But for this purpose I have raised you up, to show you my power, so that my name may be proclaimed in all the earth. You are still exalting yourself against my people and will not let them go.
This is God’s most direct message to Pharaoh. He makes it clear that all that has happened so far in the plagues has served the purpose of calling the king to consider the sovereign rule of the God of Israel. Pharaoh was not battling some superstition. It wasn’t about a regional Canaanite deity that had no authority in the land of Egypt. This was the God of the universe. And God had made Pharaoh in His image. He raised up the king. This had to have Pharaoh do some serious thinking.
The Egyptians worshiped their king. Pharaoh was a god among many, but a powerful ruler receiving worship. What’s more, this man was familiar with the process of appeasing the myriad of other Egyptian gods. I think that deep in His thinking was the reality of realizing that all of it was culture, but that he benefited from the praise of his people. And to give that praise to some God he did not know was preposterous. Except that the God of Israel was clearly demonstrating power that no Egyptian god or priest of an Egyptian temple could match.
God raised up Pharaoh, but this proud man had exalted himself. This was the human tendency towards pride, bent by wealth and power to incredible highs. All the power and wealth of ancient Egypt made Pharaoh a mythic figure. And he had raised himself to the absolute zenith of human achievement for his day. And God let him know that even the most powerful, most influential, proudest man on the planet could not stand against the will of God.
In the end, we remember the Exodus as God’s work, not Pharaoh’s day of defiance. God forewarned the Egyptians time and again, but it would take complete personal devastation before they would acknowledge Him. But God’s glory prevailed. He is proclaimed throughout the earth, while Egypt and all the power of the Pharaohs eventually dwindled down to be covered by desert sand.