July 15, 2021

Ep. 24 - Moses Returns to Egypt

Ep. 24 - Moses Returns to Egypt

Exodus 4:29 – 6:9.  Moses and Aaron head back to Egypt for a showdown with Pharaoh.
“Papa’s Bible Stories” brings the Bible to life for your kids.  For each episode, I pick a Bible story to talk to my very own kids about.  The stories are entirely Bible-...

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Exodus 4:29 – 6:9.  Moses and Aaron head back to Egypt for a showdown with Pharaoh.

“Papa’s Bible Stories” brings the Bible to life for your kids.  For each episode, I pick a Bible story to talk to my very own kids about.  The stories are entirely Bible-based, scripture is quoted at every opportunity, and the kids are always pointed to the Bible as the authority.  And we’re not afraid of having a little fun too!  It is my hope and prayer that your kids will be excited to explore God’s Word for themselves after hearing each and every episode.  #bible #stories #kids #children #adventist #sda  

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So last we left Moses, God had just appeared to him at the burning bush.  And after a…lengthy conversation...Moses had accepted the mission that God had given to him – to go back to Egypt and free the Israelites.  The Israelites had been slaves in Egypt for a long long time, and finally the time had come for God to deliver them to the Promised Land.  On his way to Egypt, Moses met up with his brother Aaron.  Aaron was going to be Moses’ spokesman…that is to say…Aaron was going to do all the talking.  God had also given Moses two miracles that he could do to prove that God had sent him – the miracle of turning his hand white with leprosy and the miracle of turning his staff into a snake.  And with their staffs in the hand, the two brothers made their way to Egypt to free their people.  They must have had at least some inkling that it was going to be an interesting trip, but they had no idea just how interesting things were going to get.

As soon as Moses and Aaron arrived in Egypt, the Bible says that they, “gathered together all the elders of the children of Israel. (30)  And Aaron spoke all the words which the LORD had spoken to Moses. Then he did the signs(that is…the miracles) in the sight of the people.” (4:29-30) And this was the moment that Moses had been most afraid of at the burning bush…the moment where the Israelites, the people that he’d come to free, had to decide whether or not to believe Moses.  Forty years ago, Moses had discovered the hard way that many of the Israelites didn’t really want to be free…or that many were to scared to do anything to be free.  So now, forty years later, here Moses was again…and what were the Israelites going to do?  Well, the Bible says that, “the people believed.” (4:31) And not only that, but the Bible goes on to say that, “when they heard that the LORD had visited the children of Israel and that He had looked on their affliction, then they bowed their heads and worshiped.” (4:31) Wow.  The Israelites seemed…completely on board.  They…were good to go.  Well…that was easier than expected.  Maybe this wasn’t going to be as hard as Moses thought.

So, with the Israelites seemingly on board, now it was time to talk to the Egyptians.  And Moses and Aaron headed to the royal palace to talk to Pharaoh.  Moses knew the palace well…and he knew the Egyptians well…and he knew that this little meeting was not going to go well.  And Moses and Aaron went into the palace, into the court, and walked right up to Pharaoh, and gave him the message, "Thus says the LORD God of Israel: 'Let My people go, that they may hold a feast to Me in the wilderness.'"” (5:1)

Pharaoh, the king of Egyptians, the most powerful man in the whole world at the time, was…not impressed…to say the least.  Pharaoh knew exactly what holding a feast “in the wilderness” meant.  The wilderness was beyond the control of the Egyptians.  And once the Israelites were beyond their control, Pharaoh knew there was no chance that they’d be coming back.  Why would he ever say yes to this?  And…who was this “Lord God of Israel” who was supposedly telling him to free the Israelites?  The Egyptians worshipped lots of gods…but Pharaoh had never worshipped “the Lord God of Israel”.  And so, Pharaoh defiantly responded, “Whoisthe LORD, that I should obey His voice to let Israel go? I do not know the LORD, nor will I let Israel go.” (5:2) Well that went about as well as Moses had expected. 

