Sentence or sign?

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Trace the trajectory of your life, noting events, people or situations that have served as signposts leading you towards a deeper understanding of God. Did you ever spurn any of these signs? Are you doing so now?

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Bible passage Exodus 6:28 – 7:13

Aaron to Speak for Moses
 28 Now when the LORD spoke to Moses in Egypt, 29 he said to him, “I am the LORD. Tell Pharaoh king of Egypt everything I tell you.”

 30 But Moses said to the LORD, “Since I speak with faltering lips, why would Pharaoh listen to me?”

Exodus 7

 1 Then the LORD said to Moses, “See, I have made you like God to Pharaoh, and your brother Aaron will be your prophet. 2 You are to say everything I command you, and your brother Aaron is to tell Pharaoh to let the Israelites go out of his country. 3 But I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and though I multiply my signs and wonders in Egypt, 4 he will not listen to you. Then I will lay my hand on Egypt and with mighty acts of judgment I will bring out my divisions, my people the Israelites. 5 And the Egyptians will know that I am the LORD when I stretch out my hand against Egypt and bring the Israelites out of it.”

 6 Moses and Aaron did just as the LORD commanded them. 7 Moses was eighty years old and Aaron eighty-three when they spoke to Pharaoh.

Aaron’s Staff Becomes a Snake
 8 The LORD said to Moses and Aaron, 9 “When Pharaoh says to you, ‘Perform a miracle,’ then say to Aaron, ‘Take your staff and throw it down before Pharaoh,’ and it will become a snake.”

 10 So Moses and Aaron went to Pharaoh and did just as the LORD commanded. Aaron threw his staff down in front of Pharaoh and his officials, and it became a snake. 11 Pharaoh then summoned wise men and sorcerers, and the Egyptian magicians also did the same things by their secret arts: 12 Each one threw down his staff and it became a snake. But Aaron’s staff swallowed up their staffs. 13 Yet Pharaoh’s heart became hard and he would not listen to them, just as the LORD had said.

New International Version (NIV) Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society

Tags: Aaron, Moses, Signs

Audio Bible passage

The audio version of the passage is taken from the Contemporary English Version (CEV).

Tags: Aaron, Moses, Signs

Explore the Bible

Purpose of plagues
Today’s passage forms a preface to the plague narratives. When I hear plagues, my mind immediately thinks punishment. After all, God promises (threatens?) to ‘lay my hand on Egypt … with mighty acts of judgement’ (7:4). But if God’s intent was to pass sentence on Egypt, why not simply fast-forward to plague number ten?

Pharaoh had declared, ‘I do not know the Lord and I will not let Israel go’ (5:2b). God promised to show signs and wonders in Egypt (7:3b).

God vs. gods
In the first of such signs, where Aaron’s staff is turned into a snake (v 10), Pharaoh’s magicians mimic the ‘magic’ but have their staffs swallowed up (v 12b). Each of the plagues that follow undermines the power of the Egyptian gods.

But the plagues don’t only serve to expose the false gods of Egypt; they are signs that reveal Israel’s faithful, all-powerful God. God’s mighty acts (plagues included) were not a wrathful sentence so much as a gracious sign by which Pharaoh and the Egyptians ‘will know that I am the Lord’ (vs 5,17).


Ask God to show you how he wants to use your words, actions and lifestyle to reveal to the ‘Egyptians’ of today that he is truly Saviour and Lord.

Tanya Ferdinandusz

Deeper Bible study

I love the way Paul speaks of his relationship with Titus, his ‘partner and fellow worker’, his ‘true son in our common faith’ whose coming brings God’s comfort and whose absence prevented Paul from being able to preach in Troas, even though ‘the Lord had opened a door’ for him (2 Corinthians 8:23; 7:6; 2:12,13; Titus 1:4)! Paul would have understood Moses’ need for a fellow worker to support him in his apparently impossible task. Sometimes our assumption that everything we are called to do must be done entirely without human support may actually prevent the job being done. Of course we, like Moses, need to recognise that what counts is who God is and, of course, God can follow through his purposes without our help, let alone the help of a back-up supporter, but it is good to know that God not only chooses to use his human followers but knows us and goes along with our weaknesses. It is interesting that it is taken for granted here that, although the final responsibility remains with Moses, Aaron’s role is also key. Aaron is presented, by God, as an essential member of the team.

Knowing in advance that the next stage of negotiations will also fail, Moses and Aaron must have feared that this time there would be even more disastrous consequences. However, these two (and we are deliberately reminded in verse 7 that they were old men) went ahead with the petitioning anyway. A trust in God’s word and his ability to fulfil the entirety of his promises is clearly beginning to develop. The negotiations did fail, ‘just as the Lord had said’ (v 13), but thankfully there were apparently no further consequences for the Israelites. The consequences for Egypt were about to appear!

Mary Evans

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Bible in a year

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Leviticus 1–3

Acts 5

Will they listen?

