And the LORD said to Moses, Rise up early in the morning, and stand before Pharaoh, and say to him…
I. I am to show THAT GOD DID DESTROY PHARAOH. The Deity threatened to cut him off from the earth, which plainly implied something more than barely putting an end to his life, Had He permitted him to die by old age, or by sickness, or even by what is commonly called accident, we should have had no right to conclude from the manner of his dying that he was really destroyed. But there were two circumstances attending his death, which may be justly considered as denoting his destruction. He was cut off in the midst of his wickedness. And another is, that he died by the immediate hand of Divine justice. As God opened the Red Sea in mercy to Israel, so He shut it again in judgment to Pharaoh, whom He had threatened to destroy.
II. I am to show THAT GOD RAISED UP PHARAOH TO FIT HIM FOR DESTRUCTION. God worketh all things after the counsel of His own will. He never does anything without a previous design. If He destroyed Pharaoh in the manner which has been represented, there can be no doubt but that He previously intended to destroy him in such a manner. But the Divine declarations supersede the necessity of reasoning upon this head. God made known, from time to time, His purpose of destroying Pharaoh. Now, if we look into the history of God's conduct towards Pharaoh, we shall find that He used all the proper and necessary means to form him a vessel of wrath, and fit him for that miserable end to which he was appointed.
1. He raised him up from nothing into being. He gave him a rational and immortal existence.
2. He raised him up to the throne of Egypt. In this splendid situation he was surrounded with everything that could please his taste, flatter his vanity, and inflame his ambition. And this was a natural and necessary step to prepare him for his final fate. For it is a Divine maxim, that "pride goeth before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall."
3. God not only raised Pharaoh to the pinnacle of human glory, but also removed from him outward restraints. Besides giving him the power of an unlimited monarch, was virtually setting him above all legal influence and control. But besides this, God removed Moses from his presence and kingdom, who was learned in all the wisdom of Egypt, and thoroughly acquainted with all the arts and intrigues of a court.
4. God endured this vessel of wrath with much long-suffering and forbearance. Instead of treating him according to his deserts, He waited long to be .gracious. He used a variety of means to bring him to repentance. But mercies, as well as judgments, conspired to increase his stupidity and hardness of heart, which prepared him for a more unexpected .and more aggravated doom.
5. God hardened his heart. All other methods, without this, would have failed of fitting him for destruction. It is now time to make it appear, if possible —
III. THAT GOD IS TO BE JUSTIFIED IN HIS TREATMENT OF PHARAOH. We must proceed upon the supposition that God did treat him in the manner which has been represented; and especially that He did, among other things, actually harden his heart.
1. That better judges than we can pretend to be, have approved of God's treatment of Pharaoh. We find his own testimony in favour of God and against himself. "Pharaoh sent and called for Moses and Aaron, and said unto them, I have sinned this time; the Lord is righteous, and I and my people are wicked." This Pharaoh said after God had raised him up, after He had taken off restraints from his mind, after He had sent severe judgments upon him, after He had hardened his heart, and after He had told him that He had raised him up to destroy him. By this time Pharaoh was nearly ripened for ruin, and properly prepared to judge whether God had injured him, or whether he had injured God. And he freely acknowledges that he was wicked, and had injured God, and that God was righteous, and had never injured him.
2. The sovereignty and justice of God allowed Him to treat Pharaoh in the manner which has just been described. The Deity had a sovereign right to bring Pharaoh into existence, to give him the powers and faculties of a moral agent, to place him at the head of a kingdom, and to operate upon his heart in the same manner in which He operates upon the hearts of other men. And when Pharaoh, under such circumstances, became extremely haughty, cruel, malevolent and obstinate, He had a right, in point of justice, to cut him off from the earth, and send him to endless perdition.
(N. Emmons, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: And the LORD said unto Moses, Rise up early in the morning, and stand before Pharaoh, and say unto him, Thus saith the LORD God of the Hebrews, Let my people go, that they may serve me.