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The Nile river, the source of life and death

Updated: Aug 3, 2020

Exodus 7

Yahwe is the giver of life. The Egyptians gladly took water from the Nile and rejoiced over life. However, they glorified a false, imaginary god for this instead of Yahwe, the creator of life, the creator of the Nile, the one that caused the water to flow through the Nile banks over thousands of kilometers and miles. The Egyptians needed a message from their creator. He decided when and when not life or death would come from that river.

Foto from Oziel Gómez (Pexels)

Reading (Exodus 7:1–25):

1 Then the Lord said to Moses, “See, I make you as God to Pharaoh, and your brother Aaron shall be your prophet. This is not a deification of man by God. It indicates Moses’ superiority over Pharaoh because God was with Moses and used him as instrument. Aaron is priest and prophet but is placed under Moses.

2 “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.

Since Moses is too shy to speak, Aaron will speak for him. However, Moses remains in charge and will also sometimes speak up. Everyone has his or her own ministry and this is good. We need to learn to respect each other and to be grateful for what God is doing through the other and be willing to be a blessing to the other. Ministries are complementary and not mutually exclusive. There is also much overlap. If we have a specific ministry that is dominant in our way of serving the Lord, this does not mean that this will remain the same for our whole life. It will mean either that we cannot be used by God for another type of ministry at a given time that is not our main ministry.

3 “But I will harden Pharaoh’s heart that I may multiply My signs and My wonders in the land of Egypt.

Pharaoh’s heart will be resistant so that God can display his might as an appeal to turn to the Lord for both Israelites and Egyptians. This is not unjust because Pharaoh was resistant by his own decision to the voice of the Holy Spirit in a relational sense. Since he did not want a personal relationship with God but wanted to remain his enemy, God let him go in his pride and used it actively so that he would also decide to resist God’s miracles as demonstration of power that he would heed.

4 “When Pharaoh does 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.

Since Pharaoh resisted God’s request to let his people go, Pharaoh will be judged for that. Had Pharaoh opened his heart to the voice of the Holy Spirit and had he decided to humble himself before God, God would not have helped him to make the firm decision not to let God’s people go.

5 “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.”

The whole point is the peace relationship between God and all people. For this purpose, God reveals himself not only to the Israelites but also to the Egyptians. He demonstrates his superiority over the Egyptian gods because this is how the people at that time determine which god they should follow: those that are the strongest, and this is determined by war. The winner has the most powerful gods and they should be worshipped. Thus, either Pharaoh humbles himself directly before God and proclaims Yahwe to be the God who should be worshipped in Egypt or else Pharaoh and his people must learn it by a demonstration of power.

6 So Moses and Aaron did it; as the Lord commanded them, thus they did.

At least Moses and Aaron were submitted to God and wanted to accomplish his orders, no matter the circumstances. This is a good thing because most people do not even want that. They know what God wants them to do. They have received the instructions. They say that they do not understand the instructions but actually they do and they know it. They can explain the pastor that they do not know what God expects them to do but when they explain what they really know, the pastor says, “Well, actually, I did not know but the way you explain, does it not show plainly what God expects you to do? Why do you say that you do not know what God wants you to do? It is exactly what you just said.” So, Moses and Aaron knew exactly what they had to do. If they only could leave aside that “Oh, God you do not really know these people, I do, so let me just tell you what you should not ask to do.”

7 Moses was eighty years old and Aaron eighty-three, when they spoke to Pharaoh.

8 Now the Lord spoke to Moses and Aaron, saying,

9 “When Pharaoh speaks to you, saying, ‘Work a miracle,’ then you shall say to Aaron, ‘Take your staff and throw it down before Pharaoh, that it may become a serpent.’ ”

10 So Moses and Aaron came to Pharaoh, and thus they did just as the Lord had commanded; and Aaron threw his staff down before Pharaoh and his servants, and it became a serpent.

11 Then Pharaoh also called for the wise men and the sorcerers, and they also, the magicians of Egypt, did the same with their secret arts.

12 For each one threw down his staff and they turned into serpents. But Aaron’s staff swallowed up their staffs.

This is the true power encounter. God comes down to their petty games and meets them on their own grounds. It is there where he displays his superiority. It is not by cultural imperialism and by working within their own cultural context.

13 Yet Pharaoh’s heart was hardened, and he did not listen to them, as the Lord had said.

14 Then the Lord said to Moses, “Pharaoh’s heart is stubborn; he refuses to let the people go.

15 “Go to Pharaoh in the morning as he is going out to the water, and station yourself to meet him on the bank of the Nile; and you shall take in your hand the staff that was turned into a serpent.

16 “You shall say to him, ‘The Lord, the God of the Hebrews, sent me to you, saying, “Let My people go, that they may serve Me in the wilderness. But behold, you have not listened until now.”

17 ‘Thus says the Lord, “By this you shall know that I am the Lord: behold, I will strike the water that is in the Nile with the staff that is in my hand, and it will be turned to blood.

God now starts to challenge and demonstrate his power over the main Egyptian gods. The first one that is outmatched is the Nile. Blood means that the Nile as god is dead, judged and executed by Yahwe. The Nile can no longer give life to the Egyptians. Life from the Nile is only possible if Yahwe allows for this.

18 “The fish that are in the Nile will die, and the Nile will become foul, and the Egyptians will find difficulty in drinking water from the Nile.” ’ ”

19 Then the Lord said to Moses, “Say to Aaron, ‘Take your staff and stretch out your hand over the waters of Egypt, over their rivers, over their streams, and over their pools, and over all their reservoirs of water, that they may become blood; and there will be blood throughout all the land of Egypt, both in vessels of wood and in vessels of stone.’ ”

20 So Moses and Aaron did even as the Lord had commanded. And he lifted up the staff and struck the water that was in the Nile, in the sight of Pharaoh and in the sight of his servants, and all the water that was in the Nile was turned to blood.

21 The fish that were in the Nile died, and the Nile became foul, so that the Egyptians could not drink water from the Nile. And the blood was through all the land of Egypt.

22 But the magicians of Egypt did the same with their secret arts; and Pharaoh’s heart was hardened, and he did not listen to them, as the Lord had said.

23 Then Pharaoh turned and went into his house with no concern even for this.

24 So all the Egyptians dug around the Nile for water to drink, for they could not drink of the water of the Nile.

25 Seven days passed after the Lord had struck the Nile. (NASB95)

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