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  • Rachael Hampton | Monday, 13 February 2017

    v7 Explore. The plagues were not just God's judgements, but signs and wonders to bring the Egyptians to know Him - and His own people to know Him better. I was thinking of the faith and gracious love expressed by our WL people in the midst of great pain and hardship, and how that is a sign, and yes, a wonder, to those around them who do not know God. And for ourselves the unwelcome events of our lives may become 'mercies in disguise' as Renee Bondi sings from her wheelchair where she has spent most of her life. ADAM, I'm thinking prayerfully of you too, in this. Yes, strong feelings like the pain of loss which can be long lasting and overwhelming need to be acknowledged, felt and accepted - in God's presence as well as with trusted others. And when we choose not to live by those feelings, but to continue to express God's life in us in spite of them, we become signs and wonders to those around us.

  • Rachael Hampton | Monday, 13 February 2017

    JANE, I wrote on v3 yesterday, pressed the button, and the whole page disappeared! God revealed Himself as Almighty, but did not give them His Name: I AM, the ever present, ever active God, moving redemptively Among His people. Jesus said, 'Before Abraham was, I AM.' I love that link, and the way the Almighty has revealed Himself to the Israelites, moving powerfully and miraculously among them - and to us, through Jesus.

  • John Davies | Tuesday, 14 February 2017

    Verse 9+12 stand out to me, the peoples suffering shut their ears off from moses words, their trials turned them from God to idols, but it was because of their idolatry that they were experiencing this trial. What a job moses had and we see in verse 12 how discouraged he was and yet in verse 11 "go" is the word he gets from the lord. Makes me think of the job our pastors and leaders have and how we can make their job a lot easier and a source of job (hebs 13:7-8)

  • John Davies | Tuesday, 14 February 2017

    Verse 9+12 stand out to me, the peoples suffering shut their ears off from moses words, their trials turned them from God to idols, but it was because of their idolatry that they were experiencing this trial. What a job moses had and we see in verse 12 how discouraged he was and yet in verse 11 "go" is the word he gets from the lord. Makes me think of the job our pastors and leaders have and how we can make their job a lot easier and a source of job (hebs 13:7-8)

  • Angela Munday | Tuesday, 14 February 2017

    Signs are good; they point us in the right direction and it is not wise to ignore them. God deliberately chooses the aged and also one with 'faltering lips' to do His important work. They are to speak on God's behalf and to show what He can do........To God be the glory! Great things he has done....

  • Gilvin Crisifeca | Tuesday, 14 February 2017

    #ExploretheBible Pharaoh had declared,'I do not know the Lord' (5:2).I didn't pick that up yesterday. There were a million Israelites living there, yet he'd never heard of their God. How many of our neighbours could say the same?

  • Adam Julians | Tuesday, 14 February 2017

    "Will they listen." On reading that my mind goes to the Don McLean song "Vincent" about Vincent Van Gogh. The lyrics go "Now I understand what you tried to say to me, how you suffered for your sanity, how you tried to set them free. They did not listen they did not know how" The sad reflection of how God's word is received to the natural man. Do I listen, do you? I must surrender my own natural inclination if I am to do so. Moses' obedience to God has resulted in suffering for him and Israel and yet he has become like God to pharaoh. We like the idea of that, of speaking as if it is God speaking and serving in the strength that God provides. "If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ." (1 Pet 4:11). And as temples of the Spirit we know that which was given to Moses by God can also be the experience of every believer, along with not being listened to and suffering for doing so. Sadly for Vincent Van Gogh, his suffering resulting in him ultimately committing suicide by shooting himself in the stomach. But I have to believe that whatever suffering I experience, God is with me in that. In this clip, the actor playing Martin Luther King says to a grandfather of a man murdered by police. "There are no words to soothe you. But I can tell you one thing for certain. God was the first to cry, he was the first to cry for your boy."

  • Adam Julians | Tuesday, 14 February 2017

    Matrin Luther King clip here

  • Adam Julians | Tuesday, 14 February 2017

    Rachael - thank you. I love what you write about needing feelings to be expressed and acknowledged but choosing not to live by feelings, rather continue to express God's life in spite of them and becoming signs and wonders to those around us.

  • Hilary Dale | Tuesday, 14 February 2017

    I know there are various opinions on which Pharaoh was which, but it does seem quite possible that this was a confrontation between Moses and his childhood "step brother", I can imagine them taunting each other (or was Moses taunted as a child in the palace, by, or in front of the would-be Pharaoh?- I know we don't know, but seems quite possible??). Maybe "your God" vs "my gods" was an argument from childhood, with all its baggage...Which would make Moses reluctance to go alone even more understandable... Sorry if I'm reading too much into this, but am looking at his context of being raised by the then Pharaoh's daughter...

  • Derek Forster | Tuesday, 14 February 2017

    There is a name I love to hear, I love to sing its worth; It sounds like music in my ear, The sweetest name on earth. It tells me of a Savior’s love, Who died to set me free; It tells me of His precious blood, The sinner’s perfect plea. It tells me what my Father has In store for ev’ry day; And though I tread a darksome path, Yields sunshine all the way. It tells of One whose loving heart Can feel my deepest woe, Who in each sorrow bears a part, That none can bear below. O how I love Jesus, Oh, how I love Jesus, Oh, how I love Jesus, Because He first loved me.

