Who then let Satan, the destroyer, loose? Or who let Satan, the real serpent, loose against Pharaoh and against the Egyptians? Pharaoh, a disciple of Mammon, the god of materialism and the god of earthly glory, the same one who offered Christ the nations of the world, was destroying his own admirers (Matthew 6:24; 4:8-9). No human being is a friend of Satan! Because man is a special creation of God! The magician’s snakes were all swallowed up by the demon Moses and Aaron released.
And the Lord said to Moses and Aaron, “When Pharaoh says to you, ‘Prove yourselves by working a miracle,’ then you shall say to Aaron, ‘Take your rod and cast it down before Pharaoh, that it may become a serpent.’” So Moses and Aaron went to Pharaoh and did as the LORD commanded; Aaron cast down his rod before Pharaoh and his servants, and it became a serpent. Then Pharaoh summoned the wise men and the sorcerers; and they also, the magicians of Egypt, did the same by their secret arts. For ever man cast down his rod, and they became serpents. Bud Aaron’s rod swallowed up their rods. Still Pharaoh’s heart was hardened, and he would not listen to them; as the LORD had said (Exodus 7:8-13).
THE PLAGUES — WHY DID GOD ALLOW THEM TO BE USED TO DELIVER ISRAEL?
God had made a promise and a commitment to Abram/Abraham; unfortunately, Pharaoh stood in the way. The plagues were a language which Pharaoh understood. After it was all over, Moses, in his final summation, explained God’s reason to the Israelites:
For you are a people holy to the Lord your God; the Lord your God has chosen you to be a people for his own possession, out of all the peoples that are on the face of the earth. It was not because you were more in numbers than any other people that the LORD set his love upon you and chose you, for you were the fewest of all people; but it is because the LORD loves you, and is keeping the oath which he swore to your fathers, that the LORD has brought you out with a mighty hand, and redeemed you from the house of bondage, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt. Know therefore that the LORD your God is God, the faithful God who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments, to a thousand generations, and requite him to his face. You shall therefore be careful to do the commandment, and the statues, and the ordinances which command you this day.
And because you hearken to these ordinances, and keep and do them, the LORD your God will keep with you the covenant and the steadfast love which he swore to you fathers to keep; he will love you, bless you, and multiply you; he will also bless the fruit of your body and the fruit of your ground, your grain and your wine and oil, the increase of your cattle, and the young of your flock, in the land which he swore to your fathers to give you. You shall be blessed above all peoples; there shall not be male or female barren among you, or among your cattle. And the LORD will take away from you all sickness; and none of the evil diseases of Egypt, which you knew, will he inflict upon you, but he will lay them upon all who hate you. And you shall destroy all the peoples that the LORD your God will give over to you, your eye shall not pity them; neither shall you serve their gods, for that would be a snare to you (Deuteronomy 7:6-16).
The plagues were not of God! The plagues were of Satan, the devil. Man, who was made to be a free agent, with a will all his own, did and still does continues to let Satan in and mess up his/her life and also their environment. Adam and Eve let the serpent in, and not God. And so did Pharaoh, he let the demons dominate his life and also his people. Now, God used Adam and Eve’s bad choice to discipline them — and not to destroy them. God did the same thing with Pharaoh. The plagues were disciplinary actions; however, Satan, the destroyer, was not allowed to cause total destruction of the water, the animals, and the human beings. It took twelve lessons to stop Pharaoh from continuing to hurt Israel, destroying himself, and also his nation (Exodus 7-12). It was after the destroyer struck for the tenth time and took the life of every firstborn of the Egyptians and beasts, that Pharaoh finally begged Moses and Aaron to go and worship their God. The Hebrews did not leave empty. The Hebrews did plunder the Egyptians (Exodus 12:33-36).
Pharaoh had to be stopped because his god was hindering Yahweh from keeping His Promise with Abram/Abraham. God’s Promise was an agreement that God would make Abraham’s seed into a “Theocratic” people of many nations (Genesis 17). The Israel that Yahweh (Lord) saved, by partnering with Moses and Aaron, was not a spiritual people; however, they also were idol worshippers. It was Moses’ designated task to turn these Hebrews into followers of the true God, who was Spirit. Moses took them to the place where he had spent forty years. And where Moses learned, from his father-in-law Reuel, about the true God. Israel was to stay in the wilderness and learn to become a people guided by God’s Law, instructions, and objects, like the ark and the tent, to remind them of what God had done for them. While God and Moses were preparing an agenda on the mountain, these people, who had witnessed the incredible power of Yahweh, forced Aaron to make them a golden calf. Then they worshipped the golden calf as their deliverer. Satan, the destroyer, stood by ready to dispense these people, who were not honoring God for what God had done for them. And Yahweh was ready to start all over with Moses and build a new nation filled with godliness.
