Chapters five through to ten of Exodus show us interesting contrasts between the character and purpose of God for His people, and the resistance put up by Pharaoh (a picture of Satan) to thwart God's plan.
Before jumping into this study, it would be useful if you would go and read the following selected passages in Exodus. For a run down on God's character and His deliverance of His people read Exodus chapter 6. For the stubbornness and resistance of Pharaoh, read the following passages: Exodus 5:1-10,
-25. While you are doing this, think about the ways of Satan... in what ways does he resist people being delivered from the world? If he cannot stop us becoming Christians, what means would he use to try and stop us from being effective for God?
The Character and Purpose of God
Exodus 6:1-5 Then the LORD said to Moses, 'Now you will see what I will do to Pharaoh: Because of my mighty hand he will let them go; because of my mighty hand he will drive them out of his country.' God also said to Moses, 'I am the LORD. I appeared to Abraham, to Isaac and to Jacob as God Almighty, but by my name the LORD I did not make myself known to them . I also established my covenant with them to give them the land of Canaan, where they lived as aliens. Moreover, I have heard the groaning of the Israelites, whom the Egyptians are enslaving, and I have remembered my covenant.
The time has come for the deliverance of Israel! In the passage above we see God appearing to Moses and reassuring him of His character and purpose for Israel. God's mighty hand will bring His people out from their bondage in Egypt! And yet, in doing so the people of Israel, and Moses himself, are going to learn a whole new aspect of God's character. God said to Moses 'I am the LORD. I appeared to Abraham, to Isaac and to Jacob as God Almighty, but by my name the LORD I did not make myself known to them.' The name God Almighty is translated from the Hebrew 'El Shaddai' meaning the 'strong or powerful God.' This was how God had made himself known to Israel's fathers Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. This name was given in connection with the giving of the covenant and promises that God had made hundreds of years before. But, as Hebrews
tells us, 'All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance.'
While Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob may not have seen everything fulfilled that God had promised, the time had now come when God was going to reveal Himself in a new way... as the LORD, Yahweh  , the I AM, the delivering God! God himself would act in a mighty way to bring about His peoples deliverance. This is very instructive for us because God has not changed. Everyone who is a Christian has experienced God personally acting on their behalf for their deliverance, for Jesus, the I AM, went to the cross for us. And now, having become Christians, God still wants to reveal more of His character to us. He doesn't only want us to know of His promises, but also of His deliverance. Over time Israel learnt more and more of God's character, especially in regards to His work on man's behalf. Different titles where given the LORD (Yahweh) as seen below.
Fulfilment in Jesus
The Lord our Provider
The Lord our Healer
,1 Pet 2:24,25
The Lord our Banner
Phil 4:13, Col 1:29
The Lord our Sanctifier
The Lord our Peace
The Lord our Shepard
The Lord our Righteousness
Phil 3:9, 1 Cor
The Lord is There!
The Delivering God!
Exodus 6:6-8 'Therefore, say to the Israelites: 'I am the LORD, and I will bring you out from under the yoke of the Egyptians. I will free you from being slaves to them, and I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with mighty acts of judgment. I will take you as my own people, and I will be your God. Then you will know that I am the LORD your God, who brought you out from under the yoke of the Egyptians. And I will bring you to the land I swore with uplifted hand to give to Abraham, to Isaac and to Jacob. I will give it to you as a possession. I am the LORD.''
Now that the time is right, God is going to reveal Himself to His people in a new way. This He states to them through the promises of seven  'I wills'. Here they are -
Þ I will bring you out from under the yoke of the Egyptians
Þ I will free you from being slaves
Þ I will redeem you
Þ I will take you as my own people
Þ I will be your God
Þ I will bring you into the land
Þ I will give it to you as a possession
And as we all know, God does what He says! Now, I know I'm being a parrot, and I know I have said this before, and I know I'm being a parrot (wait a minute...) but God's character towards His people hasn't changed. These seven promises are true for us also who have been saved from the penalty of sin, and God desires them to be true of us in regard to the power of sin. The Lord delivers us from the power of Egypt (the world) so that we may come into the Promised Land (all that He is for us). But we do face an obstacle. Well, many to be honest! And one of them is rearing his ugly little face now...
