Afterward Moses and Aaron went and said to Pharaoh,” Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, “Let my people go, that they may hold a feast to me in the wilderness.” But Pharaoh said,” Who is the Lord, that I should obey his voice and let Israel go? I do not know the Lord, and moreover I will not let Israel go.” (Exodus 5:1-2 ESV )
Pharaoh could have said yes right away, but we knew he wasn’t going to because God said He would harden his heart. Moreover, Pharaoh thought that if the Israelites had time to go and worship their God, they must have time to get their own straw.
So the people were scattered throughout all the land of Egypt to gather stubble for straw. The taskmasters were urgent, saying, “complete your work, your daily task each day, as when there was straw. (Exodus 5:12 ESV)
Because the Israelites now had more tasks, were being beaten, and treated harshly, they were disillusioned as to what God was doing. Like them, I can’t always look at my circumstances to see what God is up to. He does work in mysterious ways, and He almost never does things the way I would like Him to. I must go by what I know about God, not what I see going on around me. But because the Israelites had been living in Egypt, and probably heard the stories of how the Egyptians took care of them during the famine, their allegiance to God had probably waned, and they looked to Pharaoh as their god.
They met Moses and Aaron who were waiting for them, as they came out from Pharaoh, and they said to them, “ The Lord look on you and judge, because you have made us stink in the sight of Pharaoh and his servants, and have put a sword in their hand to kill us.”
Then Moses turned to the Lord and said,” O Lord, why have you done evil to this people? Why did you ever send me? For since I came to Pharaoh to speak in your name, he has done evil to this people, and you have not delivered your people at all.” (Exodus 5:20-23 ESV)
God was working in the hearts of the Israelites, Moses, and Pharaoh. How like God to begin by orchestrating people, one at a time. God builds faith one person at a time, one step at a time. When it is happening, you may not recognize the hand of God at the time.
God is building Moses’ confidence in himself, and in God.
God is showing Pharaoh that He is real, and that He is greater than all his magicians.
God is showing the Israelites that He is God, the same God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Remembering the same promises He made to Abraham so long ago.
As they look around at their situation, they could not believe how it can be so. I can relate with them, with them all! I have felt the same feelings throughout my life. I have felt as if I was in charge of my situation and those around me. I have felt that I was not good enough for a specific task. And I have felt as if I was being overlooked at different times, and in different situations. A broken spirit can cause you to draw wrong conclusions. So, at this point, the Israelites cared more about what Pharaoh thought, than what God thought. After all, Pharaoh was the one having them beaten, and God is the one that caused it. They wanted to please Pharaoh. They wanted their suffering to stop.
Patience is what they needed, but they did not know it yet.
Moses and Aaron went back to Pharaoh, and said, “let God’s people go!
But still, Pharaoh refused.
So, God proceeded to turn up the heat a bit. First God turned the water to blood. The magicians were able to do the same. Pharaoh did not even beg for mercy; he just turned and went into his house. Maybe he had a stash of Deer Park in his basement.
Next came the frogs. The magicians were able to make frogs too.
Why would they want more frogs? Just to prove God wasn’t all that? There will always be deception around to keep my eyes from seeing God at work. Satan mimics God at times steals my trust and destroys my faith. Sometimes he will create bad stuff so I will think God doesn’t care. And sometimes, he puts good in my life, by the hands of someone else not associated with God, to divert whom I put my trust in. Fortunately, I have the bible (unlike the Israelites) to help me along the way, but I am sometimes slow to grasp what God is saying to me, how God is guiding me, and who God is and what His character is.
Then came the gnats. The magicians could not duplicate the gnats.
The magicians tried by their secret arts to produce gnats, but they could not. So there were gnats on man and beast. Then the magicians said to Pharaoh, “This is the finger of God,” But Pharaoh’s heart was hardened, and he would not listen to them, as the Lord had said. (Exodus 8:18-19 ESV)
Sometimes God uses other people to help me see that God is at work. But sometimes my heart will not believe them. God will not stop trying to reach me, in spite of me.
Next up- the frogs.
But on that day I will set apart the land of Goshen where my people dwell, so that no swarms of flies shall be there, that you may know that I am the Lord in the midst of the earth. Thus I will put a division between my people and your people. Tomorrow this sign shall happen.’ and the Lord did so. (Exodus 8:23-24a ESV)
God is starting to get Israel’s attention by separating them from the plagues.
Pharaoh would ask Moses to plead for mercy with God, but after he got what he wanted, he would change his mind about letting the people go. That is how it works with me, sometimes. I can make a promise to God, and if I get my way, sometimes I revert away from my promise. It shows that I was not sincere with my words, only for the moment, to get my way. That is why God says let your yes be yes and your no, no. God knows my heart, He knows my sincerity, He also knows my insincerity. But sometimes, I think He works with me to build my faith, and open my eyes to see what He is doing. God meets me right where I am, that is why He deals with each of us individually, because we are in different places, in different situations. Pharaoh was starting to see God through Moses. It was a start.
All three, Moses, Pharaoh and the Israelites; are learning that God is who He says He is, and that God will do what He says He will do.
When God says He will be with you, He will be with you! No matter what He has to go through, to make it happen, He will get there, I just need to be patient. I have no idea how many obstacles he has to go through, one step at a time. But He will work it all out in the end.
He said,” In a certain city there was a judge who neither feared God nor respected man. And there was a widow in that city who kept coming to him and saying,” Give me justice against my adversary.” For a while he refused, but afterward he said to himself, “Though I neither fear God nor respect man, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will give her justice, so, that she will not beat me down by her continual coming.” And the Lord said,” Hear what the unrighteous judge says. And will not God give justice to his elect, who cry to him day and night? Will he delay long over them? I tell you, he will give justice to them speedily. (Luke 18: 2-8a ESV)
This sounds like the same situation as Pharaoh and the Israelites. If God doesn’t seem to answer quick enough for me. I must not give up. Not necessarily to wear God down, but because I know that I am in the right, and he will let justice prevail, even if it takes longer than I want it to.
Father God, there is so much going on behind the scenes that I do not know about. Help me to wait on your timing, no matter my struggles, because your answer will be perfect and just what I need. There are things hidden from me and also things I do not grasp, or understand, such as the whys of the circumstances. Please build my faith and trust to know that you will work all things out for my good. I love you and it is in Jesus‘ name that I pray……AMEN