In this passage we are given Pharaoh’s response to Moses request that the Israelites be allowed to go into the wilderness to worship the Lord, their God. We should remember Moses begins the request with “Thus says the Lord,” to identify the real speaker behind the request. Pharaoh replies that he does not know the Lord. The Lord will make known to Pharaoh he is indeed the Lord, but he will show forbearance first. This will become one of the main points in the story.

So before the wrath of the Lord comes upon Pharaoh and Egypt we see the anger of Pharaoh. He piles up more work on the Israelites. Because of their preoccupation with emancipation he orders the taskmasters not to provide them straw any longer for the production of bricks (verses 6-7). So on top of the already heavy burdens he lays a crushing decree. This he pronounces will end their hoping in “lying words.” By lying words he is referring to the words of the Lord.

In verse three Moses had warned that a failure to allow the Israelites to worship the Lord would lead to judgment. Pharaoh is unmoved. If you had been reading the Bible from Genesis to this point you would recognize echoes of Eden. The devil had told Adam and Eve that God’s warning of judgment (on the day you eat of the forbidden fruit you will die) was not true. He essentially said God was using lying words.

We generally underestimate the influence of Satan in undermining God’s word. When the apostle Paul says every unbeliever is under the power of Satan he doesn’t mean all are raving lunatics or as bad as they could be. He means they don’t believe God’s word; they don’t live by God’s word. A principal aspect of God’s word is the certainty of future judgment. Satan’s original (lying) declaration, “You surely will not die,” still exercises power over mankind.

Notice how Pharaoh is dismissive of any threat from the Lord, and even angered by it. He will die defiantly. He was under the power of the devil. If we would be free from the power of the devil we must believe what God says. God says we are worthy of death and that no one can escape the judgment of the Lord.

This statement will humble us if we believe it true. God does not lie. God’s word would be “lying words” if sinners were not exposed and punished in the judgment. From Genesis to Revelation the words of judgment fill the Bible. These are God’s words. One reason the salvation of Christ is called a great salvation and good news is because of what happens to those who do not have it.

The world we live in as well as mankind is not described by the Bible as basically good with some flaws. Jesus said the world hated him. His love to the world is described as love to enemies in need of redemption. Jesus said unless you repent you will perish. Pharaoh perished. So did Egypt. Thousands of kings and emperors have come to nothing along with their empires. Never has one of God’s counsels failed. Whenever the Lord has warned of judgment, it has followed terribly if there was no repentance.

Satan would have us think God’s warnings are but wind with no substance, that the story of Noah and other judgments are but tales meant to frighten unenlightened masses. He appears as an angel of light with promises of pleasure if we would but shake the chains of stories about a sovereign God we must give account to.

Conversely, the most eminent Christians such as the apostle Paul were the most humble with respect to their own need of transcendent forgiveness and mercy from God. Paul renounced any merits of his own and boasted in the cross of Christ by which he was made acceptable to God. His devoted service to Christ was in view of the mercies of God. He loved Christ because Christ first loved him and gave himself for him.

Paul warned Christians not to be deceived by empty or lying words from men because the wrath of God was certainly coming on this world. Rather, they were to be devoted to the Lord and wait patiently for the day they would see the Lord.

The story of Exodus is not only about the deliverance of Israel. It is about judgment on Pharaoh and Egypt. Their end was a foreshadowing of what the world’s end will be.