The Expository Files


 Who Is The Lord That I Should Obey His Voice?

Exodus 5:1-4


When Moses and Aaron stood before Pharaoh, they had a message from God (Exodus 5:1). We often observe how foolish Pharaoh was for his response, which we will consider in a moment. It is true that his response was both foolish and arrogant. But before we consider it, try to put yourself in his place.

He was the great Pharaoh. His power was accepted far and wide. He was the most powerful man in the most powerful nation on the earth. He understood power in it's earthly forms; armies and chariots and gold. If there had been a vast army of warriors standing behind Moses and Aaron, then perhaps his attitude toward them and their God would have been different.

But to Pharaoh, the very idea of obeying a God he had never seen, a God of lowly slaves of shepherd stock, was ludicrous! And this Moses was not a very convincing speaker either. What does a leader of sheep know about leading men? And his brother Aaron is only a slave and the son of a slave. Neither Moses nor Aaron possess any quality that would impress Pharaoh.

So, how can a God who would send a shepherd fugitive and a slave to deliver His warning be revered by the powerful Pharaoh?

The Request and the Response
"And afterward Moses and Aaron came and said to Pharaoh, 'Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, "Let My people go that they may celebrate a feast to Me in the wilderness."' But Pharaoh said, 'Who is the Lord that I should obey His voice to let Israel go? I do not know the Lord, and besides, I will not let Israel go.' Then they said, 'The God of the Hebrews has met with us. Please, let us go a three days' journey into the wilderness that we may sacrifice to the Lord our God, lest He fall upon us with pestilence or with the sword.' But the king of Egypt said to them, 'Moses and Aaron, why do you draw the people away from their work? Get back to your labors!'" (Exodus 5:1-4).

The Pharaoh asks, "Who is the Lord that I should obey His voice..." he is not seeking information. He is simply ridiculing the whole notion that he would be even slightly inclined to listen to such a God or His spokesmen. He is far more concerned in getting the peoples' minds focused back on who is in charge and that they better be getting busy.

Pharaoh's refusal to obey the Lord comes from His arrogance, and his arrogance came from his ignorance. By the way, one can often find the same thing today as the source of the problem when men and women live in rebellion against the Lord.

But for the sake of those who would honestly like to have Pharaoh's question, "Who is the Lord that I should obey His voice" answered, let's provide some answers.

"And I heard, as it were, the voice of a great multitude and as the sound of many waters and as the sound of mighty peals of thunder, saying, 'Hallelujah! For the Lord our God, the Almighty, reigns.'" (Revelation 19:6). The Greek word translated "almighty" in this verse is used some ten times with reference to God in the New Testament. It means to be "all powerful" or "omnipotent." God is able to do anything and everything that is consistent with His purpose, will, and righteous character. There are things that are impossible for men to do, but not God. Jesus said, "The things impossible with men are possible with God." (Luke 18:27).

God's divine power is seen in the creation. As we look into our world and the universe around it, we see the things God has made. Not only did He fashion and form it, He called the very molecules of matter and created the very forces of energy into existence from nothing (Romans 1:18-20). Perhaps had Pharaoh known and accepted that He was dealing with the Creator of all things, he would have had more respect for the words of Moses and Aaron. Certainly the same can be said for man today.

All Knowing
"Remember the former things long past, For I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is no one like Me, declaring the end from the beginning And from ancient times things which have not been done, Saying,' My purpose will be established, And I will accomplish all My good pleasure' (Isaiah 46:9,10).

There simply is nothing of which God is not aware. He knows from the beginning of a thing what the outcome will be. That which He proclaims to us concerning the past, present and future through His prophets is always accurate.

God had even told Moses and Aaron what Pharaoh's reaction would be to the request, and to each of the plagues that would follow. He knew the very heart of Pharaoh. Perhaps if Pharaoh had not thought of himself as so smart, and Aaron and Moses as so backwards, he would have had greater respect for the Lord's word. Again, bringing the point home to the twenty-first century, men today need to have a greater appreciation for the wisdom of God. To mock His word and refuse to be guided by it is no better than Pharaoh, and the outcome will be just as totally disastrous.

All Loving
"For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life." (John 3:16). If we only knew that Jehovah God was "almighty" and "all knowing" it would be enough to respect what He has spoken. But there is more reason to do so. God has blessings for all those who fear Him from whatever nation on all the face of the earth.

Peter came to recognize that God desires men and women of every nation to come to Him through His Son, Jesus. He said, "I most certainly understand now that God is not one to show partiality, but in every nation the man who fears Him and does what is right, is welcome to Him." (Acts 10:34-35). What an honor! The almighty, all knowing one desires to bless me and will welcome me to Him if I will fear Him and do what is right! He will not cast me out just because I am not of a certain nation, or because I am poor, or rich, or tall, or short. He will protect me and guide me to eternal blessings in His Son. And while those in the world are concerned about war and terror and ozone depletion and disease, fearful that these things may bring joy to an end, while I, too, am concerned, I know they cannot take away my greatest joy and my best victory; the eternal one!


By Jon W. Quinn
From Expository Files 14.4; April 2007