Handling a Leadership Crisis
Today’s reading: Exodus 5:1-7:25
If you are like me when I read my Bible, you come across incidents which puzzle you. One that I have wondered about is the time that Moses, following God’s instructions, turned the Nile River to blood with the wave of his staff. But, then, Pharaoh’s magicians also turned water to blood.
It seems like the intended sign of power fell flat. It was repeated by the enemy.
I have an answer, based on speculation, but, nevertheless, speculation on what the text says. God had said several times that He would harden Pharaoh’s heart. He said that He would show His power to Pharaoh. So God gave the sign of water turned to blood to Moses who did as he was told. His sign was successful but the text continues in 7:22:
22 But the magicians of Egypt did the same by their secret arts. So Pharaoh’s heart remained hardened, and he would not listen to them, as the Lord had said. 23 Pharaoh turned and went into his house, and he did not take even this to heart.
It seems that the purpose of God in all this was to cause Pharaoh to continue in his resistance, in his hard-heartedness. It was not that God’s sign through Moses had failed. It seemed to fail but in the end the purpose was for Pharaoh to become more determined to resist Moses’ request.
God’s people sometimes appear to be no more intelligent or clever than their unbelieving counterparts. We need not presume that this reflects badly on God. He knows all things and has a plan whether He reveals it or not.
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[For more reflections on these passages see the January 21 readings in Cover to Cover: Through the Bible in 365 days].