When Moses first addressed Pharaoh and said that God wanted the Egyptian to let His people go, Pharaoh’s response was “Who is the Lord that I should obey him?” (5:2). It was a response of open defiance against God, a posture of the mind and heart that Pharaoh would come to regret. When we read this, we are right to pause in disbelief. How foolish of Pharaoh! But then, thanks to the work of the Holy Spirit, we should be quick to recognize that in our sin, we are prone to echo Pharaoh. There are times when we stand before God in defiance and ask Him who He is as we arm-wrestle Him for control of our lives.
When Pharaoh asked who God is, it was not rhetorical. He may have been aware of the God of the Israelites, but he surely was not familiar with Him and He certainly didn’t worship Him. So Pharaoh said definitively, “I will not let Israel go.” And we need to take this to heart; this second statement of defiance should convict us. We are not like Pharaoh—we know God. And yet, even in our knowing, we continue to defy Him.
Even as we are in Christ, the temptation is always there to resurrect our old, dead, fallen selves and live in rebellion. Sometimes we choose to live as a fraud rather than live out our new, true identity as children of God. But this is why the gospel is such good news to us. This is why God’s unending mercy and grace is so critical, not just as the pathway to salvation but for the journey forward from the moment of our salvation. This is why it is so vital that we understand that we are not saved by anything we can do but because Christ has given us His righteousness.
In what ways might you be living in open rebellion against God?