So They Will Know

Thou shalt speak all that I command thee: and Aaron thy brother shall speak unto Pharaoh, that he send the children of Israel out of his land.  And I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and multiply my signs and my wonders in the land of Egypt.  But Pharaoh shall not hearken unto you, that I may lay my hand upon Egypt, and bring forth mine armies, and my people the children of Israel, out of the land of Egypt by great judgments. And the Egyptians shall know that I am the LORD, when I stretch forth mine hand upon Egypt, and bring out the children of Israel from among them.

Exodus 7: 2-5

When I have read this account before, I often wondered why God would command Moses to tell Pharaoh to let the Israelites go if He knew He was going to harden Pharaoh’s heart.  Why would Moses and Aaron have to go through the trouble of going back and forth to Pharaoh if God already knew what was going to happen- Pharaoh would have a hardened heart and would not let the people go.  As is usually the case, the answer is right there in plain sight; I just don’t know that I had ever seen it before.  The answer is found in verse 5: “And the Egyptians shall know that I am the Lord… I stretch forth my hand…and bring out the children of Israel”.  The Lord’s reason for commanding Moses to tell Pharaoh to let His people go was twofold:

1. So that the Egyptians would know that He is God.

God wanted the Egyptians to understand that he is the Lord.  If He hadn’t hardened Pharaoh’s heart, the Egyptians might have thought that it was their kindness and benevolence that allowed the Israelites to go. 

2. So the Israelites would know that it was God who freed them.

If God had not hardened Pharaoh’s heart, His own people might have journeyed to the Promised Land thanking and praising Pharaoh instead of the Lord.  As it turned out, there was no doubt in the people’s mind who it was that brought them out of the land of Egypt.  Exodus 10:2 says “And that thou mayest tell in the ears of thy son’s son, what things I have wrought in Egypt, and my signs which I have done among them; that ye may know how that I am the Lord”.

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