The Character and Purpose of Satan
In the person of Pharaoh we see the attitude of Satan that is manifested towards wanting to leave Egypt. So it is very interesting to look at Pharaoh's attitude and stubbornness in this light.  The first meeting of Moses and Pharaoh is in chapter 5.
The Initial Resistance
Exodus 5:1-2 Afterward Moses and Aaron went to Pharaoh and said, 'This is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says: ' Let my people go, so that they may hold a festival to me in the desert.'' Pharaoh said, 'Who is the LORD that I should obey him and let Israel go? I do not know the LORD and I will not let Israel go.'
From the passage above, the objective of God is clear - 'Let my people go!' God wanted His people out of Egypt. But we see in Pharaoh's initial response here a picture of Satan's first up tactics when someone is looking to be delivered by God. 'Who is the LORD?' Pharaoh says, 'I don't know any LORD!' The first thing he does is cast doubt as to the existence of God. When people are looking at becoming Christians, Satan will always try to cast doubt and uncertainty in their mind as to the truth about God. Jesus pictured Satan as a bird flying in and stealing the seed before it can truly take root in a person's heart. (Matt 13:4,19) 'Who is the LORD?' he says, 'I will not let Israel go  '. Don't listen to him!
An oldie but a goody...
Exod 5:6-9 That same day Pharaoh gave this order to the slave drivers and foremen in charge of the people:'You are no longer to supply the people with straw for making bricks; let them go and gather their own straw. But require them to make the same number of bricks as before; don't reduce the quota. They are lazy; that is why they are crying out, 'Let us go and sacrifice to our God.' Make the work harder for the men so that they keep working and pay no attention to lies.'
The second response we see from Pharaoh when God's people want to go and sacrifice to the Lord is a trick he has never stopped using. An oldie, but a goody we might say! Up the workload! Satan loves to get us, no matter how long we have been Christians, too busy with the things in the world to bother about worshipping and following God. Listen to Pharaoh's response when Israel wanted to go and sacrifice to God - 'make the work harder for the men so that they keep working and pay no attention to lies.' He thought that if he gets them so busy with their normal life, they just may well forget about taking time out for their Lord. And he could well be right! Pay attention to your time with the Lord and make sure you don't fall for the oldest trick in the book!
A small compromise with a twist!
Exodus 8:24-27 ...Pharaoh summoned Moses and Aaron and said, ' Go, sacrifice to your God here in the land.' But Moses said, 'That would not be right . The sacrifices we offer the LORD our God would be detestable to the Egyptians. And if we offer sacrifices that are detestable in their eyes, will they not stone us? We must take a three-day journey into the desert to offer sacrifices to the LORD our God, as he commands us.'
Now after a lot more pressure from the Lord, including some nasty use of gnats and flies, Pharaoh is ready for a compromise! 'Ok', Pharaoh says, 'you can go have your sacrifice, but it has got to be within the land.' Maybe Pharaoh is having a nice moment? He has compromised his stand alright but it still has a subtle twist. What is it that we learn about the character of Satan from this verse, I hear you say... Well, I'm glad you asked. What we learn is that if he cannot stop someone from being a Christian then the next plan is to make them a worldly one! This is what he meant by 'sacrificing within the land.' Basically, have your religion if you want, but have it within Egypt... have it still within his worldly system  . So much of what passes itself off as 'Christianity' today falls into this category. So many people love to have some form of godliness or belief without allowing it to impact or change their life at all. People that look particularly shiny and clean on Sundays but are still within the realms of Egypt for the remainder of the week! This is what Pharaoh was saying here - 'have a little bit of religion if you like, but it's going to be within Egypt!' Moses did well in telling Pharaoh to take a running jump because...'that would not be right!'
Pharaoh said, 'I will let you go to offer sacrifices to the LORD your God in the desert, but you must not go very far.'
This is slight extra compromise is similar to that stated above. You can go, but you can't go far! Certainly don't go so far that Pharaoh wouldn't be able to reel you back in!
His last chance - The hook that draws them back!
Exodus 10:21-25 Then the LORD said to Moses, 'Stretch out your hand toward the sky so that darkness will spread over Egypt - darkness that can be felt.'... Then Pharaoh summoned Moses and said, ' Go, worship the LORD. Even your women and children may go with you; only leave your flocks and herds behind .' But Moses said, 'You must allow us to have sacrifices and burnt offerings to present to the LORD our God.'
