WHAT IF GOD…
…had allowed Moses to rise out of Israel rather than Pharaoh’s family?
…had not hardened Pharaoh’s mind?
…had not commanded the keeping of the Passover?
…had allowed Israel to go directly into the Promised Land?
…had fed Israel with fruits, and vegetables from the earth instead of Manna ?
WHAT IF GOD HAD ALLOWED MOSES TO RISE OUT OF ISRAEL RATHER THAN PHARAOH’S FAMILY?
The story of Moses reveals, from the start, God’s active involvement with Moses and Israel. While all the other baby boys of Israel were being killed, God inspired Moses’ mother to place the baby in an ark of bulrushes and to let it float down the River Nile. The baby’s short journey brought Moses to Pharaoh’s daughter who adopted him and who, unbeknown to her, asked Moses’ mother to raise the baby until he was ready to enter Pharaoh’s household.
Josephus tells us that Moses later became one of the great Princes of Egypt and was highly esteemed in the land. He had wealth, power and prestige, until God made manifest His will to him.
But what if God had not allowed Moses to grow up in Pharaoh’s household? What if Moses had simply arisen as the Deliverer from a poor Israeli family?
The option may seem quite reasonable. After all, it might have been very exciting and inspiring to see a poor slave become a mighty leader who brings his people out of slavery. Some heroes followed that pattern and became very inspiring figures.
But God chose to do things the ironic and unexpected way. He brought Moses into the enemy’s household and had him protected by those very same people who would have wanted him dead, had they known the future of the child.
Had God allowed Moses to rise out of Israel, many important components of God’s plan would not have been accomplished.
First of all, by bringing Moses into Pharaoh’s household, God shows how he can skillfully heap scorn on the powerful and the proud. How ironic it was for Pharaoh’s own daughter to end up adopting the very child her father wanted dead more than any other in Egypt. How astonishing it was that Pharaoh would have as a grand child the very enemy that would bring about his own and Egypt’s demise. This brilliant orchestration not only reveals the wisdom of God, it also reveals His ability to manipulate events so as to humiliate the most powerful and the most wise. As Paul tell us, God, “catches the wise in their own devices” (I Cor. 3:19), and He does so, at times, in the most surprising and humorous of ways.
Also, if God had chosen to elevate Moses directly from slavery, one great test that qualified Moses for the challenging job of delivering Israel, would not have taken place. Moses is considered one of the greatest figures in biblical history. Not only was he used to free the Israelites, he was also given the great job of leading Israel to the Promised Land, and was the one through whom God gave Israel, and all of humanity, The Law of God. Such a job required a man who was thoroughly tested and found to be faithful.
Moses had it all; he was a Prince of Egypt; he had power, riches, and lived in pleasure and abundance. In spite of his greatness and power, he answered God’s call and, “when he became of age, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin, esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures of Egypt” (Hebrews 11: 24-26).
Leaving all the carnal pleasures and benefits of being a Prince of Egypt must have been difficult. He left glory for the shame of being a slave; he left the carnal pleasures of sin for a life of abstinence; he left security for total insecurity. Moses proved to God to be the man for the job. Being a Prince of Egypt was, therefore, an ideal situation from which God could test the mettle of the man, and the results proved him ready and deserving.
Lastly, being a well-known Prince of Egypt, when the time came for him to appear before Pharaoh, Moses gained immediate access to Pharaoh and his court. The leading Egyptians must have been in shock when the valiant Moses, the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, stood before them as the representative of a slave people and of an unknown God. Moses was back and was threatening the land with terrible plagues. All eyes were quickly focused on the man who represented God, as God intended.
Had an unknown, poor, ignorant slave attempted to appear before Pharaoh as Yahweh’s representative, demanding that Israel be allowed to leave Egypt, he would have been laughed to scorn and would have been immediately taken and brutally beaten or killed.
