Greetings in the name of Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
Praying for you, your family, your community and the rest of the world. Right now, the whole world is suffering because of the Coronavirus (COVID-19). Let’s pray together to God, Our Ever-Loving Father, His mercy and protection on all, and God’s healing on those who are infected by the Coronavirus. We all believe God’s grace and love rest on all who look upon Him every moment with faith in Him.
Then the LORD told him, “I have certainly seen the oppression of my people in Egypt. I have heard their cries of distress because of their harsh slave drivers. Yes, I am aware of their suffering. (Exodus 3:7)
One day Moses was tending the flock of his father-in-law, Jethro, the priest of Midian. He led the flock far into the wilderness and came to Sinai, the mountain of God. There the angel of God, the LORD appeared to him in a blazing fire from the middle of a bush. Moses stared in amazement. Though the bush was engulfed in flames, it didn’t burn up. “This is amazing,” Moses said to himself. “Why isn’t that bush burning up? I must go see it.”
When the LORD saw Moses coming to take a closer look, God called to him from the middle of the bush,
“Moses! Moses!” (Exodus 3:4b)
God called Moses twice. Moses heard God. Moses met God, the Lord. Moses replied,
“Here I am!” (Exodus 3:4c)
This is the moment that God changed Moses forever. Then our compassionate God told to Moses,
“I have certainly seen the oppression of my people in Egypt. I have heard their cries of distress because of their harsh slave drivers. Yes, I am aware of their suffering.
So I have come down to rescue them from the power of the Egyptians and lead them out of Egypt into their own fertile and spacious land. It is a land flowing with milk and honey—the land where the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Hivites, and Jebusites now live.
Look! The cry of the people of Israel has reached me, and I have seen how harshly the Egyptians abuse them. Now go, for I am sending you to Pharaoh. You must lead my people Israel out of Egypt.” (Exodus 3:7b-10)
Moses thought that he was not qualified for this holy and glorious task. He spent 40 years in the Midian wilderness as a fugitive. Then he became a humble shepherd. However, he used to be the towering prince in Egypt. He was the 2ndmost powerful person in the land of Egypt after the Pharaoh, but one day he fled from Egypt. The reason was he helped his own Israel people under oppression. He saw and felt pity on the Israel people in slavery. He thought that he did a right thing for the Israel people, but he was rejected by his own people. He killed an Egyptian slaver driver in order to protect his own people. He thought that he had all knowledge, wisdom, and power. He was also strong enough to kill the Egyptian slave driver by his bare hands, but he had to flee because Egyptians tried to capture him, and because his own people did reject him as their leader. He had been a shepherd in the distant foreign land, and all of pride, self-righteousness and own courage became nothing even to his eyes. When he met God, he was just a common shepherd who worked for Jethro who Moses met 40 years ago right after his exile from Egypt. Jethro was a good man, and he allowed Moses to live together with his family. Moses got Jethro’s favor, and later he got married to one of Jethro’s daughters. The 40 years of his exile made Moses to a completely different person, and he abandoned his dream to rescue the Israel people. In fact, all of his courage and self-righteousness that he used to lived for became his distant memory.
When Moses heard God’s calling to rescue the same Israel people who rejected him, he refused. This extraordinary encounter with God made him remember his painful past, which he had never wanted to remember ever again. He recalled that his righteous act made him a fugitive and forced to live in the Midian wilderness for 40 years. It was enough. He paid enough, and saving his people was not his cup of tea. He had nothing to do with the people who betrayed him. Additionally, his strength had been long gone along with his age. He was eighty years old. When he left Egypt, he was just 40 years old. Before God, he refused and refused with all kinds of excuses, but God did not leave him alone. God almost forced to make him the deliverer of His people suffering in Egypt, because Moses was ready in the eyes of God. God sent Moses back to Egypt.
God also brought Aaron as Moses’ helper. How gracious Our God is! Moses refused by telling his weakness, but God sent a helper for Moses so that he could do God’s will – delivering His people out of Egypt. This was not all that God did. God also prepared the hearts of the people of Israel in Egypt. They had suffered 40 additional years since Moses departure. Their lives were getting worse after the incidence of the Moses’ killing of the Egyptian slave driver. The hardship made the people of Israel yearning more for their salvation from the merciless hands of Egyptian slave drivers. Their hearts were open wider than ever before. God surely used all things together of the 40 years of Moses exile, and the additional 40 years of hardship of the people of Israel under harsher hands of Egyptian slave drivers. Then God put together Moses’ humility and the wide-open hearts of the Israelites to fulfill His holy and glorious will.
And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them. (Romans 8:28)
Aaron, who was a better speaker, explained everything to the Israel people in Egypt, including what God told to Moses: God’s promise of liberating the Israelites from the slavery bondage of Egyptians, and entering into the Promised Land given to their forefathers, Abram, Isaac, and Jacob. Deferring from the last encounter of Moses with the Israel people 40 years ago, nobody rejected Moses and Aaron. Again, God prepared their hearts using the long and miserable 40 years. The Israelites gathering around Moses and Aaron paid close attention and carefully heard. As watching this marvelous scene, Moses gave his great thanksgiving to God.
