Chapter 6 ended with Moses asking God how he could possibly speak to Pharaoh. Moses had next to no confidence in his ability to speak on behalf of God.
In the beginning of this chapter, God tells Moses that he and his brother Aaron will tell Pharaoh to send the Israelites away, but God will harden Pharaoh’s heart so that Pharaoh will not listen. God will do this so that He may make an example of Pharaoh, so that Pharaoh and all of the Egyptians will witness God’s power to control events in the world. Through this, the Egyptians will know the power of the one true God and the Israelites will go free. Moses and Aaron, evidently heartened by this, go to speak to Pharaoh.
When Moses and Aaron go to Pharaoh, God has prepared a miracle. God knew that Pharaoh would ask for proof that they were speaking on behalf of deity, so God has instructed Moses to throw his rod on the ground, and it becomes a snake. But Pharaoh called his wise men and sorcerers and they also threw their rods down and their rods became snakes too. Then Moses’ snake swallowed up all the other snakes, proving at once whose power was ultimate. This was an instance where God hardened Pharaoh’s heart, in order that he would not yet let the Israelites go, so that God could display his power through the coming ten plagues.
When God tells Moses to go to Pharaoh to enact turning the water to blood, He does not tell Moses that this is the first of ten great miracles that will come to torture the Egyptian people. Neither Moses, Aaron or Pharaoh knows the sequence of plagues to come.
All of the plagues are terrifying and horrible, but the first is perhaps one of the most striking and frightening. The Egyptian people lived in an arid region, a desert with valuable sources of water nearby. To remove the water from the region would have been alarming enough in such an environment, but to replace it with something as repugnant as blood is another level of agitation. God’s design for this plan in verses 17-18: “By this you shall know that I am the Lord. Behold, I will strike the waters which are in the river with the rod that is in my hand, and they shall be turned to blood. And the fish that are in the river shall die, the river shall stink, and the Egyptians will loathe to drink the water of the river.”
Think about how much of an invasion to their lives this was. Not only were their sources of water changed to blood, but also the water that was stored in their pitchers and buckets was turned to blood. The fish died and the blood stank. The “magicians” of Egypt then “duplicated” the effect, by coloring or on a smaller scale. Their efforts were meager at best and Pharaoh was left unmoved by the entire ordeal, his heart remaining hard so that God could carry out the might of His miracles.
After seven days, the water returned. If you were an Egyptian, lacking hydration for a week, how would you feel when you heard that the blood turned back to water? Surely you would rush out to see and drink, but in the back of your mind, rank blood and bloated floating fish would linger in your memory as you drank.
Meditate on the absolute power God exerts over the world and how He can do whatever He wants, using whatever methods He wants. Moses and Aaron were to deliver the message, and they did. All of the water was to be turned to blood, and it was. Pharaoh was to be left unimpressed, and he was. God’s control over this entire series of events is divine power, and it all goes to uplift and uphold His great name. Every single player on this stage receives justice and they are all educated. Moses, Aaron, Pharaoh, the Egyptians, and the Israelites are all made better for their education on God’s power.
We may not see God’s intervention as blatantly as this today, but prayers still matter, and they still change things. And the greatest miracle of all, the miracle of our salvation, is yet to be realized as we study Exodus 7 tonight.