Don’t be IGNORANT of Satan’s ‘DEVICES’: So Moses and Aaron were brought again to Pharaoh, and he said to them, "Go, serve the Lord your God. Who are the ones that are going?" And Moses said, "We will go with our young and our old; with our sons and our daughters, with our flocks and our herds we will go, for we must hold a feast to the Lord." Then he said to them, "The Lord had better be with you when I let you and your little ones go! Beware, for evil is ahead of you. Not so! Go now, you who are men, and serve the Lord, for that is what you desired." And they were driven out from Pharaoh's presence. (Exodus 10:8-11)
During our readings of the first twelve chapters of Exodus, we see how God’s people - the Israelites - were under bondage in Egypt, where they were misused and mistreated under the orders of Pharaoh, and how God delivered His people through the lamb’s blood that was applied on the two doorposts and on the lintel of their homes (12:7). If Egypt represents the world, if Pharaoh represents Satan, and if the slain lambs represents Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God who shed His blood on the cross (John 1:29), then the deliverance of the Israelites from Egypt represents the process of salvation where we are delivered from the clutches of Satan and the world to live out a new life in Christ. If this is the case, then a careful understanding on how Pharaoh behaved before letting the Israelites go free will help us to understand the devices that Satan uses to make us compromise from God’s Word.
This was the initial message that God told Moses to convey to Pharaoh: "The Lord God of the Hebrews has met with us; and now, please, let us go three days' journey into the wilderness, that we may sacrifice to the Lord our God" (3:18). The objective of the departure of the Israelites was changed from sacrifice to service (4:23) to finally holding a feast for God (5:1). First, sacrifice is required for reconciling with God (Heb. 9:22), then we can serve God acceptably (Acts 27:23), which is followed by feasting that speaks of fellowship and gladness. How did Pharaoh allow the Israelites to leave Egypt? There were five stages that we can examine in detail:
- First, Pharaoh out rightly refused Moses’ proposition (5:2), and he wanted the Israelites to get back to their work and labor in Egypt (5:4). This is how Satan typically blinds the eyes of the sinner from understanding and obeying the gospel (2 Cor. 4:3-4) and wants them to engage solely in worldly affairs.
- Second, Pharaoh gave permission to sacrifice in Egypt itself (8:25). This was contrary to the initial proposition that the Israelites should make a three days journey (3:18) to sacrifice to God. God’s plan that the Israelites would worship God at Mount Horeb is seen in Exodus 3:12: "When you have brought the people out of Egypt, you shall serve God on this mountain". Egypt represents the world that we cannot serve since we have been delivered “from this present evil world” (Gal. 1:4).
- Third, Pharaoh gave permission to sacrifice in the wilderness, not very far away (8:28). It appeared that Pharaoh was ready to lengthen the chain, but it was still a chain. He was not ready to grant complete liberty to the Israelites. The point at issue was the complete separation of God’s people from Egypt (the world), and Pharaoh (representing Satan) contesting this to the bitter end. However, a new life in Christ involves everything new where old things have passed away (2 Cor. 5:17).
- Fourth, Pharaoh gave permission to men only to go and serve God (10:10-11). This was surely a cunning trick of Satan: to permit and let the men go but leave their families behind in Egypt. Through this, every family in part would be serving Jehovah and in part serving Pharaoh. But Jehovah God could have no part with Pharaoh. He should either have all or nothing!
- Fifth, Pharaoh gave permission for all to go except for the cattle stock (10:24). The flocks and herds of the Israelites were their entire earthly possessions, and what they would use for sacrifices. The logic here is that if Pharaoh could not induce the Israelites to sacrifice in Egypt, he would send them out of the land without any means of sacrifice.
Let’s seek daily grace to walk worthy of the vocation with which we have been called, and always be on guard (1 Peter 5:8) concerning the devices of Satan "lest Satan should take advantage of us; for we are not ignorant of his devices" (2 Cor. 2:11).