by Lois Tverberg
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.” Exodus 5:2
“For this time I will send all My plagues on you and your servants and your people, so that you may know that there is no one like Me in all the earth.” Exodus 9:14
A key theme in the book of Exodus is “knowing” who the Lord is. When God first appeared to Moses in the burning bush, Moses seemed to be asking who God was when he asked for his name. Then, when Moses went to Pharaoh, Pharaoh’s response was that he did not “know the LORD,” so why should he obey him?
It is important to understand that in Hebrew, the word for “know,” yada, is more broad than in English, describing personal experience, not just intellectual knowledge. To “know” God in this sense is not just to have heard a name, but having awe for him from encountering his power directly. Pharaoh had no fear of this God because he had never experienced God’s power.
Many places throughout Exodus God says that he would send his plagues and free his people so that both Egypt and Israel would know him:
Ex. 6:7 `Then I will take you for My people, and I will be your God; and you shall know that I am the LORD your God, who brought you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians
Ex. 7:5 “The Egyptians shall know that I am the LORD, when I stretch out My hand on Egypt and bring out the sons of Israel from their midst.”
Ex. 14:4 “Thus I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and he will chase after them; and I will be honored through Pharaoh and all his army, and the Egyptians will know that I am the LORD.” And they did so.
Ex. 16:6 So Moses and Aaron said to all the sons of Israel, “At evening you will know that the LORD has brought you out of the land of Egypt; When Moses first came to Pharaoh, Pharaoh had no idea who the God of Israel was, and he could only find out from his own personal experience of the power of this God.
Do you know who the LORD is, that you should obey his voice?
Photo: Lawrence Alma-Tadema