In the name of the Father and of the +Son and of the Holy Spirit, Amen.
“I have made you God to pharaoh.” (Exod. 7:1) In English we need to add the word “like” god, or “as” god or we get confused. But the original Hebrew says, “I have made you God unto Pharaoh.” What the Lord is saying is, “I have given you My authority. (Matt. 28:18-20) I am commissioning you. I am the Lord. (Exod. 6:28; 7:5, 17) I am sending you to speak My word of power. My word by which I do all things. My word which does what I send it to do. (Isa. 55:11) I have given you an office. A ministry: to speak My word which saves.”
Aaron’s public ministry is an example of how the Lord works. He does not work through secret whispers in your heart or by visions and dreams. That is not to say that He has not or that He may not do such things, but always be sceptical of such phenomena. For the Lord sends His prophets. (Amos 3:7; Rom. 10:14-15) He makes them God unto us. (John 20:22-23; Matt. 16:19; 18:18) They speak His word unto us. Both His judgement on sin and especially His blood bought forgiveness, which delivers you from your slavery to your sin. He does not work in the secret of your heart, nor in the shadows and darkness, where Satan and the works of darkness are done. He works in the light. (1 Thes. 5:5) In public. By His public ministers that He authorizes. (Luke 10:16)
So Aaron’s staff gobbles up the Egyptian snakes – gobbling up sin and all the works of devil and his minions. Just as by wood of the cross, Christ the sin eater, ate your slavery, conquered your captors, gobbled them up, and put them to death. So that you are free.
Since Pharaoh will not listen the stage is set for the first plague. The Nile turns to blood. (Exod. 7:15-17) And it is unknown whether this was an instant, miraculous bloom of red algae that hit not only the river, but also the pools, and even the water stored in pots OR that the water of the river turned to actual blood. But either way it strikes the source of their life: the Nile river. The Nile made Egypt great. The Nile made Egypt a bread basket giving is a huge population, one of the earliest civilizations, and food enough to launch armies into surrounding lands. Thus, in their human reasoning, by the whispers of their hearts they turned the river into a god. They worshiped it. And the Lord strikes it dead turning it to blood. For blood which is life when on the inside of you (Lev. 17:11) is death when it pours out of you. Not only does your body die, but the blood itself quickly stinks, putrefies, and becomes rancid when outside of you. A river of blood! No longer a source of life, but now a sign of death.
And this first miraculous plague reminds us of Our Lord’s first miracle when He took on flesh – turning water into wine. (John 2:6-11) For the Lord has power over His physical creation for He made it. He is the prophet greater than Moses (Deut. 18:15-19; 34:10) who is here, who has come, who has saved His people.
For this is the message that the Lord sends His prophets to preach. (Heb. 1:1-2) Like Aaron who held up his staff (Exod. 7:19) we hold up the wood of the cross, the message of the shedding of the blood of the eternal son of God, the holy, innocent One who shed His blood for you, pouring out His life unto death, by which blood and the preaching thereof you are proclaimed forgiven.
The message the Lord’s prophets preach is always the message of the crucified Christ (1 Cor. 1:23-25) who has swallowed up the Tempter and the power of death, who gives us His life by the water of Baptism and the blood of His supper. Through receiving these promises our fear gives way simply to being His people and doing His works as our faith clings to His Word alone by which we are saved.
In +Jesus’ name, Amen.
---Pastor David Haberstock
Epiphany Lutheran Church
Thunder Bay, ON