What does choosing humility look like? Exodus 10:3 is the first instance in the Bible where the Hebrew word translated “humble yourself” is used in reference to a person’s attitude toward God. In other words, the concept of humbling oneself before the LORD begins here. Often, when a term first appears in scripture, God also gives us an illustration to convey its meaning.
The LORD asks Pharaoh, “How long will you refuse to humble yourself before Me?” (10:3). God introduces the new concept right in the middle of a power struggle. Pharaoh has pridefully resisted God. Remember, there was no plague at first, no display of power, only a command to let the LORD’s people go (5:1). Now, after blood, frogs, gnats, flies, dead livestock, boils, and hail, Pharaoh’s attitude has hardly budged from what he said at first, “I do not know the LORD, and besides, I will not let Israel go” (5:2). He was only half right. We can agree that his prideful heart certainly knew nothing of God, but to his surprise the LORD was about to prevail by powerfully persuading him to let the people of Israel go!
Is it not the same when we walk in pride toward God? Pride keeps us from knowing intimate fellowship with God. But, ironically, our resistance to His will can never result in a situation where we “win.” At the very best, we slide into heaven when we die, with no crown or reward, to find that everything we did in pride during our lifetime is utterly burned up in the fire of God’s judgment and amounts to nothing. We are saved, but much of what we did, even in His Name, is lost. At worst, pride will lead us to serve ourselves in this life, which is just a vapor, and then wake up in hell, where the fire is not quenched and the worms do not die.
Pride is an ugly thing, and God has laid down this unchangeable law that applies to all people: “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble” (James 4:6). The one thing that ought to make us tremble is the thought of God opposing us! Pride engages in a power struggle with God. To humble ourselves before Him is to say, “God, you are stronger. Have your way.” Humility manifests in surrender to God. It is not hanging our head low and carrying on about our inadequacies. To be humble before the Lord is to respect His authority, power, and goodness, and to submit to it.
Humility may actually manifest in boldness. Scripture testifies that Moses was the humblest man on earth in his day (Numbers 12:3). He had received a command from God, and in humility, he would not tolerate a compromised version of it from man! First, he demands that Pharaoh let every man, woman, and child of Israel go (10:9). Then, when Pharaoh offers for the families to go but the flocks and herds to stay, Moses insists on the LORD’s will: “not a hoof shall be left behind” (10:26). Am I humble enough to insist on the will of God in my dealings with people, or am I so prideful that I compromise the enduring Word of God to better suit people’s desires? This is food for honest reflection.
Pharoah’s own servants reasoned with him, “Do you not realize that Egypt is destroyed?” (10:7). One of the awful effects of pride is that, in our self-will, we cannot see the destruction we are causing. Today, we have a precious opportunity to say, “Lord, not my will but Yours be done. You are stronger, and Your way is better.” That’s humility.
The Rock Church