Deliverance Begins In Conflict
Deliverance from the powers of sin, death and the devil begins with confrontation and conflict. See the coming of Jesus Christ to see that clearly! He comes announcing the word of God, and straightaway the powers of sin, death and the devil (and all their human minions) kick into action to resist the deliverance he is bringing. There is no possibility of being involved in the mission of the kingdom of God without trouble, confrontation and conflict. It is inherent in that mission.
Moses is made by God to be like God to Pharaoh. How? By speaking the true word of God (through his prophet, Aaron.) The heart of God and the heart of God-likeness is centred in the word of God.
Pharaoh, the audience God has for His word here, will not listen to the word, but hardens his heart against it. Without the word of God coming, this opposition of Pharaoh to God and His word would remain undisclosed. The hidden conflict he has with God is unmasked and heightened by the word of God – ‘Let my people go!’ – that Moses must speak.
Pharaoh’s initial resistance to the word of God is seen in the opening preliminary to the conflict that is coming, when he demands that Moses and Aaron prove themselves by a miracle. When Aaron’s staff becomes a serpent, he resists further, by saying in effect, ‘Your word is thing special; my word-bringers can do just the same.’ He overlooks that Aaron’s rod-serpent eats up all the rod-serpents of Pharaoh’s magicians.
Then the conflict begins. The plagues must be seen as conflict, warfare working towards deliverance. The first plague is on what is seen as the life-giver to Egypt, the Nile river. But in fact, the LORD, the God of Israel, who is the maker of heaven and earth, and from whom flow all the rivers that water the face of the earth, is the true life-giver. These pretenders to life-giving must be confronted – and shown up as the death-dealing things they really are; blood oozes across the land rather than life-giving water.
But when Pharaoh’s magicians do the same with their secret arts (not the simple word act of stretching out a hand), turning water to blood, Pharaoh sides with them, refusing this word that is being borne strongly to him and not taking it to heart.
Has the word of God failed? Not at all – it is accomplishing the very thing for which it was sent.