Moses, disappointed and disgusted, broke the Ten Commandments, which were engraved in stone by Yahweh. Moses pleaded with God for Israel and he did avert God’s anger. And therefore, God granted Israel extended love and mercy; however, Israel (the culprits) had to be destroyed by their own people. And three thousand were killed by their own families (Exodus 32). Next, while a dark cloud hovered over the meeting place, Yahweh held a secret conference with Moses in Moses’ tent. During that encounter, Yahweh declared that He was invisible and unapproachable to mortal beings, even to Moses. To abate the fear of facing Yahweh, God made Moses a mediator (Partner). And Moses envisioned another and final mediator, like himself, at the end when a true Israel would be redeemed. The historian left us these accounts:
Now Moses used to take the tent and pitch it outside the camp, far off from the camp, and he called it the tent of meeting. And every one who sought the LORD would go out to the tent of meeting, which was outside the camp. Whenever Moses went out to the tent, all the people rose up and every man stood at his tent door, and looked after Moses, until he had gone into the tent. When Moses entered the tent, the pillar of cloud would descend and stand at the door of the tent, and the LORD would speak with Moses. And when all the people saw the pillar of cloud standing at the door of the tent, all the people would rise up and worship, every man at his tent door. Thus the LORD used to speak to Moses face to face, as a man speaks to his friend. When Moses turned again into the camp, his servant Joshua the son of Nun, a young man, did not depart from the tent.
Moses said to the LORD, “See, thou sayest to me, ‘Bring up this people’; but thou has not let me know whom thou wilt send with me. Yet thou hast said, ‘I know you by name, and you have also found favor in my sight.’ Now therefore, I pray thee, if I have found favor in the sight, show me now thy ways, that I may know thee and find favor in thy sight. Consider too that this nation is thy people.” And he said, “My presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.” And he said to him, “If thy presence will not go with me, do not carry us up from here. For how shall it be known that I have found favor in thy sight, I and thy people? Is it not in thy going with us, so that we are distinct, I and thy people, from all other people that are upon the face of the earth?”
And the LORD said to Moses, “This very thing that you have spoken I will do; for you have found favor in my sight, and I know you by name.” Moses said, “I will make all my goodness pass before you, and will proclaim before you my name ‘The LORD’’; and I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show mercy on whom I will show mercy. But,” he said, “you cannot see my face; for man shall not see me and live.” And the LORD said, “Behold, there is a place by me where you shall stand upon the rock; and while my glory passes by I will put you in a cleft of the rock and I will cover you with my hand until I have passed by; then I will take away my hand, and you shall see my back; but my face shall not be seen” (Exodus 33:7-23).
YAHWEH EXTENDED HIS MERCY TO ISRAEL AND THE LAW WAS REWRITTEN AND SO WERE THE INSTRUCTIONS THE WAY YAHWEH WANTED TO BE HONORED
On the second meeting with God and Moses, the meeting took place in a tent, which Moses had set up. Yahweh made Himself visible as a dark cloud during the day and as a pillar of fire during the night. The disaster with the “calf-god” called for some evidence of God’s Presence in the lives of the Israelites. They had been idol worshippers for a long time. And now, over night, they had to believe in a God, who was not visible; yet, a power, which resided in Moses’ staff and in a mysterious cloud. So, Yahweh gave them some evidence of “His Presence” with a portable tent, where they could go, pray, and make sacrifices of burnt offerings of incense and atonement. The portable tent was to be equipped with a holy chamber where only the high priest could enter, and a larger chamber for altars where the daily sacrifice by designated priests could be administered. There were tables, lampstands, and utility places for oil, and a basin for washing of hands, baptisms, and for circumcisions. To be more personal, God’s Word and the Law and all its regulations were also housed in the Ark of the Covenant. The Levites were, by right, to be God’s chosen servants, leaders, and teachers of the people. The “Ark” became Israel’s most holy object. Solomon did built a temple to house the “Ark.” However, the “Ark” disappeared, as if God had taken it away before the Babylonians destroyed Jerusalem (Exodus 20-31).
