I had a lad in my class who was always up to mischief, but he would deny it flatly – he hadn’t done it and that was all there was to it. I got wise to him, and would ask him, “Did you do it by accident?” He’d confess to that, and I’d got him! So I’d say, “So why did you lie to me?” then we could find out what had really happened, and due punishment could be awarded. Worked every time! The thing was, not to corner him. You had to give him wriggle room to get to the bottom of the matter. And I wonder if that was God’s agenda in letting the magicians do their tricks, and make the frogs come up on the land too, just as he had done through Aaron (Exodus 8:5-11). There was a sort of negotiation going on. Pharaoh was not totally cornered. Some wriggle room.
Well, frogs put there by God, and frogs put there by the magicians, Pharaoh had had quite enough of frogs! He was beginning to see that he had to work with Moses and his God if he wanted peace in his land. When he summoned Moses and asked him to pray to God to remove the abominable amphibians, Moses continued to offer some wriggle room, to keep Pharaoh engaged. “State your time.” He was still hoping that a display of God’s power would win the heart of the Egyptian ruler.
I wonder at the level of Moses’ faith as he decreed that the frogs would indeed disappear on the following day, as Pharaoh had requested. But way more than that, I wonder at God’s part in it. Not just that he could and would perform the miracle of causing the frogs to depart, but that he would perform it at Pharaoh’s behest. God could have removed Pharaoh just as easily as he removed the frogs. Yet he worked with him, gave him the opportunity to recognize his superior power and back down unscathed, and without further damage to his country.
But that is the amazing graciousness of God. Full of power, total control, absolute authority, yet works with us to give us every opportunity to come to know and appreciate him, that we might eventually come to love him. How much wriggle room has he given me over the years, to pursue me and entreat me to take up all he offers. So much more than I deserve. Doesn’t that make you want to love him more?