Verse 32. "Pharaoh hardened his heart at this time also" - See ver. 15. This hardening was the mere effect of his self- determining obstinacy.
He preferred his gain to the will and command of Jehovah, and God made his obstinacy the means of showing forth his own power and providence in a supereminent degree.
1. As every false religion proves there is a true one, as a copy, however marred or imperfect, shows there was an original from which it was taken, so false miracles prove that there were genuine miracles, and that God chooses at particular times, for the most important purposes, to invert the established order of nature, and thus prove his omnipotence and universal agency. That the miracles wrought at this time were real we have the fullest proof. The waters, for instance, were not turned into blood in appearance merely, but were really thus changed. Hence the people could not drink of them; and as blood in a very short time, when exposed to the air, becomes putrid, so did the bloody waters; therefore all the fish that were in the river died.
2. No human power or ingenuity could produce such frogs as annoyed the land of Egypt. This also was a real, not an imaginary, plague. Innumerable multitudes of these animals were produced for the purpose; and the heaps of their dead carcasses, which putrefied and infected the land, at once demonstrated the reality of the miracle.
3. The lice both on man and beast through the whole land, and the innumerable swarms of flies, gave such proofs of their reality as to put the truth of these miracles out of question for ever. It was necessary that this point should be fully proved, that both the Egyptians and Israelites might see the finger of God in these awful works.
4. To superficial observers only do "Moses and the magicians appear to be nearly matched." The power of God was shown in producing and removing the plagues. In certain cases the magicians imitated the production of a plague, but they had no power to remove any. They could not seem to remove the bloody colour, nor the putrescency from the waters through which the fish were destroyed, though they could imitate the colour itself; they could not remove the frogs, the lice, or swarms of flies, though they could imitate the former and latter; they could by dexterity of hand or diabolic influence produce serpents, but they could not bring one forward that could swallow up the rod of Aaron. In every respect they fall infinitely short of the power and wonderful energy evidenced in the miracles of Moses and Aaron. The opposition therefore of those men served only as a foil to set off the excellence of that power by which these messengers of God acted.
5. The courage, constancy, and faith of Moses are worthy of the most serious consideration. Had he not been fully satisfied of the truth and certainty of his Divine mission, he could not have encountered such a host of difficulties; had he not been certain of the issue, he could not have preserved amidst so many discouraging circumstances; and had he not had a deep acquaintance with God, his faith in every trial must have necessarily failed. So strong was this grace in him that he could even pledge his Maker to the performance of works concerning which he had not as yet consulted him! He therefore let Pharaoh fix the very time on which he would wish to have the plague removed; and when this was done, he went to God by faith and prayer to obtain this new miracle; and God in the most exact and circumstantial manner fulfilled the word of his servant.
6. From all this let us learn that there is a God who worketh in the earth; that universal nature is under his control; that he can alter, suspend, counteract, or invert its general laws whensoever he pleases; and that he can save or destroy by the most feeble and most contemptible instruments. We should therefore deeply reverence his eternal power and Godhead, and look with respect on every creature he has made, as the meanest of them may in his hand, become the instrument of our salvation or our ruin.
7. Let us not imagine that God has so bound himself to work by general laws, that those destructions cannot take place which designate a particular providence. Pharaoh and the Egyptians are confounded, afflicted, routed, and ruined, while the land of Goshen and the Israelites are free from every plague! No blood appears in their streams; no frogs, lice, nor flies, in all their borders! They trusted in the true God, and could not be confounded.
Reader, how secure mayest thou rest if thou hast this God for thy friend! He was the Protector and Friend of the Israelites through the blood of that covenant which is the very charter of thy salvation: trust in and pray to him as Moses did, and then Satan and his angels shall be bruised under thy feet, and thou shalt not only be preserved from every plague, but be crowned with his loving kindness and tender mercy. He is the same to-day that he was yesterday, and shall continue the same for ever. Hallelujah, the Lord God omnipotent reigneth!