Moses And Pharaoh: Exodus 5.1-23
Moses and Aaron came to Pharaoh and requested that the people of Israel be freed. This request was not met with kindness. Instead of relenting and following Moses’ request, he turned on the Israelites and demanded that they do the same amount of work as usual, but without the same amount of resources. When the leaders of the brick makers union came to Pharaoh to complain about their unusual treatment, they were met with accusations of being lazy. The full realization, of how much in trouble they really were, came at this point.
On their way out of the presence of Pharaoh, they met Moses and Aaron and cursed them for their efforts. At this point Moses returned to God and complained because things were not going as smoothly as he thought they should. Moses even accused God of not taking care of business—…you have not rescued your people at all (Ex. 5.23b).
Several things are interesting at this point in the story: First, We often ask God for deliverance from something which is hindering us in our lives. He sends us someone to help in the process. Things often get worse before they get better and we turn on the person whom God has sent and abuse him.
Second, We often have it planned out how God is going to carry out deliverance of this need in our lives. We usually have unrealistic expectations. When God begins to deal with us in a way other than what we perceive is the right way, we get upset and abusive with people around us and even with God. Things often get worse before they get better…
Third, Sometimes we are the ones sent by God to help in the process of deliverance (not meant as demonic) in a person’s life and, while doing our best, it does not appear good enough to the person—he or she turns and abuses us for trying to help. We often have unrealistic expectations. Remember, Moses had just left the presence of God, had been on holy ground, and had been called. Don’t you think he expected it to be a little easier than he was finding it to be? Scripture gives us a clear understanding of this.
Moses and Aaron brought together all the elders of the Israelites, and Aaron told them everything the Lord had said to Moses. He also performed the signs before the people, and they believed. And when they heard that the Lord was concerned about them and had seen their misery, they bowed down and worshiped (Ex. 4.29-31).
Note the following: the children of Israel were fully informed. They saw the power of God. They believed. They worshiped. Even with all of this information, they still expected something which did not happen and when it did not happen the way they expected, they became upset and Moses even got upset with God.
What we thought had been settled between God and Moses, i.e., Moses’ belief in his own inability to speak, now becomes an issue again. For the complaint, God has the same solution he had previously: Aaron will speak for you to Pharaoh (Ex. 7.1-5). The next part of the story suggests that anything that humankind can do, God can do better. Egypt was a land where magic flourished. It was believed that magic manipulated the gods or spirits to make them perform what one wished.
There is no indication how Jannes and Jambres (2 Tim. 3.8) performed the same signs which Moses performed. The how is immaterial. God challenged them on their own grounds and defeated them. Today we call this a power encounter, which does not always convince a person who just simply doesn’t want to be convinced. When this did not convince Pharaoh, God began to move in a different fashion to remove his children from bondage.
The Contest With Pharaoh: Exodus 6.1-12.20
At the beginning of chapter 6, God confirmed his intentions to Moses. First, God told Moses that Pharaoh would let his people go— …Because of my mighty hand he will let them go; because of my mighty hand he will drive them out of his country (Ex. 6.1). Second, God reminded Moses of who he is and what he had bonded himself to with the Israelites (Ex. 6.2-5). Third, God told Moses what to tell the Israelites (Ex. 6.6-8). Moses obeyed and went to the children of Israel and told them what God had said. Israel was not in any mood to hear this deliverance talk. It had already cost them too much. Scripture says that they did not listen to him because of their discouragement and cruel bondage (Ex. 6.9).
Then, God told Moses to go back to Pharaoh and tell him to let the people go out of his country. Moses surely was not in any mood to hear this command. He replied: “If the Israelites will not listen to me, why would Pharaoh listen to me, since I speak with faltering lips” (Ex. 6.12). This does not make God angry with Moses. God kept the pressure on Moses to do what he had been charged to do and Moses kept complaining that he couldn’t do it (Ex. 6.26-30). Israel was not in any mood to hear this deliverance talk.