Brief Notes

Bargaining with
Pharaoh (2):
“Who Is Jehovah?”

23 December 2023

So often, when people
first hear the gospel,
they just deny God and
His claim over
their life outright

The first stage of Pharaoh’s bargaining with Moses was very direct: he simply denied God had any claim over the Children of Israel:

Moses and Aaron went in and told Pharaoh, “Thus says the LORD God of Israel: ‘Let My people go, that they may hold a feast to Me in the wilderness.’ ”
And Pharaoh said, “Who is the LORD, that I should obey His voice to let Israel go? I do not know the LORD, nor will I let Israel go.”
— Exodus 5:1-2

As we considered in the previous Note, Pharaoh here typifies Satan both as the ruler of this world outwardly (John 12:31), and as the god of this age working within us to blind us to the gospel (2 Cor. 4:4; see “Bargaining with Pharaoh (1): The Pharaoh Within”)

Perhaps when you first heard the gospel, this “indwelling Pharaoh” responded within you in the very same way: “Who is Jesus? I have no idea who He is, and I don’t believe He is God, or that He has any right or claim over my life!”

Certainly, so many times when we have preached the gospel, that has been the response of those we have spoken to. It really is Satan as the “indwelling Pharaoh” refusing to let God’s people go.

After responding to Moses in such a way, Pharaoh then accused the Israelites of being “idle” (vv. 8, 17) and warned the officers of the people not to listen to “false words,” or, as the KJV says, “vain words” (v. 9).

So often, as we begin to turn to the Lord, believing the Bible, people tell us these are “false words”; moreover, those close to us may feel we only want to follow Christ because we are “idle”; they accuse us of wasting our life, and demand we get busy, pursuing some kind of success in the world:

“You are idle! Idle! Therefore you say, ‘Let us go and sacrifice to the LORD.’”
— Exodus 5:17

Haven’t you had just this experience? I certainly have, and I thank the Lord that the Bible here depicts our experience in such an exact way, to help us understand what we have passed through.

After this encounter, Moses was quite discouraged, because Pharaoh had simply refused to listen to him. However, the Lord had not yet begun to work directly in the situation; that would come later, and that is when everything would change, as we see in the following conflict between Moses and Pharaoh.

And in our own experience, it is the same: we may resist God for some time, but when He begins to work directly in our life, we eventually have no choice but to open to Him and believe in the Lord.

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— 23 December 2023 —