exodus: 4:29 - 5:22

Then Moses and Aaron went and gathered together all the elders of the people of Israel. Aaron spoke all the words that the Lord had spoken to Moses and did the signs in the sight of the people. And the people believed; and when they heard that the Lord had visited the people of Israel and that he had seen their affliction, they bowed their heads and worshiped.

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.” Then they said, “The God of the Hebrews has met with us. Please let us go a three days' journey into the wilderness that we may sacrifice to the Lord our God, lest he fall upon us with pestilence or with the sword.” But the king of Egypt said to them, “Moses and Aaron, why do you take the people away from their work? Get back to your burdens.” And Pharaoh said, “Behold, the people of the land are now many, and you make them rest from their burdens!” The same day Pharaoh commanded the taskmasters of the people and their foremen, “You shall no longer give the people straw to make bricks, as in the past; let them go and gather straw for themselves. But the number of bricks that they made in the past you shall impose on them, you shall by no means reduce it, for they are idle. Therefore they cry, ‘Let us go and offer sacrifice to our God.’ Let heavier work be laid on the men that they may labor at it and pay no regard to lying words.”

So the taskmasters and the foremen of the people went out and said to the people, “Thus says Pharaoh, ‘I will not give you straw. Go and get your straw yourselves wherever you can find it, but your work will not be reduced in the least.’” 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.” And the foremen of the people of Israel, whom Pharaoh's taskmasters had set over them, were beaten and were asked, “Why have you not done all your task of making bricks today and yesterday, as in the past?”

Then the foremen of the people of Israel came and cried to Pharaoh, “Why do you treat your servants like this? No straw is given to your servants, yet they say to us, ‘Make bricks!’ And behold, your servants are beaten; but the fault is in your own people.” But he said, “You are idle, you are idle; that is why you say, ‘Let us go and sacrifice to the Lord.’ Go now and work. No straw will be given you, but you must still deliver the same number of bricks.” The foremen of the people of Israel saw that they were in trouble when they said, “You shall by no means reduce your number of bricks, your daily task each day.” 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?


Whether you are a follower of Christ or not, disappointments are a part of the human experience. The story of Exodus is a story that we all share. God has called us out of bondage and into freedom to worship Him. He draws us out so that He can draw us into relationship with Him. God is faithful to do what He promises, yet things do not always go as we planned. Sometimes we expect to get one thing from God and we get something more disappointing. We might think that since God has a plan for us that:

  • He should make our lives easier. 
  • Our obedience obligates God to bless us. 

At the end of Chapter 4 we see God’s people believing the signs of Moses and Aaron. They were full of hope. They knew that God was aware of their suffering and He promised to deliver. They bowed and worshipped. At the first smell of hope they were excited! 

Exodus 5 gives us a picture of disappointment squeezing the hope out of God’s people. Things went very differently than expected. Moses was at the center of God’s will, yet he met serious opposition. Our text shows us how to prepare our heart for the inevitable - disappointment and discouragement. It is impossible to avoid deep disappointment and discouragement- the question is how to deal with it. The gospel addresses disappointment. 

What Makes Disappointment Worse?  

Half-Hearted Obedience

In verse 1 Moses and Aaron went to Pharaoh and said, “Thus says the Lord…”. This request was never what God said. In chapter 3, God was clear that He would bring full liberation. It seems that Moses and Aaron decided to back down on what God had told them to request. They sort of did what God asked - they just changed it a bit. 

We often are not obedient to God’s Word. We like to think that we are obedient. We evaluate our own hearts and our desire to honor God in our relationship with Him, but our horizontal relationships are often a totally different story. Our desire to obey God in our hearts does not always flesh out in our relationships with others. 

Fear

In verses 2-5, we see the words of God being put up against the words of Pharaoh. God said to the Israelites, “come out and rest”. Pharaoh said them, “stay and work”. Pharaoh had the ability to make them suffer and work harder - and he did just that. He gave the Israelites no straw and demanded the same amount of bricks be made. 

When God’s people could not produce the same amount of bricks because they had to scatter to gather straw, the Israelite foremen were beaten (verse 14). They started to pursue the direction that God gave them and things got worse. Verse 19 reveals their fear, “The foremen...saw that they were in trouble”. Fear came because they were believing the words of Pharaoh more than God. They believed that Pharaoh was more in charge of their fate than God was. 

