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Shemot/Exodus 10:1 And the L-rd said to Moshe, "Come to Pharaoh ..."
Why did the L-rd have to tell Moshe to come to Pharaoh at this time? There had already been seven plagues, each following the same formula: Moshe and Aharon re-present the L-rd's demand to Pharaoh that he should let the people of Israel go, he refuses and they announce the next plague which then duly happens. After the seventh plague, Pharaoh at last admits his sin against G-d (9:27), then hardens his heart once the hail and rain stop, just as Moshe said he would. Perhaps Moshe was starting to feel like the prophet Yonah was to feel some hundreds of years later when sent by G-d to the city of Nin'veh - that he didn't want to go because he knew what was going to happen.
Rashi tells us that Moshe was commanded to warn Pharaoh of the judgement that was still to come. Pharaoh himself had hardened his own heart after the lifting of the last plague, so it was not yet a foregone conclusion that the full series of plagues and the death of the first-born would have to happen; there was still an option for Pharaoh to come round and be obedient to G-d's demands. Yet we read that after this point, in this week's parasha, in the conversations in and around the last three plagues, Adonai hardened Pharaoh's heart. It is as if, once past a certain point, instead of Pharaoh doing the hardening, the L-rd took over so as to complete the process not only of rescuing our people from Egypt, but defeating the Egyptian gods and demonstrating His power to Egyptian and Hebrew alike.
This resonates with what the New Covenant Scriptures tell us, "The L-rd is not slow in keeping His promise, as some people think of slowness; on the contrary, He is patient with you; for it is not His purpose that anyone should be destroyed, but that everyone should turn from his sins. However, the Day of the L-rd will come, 'like a thief'" (2 Peter 3:9-10, CJB). G-d is patient, giving each of us many opportunities to come to know Him, to obey Him in various ways, both in starting out on our walk with Him and along the way while He is fashioning us into the image of His Son. But a day does come when it is too late; a time is reached when G-d's purposes cannot be held back any longer - then G-d's plan rolls forward and those who are obstructing it are cast in their (own, chosen) roles as obstructors and detractors, although G-d continues to use them in those roles to accomplish His purposes.
That is why Rav Sha'ul wrote to the Corinthians, "Working together with Him, we also urge you not to receive the grace of G-d in vain - for He says, 'At the acceptable time I listened to you, and on the day of salvation I helped you;' behold, now is the acceptable time; behold, now is the day of salvation (2 Cor 6:2-3, NASB).
Further Study: Luke 12:16-21
Application: Each of us needs to be certain that we are not resisting the purposes of G-d in our lives. We need to know Him and move forward with Him every day. Consult your heart and ask G-d to confirm where you stand with Him today.
© Jonathan Allen, 2004
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