This final compromise of Pharaoh came through great desperation on his part. He would allow Israel to leave, even the women and children could go... but not their flocks. In other words, Pharaoh knew that he would have to hold onto something close to them which would cause them to keep coming back to Egypt! Is their anything in your life like that? Is there anything which Satan could use to keep drawing you away from God and back to worldliness? Think! It may be a particular weakness that he loves to exploit. It may be a friend that is hindering your walk with God. It may even be a love of money and possessions, which was certainly Pharaoh's hook here. Whatever it is, see it and judge it for what it is... a desperate last ploy of the enemy to maintain some kind of hold on you.
We have looked at the scrambling tactics of Pharaoh as he has tried to keep his smelly mitts on the people of God. Think about it for your own life... Can you see any of these tactics being used to hold you back from a productive Christian life? Read again the purpose and promise of God laid out in Exodus 6:1-5 and believe it as the promise of God for your life. If you are a Christian then thank God for He has already fulfilled these promises in relation to the penalty of sin. Learn to thank Him now for these promises in regard to the daily deliverance from the power of sin.
Let me just end with a Bob Dylan quote. Can't say I quote Bob Dylan very much but I really like a song he wrote called 'Pressing On' (on the album 'Saved'.) Time will tell whether he takes his own advice but that aside, here is a section of the lyrics - (Please read in a croaky, gravely voice!)
'Shake the dust off of your feet, don't look back
Nothing can hold you down, nothing that you lack
Temptation's not an easy thing,
Adam given the devil reign.
Cos he sinned I got no choice,
It'a run in my veins.
But I'm pressing on, Pressing on,
Pressing on, to the higher calling of my Lord.'
So shake that dust off of your feet, and don't look back! Or, as the Apostle Paul wrote, forget what lies behind and press on into that which the Lord has saved you for!
Phil 3:12-14 Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.
 ↩ Abraham, Isaac and Jacob had used the Lord's name Yahweh but obviously now was the time when the extent of what that name meant would be revealed. Yahweh and Jehovah are the same name, and the essence or meaning of this name is 'I AM - the self-existent God' . In the Hebrew, the four consonants YHWH are used because the ancient Hebrew didn't have vowels. So the English translators have added vowels. And for good reason... Go on, try pronouncing YHWH!!!
 ↩ Ok, time for an interesting, but not overly important, point. Seven is God's perfect number. Even a casual reading of the book of Revelation will show this. It is not an accident that there are seven different 'I wills' in this passage. God did it also when He formed a covenant between Himself and Abraham (count the seven 'I wills of God in Genesis 17:1-8). Likewise, the new covenant recorded in Jeremiah 31:33,34 is based on seven promises. God puts His design on the word of God from start to end.
 ↩ Can't say I came up with this example myself. I first saw it in an A.B Simpson commentary. Not long after I saw that C.H.M also goes into this aspect in his 'Notes on Exodus.' Then, while browsing through a Scofield Bible, I saw that he makes the same point. A couple of weeks later I was flicking through a book on leadership by J. Oswald Smith and blow me down if he didn't give the same analogy! I was starting to think that everyone must know this point! But it was new to me! Anyway, I really like this illustration and while I'll put my own spin on it, there still remains a very, very, very slim possibility that some of these points have been blatantly stolen from some of our great Christian fathers of around 100 years ago. But then again, they probably got it off someone else as well!
 ↩ Actually, just while I think of it... why didn't Pharaoh want to let go of Israel? I guess a few reasons but the obvious ones that spring to mind are that - 1) He had them as slaves and didn't want to lose having control over them. 2) He was scared of what they could do if they ever did escape (Exod 1:9-10) Why does Satan try so hard to blind people to the truth? It's for these same reasons. The Bible says that he has control (to some extent) over those that have never been born again (Eph 2:1-4), and they are slaves to sin. (John 8:34-47). He doesn't want to lose this control and is wary of what God's people can do against his kingdom once they have escaped his clutches.
 ↩ We shouldn't ever think that Satan is scared of people becoming 'religious'. He is well in control of many 'religions' and cults around the world. He will one day bring them together in the form of a one-world religion which he will control. He doesn't mind people having a vague belief in God as long as they don't come to see the victory that is theirs because of the death and resurrection of Jesus.