Who are we serving? The Hebrew word for slave and worship is the same. Who you ultimately work for is who you ultimately worship. Rightly place your fear and serve the Lord with gladness. 

Forgetfulness

Someone has said that the only thing that is more common than the grace of God is the forgetfulness of His people. At the first sign of opposition, we see Moses and God’s people forget all of God’s mercies and promises. Suddenly all that they can see is the current crisis and loss. All they can focus on is the fact that things have gone from bad to worse. 

We are not different from them. When we face toughening circumstances, we forget all of the answered prayers of the past. We forget that God has provided so faithfully in the past. Forgetfulness makes disappointment so much worse! We forget that we have been here before and God has been good. We forget how God searched us out, found us, and saved us. Disappointment reveals what we really desire and want. It is impossible to successfully ride the waves of disappointment without remembering. You cannot avoid disappointment - but you can fight it by remembering.  

Gospel Promises

At the end of Chapter 5, Moses challenges God that He has not delivered as He promised. He is almost accusing God of banding together with Pharaoh to persecute the Israelites. God is patient with Moses’ weakness and impatience and responds to Moses. 

God Is In Control

God proclaims that He is actually in control of the operation of the universe. In Exodus 3:19, there is a reference to Pharaoh’s mighty hand. Here we see God say that the all-encompassing strength of His own mighty hand will direct the hand of Pharaoh. Pharaoh is weak before the mighty hand of Yahweh! God will cause Pharaoh to drive them out. 

What truth comforts you when you are disappointed and discouraged? There is no more powerful fact that should comfort us than the fact that He is in control. He is all-powerful. He is all-knowing, He is everywhere.  

God Keeps His Covenant

In verses 2-5 God kept repeating these things. God wanted His people to remind themselves of His promises. God shares these two great motives of redemption: His covenant and His knowledge of the oppressed. 

We need to remind ourselves of God’s promises every day. Ultimately, God kept His covenant in Jesus. In Christ, we are part of an eternal covenant, established by His blood. Because of this, we can find peaceful rest during disappointing times. We have a savior who died, rose, ascended to the Father, and now intercedes for us. He is forever faithful to His people. Preach this gospel to yourself often! 

God Saves

(Exodus 6:7-7:5) It is God who is going to do all of this. All He asks His people to do is know that He is Yahweh. Salvation is all God. He declares, “I will deliver you. I will redeem you. I will take you as my people. I will bring you to the land”. These show us pictures of New Testament theology - Jesus’ rescue of sinners, God redeeming - purchasing us to restore us, God adopting us, and the inheritance that is now ours through Jesus Christ. 

Are there good things that you are hoping for that have become the ultimate goal of your heart? Has there been a hope of good things that now enslaves you rather than being fully devoted to worshipping God? 

Obey, Have Faith, Remember!


IN COMMUNITY

This week, as you reflect on the message, utilize this section to help you apply what has been taught to your life. Think of friends, co-workers, neighbors, family etc., that you could meet with to have a time of mutual sharing to discuss the implications of the message.

BLESS RHYTHMS

This simple acronym (BLESS, B - Bless, L - Listen, E - Eat, S - Speak, S - Sabbath) should help you to frame your life according to the great commandment “love God” (Matthew 22:37) and the expression of that commandment in loving your neighbor (John 13:34). Each time you meet, start by discussing the rhythms of your life according to B.L.E.S.S.

Bless
Intentionally bless: Christ-followers, non-believers and those different than you.

Listen
Listen to what God is saying to you, through His Word and others.

Eat
Share a meal with a Christ-follower and also a non-believer.

Speak
Talk to God through prayer and to others about Jesus through witness.

Sabbath
Be intentional about taking time to both rest and recreate.

An Examined Life

As we continue to reflect on the sermon, allow these questions to guide your discussion with others concerning the conviction points and what you sensed God’s Spirit was doing in you through the preached Word. Jot notes to help you remember.

What was God doing in you through the message on Sunday?

Describe how you’ve grown in your understanding of the Gospel (good news of Jesus)?

How are you going to respond to God’s Word in your life?