And the LORD spoke to Moses, Go to Pharaoh, and say to him, Thus said the LORD, Let my people go, that they may serve me.…
Observe on this plague, in addition to what has been said above.
I. PHARAOH'S HARDNESS UNDER THE FIRST PLAGUE WROUGHT NO ESCAPE, EITHER FROM THE DIVINE COMMAND OR FROM THE DIVINE POWER (ver. 1). He probably thought, now that the river was healed, that he had done with Jehovah's demand, and perhaps congratulated himself that he had succeeded in holding out. But divine commands are not thus to be got rid of. They are not to be got rid of by resistance. They are not to be got rid of even by braving out the penalty. They come back and back to us, and always with the old alternative, obey, or incur new punishment. Our most furious opposition cannot rid us of the obligation of rendering to Jesus in the Gospel "the obedience of faith," nor shall we escape judgment if we refuse.
II. THE SECOND PLAGUE INDUCED A SUBMISSION WHICH THE FIRST FAILED TO EXTORT (ver. 8). It was submission under compulsion, but it testified to a remarkable change in the king's views about Moses and Jehovah. It was not long since he had been erecting himself in his pride in supreme defiance of both. Moses and Aaron he had treated as base-born slaves, and had ordered them back to their burdens (Exodus 5:4). He had scorned the message of their God, and had shown his contempt for it by heaping new insults on Jehovah's worshippers. So impressed was even Moses by his lordly greatness, that he had shrunk from exposing himself to the proud king's despite, lie thought it was useless for him to attempt to go to Pharaoh. Very different were Pharaoh's ideas about Moses and Jehovah now he had been smitten by the invisible hand of this God with these two reeling blows, and already he was on his knees asking for deliverance. The vaunting sinner will change his views of the living God when once he falls into His hands.
III. THE SECOND PLAGUE REVERSED THE RELATIONS OF MOSES AND PHARAOH, MAKING PHARAOH THE SUITOR, AND MOSES THE PERSON SUED TO (ver. 8). What a humiliation to this haughty monarch! How much better for himself had he yielded at first, and with a good grace, to the righteous demand made upon him! Nothing is gained by resistance to God, but ultimate pain and humiliation. As Pharaoh was humbled, so Moses was exalted, lie began to be "a god" to Pharaoh. Like reversals of the positions of the great ones of the world and despised servants of God have frequently been witnessed. Compare Paul and Felix (Acts 24:25); Paul and the centurion, in the shipwreck at Malta (Acts 28.).
IV. THE SECOND PLAGUE RAISED MOSES TO NEW HONOURS BY MAKING HIS INTERCESSION THE MEDIUM OF DELIVERANCE (vers. 9-12). God might have removed the plague at Pharaoh's simple request, conveyed to him by Moses. In point of fact, he made the intercession of Moses the condition and medium of it. The same thing is seen in the history of Elijah (1 Kings 18:41-46). This,
1. Put honour upon Moses.
2. Taught the value of "the effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man"(Genesis 18:23-33; James 1:15-18).
3. Gave Moses himself a deeper interest in the event.
4. Trained him for the higher function of mediation on behalf of Israel. It would give him confidence in intercession, would enable him to realise the reality of his power with God, would help in developing the faculty of earnest and sustained prayer.
5. It shadowed forth the higher mediation. Pharaoh was so abandoned in evil, so insincere even in his repentance, that his request, as it were, could only become prevailing when taken up by a holier nature and presented as its own. This is the key to all spiritual intercession, and involves the principle which reaches its full expression in the mediation of our Saviour.
V. THE REMOVAL OF THE PLAGUE RESULTED IN PHARAOH'S BREAKING OF HIS PROMISE, AND IN HIS FURTHER HARDENING. The severity of the plague had for the moment unmanned him. His power of further resistance had broken down. But the will to resist was not in the least altered, and when the plague was removed, his obstinate disposition reasserted itself, and produced new rebellion. Rage and pride must at this crisis have overpowered reason, as well as conscience, for Pharaoh could hardly doubt but that his breach of promise would bring new trouble upon him. He did, however, return to his contumacy, and by the act cut down another of the bridges which might have conducted him back to peace with God, and to safety and honour in his kingdom. Terror of any kind, the approach, perhaps, of death, or of what seems to threaten death, often produces quakings of soul, and transient repentances. If these are not followed up on recovery - if recovery or escape is granted - they react to induce a very special hardening. A heart seldom gets the better of vows made in a season of deep sorrow, and afterwards, with the return of health and prosperity, renounced.
VI. MINOR LESSONS.
1. God's visitations are not vague and general. They will find us out in every sphere and department of our lives. His stroke will be felt in everything (vers. 3, 4).
2. The power of God's servants (vers. 5, 6: 12, 13). The stretching out of the rod brought frogs on Egypt. The intercession of Moses removed them. The prayers of a good man are both to be feared and to be desired. Feared, if they are against us; desired, if they are for us. It is lawful to pray, not for the ruin of our enemies' souls, but for the discomfiture of their projects, and the overthrow of their ungodly schemes (Revelation 11:5, 6).
3. The duty of courtesy, and of returning good for evil (vers. 9, 10). Moses, at the very time of his triumph over Pharaoh, treated him with studious respect, and was ready to pray, at his request, for the removal of the plague.
4. The power of life and death as vested in God (vers. 13, 14).
5. Man's abuse of God's kindness (ver. 15). A respite granted; therefore Pharaoh hardened himself (cf. Romans 2:4). - J.O.
Parallel VersesKJV: And the LORD spake unto Moses, Go unto Pharaoh, and say unto him, Thus saith the LORD, Let my people go, that they may serve me.