Then the people of Israel were convinced that the LORD had sent Moses and Aaron. When they heard that the LORD was concerned about them and had seen their misery, they bowed down and worshiped. (Exodus 4:31)
As hearing the message of God, the people of Israel were convinced. They believed what was told although it looked impossible. Nobody knew how they would be freed. Especially, when they heard that God was concerned about the Israel people in Egypt, they were deeply moved. Their Egyptian slave drivers’ treatment got harsher every day. They cried to God every day, but nothing. Nothing was answered. They thought that their cries had never reached to God, and all disappeared into thin air so that nobody could hear even including God.
However, they realized that God really heard their cries. What a comforting answer from God! God saw their daily misery starting from early morning and continuing till sunset. It was a really harsh life. They felt that nobody cared for their misery in the foreign land. However, it was not true. God saw their miseries one by one. Their lives were too miserable to even speak about what had happened during the day. One day’s toiling misery was enough. Why carrying over the misery to their home and to bedtime? Only was the source of power making them going all family members could get together in one place every evening, and pray to God for His deliverance. Although it had been more than 400 hundred years, they prayed with hope in faith. And the following day was yet another day of their misery, and nothing was changed. If the day was not worse or harsher than the prior day, it was a good day. They were at the rock-bottom, and when they heard the God’s deliverance, it was like a sweetest music to their ears. They had never heard such a message from God although they had been waiting countlessly many years. Upon hearing the message of God through Moses, they all bowed down to God and worshiped God of grace and mercy.
“Can a woman forget her nursing child, that she should have no compassion on the son of her womb? Even these may forget, yet I will not forget you.” (Isaiah 49:15)
God had never forgotten the people of Israel in misery in Egypt, although Moses had completely forgotten them after 40 years of his exile. Although the people of Israel had just hoped without any real substance of their faith to be freed, God came to the people of Israel. God found Moses, and sent Moses to the people of Israel to free from the hands of Egyptians and to lead them into the Promised Land. The people of Israel heard this promise again and again, which was handed down generation to generation, and finally they heard back from God! Moses and the people of Israel became one in God. What a beautiful scene in God! Yes, God is always faithful, and His promise will never fail. The promise came from God, and God sent Moses to fulfill His promise. Who is God? The One who created heavens and earth, and who always wanted to be the Ever-Loving Father to His beloved children.
Not one word of all the good promises that the LORD had made to the house of Israel had failed; all came to pass. (Joshua 21:45)
Then Moses and Aaron together went to the palace to speak to Pharaoh, and told,
“This is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says: Let my people go so they may hold a festival in my honor in the wilderness.” (Exodus 5:1b)
Wait a minute. How do you think? Did Moses and Aaron convey what was told by God precisely and accurately? Here is what God told to Moses:
“So I have come down to rescue them from the power of the Egyptians and lead them out of Egypt into their own fertile and spacious land. It is a land flowing with milk and honey—the land where the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Hivites, and Jebusites now live.
Look! The cry of the people of Israel has reached me, and I have seen how harshly the Egyptians abuse them. Now go, for I am sending you to Pharaoh. You must lead my people Israel out of Egypt.” (Exodus 3:8-10)
We can see a huge difference between what was commanded by God and what was presented to Pharaoh by Moses through Aaron. (Personally, I wish Moses accurately told what was given by God.) Moses and Aaron sinned, and it initiated God’s training on Moses, and the people of Israel till both were truly ready to receive God’s promise by leaving the cursed land of misery and entering in the Promised Land.
Also please put us in Moses’ shoes. Then we can easily see why Moses did. We cannot blame Moses easily. We might have done the same by telling our own made-up story to soften up the Pharaoh’s heart. God promised to lead the people of Israel to enter in the promised land, a land flowing with milk and honey, but Moses told to Pharaoh the destination was “the wilderness.” What? Moses was way off. He described their goal was to just have a festival in God’s honor in the wilderness, not leaving Egypt forever, and entering in the promised land, a land of flowing with milk and honey.
Although Moses and Aaron thought that they wisely presented what was told by God, it was not the case. It backfired. What was presented by Moses and Aaron did not make sense to Pharaoh at all. Why? It was a man-made highly diluted story, not the God’s very message that was given to Moses. How do you think? Would there be any Godly power in the diluted man-made story of Moses? No. Absolutely not!
“Is that so?” retorted Pharaoh. “And who is the LORD? Why should I listen to him and let Israel go? I don’t know the LORD, and I will not let Israel go.” (Exodus 5:2)
Pharaoh retorted back while accusing Moses and Aaron and disgracing God. If we dilute God’s word and schmoozing with our own wisdom, we might feel it would be easier to the ears of others, and they would get God’s message better. It is not true. As Pharaoh did, they would retort back and even accuse us. The power comes from God, not from our beautiful message filled with our own wisdom and rationale.
Pharaoh even cynically asked, “Who is the LORD?” Pharaoh disgraced the LORD, God because of Moses and Aaron. Then he completely discounted what was told, and flat-rejected. Then he solemnly declared he would never let Israel go to have a festival in the wilderness. After all, God was completely rejected by Pharaoh, because Moses and Aaron did not convey accurately and precisely God’s message to Pharaoh.
