Jehovah, the Glorious God, as he calls himself, reveals to Moses and to the people which he chose to manifest the divine glory to the world, the attributes which are the most attractive to men: loving-kindness, mercy, compassion and love (Deut. 7:8-9; Ps. 111:1-4 and Is. 42:8; 43:7).
In the opinion of Moses, Jehovah is compassionate and gracious (Ex. 34:6). Jehovah looks down from heaven to the two nations: One that loves, and the other that hates: Israel and Egypt. He, then, comes down from heaven to set his chosen people free from the hands of the rejected oppressors (Ex. 3:7-10).
To encourage both Moses and the people of Israel, he makes great promises: The place where they were headed for was a paradisiacal place, where they would be assisted and protected by merciful Jehovah. Within that Garden of Eden, they would adore the God of providence (Ex. 3:8-17).
In order to strengthen the hope of the happiness that would be theirs, in the Promised Land, Jehovah, the merciful God, multiplied the oppression, the affliction and the anguish of his beloved people. We will register the first situation of slavery imposed by Pharaoh; followed by the second, much worse, provoked by Jehovah himself (Ex. 1:6-14; Ex. 4:21 and 5:1-23).
If Jehovah hardened the heart of Pharaoh with the purpose of afflicting his own people, they did not leave Egypt by faith, but by violence. It was not a matter of faith, but of extreme necessity. The chosen people was not attracted by love, but moved by compulsion; and this is violence; and violence yields violence.
Moses received from Jehovah power to bring forth plagues to punish Pharaoh and the Egyptians with violence, whose heart he himself hardened. To beat his own child, for a father, is violence, but to tie the child to a pole in order to beat him/her is demoniacal violence. This is what Jehovah did to Pharaoh when He hardened his heart and tied his conscience, which had been already softened by the two first plagues (the waters turned to blood and the plague of frogs). Pharaoh had been inclined to deliver Israel (Ex. 8:8-15), but changed his mind.
And what could be his reason for changing his mind? Jehovah made sure he would, by hardening Pharaoh’s heart in advance, to reveal his glory, through the plagues, to the world in all the ages (Ex. 7:1-3).
After the seventh plague, Pharaoh was almost converted from his ways. He came to confess that he was a sinner (Ex. 9:25-28). But a little before this, Jehovah, by his spirit, had hardened Pharaoh’s heart some more (Ex. 9:42).
The people of Israel, as they watched such terrible plagues from Jehovah devastate Egypt, and seeing that the plagues were not over the land of Goshem, where they lived, were convinced that they were chosen and protected; even though they were suffering under bondage and slavery brought about by the same Jehovah. So they kept themselves steadfast in their hope of the promise.
This technique is widely used by political leaders. When people complain of oppression, immediately one of the leaders compares them to another nation, which is in worse conditions, by this convincing them that they are happier. This argument should be in the book The Prince, by Machiavel, that exactly deals with political strategies, used to keep people under dominium, by means of deceit.
This technique of comparison is also employed in Psychology. When some individuals complain too much about their fate, professionals bring before them other persons in worse condition, so that they may see themselves differently—happier.
Would a God who condemns a people that does not know him, be just and righteous? (Ex. 5:1-2). Would he be merciful and true, if he pours his wrath upon a nation that does not know him? Would a god be loving and gracious when he makes himself known by plagues and curses? What is the idea that the Egyptians made of the God of Israel? Odious, oppressor, destroyer and author of havoc and plagues. If any converted Egyptians read Zach. 4:6, they would call God a deceiver.
The Egyptians saw with their own eyes that they were cursed in the eyes of Jehovah, for in Goshem there were not any plagues, nor pestilence, nor hail, nor darkness, nor death of children. How much violence done to a people which was not any different from Israel, and which did not know Jehovah! Moses preached the wrath of Jehovah, the discrimination to the Egyptians; he preached destruction and filth in the sea and in the fountains of waters. The last chapter of this destruction was the death of the Egyptian armies in the sea. These facts do not educate the people of God; on the contrary, they fill them with pride, and feed them with the spirit of oppression.
The people of Israel went out to Mount Sinai. There they received the laws of Jehovah. While Moses was with Jehovah up in the mountain, the people corrupted themselves at its foot. Jehovah was filled with anger and wanted to violently destroy them (Ex. 32:10). It was very difficult for Moses to appease Jehovah’s wrath and fury. The method employed by the God Jehovah was the method of violence. In Lev. 26 there is a demonstration of his ferocious spirit, in that for four times he made evil promises, multiplying each promise seven times, which gives us 7 plagues the first time, 49 plagues the second time, 343 plagues the third time and 2,404 plagues the fourth time. The total of curses summed up 2,800; and he finalized the text saying: “If they confess their iniquity and the iniquity of their forefathers, in their unfaithfulness which they committed against Me—I ALSO WAS ACTING WITH HOSTILITY AGAINST THEM, TO BRING THEM INTO THE LAND OF THEIR ENEMIES—or if their uncircumcised heart becomes humbled so that they then make amends for their iniquity, then I will remember my covenant with Jacob…”(Lev. 26:15…42). And afterwards says: “NOT BY MIGHT, NOR BY POWER”. Jehovah, though, hardened the people and blinded them (Is. 6:10; 29:10-12 and 43:8).
The Father reacts to the violence of Jehovah with total grace, not making use of the works of the Law. “For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men” (Titus 2:11). “He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out upon us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior” (Titus 3:5-6).
By Pastor Olavo S. Pereira