Go to God First

19 The Israelite overseers realized they were in trouble when they were told, “You are not to reduce the number of bricks required of you for each day.” 20 When they left Pharaoh, they found Moses and Aaron waiting to meet them, 21 and they said, “May the Lord look on you and judge you! You have made us obnoxious to Pharaoh and his officials and have put a sword in their hand to kill us.”

God Promises Deliverance
22 Moses returned to the Lord and said, “Why, Lord, why have you brought trouble on this people? Is this why you sent me? 23 Ever since I went to Pharaoh to speak in your name, he has brought trouble on this people, and you have not rescued your people at all.” Exodus 5:19-23

After confronting and blaming the Israelite overseers, Moses pleaded his case with God. Of course Moses should have pled his case with God before doing anything else.

Going to God should be our first step when dealing with people. Unfortunately we have to learn that over and over again.

People are fickle. We are fickle. We like to be in control despite having very little control over what others think and do. We can pursuade, plead, beg, manipulate, and cajole people into doing things, but that expends a lot of emotional energy.

When we plead our case with God, He knows how to answer that prayer. He knows the person or situation better than they do. He knows that only He can change their hard and obstinate heart.

It’s not a bad thing to be reminded of this often. More often than not we are reminded of it when we try to persuade others into doing things they really don’t want to do….before we go to God.

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Living In Between Two Worlds

10 Then the slave drivers and the overseers went out and said to the people, “This is what Pharaoh says: ‘I will not give you any more straw. 11 Go and get your own straw wherever you can find it, but your work will not be reduced at all.'” 12 So the people scattered all over Egypt to gather stubble to use for straw. 13 The slave drivers kept pressing them, saying, “Complete the work required of you for each day, just as when you had straw.” 14 And Pharaoh’s slave drivers beat the Israelite overseers they had appointed, demanding, “Why haven’t you met your quota of bricks yesterday or today, as before?”

15 Then the Israelite overseers went and appealed to Pharaoh: “Why have you treated your servants this way? 16 Your servants are given no straw, yet we are told, ‘Make bricks!’ Your servants are being beaten, but the fault is with your own people.”

17 Pharaoh said, “Lazy, that’s what you are—lazy! That is why you keep saying, ‘Let us go and sacrifice to the Lord.’ 18 Now get to work. You will not be given any straw, yet you must produce your full quota of bricks.” Exodus 5:10-18

The Israelites were caught between a rock and a hard place. They were required to work harder and produce the same number of bricks each day. On the other hand, they must have kept reminding leadership that they would be going into the wlderness to sacrifice for a few days. In fact, God had sent Moses and Aaron to intervene on their behalf and yet they were still making bricks.

We find ourselves in a similar dilemma. We know heaven and Christ Jesus is our reward, but in the meantime there’s grueling labor to be done here. In other words, we know what’s promised but we also live in the here and now.

It’s not a terrible dilemma, of course, because billions of people don’t know what their future looks like. Still, we find ourselves caught between two worlds. It’s a healthy place to live.

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One Foot In Front of the Other

4 But the king of Egypt said, “Moses and Aaron, why are you taking the people away from their labor? Get back to your work!” 5 Then Pharaoh said, “Look, the people of the land are now numerous, and you are stopping them from working.”

6 That same day Pharaoh gave this order to the slave drivers and overseers in charge of the people: 7 “You are no longer to supply the people with straw for making bricks; let them go and gather their own straw. 8 But require them to make the same number of bricks as before; don’t reduce the quota. They are lazy; that is why they are crying out, ‘Let us go and sacrifice to our God.’ 9 Make the work harder for the people so that they keep working and pay no attention to lies.” Exodus 5:4-9

The Pharaoh felt threatened by the sheer number of Israelites in his country. He knew that it would only take a few to rally the people and cause trouble. So, he set out to make life miserable for them.

The Lord was indeed hardening Pharaoh’s heart, though I suspect he didn’t need much help. His hardened heart was just being revealed for all to see.

Most of the Israelites had no idea about the bigger picture. We see it because we know how it ends. All they knew is that their life would be much more difficult than yesterday.

This is where we find ourselves today. We obviously don’t know the bigger picture, none of us do. We do know it’s heading somewhere but that’s about it. This world will be very different 20 years from now just because of all the dark societal changes that are happening right now.

We still have to trust God one day at a time. One foot in front of the other.

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The Great Lobbyist

3 Then they said, “The God of the Hebrews has met with us. Now let us take a three-day journey into the wilderness to offer sacrifices to the Lord our God, or he may strike us with plagues or with the sword.” Exodus 5:3

What we have here are two conversations going on at the same time. Moses and Aaron went to Pharaoh, and the Israelites were rejoicing over them being blessed by God. They believe it’s a foregone conclusion that they were traveling to sacrifice to God. If they were in a free country, they’d have reason to rejoice.

But they’re being held captive in Egypt. They will have to scrape and scratch for every bit they get. In the very near future, life will become unbaringly impossible for them.

Yes, they will eventually be free, but not now, not yet. They had an obstacle to overcome, namely, the Pharaoh.

But for now, Moses and Aaron have given them hope that they will soon be free to sacrifice to God. Those two men would be their intermediaries. They were flawed individuals but they would speak on the Israelites’ behalf.

Our intermediary is flawless and perfect. He “lobbies” on our behalf day and night.

Still, though, after all these years of following Christ, I have to ask simply, “Why?” Why does He do this?

The answer keeps coming back. “Because it’s His nature to do that.”

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Try Keeping Up

2 Pharaoh said, “Who is the Lord, that I should obey him and let Israel go? I do not know the Lord and I will not let Israel go.” Exodus 5:2

I can think of plenty of people today who voice this same sentiment. They don’t need God nor do they care what happens to His people.

In a sense, Pharaoh’s right. Why should he obey someone he doesn’t know? For all practical purposes, though, Pharaoh was himself a god to the people in Egypt, so why would he care what another god said or demanded.

Pharaoh had a problem on his hands but he didn’t know it yet.

God was getting ready to look after his people in a demonstrable way. Pharaoh would know it. Everyone in the palace would know it. Even most of the people of Egypt would know it.

When God chooses to move in this world, he often moves in subtle, more soft spoken ways. However, when He wants to make a point, He’ll do it in a large, unmistakable way.

We never know when, how, or why He moves as He does, by design. Don’t think, though, that He does things on a whim. On the contrary. He is a live and moving in the world; we just have a difficult time keeping up with Him.

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