But Moses and Aaron persisted, and replied to Pharaoh, “The God of the Hebrews has met with us. Please, let us go three days' journey into the desert and sacrifice to the LORD our God.” (5:3) And at this persistence, Pharaoh decided to turn everyone’s attention to what he thought was the real problem – not this supposed “Lord God of Israel”…but Moses and Aaron.  And Pharaoh said to them, “Moses and Aaron, why do you take the people from their work? Getbackto your labor…Look, the people of the landaremany now, and you make them rest from their labor!” (5:4-5)  So…what is this that Pharaoh is accusing them of?  Making the Israelites rest from their labour?  What’s that all about?  Well, it seems that sometime between arriving in Egypt and going to Pharaoh, that Moses had managed to convince the Israelites to make some changes.  Now the Bible doesn’t say exactly what those changes were, but more than likely Moses had reminded the Israelites that they needed to keep a weekly Sabbath rest.  And it seems that Israelites had in fact started to keep a Sabbath rest, more than likely by working extra hard on the other 6 days of the week.  And this apparently didn’t seem to bother Pharaoh…as long as the Israelites got their work done.  Except that now it seemed to Pharaoh that all this resting had given the Israelites enough free time to start thinking about leaving.

Well, if resting was going to result in thoughts about leaving…well then it was time to make sure that they had no time for resting.  And the Bible says that on the very same day that Pharaoh, “commanded the taskmasters of the people and their officers, saying, (7)  "You shall no longer give the people straw to make brick as before. Let them go and gather straw for themselves. (8)  And you shall lay on them the quota of bricks which they made before. You shall not reduce it. For they are idle; therefore they cry out, saying, 'Let us goandsacrifice to our God.' (9)  Let more work be laid on the men, that they may labor in it, and let them not regard false words."” (5:6-9)

So…enough with the resting…and now no more straw for making bricks.  And…what’s the big deal with no more straw for making bricks?  Well, making bricks was one of the main things that the Egyptians forced the Israelites to do for them.  And straw was a key ingredient to making bricks.  It might sound a little strange, but mixing straw into the bricks is what made the bricks strong.  And apparently the arrangement was that the Egyptians grew the straw, they gave it to the Israelites, and the Israelites made the bricks.  And so, what Pharaoh is saying here, is that the Egyptians would no longer provide the straw…but the Israelites would still have to make just as many bricks. 

And so out went the taskmasters to tell the Israelites about the no straw thing.  And how did the Israelites react?  Well of course they all knew that God had just told them that He was about to free them…so of course they patiently endured this new challenge, and they of course trusted that God would take care of them, and of course no one panicked…right?  Well, no.  Instead, they went right ahead…and panicked.  The Bible says that the Israelites, “scattered abroad throughout all the land of Egypt to gather stubble instead of straw.” (5:12) So the people were like “Ah!  No straw!  Let’s get out there and find something!”  And the Israelites ran to every corner or Egypt to find something…anything to replace the straw…and they only managed to find stubble (which is just the little bits of stuff that’s left behind on the ground after harvesting straw).  And of course they couldn’t find near enough stubble to replace all the straw, and the taskmasters started to beat the Israelites, and said to them, “Why have you not fulfilled your task in making brick both yesterday and today, as before?” (5:15)

So, the Israelites are in trouble.  And at this point, of course they got down on their knees and prayed, of course they put their faith in God, and of course they reached out to God ask for help…right?  Well, no.  Instead the Bible says that the Israelite leaders went to…Pharaoh.  Yah that’s right kidzos…when the Israelites were in trouble they went to Pharaoh to save them.  And the Israelite leaders said to Pharaoh, “Why are you dealing thus with your servants? (16)  There is no straw given to your servants, and they say to us, 'Make brick!' And indeed your servantsarebeaten, but the faultisin yourownpeople.” (5:15-16) But of course, Pharaoh wasn’t going to save them from anything.  Pharaoh was the whole reason they were in trouble to begin with.  And and he replied to the Israelite leaders, and said, “Youareidle! Idle! Therefore you say, 'Let us goandsacrifice to the LORD.' (18)  Therefore go nowandwork; for no straw shall be given you,” (5:17-18)

Pharaoh accused the terribly overworked Israelites of being…lazy.  And because they were lazy, they had enough time on their hands to think about going into the wilderness to do sacrifices.  And the Israelite leaders would have thought to themselves, “well…we didn’t say anything to Pharaoh about sacrificing in the wilderness…that was Moses and Aaron.”  And this was Pharaoh’s very sneaky trick.  Pharaoh wanted the Israelites to think that the cause of all their troubles was…Moses and Aaron.  So…not Pharaoh…not the person who was actually taking the straw away from them…not the person actively enslaving them…no no…Moses and Aaron were the problem.  And why?  Because Moses and Aaron had told Pharaoh to let the Israelites go and sacrifice in the wilderness.  Because Moses and Aaron had told Pharaoh to set the Israelites free.

