1. PHARAOH RESISTS GOD
a. When Moses and Aaron came before the king of Egypt, what request did they present to him, and how did he respond? Exodus 5:1–3.
b. What warnings should we take from Pharaoh’s pride and rebellion? Galatians 6:7; Proverbs 11:2.
“Those who exalt their own ideas above the plainly specified will of God, are saying as did Pharaoh, ‘Who is the Lord, that I should obey His voice?’ Every rejection of light hardens the heart and darkens the understanding; and thus men find it more and more difficult to distinguish between right and wrong, and they become bolder in resisting the will of God.”—The SDA Bible Commentary [E. G. White Comments], vol. 1, p. 1100.
“Let all be warned by the messages sent from heaven that when any man shall exalt his own ways and his own judgment as supreme, he will come under Satan’s jurisdiction and will be led blindfold by him until his spirit and his methods will conform to the archdeceiver, little by little, until his whole mind is under the influence of the spell. The serpent keeps its eye fixed upon a man, to charm him, until he has no power to go from the snare.”—The Publishing Ministry, p. 175.
2. PHARAOH ADDS GREATER BURDENS
a. What accusation did the king bring against Moses and Aaron? Exodus 5:4, 5. To what “rest” was he referring?
“In their bondage the Israelites had to some extent lost the knowledge of God’s law, and they had departed from its precepts. The Sabbath had been generally disregarded, and the exactions of their taskmasters made its observance apparently impossible. But Moses had shown his people that obedience to God was the first condition of deliverance; and the efforts made to restore the observance of the Sabbath had come to the notice of their oppressors.”—Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 258.
b. What was the purpose of God in bringing Israel out of Egypt? Psalm 105:43–45. What implications does this have for us?
“As the Sabbath was the sign that distinguished Israel when they came out of Egypt to enter the earthly Canaan, so it is the sign that now distinguishes God’s people as they come out from the world to enter the heavenly rest. The Sabbath is a sign of the relationship existing between God and His people, a sign that they honor His law. It distinguishes between His loyal subjects and transgressors. . . . The Sabbath given to the world as the sign of God as the Creator is also the sign of Him as the Sanctifier. The power that created all things is the power that recreates the soul in His own likeness.”—Testimonies, vol. 6, pp. 349, 350.
“And when the law of God is thus exemplified in the life, even the world will recognize the superiority of those who love and fear and serve God above every other people on the earth.”—Ibid., p. 12.
c. What was the result of the interview with Pharaoh? Exodus 5:6–14.
“The king, thoroughly roused, suspected the Israelites of a design to revolt from his service. Disaffection was the result of idleness; he would see that no time was left them for dangerous scheming. And he at once adopted measures to tighten their bonds and crush out their independent spirit.”—Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 258.
3. GOD TESTS THE FAITH OF ISRAEL
a. With what reproach did the officers of the children of Israel come to Moses and Aaron? Exodus 5:19–21.
b. Why didn’t the Lord deliver Israel straight away? Acts 14:22.
“The Hebrews had expected to obtain their freedom without any special trial of their faith or any real suffering or hardship. But they were not yet prepared for deliverance. They had little faith in God, and were unwilling patiently to endure their afflictions until He should see fit to work for them. Many were content to remain in bondage rather than meet the difficulties attending removal to a strange land; and the habits of some had become so much like those of the Egyptians that they preferred to dwell in Egypt. Therefore the Lord did not deliver them by the first manifestation of His power before Pharaoh. He overruled events more fully to develop the tyrannical spirit of the Egyptian king and also to reveal Himself to His people. Beholding His justice, His power, and His love, they would choose to leave Egypt and give themselves to His service. The task of Moses would have been much less difficult had not many of the Israelites become so corrupted that they were unwilling to leave Egypt.”—Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 260.
“The children of Israel were addicted to licentiousness, idolatry, gluttony, and gross vices. This is ever the result of slavery. But the Lord looked upon His people, and after their deliverance He educated them. They were not left uncared for.”—The Southern Work, p. 43.
c. As Moses complained to the Lord when new trials came upon Israel, what did the Lord promise to do for His people? Exodus 5:22, 23; 6:1–8.
