Moses asks his father-in-law for permission to go to Egypt. He makes up a story about wanting to see if his brothers are alive. He doesn’t mention the whole burning bush thing.
Moses gets his dad’s blessing and leaves with his wife and sons. He makes sure to take his staff with him. Here it’s called the staff of God. It used to be just a shepherd’s staff, the way David was just a shepherd boy until God made him king.
Don’t underestimate God. All the ordinary in your life can become extraordinary in the hands of an awesome God. God has told him to take the staff and perform before Pharaoh the signs given. He’s also told to tell Pharaoh that if he doesn’t let Moses go, God will kill Pharaoh’s firstborn son.
At the same time, God says He will harden Pharaoh’s heart and says Pharaoh won’t let Moses go. He also calls the Israelites, “my son.”
As you read the story of Israel, I think it’s really helpful to think of them as one body, one person, the singular collective of “my son,” instead of a collection of individuals.
The threat to kill the firstborn isn’t carried out right away. Maybe that emboldens Pharaoh along the way. We’ve already talked about the importance of the firstborn, the birthright and all that. Pharaoh’s firstborn will inherit the title of Pharaoh himself. It’s a big deal to be Pharaoh’s firstborn son, and it would be a big deal for him to die. Of course, the belief was that Pharaoh was a god himself, and who could kill a god?
And what is this of hardening his heart? Remember, God knows the future and there is no what if. That Hebrew word for hardened is only translated that way here with Pharaoh. It’s mostly translated as strengthen. Instead of tearing down the walls in Pharaoh’s heart, did God know His threats spoken by a lowly shepherd would only strengthen them?
Moses told the truth, but it didn’t break Pharaoh’s heart, it emboldened him to defy the living God. And the living God knew it.