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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Faith in Comfort and Danger

Afterward Moses and Aaron went to Pharaoh and said, “This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: ‘Let my people go, so that they may hold a festival to me in the wilderness.'” Exodus 5:1

I’ve always been curious, how does one get an audience with the King of a country? Of course it didn’t hurt that Moses himself grew up in the palace as one of the Pharaoh’s daughter’s adopted child and raised by his birth mother. So, yes, he might have some standing in Pharaoh’s palace, albeit it was a probably a different ruler from when Moses lived there.

But when they went to see the Pharaoh, they made a bold request. Of course they knew they would be turned down but they had to ask.

Moses was disobedient by not going alone, but he did eventually go with his brother. Thinking about it, though, it took a fair amount of faith to do that because as the supreme ruler in Egypt, Pharaoh could have sent them to prison or worse. They had to believe that God would keep them safe from harm.

We too have to believe that God will keep us safe while we are in comfortable places or dangerous ones. The comfortable places are actually more dangerous to our faith than the dangerous spots if we’re not careful. Comfort and ease had led many in the faith astray. It’s too easy, and so we forget about God or we don’t think we need Him anymore.

Whereas, the dangerous places keep us praying for safety and peace in the midst of the danger.

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He Hears; We Worship

27 The Lord said to Aaron, “Go into the wilderness to meet Moses.” So he met Moses at the mountain of God and kissed him. 28 Then Moses told Aaron everything the Lord had sent him to say, and also about all the signs he had commanded him to perform.

29 Moses and Aaron brought together all the elders of the Israelites, 30 and Aaron told them everything the Lord had said to Moses. He also performed the signs before the people, 31 and they believed. And when they heard that the Lord was concerned about them and had seen their misery, they bowed down and worshiped. Exodus 4:27-30

Moses finally met up with his brother and told him the game plan. After they relayed the game plan to the elders of Israel, they did something that was actually startling: they worshiped. Why did they worship? Because they now believed the Lord was looking after them. They had been in bondage for so long without any relief that they had grown weary and troubled.

We need to be reminded of this truth often.

God is intimately concerned about us whether we “hear” from Him or not. He has our best interests at heart. When things aren’t going our way, He is not punishing us. He sees all the misery and junk we sometimes have to go through. He has not forgotten us even though it may seem that way.

Our response then is to bow down and worship just like the elders of Israel did.

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Tending the Home Fires First

24 At a lodging place on the way, the Lord met Moses and was about to kill him. 25 But Zipporah took a flint knife, cut off her son’s foreskin and touched Moses’ feet with it. “Surely you are a bridegroom of blood to me,” she said. 26 So the Lord let him alone. (At that time she said “bridegroom of blood,” referring to circumcision.) Exodus 4:24-26

Most scholars agree that this passage seems contradictory of what preceded it. But we are looking at it sequentially. It may have been weeks after Moses’ encounter with the Lord that this incident took place.

Moses neglected his duties to circumcise his second son so Zipporah did it instead. God instituted this rite in Genesis 17:9-14 as the sign of the Abrahamic covenant, and that every “seed” of Abraham was to be circumcised. The penalty for not circumcising was death. Genesis 17:14 . Obviously it was a serious offense and Moses knew it to be so. Circumcision was a way of setting himself and his people apart from others. Moses probably didn’t take the command seriously enough.

Before Moses would lead his people out of Egypt, he had to lead his own family.

The application is fairly straigh forward. Before going out and “saving the world,” it’s important for children of God to tend to home fires first. The mission fields in the past were full of people who cared more about “them” out there than the ones closest to them. Many pastors’ families feel the same way even today.

So, while God has blessed great works without familial collaboration, it’s significantly more important and harmonious to work together to advance the kingdom.

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He Still Must Go

21 The Lord said to Moses, “When you return to Egypt, see that you perform before Pharaoh all the wonders I have given you the power to do. But I will harden his heart so that he will not let the people go. 22 Then say to Pharaoh, ‘This is what the Lord says: Israel is my firstborn son, 23 and I told you, “Let my son go, so he may worship me.” But you refused to let him go; so I will kill your firstborn son.'” Exodus 4:21-23

If you’ve read through this passage before, then you’ve probably asked the question, “Why would God harden Pharaoh’s heart?” Scholars have been asking that question from the beginning of time. There’s no simple answer to it. Even in the upcoming passages of the various plagues, the original Hebrew is sometimes ambiguous, sometimes God did it, or sometimes Pharaoh hardened his own heart. The Bible Project has more to say about this.

It’s clear that Pharaoh was not a humble man. Anyone who enslaves people against their will is arrogant and condescening by the very act of enslavement. They don’t care who they hurt or abuse. That has been the case throughout history.

A missionary once told me, humble yourself before God or God will humble you. So noted.

Moses had his work cut out for him. Not only was he to go speak but Pharaoh’s answer would be “No!” But he still had to go.

I knew a Coast Guard search and rescue helicopter pilot many years ago. Oh the stories he could tell! They had a saying in their field, “We may not return, but we have to go!”

Moses had to go even though the Lord already told him that Pharaoh would reject his request. That’s the missionary’s life in a nutshell, especially in unreached lands. There may be no converts but the Holy Spirit does that work. The missionary just has to be obedient to the call.

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