Therefore, that which is superhuman is not necessarily of God. The public today has been mesmerized to think that if something supernatural occurs, it is good, and that such wisdom or instruction should be followed. This incident with Pharaoh alerts us to the fact that there is another supernatural force besides that of God, Jesus, and the holy angels. Satan and his fallen angel cohorts are also active. We must discriminate even with regard to miraculous signs, and we must beware of faith healers. Especially we are to be on guard against the lying signs and wonders that will take place in the near future. Outstanding miracles will be performed that will deceive all except the Very Elect (Matt. 24:24).
Verses 1–6 are a historical commentary on what took place at the foot of Mount Sinai in Moses’ absence. In verses 7–14 God informed Moses, who was still up on the mount, about the events just described by the commentator. We will consider these verses in more detail. When Moses delayed to come down from the mount, the people demanded that Aaron make gods to go before them in returning to Egypt (Acts 7:37–40). Moses was on Mount Sinai for 40 days and nights. We do not know how much time elapsed before the molten calf was built, but probably about 10 days remained from the time the people went to Aaron; that is, they may have waited a month before going to him.
What seemingly justified the people in taking up this matter with Aaron? What were they thinking? They reasoned that Moses was dead and that thus he was not coming back. They showed disrespect for Moses in saying, “This Moses, the man that brought us up out of the land of Egypt …” They lacked faith and felt they were abandoned in the desert. Hence they were thinking about going back to Egypt.
We are in a much better position today—4,000 years later—to understand the experiences in the Wilderness than the Israelites back there, for we have the benefit of God’s deeds over the years, as recorded in Scripture. Israel’s experiences were relatively limited, so we can commiserate, to a certain extent, even with their complaining initially. The nation of Israel, which had started with the children of Jacob, went back only 200-plus years at this time. However, as the miracles occurred, the people should have stored up a memory bank to increase their faith. We, as Christians, can avoid discouragement by thinking back on how God originally called us and then led us step by step into clearer and clearer understanding. Tracing providences increases faith. We look back at past providences and look forward to future promises.
Moses grew and learned. His long oration in the Book of Deuteronomy just before his death shows his maturity. We, too, have to grow from a babe into the full stature of a man in Christ Jesus. And we are assisted when we assemble together, for we learn from one another’s mistakes and strengths.
Moses and Aaron went to Pharaoh and requested that he let the Israelites go so that they could hold a feast unto God in the wilderness. Of course the intent was to leave Egypt for good, but this method was a tactful way to begin approaching Pharaoh. God had told Moses earlier that Pharaoh would refuse.
The Hebrews had been using supplied straw. Now they had to gather the straw themselves. The gathering would take time, yet the number of bricks could not be decreased. Pharaoh wanted to so burden the Hebrews that they would not even think of asking for liberty to sacrifice religiously.
What is the spiritual lesson? When we give our hearts to the Lord or even if we are just contemplating giving our hearts, the Adversary uses every possible means to distract or sidetrack us into another avenue that will occupy our time. Pharaoh is a picture of Satan here. If Satan sees someone seeking liberty through Christ from the burden of sin and death, he specially tries to make it difficult for that individual to pursue consecration. The people are already burdened, and he increases the burdens.
As with Jesus, there is little information about Moses’ earlier years. We hear nothing about Jesus between his birth and age 12, and then nothing until he was age 30. With Moses we hear only that he married Zipporah, had two sons, and was living in the desert tending flocks. He had been in the Wilderness of Sinai for 40 years at this point in time. Now Moses was 80 years old. God overruled that Moses would take the flocks to Mount Sinai at this time so that the incident of the burning bush could occur, resulting in the Exodus eventually—at God’s due time. Meanwhile, Moses’ 40 years in the desert had familiarized him with the terrain to later lead the Israelites.
Back in Genesis 15, God had told Abraham that there would be 400 years of affliction and bondage. (Of the predetermined time period of 430 years, 30 years had already passed.) Now, many years later, the Lord listened to the Israelites’ prayer—at the exact end of the predicted time period. How can such precise timing be explained? The Lord, in seeing certain matters, is intuitively mathematically precise. The very time that the Israelites cried out occurred at the end of the 430 years. How startling that God could spontaneously and emotionally react to their plea yet be mathematically accurate!
For God to “remember” (verse 24) does not mean He had forgotten. The Hebrew vocabulary is limited, so when God responds to the onlooker, He has “remembered.” The same Hebrew word was used where the account states that a Pharaoh arose who “knew not” Joseph (Exod. 1:8). The Pharaoh knew of Joseph but did not recognize him in the sense of dealing with him in a proper way considering how Joseph had helped Egypt.
The last verse of Chapter 1 showed the Nile River was to be a place of death for the Hebrew male babies, so the place of death now became a place of salvation for Moses. A river was similarly significant in Jesus’ life. Not only was Jesus baptized in the Jordan River, a symbol of death, but he was raised out of the river to newness of life. The name Moses means “drawn out [of water]” (Exod. 2:10). Moses was a type of Jesus.
The tabernacle teaches the plan of God in many ways: its structure, its services, its priesthood. Verse 26 describes the structure itself with its many curtains. Each curtain has a symbolic meaning based on its fabric, how it was sewn together and even down to its color. The details of the entirety of the Tabernacle were painstakingly made, the penalty of making it wrong was death, because it had to accurately portray the plan of God and not be left up to the interpretation of man, either in structure or idea.