Israel, for her formative years, was indebted to Moses, who was a very intelligent broker with Yahweh. He did not only save Israel, but Moses also secured for his tribe, the Levites, a perpetual income and service from their ten brothers and two nephews. Joseph’s sons Ephraim and Manasseh became two tribes. These tribes were predestined to give up the first and the best of their income and produce to the Levites perpetually (Numbers 18:21-32; Deuteronomy 14:22-29). The Levite priests, in particular, were adorned in attire above royalty, fit for divinity (Exodus 39). Moses’ God did not tolerate sloppy servants, as we do today. They became the untouchables for Yahweh and for Yahweh’ Laws. If this was not taking advantage of your own people, then what was?
The only man in Jewish and in Christian history that could twist the arm of Yahweh and change his mind was Moses. A people, who had dishonored God and denied their Deliverer, Moses persuaded God to feed them with “Manna” and “quails” from heaven and water from a rock, and even protect them against their enemies (Exodus 16-17). Moses made certain with, Yahweh’s approval, that his nephew Ithamar, son of Aaron, was in charge of all the religious construction and management. Moses already had secured permission to stay in Jethro’s region. And Jethro helped Moses organize Israel into being manageable. But there was an imbalance in the distribution of power. To become politically correct, Moses declared that Yahweh had selected two Spirit-filled men from Judah and Dan to build all that was planned to make Yahweh visible to the people. This revelation is very important to an age like ours, which has been led to believe that “grace requires no evidence of man’s deeds.” According to Jesus, and the writer to the Ephesians, it is not a person’s faith, but it is his/her deeds that make God visible to the eyes of the world (Matthew 5:14-16; Ephesians 2:10). Moses believed that Yahweh had chosen Bezalel from the tribe of Judah and Oholiab from Dan for God’s Spirit being in them. God’s Spirit is dominantly present in people, who built and who render service to humanity that honors God (Exodus 31-40).
The Lord said to Moses, “See, I have called by name Bezalel the son of Uri, son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah: and I have filled him with the Spirit of God, with the ability and intelligence, with knowledge and all craftsmanship, to devise artistic designs, to work in gold, silver, and bronze, in cutting stones for setting, and in carving wood, for work in iver craft. And behold, I have appointed with him Oholiab, the son of Ahisamach, of the tribe of Dan; and I have given to all able men ability, that they may make all that I have commanded you: the tent of meeting and the ark of the testimony, and the mercy seat that is thereon, and all the furnishings of the tent, the table and its utensils, and the pure lampstand with all its utensils, and the altar of incense, and the altar of burnt offering with all its utensils, and the laver and its base, and the finely worked garments, the hole garments for Aaron the priest and the garments of his sons, for their service as priests, and the anointing oil and the fragrant incense for the holy place. According to all that I have commanded you shall do (Exodus 31:1-11).
It took two years for Moses and Israel, at the Sinai Desert, to build the portable religious facility, the adjustment to the desert, and to the Law and regulations of Yahweh, and to put the instruction into a book called “Leviticus.” Time had come to move toward Canaan, but unrest and discontentment, among the new Israel toward Moses and Yahweh, halted the move after three days in the Desert of Paran. The Ark of the Covenant (partnership) carried by priests led the move, but a Midianite Hobab son of Reuel, brother-in-law to Moses knew the area where they could camp and he decided to return home and make Moses’ task more difficult. Midian was a descendant of Abraham and Keturah (Genesis 25:2). The people grumbled and Yahweh spit fire. This fire did consume a whole generation that failed to partner with Yahweh:
And Moses said to Hobab the son of Reuel the Midianite, Moses’ father-in-law, “ We are setting out for the place of which the LORD said, ‘I will give it to you’; come with us, and we will do you good; for the LORD has promised good to Israel.” But he said to him, “I will not go; I will depart to my own land and to my kindred.” And he said, “Do not leave us, I pray you, for you know how we are to encamp in the wilderness, and you will serve as eyes for us. And if you go with us, whatever good the LORD will do to us, the same will we do to you.”
So they set out from the mount of the LORD three days’ journey; and the ark of the covenant of the LORD went before them three days’ journey, to seek out a resting place for them. And the cloud of the LORD was over them by day, whenever they set out from the camp.
And whenever the ark set out Moses said, “Arise, O LORD, and let thy enemies be scattered; and let them that hate thee flee before thee.” And when it rested, he said, “Return, O LORD, to the ten thousand thousands of Israel.”
And the people complained in the hearing of the LORD about their misfortunes; and when the LORD heard it, his anger was kindled, and the fire of the LORD burned among them, and consumed some outlying parts of the camp. Then the people cried to Moses; and Moses prayed to the LORD, and the fire abated. So the name of that place was called Taberah, because the fire of the LORD burned among them (Numbers 10:29-11:3).