“In mercy to us, [God] does not always place us in the easiest places; for if He did, in our self-sufficiency we would forget that the Lord is our helper in time of necessity. But He longs to manifest Himself to us in our emergencies, and reveal the abundant supplies that are at our disposal, independent of our surroundings; and disappointment and trial are permitted to come upon us that we may realize our own helplessness, and learn to call upon the Lord for aid, as a child, when hungry and thirsty, calls upon its earthly father.”—Reflecting Christ, p. 353.
4. THE PEOPLE ARE DISHEARTENED
a. When Moses spoke to the children of Israel the second time, how did they receive the message of the Lord? Exodus 6:9. What promises should have been a source of hope for all the Israelites? Genesis 15:13, 14; 50:24.
“The elders of Israel endeavored to sustain the sinking faith of their brethren by repeating the promises made to their fathers, and the prophetic words of Joseph before his death, foretelling their deliverance from Egypt. Some would listen and believe. Others, looking at the circumstances that surrounded them, refused to hope. The Egyptians, being informed of what was reported among their bondmen, derided their expectations and scornfully denied the power of their God. They pointed to their situation as a nation of slaves, and tauntingly said, ‘If your God is just and merciful, and possesses power above that of the Egyptian gods, why does He not make you a free people?’ They called attention to their own condition. They worshiped deities termed by the Israelites false gods, yet they were a rich and powerful nation. They declared that their gods had blessed them with prosperity, and had given them the Israelites as servants, and they gloried in their power to oppress and destroy the worshipers of Jehovah. Pharaoh himself boasted that the God of the Hebrews could not deliver them from his hand.
“Words like these destroyed the hopes of many of the Israelites. The case appeared to them very much as the Egyptians had represented. It was true that they were slaves, and must endure whatever their cruel taskmasters might choose to inflict. Their children had been hunted and slain, and their own lives were a burden. Yet they were worshiping the God of heaven. If Jehovah were indeed above all gods, surely He would not thus leave them in bondage to idolaters. But those who were true to God understood that it was because of Israel’s departure from Him—because of their disposition to marry with heathen nations, thus being led into idolatry—that the Lord had permitted them to become bondmen; and they confidently assured their brethren that He would soon break the yoke of the oppressor.”—Patriarchs and Prophets, pp. 259, 260.
b. With what argument did Moses try to excuse himself when the Lord told him to speak to Pharaoh again? Exodus 6:10–12.
5. GOD SENDS SIGNS AND WONDERS
a. As the Lord encouraged Moses to return to Pharaoh, what did He say He would multiply in Egypt, and what would be the reaction of the Egyptians? Exodus 7:1–5.
“Before the infliction of each plague, Moses was to describe its nature and effects, that the king might save himself from it if he chose. Every punishment rejected would be followed by one more severe, until his proud heart would be humbled, and he would acknowledge the Maker of heaven and earth as the true and living God. . . . God would glorify His own name, that other nations might hear of His power and tremble at His mighty acts, and that His people might be led to turn from their idolatry and render Him pure worship.”—Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 263.
b. How were God’s and Satan’s powers contrasted before Pharaoh? Exodus 7:8–12. What was Satan’s purpose in trying to counterfeit the work of God?
“By counterfeiting the work of God through Moses, [Satan] hoped not only to prevent the deliverance of Israel, but to exert an influence through future ages to destroy faith in the miracles of Christ. Satan is constantly seeking to counterfeit the work of Christ and to establish his own power and claims. He leads men to account for the miracles of Christ by making them appear to be the result of human skill and power. In many minds he thus destroys faith in Christ as the Son of God, and leads them to reject the gracious offers of mercy through the plan of redemption.”—Ibid., p. 265.
PERSONAL REVIEW QUESTIONS
1. How do we sometimes show the same pride as Pharaoh?
2. In what way is the Sabbath a distinguishing sign for God’s people today?
3. Why were so many of the Israelites unwilling to leave Egypt? Why are so many of us unwilling to let go of worldly customs and ideas today?
4. Why had God allowed the Israelites to become slaves?
5. Why did Satan try to counterfeit the miracles of God?