But of course the Israelite leaders saw right through what Pharaoh was doing, of course they were like…um…Moses and Aaron didn’t take the straw away from us…you did, of course they understood they were talking to a Pharaoh…the last Pharaoh in a long line of Pharaoh’s that had been enslaving them for hundreds of years, and of course they realized that Moses and Aaron were just doing what God had asked them to do…right?  Well, no.  No they didn’t seem to realize any of those things.  The Bible says that as the Israelite leaders finished talking to Pharaoh they “met Moses and Aaron who stood there to meet them. (21)  And they said to them, "Let the LORD look on you and judge, because you have made us abhorrent in the sight of Pharaoh and in the sight of his servants, to put a sword in their hand to kill us." (5:20-21) Pharaoh’s trick had worked.  As far as the Israelites were concerned, it was all Moses and Aaron’s fault.  Everything they were going through was because of them.  Never mind that just 5 mins ago they were all on board with the freedom thing…no no…that didn’t matter…all that mattered is that Moses and Aaron were making life harder for them now.   

You see kidzos, this is how the devil works.  He works through events to convince you to hate the very thing that can help you.  If you were sick, he’d convince you to hate the doctor.  If your house was on fire, he’d convince you to hate the firefighter. If you were drowning, he’d convince you to hate the lifeguard.  And maybe a little closer to home…if you are being mean, he convinces you to hate to person telling you that you could be a little nicer.  If you are eating too much candy, he convinces you to hate the person who takes the candy away.  If you are behaving badly, he convinces you to hate the person who punishes you.  And that’s just what the devil did with the Israelites…he convinced them to hate Moses and Aaron…the very people that God had sent to save them.

And as for Moses…well he was pretty upset.  His worst fears had been realized…as soon as the Israelites had run into just a little bit of trouble…they ran scared, and had left him hanging.  This was exactly the reason that he’d been so reluctant at the burning bush…it was like his failed rebellion from 40 years ago was happening all over again.  And the Bible says that Moses, “returned to the LORD and said, "Lord, why have You brought trouble on this people? Whyisit You have sent me? (23)  For since I came to Pharaoh to speak in Your name, he has done evil to this people; neither have You delivered Your people at all."” (5:22-23) So basically Moses is asking God…why am I here…why did you sent me. 

And God replied to Moses, and said, “Now you shall see what I will do to Pharaoh. For with a strong hand he will let them go, and with a strong hand he will drive them out of his land.” (6:1) And God continued with a message for the Israelites, and said, “Therefore say to the children of Israel, ‘Iamthe LORD; I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians, I will rescue you from their bondage, and I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with great judgments. (7)  I will take you as My people, and I will be your God. Then you shall know that Iamthe LORD your God who brings you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians. (8)  And I will bring you into the land which I swore to give to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; and I will give it to youasa heritage: Iamthe LORD.'” (6:6-8) So God was repeating his promises to the Israelites.  God would save the Israelites.  God would bring them to the promised land.  No matter what the Egyptians or the Israelites did or didn’t do.

And the Bible says that Moses, “spoke thus to the children of Israel; but they did not heed Moses, because of anguish of spirit and cruel bondage.” (6:9) The Israelites were simply too scared to hear anything from Moses.  God’s words didn’t matter, the miracles that Moses performed didn’t matter, the promise of a better life didn’t matter.  The Israelites could not think past the pain they were going through right at that moment.  And there didn’t seem to be any way to convince them to look past it.

So…let’s recap the situation here…the Israelites are running scared and don’t seem to want to be saved, the Israelites are mad at Moses and Aaron, Pharaoh seems perfectly content to keep enslaving the Israelites, and Moses is upset and depressed and wants to give up.  What a mess!  Maybe it was time to give up!  But...thankfully we serve a God who does not give up on us.  And little do the Israelites, and Pharaoh, and Moses realize that they are just on the verge of one of the most incredible displays of God’s power that the world has ever been seen.  Indeed, God would redeem his people with an outstretched arm.  And we’ll talk all about it…next time.