In Exo 4.10-17, God answers another question. Moses says he is not “eloquent” when he is asked by God to go to the Hebrews and speak with them. We know from Acts 7.22 that he was a man powerful in words and deeds, so what does he mean? He is saying that he didn’t know the people and he didn’t know Hebrew, or the customs very well. He was not an “insider” when it came to speaking Hebrew. He was raised Egyptian. The Lord tells Moses that it will not be an issue, but Moses wants the Lord to send someone else. This is a clear case of Moses saying, “Here I am Lord, send Aaron.”
The Lord tells him that his brother Aaron speaks Hebrew fluently (4.14) and to tell him what to say to the people, so Moses departs. This language issue will only be for a short time. We will see later where Moses speaks to the people just fine, they just didn’t like what he had to say. In Exo 5.1-23 we learn about the first encounter with Pharaoh. Later in this teaching we will look at these encounters and plagues at a deeper level, so we are not going to deal with them right now, just a brief overview.
What was the purpose for the Exodus? It was for all to know the Lord, and this means Israel, Egypt, the nations and for all generations after that. This is why the Lord does anything. Moses was considered the greatest prophet next to the Messiah (Deut 18.15-22). We learn in Exo 6.9 that the people did not listen to Moses because they were despondent, or “broken in spirit” (Hebrew “kotzer ruach”). Slavery always devalues people and makes a person feel less than their “taskmasters.” Eventually we give up and quit trying. Israel was broken and so they were “comfortable.” God will deliver them from Egypt, but they were also victims of “gradualism.”
The core issue here is God isn’t trying to conquer Egypt, he already owned Egypt and could do that in a split second. It is the Egyptians who were in conflict with him as their creator God. This will be a core issue in the Birth-pains also. The Egyptians don’t know him and they followed many gods. It was monotheism versus polytheism, and it is the same today. Polytheism believes in many “gods” who have “competing” powers, and they are fickle. They can be “bribed” by offerings to get them to do what you want, if they want to. Biblical Monotheism is Yehovah who has all power, its just that simple. When the Birth-pains arrive, one of the centers of controversy will be the Temple and the Altar. We believe that the altar will go up first, based on Ezra 3.1-6. There we see an altar was put up for the korbanot before the Temple was built.
Most in Christianity will think that this altar will be an affront to the Messiah as “the final sacrifice.” What they don’t realize is believers in the first century offered animal sacrifices 28 years after Yeshua and after the book of Galatians was written (Acts 21.15-26, 24.17) and they will be offered again when Yeshua returns and Ezekiel’s Temple is built (Ezekiel chapters 40 through 48; Zech 14.16-19; Isa 66.23-24). The altar will do the same thing it always has done, going back to Genesis. The altar isn’t about salvation, it is about doing business with God. It is about the Lord who is over the whole earth that must be respected.
Moses was to go three days into the wilderness with the people to worship the Lord and to give korbanot (offerings). When you want to worship this God, or do business with this God, you must come to this altar. Jerusalem and the Temple is where he chose to put his name, it is where man can do business with the Lord. If you wanted to thank God, remember a covenant, deal with sin and so on, you set up an altar. Adam, Cain, Abel, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob knew that. It has always been about an altar.
Even in churches, when a preacher wants the people to get down to business with God, they are to come forward to an altar, or to the front where an altar would have been in the “old days.” It is the place where they recognize that God is God, and he rules. God told Israel that they should put put up an altar, a real stone altar. Most people don’t believe in that kind of thing anymore, it is not in their replacement theology. People do this in their heart, and even have an “altar” in their churches, why can’t Israel put up a real altar, according to how God sad to do it. We have seen altars of stone made out of blocks from Home depot on TV, and those altar are an abomination to the Lord. Those are man-made concrete blocks, not uncut stone.
He is God and we are men. By first recognizing he is God, he will be merciful to us in light of the same covenants he has made with our fathers. Moses needed to go out into the wilderness rather than stay in the land to worship (Exo 8.25-26). He told Pharaoh that the things he held as sacred (sheep, cattle) are the things they will slaughter when they worship God. Moses said they would offend the Egyptians if they saw them slit the throat, flay it and and lay it on an altar. Moses said that is why we need to go “out.” The only people who get offended at God’s altar are “Egyptians” and “unbelievers.” People speak against the Temple and the Altar and that is not a good attitude to have.
God’s purpose in the Exodus is to reveal himself, not only to Israel, but to the world. He wants the people to know who he is as deliverer, redeemer and savior. What the Lord did in Egypt will be nothing compared to what he is going to do in the Birth-pains. Mankind has never seen what is going to happen by the hands of this deliverer, redeemer and savior. There will be ten judgments in the Egyptian Redemption, but during the Birth-pains there will be vials, trumpets, seals, thunders and more. Slavery doesn’t happen all at once, neither did the Holocaust. It took years.
In the first five plagues it says Pharaoh hardened his own heart (Exo 7.22-23, 8.1, 8.15, 8.28, 9.7). The next five a subtle shift occurs. The Lord “hardens” his heart (Exo 9.12, 9.27, 34-35, 10.1, 10.20, 10.27, 14.4-5). Pharaoh hardens his heart and lost his ability to see clearly. This is part of his punishment, his loss. He lost the ability to repent. He is not going to recognize this God of the Hebrews, a people he was abusing. He was not like the Pharaoh of Joseph. Te Pharaoh of Moses really believed he was a god and that limited his choices. To do what Yehovah told him to do would mean he was not a powerful god, as most thought he was, and it would have been very humbling for him to admit that. We are going to look at this in detail later.
In Exo 10 through 13, we will see that there are two realities. We have God’s reality and then we will have Pharaoh’s reality. Egypt lived in a delusion and God was going to impose his reality on Pharaoh and Egypt. God’s reality is how he thinks of history and its players. Society will crumble and this will turn the tables on Egypt. We don’t know how to handle absolute righteousness. These chapters (10-13) reveal the Lord in ways that are hard for us to understand. God isn’t far but he is just.
There is a story about Pharaoh. When he died, God put him at the door to Sheol, the abode of the dead. Every evil ruler who came through that door was confronted by him and heard him say, “Didn’t you learn anything from me?” This goes the same for every person who goes to Sheol. When they arrive at the door, Pharaoh also says, “Didn’t you learn anything from me?” We should not harden our hearts against the Lord. Pharaoh is our example, and we need to learn from his example.
In Rom 9.18 we have three words for harden. “Kashah” means “stubborn” (Exo 7.3, 13.15). The second word is “Kaved” meaning “heavy” (Exo 8.15, 32, 9.34, 10.1). This word is related to the word “kivod” meaning “radiance and glory.” The third word is “Chazak” and it means “to strengthen or encourage” (Exo 4.21, 7.13, 8.17, 9.12, 10.20, 27, 11.10).
In Part 68, we will pick up in Exo 12 and talk about the institution of the Religious Calendar.