1. This chapter is noticed for two primary occurrences. First, Moses’ credibility is established. Second, Egypt suffers the first plague from God for the king’s rebellion. Already Moses has shown to the Israelites that he had a message from God. Knowing the people of Israel would want credentials, the Lord gave them to Moses. Knowing the king would want credentials, the Lord gave them to Moses. Unlike the people of Israel who had a modicum of faith, the king had none – he was going to be harder to crack, but in this chapter the first crack had got its start.
2. The Lord said to Moses that He made Moses like God to the king; it is hard to see that at this juncture of the story. Likely, what is in view is that before the completion of the Lord’s judgments against Egypt, the Pharaoh’s persuasion about Moses would change drastically. The Lord lets Moses know clearly that Pharaoh would not allow Israel to go, and, in fact the Lord would harden the king’s heart in this matter. A perplexing phrase when you think about it, but the idea is the Lord’s word having been sent out will not return to the Lord in vain; it will accomplish its purpose (cf. Isaiah 55:10-11). It was the Pharaoh who hardened his own heart (9:17).
3. The “rod of God” was now put on display (if you will). When the king asked for credential, Moses gave them to him. Pharaoh not quite ready to receive them countered Moses’ credentials with his own magicians – or so he thought (7:12-13). Now the Lord was ready to begin His judgment on the “gods of Egypt” (12:12). “The Egyptians were just about the most polytheistic people known from the ancient world” (Davis, p. 94). Add to this their burdensome supremacy over Israel, this made for a significant contest. The first plague of the water turning into blood was quite significant. Egypt’s need of water affected them adversely the quickest if it was not available. “Hardly any country in ancient or modern times has been so dependent on its waterways as ancient Egypt” (p. 98).
4. The Lord had Moses use the “rod of God” and stretch out his arms over all the waters of Egypt. When the first sight of blood was seen how did this not get to the penitent nature of man, including the king? The answer, of course, is in the single word pride (7:23).
5. Application: Unfortunately, the stubbornness of the king brought heartache to his subject in an immeasurable way. When one is in a position – it matters not what the position is – a position that has an aura about it, there are many who complicate that aura with their own grandeur. This easily applies to a king, but what about our self?