God knew how the drama had to evolve. Everything was perfectly in place and well ordered. All the steps had been perfectly planned by the Master Planner, and all worked as He intended. The human protagonist fit the part excellently and did all he had to do with perfect timing. The result is a story that is powerful in content, awe inspiring in its details and very reassuring in its results.
The great ruler of life is indeed a God of great wisdom, and His plan here on earth evolves in the best possible ways. The ones He chooses to participate in his plan are the best possible candidates, and the results invariably follow His intended ends. He is a mighty and brilliant orchestrator -- He is God.
WHAT IF GOD…
…had not appeared to Moses in a burning bush?
…had healed Moses’ speech impediment?
…had not given Aaron to Moses as his assistant?
WHAT IF GOD HAD NOT HARDENED PHARAOH’S MIND?
The manifestation of Moses, Prince of Egypt, as the Deliverer must have been a shock to all Egyptians. Moses, the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, was now turning against Egypt and was demanding the liberation of millions of slaves. As the biblical narrative reveals, the new Pharaoh reacted with absolute refusal and continued to do so even though the God of Moses manifested His undeniable superiority to all the gods of Egypt.
The book of Exodus reveals that Pharaoh’s irrational, self-destructive attitude was not totally his own but was, in large part, God inspired: “And I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and multiply my signs and my wonders in the land of Egypt” (Exodus 7: 3-4). Thus, great destruction befell the mighty Egyptian nation, until the people of Egypt begged Israel to leave.
But what if God had not hardened Pharaoh’s heart? What if He had allowed Pharaoh to witness the first plagues and had become quickly convinced that it would have been futile, and suicidal, to resist such mighty Being? Or why not simply give Israel favor by “softening” Pharaoh’s heart, and thus making the departure much easier to occur?
The answer to these valid questions is that, had God made Israel’s liberation easy and uneventful, several critical and necessary aspects in God’s plan would have been left unaccomplished.
First of all, the great judgment of God would not have befallen a terribly sinful nation. Egypt was a very idolatrous and degenerate nation. In fact, in Leviticus 18:3 God commands Israel not to emulate the Egyptians: “After the doings of the land of Egypt, wherein you dwelt, shall ye not do.” The rest of the chapter lists heinous sins that were quite common among the pagan nations of the time and that, invariably, invite God’s mighty judgment. The Egyptians, like the Canaanites, had reached their fill of sin, and God was ready to judge them with horrific punishments.
Secondly, the Egyptians had treated the Israelites harshly and cruelly. They had turned all of Israel into a nation of slaves and had, on certain occasions, such as the killing of the baby boys of Israel, shown callous cruelty. God remembered, and gave Egypt a just recompense.
Thirdly, Israel was being reintroduced to its great God after four hundred years of separation. Because they were slaves, and because they lacked religious leadership, they had lost most, if not all remembrance of God’s ways. God needed to make it abundantly clear to them that He was their God and the supreme God of all as well. He also had to give undeniable evidence that He was superior to all the Gods of Egypt and that He, and only He, was the ruler of all the earth.
Furthermore, God had to show Israel that He was Lord and Savior; that He delivers the weak from the strong; and that great salvation belongs to Him only. This great truth was especially reinforced by protecting Israel from the great plagues, by sparing the Firstborn of Israel and by snatching Israel from the previously invincible Egyptian army.
Lastly, the great wonders God performed in Egypt were to remain as signs of His great power for all generations -- including our own.
If God had not hardened Pharaoh’s heart, all of these critical factors would not have been addressed. But all were addressed within a short period of time, simply because God, in His great wisdom, made the heart of one man impenetrable.
By hardening Pharaoh’s heart, God punished Egypt as it well deserved; He manifested Himself as the supreme ruler of Heaven, and Earth and as the Savior and protector of Israel; His great works were recorded so that Israelites and Christians would be reminded perennially of His mighty acts and His mighty judgment over evil.
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© Copyright, Michael Caputo, 2004