Devotional: June 2, 2020
But Pharaoh said, “Lazy! That’s what you are! Lazy! That’s why you whine, ‘Let us go so we can worship God.’ Well then, go—go back to work. Nobody’s going to give you straw, and at the end of the day you better bring in your full quota of bricks.”
The Israelite foremen saw that they were in a bad way, having to go back and tell their workers, “Not one brick short in your daily quota.”
As they left Pharaoh, they found Moses and Aaron waiting to meet them. The foremen said to them, “May God see what you’ve done and judge you—you’ve made us stink before Pharaoh and his servants! You’ve put a weapon in his hand that’s going to kill us!”
Moses went back to God and said, “My Master, why are you treating this people so badly? And why did you ever send me? From the moment I came to Pharaoh to speak in your name, things have only gotten worse for this people. And rescue? Does this look like rescue to you?”
Exodus 4: 17-23
The story of Moses is a prominent part of the Old Testament and a significant part of the Jewish people’s heritage. Moses is also mentioned in the New Testament several times. Many people know the basic story of Moses, thanks to the classic movie, “The Ten Commandments” with Charlton Heston. There is a powerful statue of Moses prominently featured on the façade of the United States Supreme Court building in Washington D.C.. There, he is featured with other great world leaders instrumental in development of law throughout human history. Moses is gripping the two tablets of the Ten Commandments and is seated on a judge’s seat, ready to rule.
In spite of his larger-than-life reputation, the picture of Moses which emerges from the scriptures is of a flawed, and very human figure. He loses his temper and murders a man. He doesn’t believe he is qualified to lead the Hebrew people. He complains to God that he stutters and stammers too much to speak to Pharaoh. (God overcomes this objection by suggesting Moses’ brother Aaron serve as his mouthpiece).
Here in Exodus 4, Moses has spoken to Pharaoh, and asked him to let the Jewish people go. Pharaoh has no intention of letting them go. Instead, Pharoah increases their hard labor by having them make more bricks, but now without straw (an important part of brick-making in those days!) The Jewish people are even more devastated by Pharoah’s proclamation. They feel hopeless.
Moses pleads with God, and complains about everything: about being personally called to this impossible task, about how Pharaoh is making things hard, and about how things seem to be getting worse and worse. I love the line Moses offers up to God: “Rescue? Does this look like rescue to You?”
If a reader were only to look at Exodus chapter 4, Moses would be considered a colossal failure. As Moses interacts with Pharaoh, things immediately go from bad to worse! Moses is in despair. He feels like a failure, and pours out his thoughts and feelings to the Lord…
Yet, Moses’ story does not end with this one chapter. Things did get worse for Moses and the Jewish people, but then they got better. Healing did occur. Perhaps this observation can be comforting to us as we look around at what is happening in our world. Eventually, Moses and the Jewish people were able to flee the grip of Pharaoh’s evil reign. God’s promise to His people was fulfilled.
As we watch the current news, things feel like they have gone from worse to worse. We have seen the senseless death of a man, captured on video. On top of this tragedy, there is the pandemic, and the non-peaceful rioting and looting, which are devastating our country, and the world. People are watching their family members die, their livelihoods disappear. Some are taking their own lives. There is a sense of sadness in so many places around, but we are not alone. God is still here. He has not abandoned us. He is still our God of salvation and deliverance. God delivered the Jews from their bondage in Egypt, and did so under the leadership of a very flawed individual, Moses. As we look to the scriptures to guide us, comfort us and lead us, we need to see that God was always present then. He is still present today.
Currently, we may feel like the Jewish people, who were just seeking straw to maintain their own life, and the lives of their family. Thankfully, the story of the Jewish people did not end at that point. That was just one chapter in their journey, but it was not the only chapter. God was faithful and delivered the Jewish people.
God is still the same today, and He hears our cries and prayers. We do not know the future, but we know who holds the future. There are more chapters in our story, and God is with us. We are called to pray, and to pray fervently. We need to pray for peace, for health, and for healing. Yes, things look overwhelming, but God is ever-present, and we need to cling to that knowledge. Where there is God, there is always hope!
God of the Exodus,
Remind us of Your faithfulness, Your power, and Your love, as these times are so hard, and seem to be getting worse. Help us to persevere, even when many want to give up, and abandon hope. Lead us to the Promised Land of peace, where Your son, the Prince of Peace, reigns supreme! We pray this prayer in His holy name. Amen.