Upon this initial rejection of Pharaoh, what did the Moses and Aaron do? They negotiated. How typical! God’s Word is not negotiable, because it is absolutely true.
Aaron and Moses apologetically answered.
“The God of the Hebrews has met with us,” they declared. “So let us take a three-day journey into the wilderness so we can offer sacrifices to the LORD our God. If we don’t, he will kill us with a plague or with the sword.” (Exodus 5:3)
Now, they put themselves behind of God, and made their story sound reasonable by adding few details while almost begging:
1. three-day journey into the wilderness,
2. just offering sacrifices to God, and
3. If we don’t, we will be killed by God.
None of the above were told by God. All were made up. Where was the true destination? It was the Promised Land – a land following milk and honey, not the wilderness having nothing. Why three-day journey? Moses and Aaron through that a three-day journey would made them safe from Egyptians and Egyptian armies by providing an enough distance. The third reason was completely non-sense. God is love, but he made God a killer. Of course, all of their rationalization and their answer were proven to be wrong. Later, Pharaoh and his armies could purse them after many days of the Exodus of Israelites. How foolish Moses and Aaron were! The humanly wisdom and persuasive speech proved Moses and Aaron wrong, because all were not of God. A spectacular failure came to them instead.
Pharaoh fight back by blaming both Moses and Aaron. Moses and Aaron supposedly freed the Israelites by commanding Pharaoh with God’s Word, rather than their smooth talk. Moses and Aaron without God’s power were nothing before Pharaoh.
Pharaoh replied, “Moses and Aaron, why are you distracting the people from their tasks? Get back to work! Look, there are many of your people in the land, and you are stopping them from their work.” (Exodus 5:4-5)
Pharaoh even ordered Moses and Aaron, “Get back to work!” like any other Israel slaves. Pharaoh then warned Moses and Aaron, “You are stopping them [the slave Israelites] from their work.” After hearing the humanly speech, to the eyes of Pharaoh, Moses and Aaron were nothing but ordinary slaves, not the messenger of God.
Pharaoh did not stop there. On the same day Pharaoh sent this order to the Egyptian slave drivers and the Israelite foremen: “Do not supply any more straw for making bricks. Make the people get it themselves! But still require them to make the same number of bricks as before. Don’t reduce the quota. They are lazy. That’s why they are crying out, ‘Let us go and offer sacrifices to our God.’ Load them down with more work. Make them sweat! That will teach them to listen to lies!”
Pharaoh gave a harsh order to the Egyptian slave drivers and the Israel foremen to make all Israel lives in slavery more miserable. This was the result of the half-hearted story made by Moses and Aaron.
This is not the end of the story. The Israel people, who initially believed and worshiped God after hearing God’s appearance to Moses and God’s promise, turned around and told:
“May the LORD judge and punish you for making us stink before Pharaoh and his officials. You have put a sword into their hands, an excuse to kill us!” (Exodus 6:21b)
The people of Israel completely turned off by Moses and Aaron because their lives became even more miserable due to Moses and Aaron. Again, this is the result of not conveying God’s Word accurately and precisely. Moses and Aaron were humiliated by Pharaoh, and hated by even their own people.
Preach the word of God. Be prepared, whether the time is favorable or not. Patiently correct, rebuke, and encourage your people with good teaching. (2 Timothy 4:2)
Therefore, we should be courageous in God, and be strong in God because God is with us. After all, we are God’s messengers. People around us read God message written on us and on our hearts. We should not repeat the same sin that Moses and Aaron committed.
We all know the end of the story of Moses. Moses finally led the Israelites from Egypt, not because Moses was perfect, but because God was full of grace, mercy and love on Moses and the people of Israel. However, the initial sin of Moses and Aaron delayed fulfillment of God’s promise of liberation. God had to give more lessons to Moses and the people of Israel until Moses and the people of Israel were fully ready to come out of Egypt. Then Moses led the people of Israel, who were 600,000 men only. If all family members are counted, the number can easily go up to two million or even more. God was patient to Moses and the Israelites until they fully knew and experienced who God truly was before making the monumental exile from the slaves under the Egyptians to be truly free people under God. The most important fact is that all were initiated by God in His mercy and love. God heard the cries of His people, and God stretched His hand that is mighty and omnipotent. Give thanks to God, who heard their cries and brought them out of Egypt!
God who heard and freed the Israelites from the miserable slavery hears us and our cries with His attentive ears. Yes, God hears us and our cries. Then what can we ask more? The very God who created heaven and earth hears us, and cares for us always while listening to everything that we say and even that we don’t say with our own mouths because God sees through our hearts. How comforting and encouraging our God is! Our God is our Ever-Loving Father full of mercy, grace and love toward each one of us. Why? We are His beloved children.
But you, O LORD, are a shield around me;
you are my glory, the one who holds my head high.
I cried out to the LORD,
and he answered me from his holy mountain.
I lay down and slept,
yet I woke up in safety,
for the LORD was watching over me.
I am not afraid of ten thousand enemies
who surround me on every side. (Psalm 3:3-6)