they were exciting among the people had already reached the king. His anger was kindled. ‘Wherefore do ye, Moses and Aaron, let [hinder] the people from their works?’ he said. ‘Get you unto your bur- dens.’ Already the kingdom had suffered loss by the interference of these strang- ers. At thought of this he added, ‘Behold, the people of the land now are many, and ye make them rest from their burdens.’” –Patriarchs and Prophets, pp. 257, 258.
Human will resists God
- Unwilling to grant the petitioners’ request, what had to happen to change Pharaoh’s mind? Regardless of what he did and the Israelites’ despair, how did the Lord encourage Moses and Aaron to persevere?
Exodus 6:1, 12, 13 Then the Lord said unto Moses, Now shalt thou see what I will do to Pharaoh: for with a strong hand shall he let them go, and with a strong hand shall he drive them out of his land…. 12And Moses spake before the Lord, saying, Behold, the children of Israel have not hearkened unto me; how then shall Pharaoh hear me, who am of uncircumcised lips? 13And the Lord spake unto Moses and unto Aaron, and gave them a charge unto the children of Israel, and unto Pharaoh king of Egypt, to bring the children of Israel out of the land of Egypt.
“The sufferings of the people had been much increased. All over the land a cry of despair went up from old and young, and all united in charging upon him the disastrous change in their condition. In bitterness of soul he went before God, with the cry, ‘Lord, wherefore hast Thou so evil entreated this people? why is it that Thou hast sent me? For since I came to Pharaoh to speak in Thy name, he hath done evil to this people; neither hast Thou delivered Thy people at all.’…
“The Lord directed Moses to go again to the people and repeat the promise of deliverance, with a fresh assurance of divine favor. He went as he was command- ed; but they would not listen. Says the Scripture, ‘They hearkened not for anguish of spirit, and for cruel bondage.’ Again the divine message came to Moses, ‘Go in, speak unto Pharaoh king of Egypt, that he let the children of Israel go out of his land.’ In discouragement he replied, ‘Behold, the children of Israel have not hear- kened unto me; how then shall Pharaoh hear me?’ He was told to take Aaron with him and go before Pharaoh, and again demand ‘that he send the children of Israel out of his land.’” –Patriarchs and Prophets, pp. 259-263.
- Even though the monarch had more than enough evidence of the divine power to obey God’s voice, what did the Lord have to do to change the king’s arrogance and hardness of heart? What was Moses’ decisive re- sponse to Pharaoh’s final threat?
Exodus 10:28, 29 And Pharaoh said unto him, Get thee from me, take heed to thy- self, see my face no more; for in that day thou seest my face thou shalt die. 29And Moses said, Thou hast spoken well, I will see thy face again no more.
“When the demand for Israel’s release had been first presented to the king of Egypt, the warning of the most terrible of the plagues had been given. Moses was directed to say to Pharaoh, ‘Thus saith the Lord, Israel is My son, even My first-born: and I say unto thee, Let My son go, that he may serve Me: and if thou refuse to let him go, behold, I will slay thy son, even thy first-born.’ God had honored Exodus 4:22, in that they were singled out to be the depositaries of His law. In the special blessings and privileges accorded them, they had pre-eminence among the nations, as the first-born son had among brothers.” –Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 273.
- What terrible plague did the king and the Egyptians suffer before they would obey the divine command?
Exodus 11:1; 12:29, 30 And the Lord said unto Moses, Yet will I bring one plague more upon Pharaoh, and upon Egypt; afterwards he will let you go hence: when he shall let you go, he shall surely thrust you out hence altogether…. 12:29And it came to pass, that at midnight the Lord smote all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, from the firstborn of Pharaoh that sat on his throne unto the firstborn of the captive that was in the dungeon; and all the firstborn of cattle. 30And Pharaoh rose up in the night, he, and all his servants, and all the Egyptians; and there was a great cry in Egypt; for there was not a house where there was not one dead.
“The judgment of which Egypt had first been warned, was to be the last vis- ited. God is long-suffering and plenteous in mercy. He has a tender care for the beings formed in His image. If the loss of their harvests and their flocks and herds had brought Egypt to repentance, the children would not have been smitten; but the nation had stubbornly resisted the divine command, and now the final blow was about to fall.” –Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 273.
Reluctant acquiescence gives the victory
- Of what did Pharaoh become convinced after the death of his son and all of the firstborn in Egypt? What order did he give? What lesson do these events have for God’s people at the end of time?
Exodus 12:31-33 And he called for Moses and Aaron by night, and said, Rise up, and get you forth from among my people, both ye and the children of Israel; and go, serve the Lord, as ye have said. 32Also take your flocks and your herds, as ye have said, and be gone; and bless me also. 33And the Egyptians were urgent upon the people, that they might send them out of the land in haste; for they said, We be all dead men.
Psalms 18:2, 3; 62:8 The Lord is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; my God, my strength, in whom I will trust; my buckler, and the horn of my salvation, and my high tower. 3I will call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised: so shall I be saved from mine enemies…. 62:8Trust in him at all times; ye people, pour out your heart before him: God is a refuge for us.
Isaiah 26:4 Trust ye in the Lord for ever: for in the Lord Jehovah is everlasting strength.
“The marvelous providences connected with Israel’s deliverance from Egyp- tian bondage and with their occupancy of the Promised Land led many of the heathen to recognize the God of Israel as the Supreme Ruler. ‘The Egyptians shall know,’ had been the promise, ‘that I am the Lord, when I stretch forth Mine hand upon Egypt, and bring out the children of Israel from among them.’ Exodus 7:5. Even proud Pharaoh was constrained to acknowledge Jehovah’s power. ‘Go, serve the Lord,’ he urged Moses and Aaron, ‘and bless me also.’ Exodus 12:31, 32.” – Prophets and Kings, p. 369.
For additional study
“A man will gain power and efficiency as he accepts the responsibilities that God places upon him, and with his whole soul seeks to qualify himself to bear them aright. However humble his position or limited his ability, that man will at- tain true greatness who, trusting to divine strength, seeks to perform his work with fidelity. Had Moses relied upon his own strength and wisdom, and eagerly accepted the great charge, he would have evinced his entire unfitness for such a work. The fact that a man feels his weakness is at least some evidence that he realizes the magnitude of the work appointed him, and that he will make God his counselor and his strength.” –Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 255.