The Reading: Exodus 14:1-9
“I will get glory over Pharaoh” (v. 4) RSV
Who was the king of kings? Was it Pharaoh? He was the mighty force at the time. He had absolute power and was revered as a god. Slaves built him cities and pyramids. He could have anyone executed instantly at his word. He had a mighty army that could crush any other country that dared to threaten.
And yet was he ultimately in control? Each time that Moses performed one of the signs (e.g. turning the waters of the Nile to blood, the frogs, the gnats, the flies, etc), it is recorded that Pharaoh “hardened his heart” (Exodus 8:15, 8:19, 9:7). But in due course you may note it was the Lord God who “hardened the heart of Pharaoh” (Exodus 9:12, 9:34-35, 10:1, 10:20, 10:27, 11:10, 14:4, 14:8).
Despots, dictators and autocratic kings may believe that they and their power, even their ‘divine right of kings’, gives them total control. They forget that there is a God in heaven who is king over all. Pharaoh could not resist the power of Moses with his words and his mighty signs. Pharaoh may have thought that his heart and his will were his own, but he was wrong.
That is why it records that God said of Pharaoh: “… for this purpose have I let you live, to show you my power, so that my name may be declared throughout all the earth.” (Exodus 9:16).
We need to be encouraged that though unjust and oppressive regimes may exist for a while, in due course God will bring them down. Until he does, there seems little else the crushed people can do except to cry out to the Lord for vengeance and salvation.
Lord God, sovereign over all things and all rulers, bring down all oppressors and strengthen the oppressed. Thank you where you have given good government. Amen.
1 How long had the Hebrews been in Egypt?
2 What happened to Pharaoh’s army?
Exodus 14:17-18, 27-28