Saturday 13 July 2024

Then Moses turned again to the Lord and said, “O Lord, why have you mistreated this people? Why did you ever send me?" (v. 22)

Exodus 5:1-6:1 Saturday 13 July 2024

Psalm 18:1-19

Today's reading is taken from chapter 5 of Exodus, where we see Moses go to Pharaoh, the king of Egypt, to ask for the Hebrew people to be set free.

Interestingly, Moses and Aaron are asking for the people to be allowed to hold a festival in the wilderness, to take a three-day journey and worship their God. On the surface at least, it's not a request to deliver the people from slavery, but nonetheless Pharaoh refuses. "Who is the Lord that I should obey him" declares Pharaoh (v. 2).

Pharaoh makes the Hebrews' life harder. They will no longer be given straw for making bricks, but have to gather their own straw (v. 7) yet still produce the same quota of bricks each day. The response of the Israelite overseers is to appeal to Pharaoh, but when that doesn't work they take out their anger on Moses and Aaron. "May the Lord look on you and judge you" they shout. 'You have made us obnoxious to Pharaoh." (v. 21)

I'm not sure whether Moses and Aaron expected an easy ride when they followed God's command to go Egypt and approach Pharaoh. They rightly discerned that God was on their side, but did that mean the outcome would be easy? I wonder if they were shocked by Pharaoh’s response or perhaps even more so by the response of the Israelites? Whatever Moses thought would happen on his return to Egypt, I suspect he felt deflated at the current state of events. And so he turns to God and asks why he was sent. (v. 22) God suggests Moses need not worry, for Pharaoh will indeed let them go because of what God is about to do. (v. 1)

However, the Hebrews' life didn't get any easier; in fact, it got considerably harder. Yet at the end of the story God is true to God's word and the people are released. Even when Pharaoh goes after them, the Hebrew people are saved in a miraculous crossing of the Red Sea (see Exodus 14:19-31).

However, at this stage of the story none of this is known. Moses is faced with an impossible situation. He has been sent with a mission by God and is facing an implacable Pharaoh and disharmony among those he was sent to save. Perhaps, like Moses, we too feel our calling and our mission when given by God will be something simple, even easy because God is with us. Perhaps we too feel disheartened or dismayed when things don't go to plan. When we face difficulties, even with those we journey with, it's easy to forget the God has a bigger plan in mind. I wonder if in the midst of saving the Hebrews, God wanted Moses himself to learn valuable lessons of trust, hope and faith.

As we close this week, let's reflect on all that we have covered. Where are we being sent to? How are we preparing for that journey? What questions are we asking, and how will we respond to questions we are asked? Above all, how are we learning to walk in faith, trusting God even when we think things may be going wrong?

To Ponder:

  • How will we respond in the midst of our calling when difficulties appear before us?
  • What will we do when those we are sent to help challenge and question us?

At the end of this week, we pray God will equip us for all that is to come and for all the challenges and difficulties we face. We pray to seek God and follow instruction to bring God's purposes and plans to fruition. Amen.

Bible notes author: The Revd Mark Carrick
Mark is a presbyter in the Derbyshire North East Circuit, and is currently the minister of Central, Barlborough and Clowne churches. His passion is for ministry within the community and growing disciples within the Church. Mark has now served four years in the Methodist Church and is preparing to become Superintendent in 2025.

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