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Saturday, October 6, 2018

“God’s Failure””

Exodus 5:1-21

The expectations and hopes of the Israelite people are high.  Moses has returned to Egypt not only with his brother Aaron but with a special message from the Lord.  The God who has been silent for so long has now spoken.  Further, God has seen the misery of his people.  He has come to deliver them.  Not only will he bring them out of Egypt.  He will lead them into a promise land, “a land flowing with milk and honey.”

It is important to recognize again that Moses comes in the pattern of a hero/savior that much of the ancient world longed for and expected.  Moses fits the pattern: he almost dies in child birth; he is raised by foster parents in obscurity; he has a special destiny; he has unique powers; he will win great victories; his strength is disguised by apparent weakness.

Moses and Aaron now come to Pharaoh with God’s message of “Let my people go.”  Their initial request is not for complete liberation.  Moses and Aaron are only asking for a three day journey into the wilderness to make sacrifices to the Lord.  This would hardly seem an unjustifiable request.  However Pharaoh will have none of it.  God is trapping him in his own arrogant and cruel pride.

Pharaoh not only rejects the request.  He mockingly asks, “Who is the Lord that I should heed him and let Israel go?”  Further he is outraged.  He calls the Israelites, literally, “lazy bums.” He concludes that they have too much time on their hands.  He then orders them to make bricks without straw.  In other words, they will have to gather the straw in addition to molding the bricks.  The Israelite supervisors who had been appointed by the Egyptians to oversee their own people were beaten.  When they cried out to Pharaoh he responded again with the claim that they were lazy.

When the supervisors later encountered Moses and Aaron they lashed out at them.  Not only was God not helping them, their situation had gotten much worse.  In their minds it would have been better if Moses and Aaron had never come.

Had God failed?  It certainly appeared that he had.

However God is neither silent nor absent.  And, contrary to all appearances, he has not failed.

Eternal and gracious God strengthen my faith for those times when everything seems to go wrong.  May I never cease trusting in you.  I pray this in Jesus’ name, Amen.