Meditations in Exodus: 25. Remember what God said!
Ex 6:9 Moses reported this to the Israelites, but they did not listen to him because of their discouragement and cruel bondage.
The Lord has encouraged Moses by declaring He is an unchanging God with an unchanging covenant and has reiterated His strategy of coming with power against Pharaoh and his nation to deliver Israel out of Egypt to take them to the Land He had promised to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. So Moses goes to the elders of Israel and reported all this BUT “they did not listen to him because of their discouragement and cruel bondage.” (v.9) The reality of their increased pressures as slaves makes them very negative on their response to Moses. Somewhat understandable.
Does the Lord just pat Moses on the back and say, ‘Never mind, we’ll try something else’? Definitely not! He knows this was exactly what was going to happen. Remember what we have seen: “Then the LORD said to Moses, “Go, tell Pharaoh king of Egypt to let the Israelites go out of his country.” (v.10,11) In other words, don’t be put off by this, get back there to Pharaoh and give him my message – Let my people go! But Moses has been put off by the elders: “But Moses said to the LORD, “If the Israelites will not listen to me, why would Pharaoh listen to me, since I speak with faltering lips?” (v.12) Moses you have forgotten what the Lord said at the beginning.
I say again, remember what we have seen: maybe we need reminding:
(i) “I know that the king of Egypt will not let you go unless a mighty hand compels him. So I will stretch out my hand and strike the Egyptians with all the wonders that I will perform among them. After that, he will let you go.” (Ex 3:19,20) and
(ii) “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. Then say to Pharaoh, `This is what the LORD says: Israel is my firstborn son, 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.’” (4:21-23) and
(iii) “Then the LORD said to Moses, “Now you will see what I will do to Pharaoh: 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)
i.e. three times up to now the Lord has spelled it out – Pharaoh WILL resist and so I will judge him with acts of power.
There is a simple lesson here: listen to God and remember what He says. Often the battle will be stretched out over a long period and again and again we may need to take hold of what God has said and rely upon that in the face of circumstances that appear to be going badly. God has spelled it out very clearly; Moses’ only problem is that he hadn’t really taken it in, perhaps not really believing it would be that bad.
If he struggles with this, the mind boggles to think of how he might have reacted if the Lord had spelled it out even more, for example, “Moses, Pharaoh is going to resist all the way down the line. It’s going to be really hard and so I will have to judge him and his people TEN times before they will let you go. This means you will have to confront him and risk your life at least ten times. This is going to be risky business but I will be there for you.” Right, thanks! If the Lord had been that open with Moses I suspect he might have bolted out of the desert back there at Sinai. In fact there have been times when we have gone through incredibly trying circumstances and I have thought, I am glad the Lord didn’t tell me about this beforehand otherwise I might not have become a Christian!
That may be an exaggeration but be real, sometimes it is hard being a Christian and sometimes the warfare gets bad. It would be much easier to grow tomatoes and keep your head down. Yes, I know there is so much more to it than that, but the point I am overstating is that it IS sometimes very hard and at such times we really do need to hang on to the things that the Lord has said. Those things may simply be what we find in the Bible, or they may be specific prophetic words He has spoken to us. Remember them, declare them, speak them out and hold on to them. Having done all that turn your face back into the battle and with all the grace you can receive from the Lord, go to it. Remain holy, remain pure, speak gracious words of truth, declare forgiveness, and be a light to others and trust the Lord for the outcome.
Now observe something interesting. We have just observed Moses’ wavering faith: “But Moses said to the LORD, “If the Israelites will not listen to me, why would Pharaoh listen to me, since I speak with faltering lips?” (v.12) Now in your Bible, whether it is Moses writing or some other later scribe, it is almost as if there is a pause and fresh declaration of what is going on: “Now the LORD spoke to Moses and Aaron about the Israelites and Pharaoh king of Egypt, and he commanded them to bring the Israelites out of Egypt.” (v.13) Yes, we know that. That seems a summary verse of all that goes on. This is followed by a list of names of the key family members, just to remind us, if you like, that these are the people of Israel (v.14 to 25)
It then picks up, “It was this same Aaron and Moses to whom the LORD said, “Bring the Israelites out of Egypt by their divisions.” They were the ones who spoke to Pharaoh king of Egypt about bringing the Israelites out of Egypt. It was the same Moses and Aaron.” (v.26,27) It is almost as if the writer is saying, “Don’t get any great ideas about Moses because of later history, realise what he was really like, a frail human being. The glory is all of God’s!” For he then picks it up where we left it off: “Now when the LORD spoke to Moses in Egypt, he said to him, “I am the LORD. Tell Pharaoh king of Egypt everything I tell you.” But Moses said to the LORD, “Since I speak with faltering lips, why would Pharaoh listen to me?” (v.28-30)
This is the turning point. Everything so far has been preliminary. As soon as we move into chapter 7 the action really starts. Coming to the end of chapter 6 it is as if, as we suggested above, the inspired writer has brought it all down to a very human level, twice pointing out that Moses has fallen back to his pleas back in Sinai (see 4:10) about not being a speaker. HE is still working at a very human level, and in this, we tend to be just like him! Be honest, we struggle with this life sometimes, we struggle with being a human being, we struggle with the physical side of our lives and the emotional side of our lives and so on.
We struggle! We are human beings – even the great men and women of faith you see standing on a platform, that you see looking so confident, they are unlikely to be as big a spiritual giant as Moses. And what makes Moses a spiritual giant? It was that, scared out of his wits, he still went and did what God told him to do, and then it was God who did the stuff as we’re going to see in the coming chapters, and it starts in chapter seven. Get ready, this has just been the run-up. But remember, hold on to what the Lord has said to you so far.