The exodus of Israel from Egypt portrays one of the great showdowns of history.
Gooooooooooooood Eeeeevening, ladies and gentlemen! Welcome to this title fight between the top contenders for Heavyweight Champion of the World.
In one corner, wearing the finest white Egyptian silk and a solid-gold headdress, we have the self-proclaimed current champion of the world: the divine Phaaaaaaaaaaaaroah!
In the other corner, wearing a worn shepherd’s costume and carrying a wood staff, we have the newcomer and challenger....what’s his name?...Oh yeah...Moooooooooses.
The Egyptians considered Pharaoh a god, and he believed his own press. Moses didn’t think anything like that about himself; however, the one, true God tells him, “I have made you like God to Pharaoh.”
So, we have two humans facing off, but they represent supernatural realities. Pharaoh thinks he is a god and is backed up by demonic forces (What else do you think the “secret arts” of the magicians entailed?). Moses knows he is a human but is backed up by Yahweh, the one, true God.
In the eyes of the contemporary onlookers, the odds were a thousand to one in Pharaoh’s favor. Of course, in reality it only needed to be a one-round fight. But God says he is going to prolong the bout: “I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and though I multiply my signs and wonders in Egypt, he will not listen to you” (vv. 3-4a).
God makes Pharaoh stubborn to ensure that the rumble goes all ten rounds. God does this to make a point. He wants to change the minds and hearts of those onlookers: “the Egyptians will know that I am the Lord” (v. 5). When the Egyptians see Yahweh’s “divisions” (that is a military term), God’s army of Israelites, departing Egypt, they will believe that He, not Pharaoh, is the one, true God.
God didn’t want just the Egyptians to know that He is the Lord. He wanted His own people to know and believe it. He wanted all the nations of the world at that time to know it. He wants us today to remember this story and believe that He is God.
For this to be true, this title fight had to be memorable. And it was.
The end of the first round is called a draw, even though Moses’ staff is the clear winner.
The bell rings for round two...