  • Lynda Spencer | Tuesday, 14 February 2017

    An interesting angle on it, HILARY. Something I had never taken the time to consider, but perfectly possible. I have found myself wondering why Moses continued to raise objections and highlight his own 'faltering lips'. Perhaps even this 'impediment' had been a source of childhood taunts. Who knows? But for ourselves, we can often trace present reluctance or feelings of inadequacy back to past hurts - 'put-downs' or worse. We are all human. But we don't need to remain crippled by the past when we allow God to deal with it and move on. Moses must have done so, as we see a much different Moses in the wilderness. Thank you, RACHAEL, for your helpful opening words.

  • Julie H.C | Tuesday, 14 February 2017

    So much to think on in our studies together. Thank you all for your contributions, they are such a blessing to me. Thank you for your prayers for my grandson, they are being answered as He continues fairly stable at the moment. We give thanks for every day.

  • David Chipchase | Tuesday, 14 February 2017

    Fantastic, Julie.

  • David Chipchase | Tuesday, 14 February 2017

    Julie, if I may ask, what is your grandson's name and what is his health issue?

  • David Chipchase | Tuesday, 14 February 2017

    I said yesterday I was going to take a breather from WL commenting. Apparently this starts tomorrow. JULIE'S issue reminds me my elder son, Rowan, has three children, Joshua, grade 1 and diagnosed with type 1 diabetes just before Christmas, Alannah, a four year old who was was diagnosed with caeliac disease two years ago and Aiden,15 months who has been diagnosed with anything nasty and we pray it won't happen.

  • Stephen Nicholls | Tuesday, 14 February 2017

    "But I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and though I multiply my signs and wonders in Egypt, 4 he will not listen to you."I've always had a problem with this. Why would a loving God 'harden' anyone's heart so that His message was ignored? He could have shown his infinite power by a simple demonstration, surely, without all those measures including killing the innocents? Some passages are difficult - especially in the Old Testament!!!

  • Lynda Spencer | Tuesday, 14 February 2017

    I know what you mean, STEPHEN. This has been a puzzle to me too, over the years. I have heard it said that God was telling Moses what would happen, so that Moses would keep persisting with his message and not give up at the first refusal, but that Pharaoh was determined to resist and so God 'gave him over' to his resistance and the consequences thereof. Reminiscent of some verses we recently read from Romans 1:24, where God 'gave men over' to their chosen sinful ways. I'd be interested to know what others think.

  • Christine Hassall | Tuesday, 14 February 2017

    Stephen, I agree this is hard and a question that Christians as well as non believers ask, why does God allow...One thought may be to do with free will. A loving God gives us free will to choose and the painful consequence is that we do not always choose the best plan. God in his infinite grace however always provides a plan, ultimately through Jesus.

  • Oakley Bookworm | Tuesday, 14 February 2017

    Hahaha DAVID. Always reserve the right to change your mind. Tomorrow is soon enough. Don't stay away for too long.

  • Peter Oliver | Tuesday, 14 February 2017

    It is said that pharoah gardens his heart three times .I believe these times he may have thought about it perhaps he had a conviction that he was doing wrong but alas he turned his back on his conscience after the hail GOD let him get on with it

  • Peter Oliver | Tuesday, 14 February 2017

    I meant to say also even after the death of the first born and the Israelis leaving he did not repent and then went after them probably to kill them but God decided otherwise .If the LORD convicts us of something wrong in our lives we confess that sin right away and put it behind us missed out word must on third line.

  • Roger Hall | Tuesday, 14 February 2017

    A sign pharaoh ignored was perhaps significant, he ignored the fact that the snake from Aaron's rod ate up the magician's snakes. Hey, no idea what it means one thing more to miss in this unfolding story!

  • Barbara Sabin | Tuesday, 14 February 2017

    Pharaoh was not going to listen to Moses and Aaron and because God is all knowing He knew it. Just as He knows every hair on our head, how and when we were formed, I like to read The Message version of God's Word 'You are to speak everything I command you, and your brother Aaron will tell it to Pharaoh. Then he will release the Israelites from his land. At the same time I am going to put Pharaoh’s back up and follow it up by filling Egypt with signs and wonders. Pharaoh is not going to listen to you, but I will have my way against Egypt and bring out my soldiers, my people the Israelites, from Egypt by mighty acts of judgment. The Egyptians will realize that I am GOD when I step in and take the Israelites out of their country.” MY WAY MY SOLDIERS MY PEOPLE THEIR COUNTRY' God chose two octogenarians to be his workers who needed a stick to walk. Amazing God said what is it you have in your hand ? and Moses had a walking stick and with God's instruction and guidance brought out around 2 and a half million people from bondage. He asks each one of us 'what have you got in your hand'

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