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.
“Come to me with your ears wide open.
Listen, and you will find life.
I will make an everlasting covenant with you.
I will give you all the unfailing love I promised to David.
See how I used him to display my power among the peoples.
I made him a leader among the nations.
You also will command nations you do not know,
and peoples unknown to you will come running to obey,
because I, the LORD your God,
the Holy One of Israel, have made you glorious.” (Isaiah 55:3-5)
We know Moses well. He brought the people of Israel out of Egypt where they were slaves to Egyptians and did hard works for them for centuries, making bricks, and building monuments, buildings and their temples. Their lives were so miserable that they cried out day and night. Not just once, but many years. More precisely, they cried out four hundred years. Yes, 400 years, which is a really long period of time. The people of Israel mourned and cried out to God while asking for their release from slavery. Many must have had felt that God was deaf. Some were almost at the verge of completely abandoning the only hope being freed from the slavery because they waited and waited, but their freedom never came. But they cried out to God in their hearts and minds because the slavery was the reality that they could not escape from. Yes, their lives were painful and miserable.
Moses was born as a child of slaves, but God made him a prince of Egypt. He could not forget the misery of his own people. One day, he helped his own people by killing an Egyptian slave driver, but it was not appreciated by his people. Instead, they rejected Moses as their leader. Moses thought that he would free the Israelites by his own might and strength, but God did not allow. Instead Moses was expelled him from Egypt. He became a fugitive who wondered around the wilderness. God, who loved Moses, prepared Jethro, who received Moses warmly. Moses got married to one of Jethro’s daughters, and he settled while shepherding sheep for 40 years in the Median wilderness. Although Moses did not know initially, the Median wilderness was God’s training ground for 40 years. As the time came set by God, God appeared to Moses, and gave a mission to rescue the people of Israel. Of course, initially Moses refused to take the mission because he failed miserably before. God was persistent, and Moses almost reluctantly accepted. God even brought Aaron to help Moses.
Moses returned to the people of Israel with Aaron. Moses shared what he got from God, and for this time, the people of Israel welcomed Moses as their leader. What a change! When Moses used his own might and strength as the powerful prince of Egypt, the people rejected. When he came humbly as a messenger of God, the people warmly accepted. Following day, Moses and Aaron visited Pharaoh.
Moses supposedly told God’s message directly and precisely, but he didn’t. Instead, he essentially made up his own version based on God’s command. Moses must have thought that it would sound better to Pharaoh’s ears so that Pharaoh would accept Moses’ diplomatic suggestion rather than God’s directly message. However, it back fired. (Actually, God made that happen. God could not leave Moses alone.) Pharaoh emboldened, and he reacted harshly while disgracing God’s name and making the people of Israel more miserable than before. Indeed, the people of Israel had to suffer more than before.
Moses and Aaron were thrown out from the palace. As they left Pharaoh’s court, the people of Israel confronted Moses and Aaron, who were waiting outside for them. The people of Israel said to them,
“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 5:20b)
How depressed Moses and Aaron were! They did everything that they could do, but they were thrown out from Pharaoh. Additionally, their own people told them, “May God judge and punish you for making us stink before Pharaoh and his officials.” For the people of Israel, Pharaoh and his officials were more real than God because Pharaoh and his officials could do something at that time, but God’s promise was for future. Their lives were even in danger of being killed by the swords of Egyptians. The people of Israel were in fear of the Egyptian whom they could see. They turned back, and rejected Moses and Aaron again. It reminded Moses of the bad memory of the initial rection. Now, he got the same rejection again.
Then Moses went back to God and protested,
“Why have you brought all this trouble on your own people, Lord? Why did you send me? Ever since I came to Pharaoh as your spokesman, he has been even more brutal to your people. And you have done nothing to rescue them!” (Exodus 5:22b-23)
Moses, in desperation, went back to God, and protested. Yes, Moses protested to God!!! In Moses’ eyes, God did nothing. Moses made lots of efforts to make a deal with Pharaoh by giving a diplomatic message. Moses even defended God by hiding God’s real intention before Pharaoh, because Pharaoh would clearly against God’s intention to free the people of Israel and take them into the Promised Land. Yes, for Moses’ point of view, he did an excellent job, but God was not with Moses. Therefore, Pharaoh was mad at his nice speech of just having a festival for God in the wilderness, although the real intention was to completely leave Egypt, not just having a festival while sacrificing to God after a three-day journey. Moses tried to give an impression that the people of Israel would return to Egypt after having a festival. Of course, it was not a real intention. For Moses’ point of view, if God had made a small nudge on the heart of Pharaoh, Pharaoh would have accepted the offer presented by Moses. But God did not. This was Moses’ complaint. Of course, his own people again turned against Moses, which was the really last thing that he wanted to experience again.
Moses could not understand why God suddenly backed off. Moses felt he was alone. He was alone doing a right thing. God was not doing a right thing. Moses was really frustrated. Moses, thus, turned his frustration to God. However, it was the wisest decision that he made. If he had fled again, he would have had to spend another forty years to learn more about God. For this time, he directly returned to God, again which was the best choice that Moses made. What did God do to Moses, then? God received Moses and heard him with His patience and love.
Yes, God is always patient to us with His unfailing love. Our God is the harbor where we shelter during our life storms. God is always waiting for us with His wide-open arms. What we need is to return to him, and pour out all our heartaches and pains, and our life frustrations. God is our safe harbor.
Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30)
How did God respond to Moses?
God did not go over what Moses did wrong one by one. Surely, God is always and truly patient to His people because He dearly loves His own people.
“Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne? Though she may forget, I will not forget you! (Isaiah 49:15)
Although a mother might forget her own baby, God will never forget us, which is His Word and His promise. Thus, we can confidently come to God under any situations and any of our heart conditions. God is good, and His goodness will never cease.
Let’s back to Moses. What would be our first response as parent to our child, who were completely discouraged? Encouragement. Yes, encouragement.
Then the LORD told Moses,
“Now you will see what I will do to Pharaoh. When he feels the force of my strong hand, he will let the people go. In fact, he will force them to leave his land!” (Exodus 6:1)
God encouraged Moses by telling God will do to Pharaoh with His strong hand. How strong? Pharaoh would feel the mighty force of God hand, which was so strong that even the most powerful Pharaoh could not do anything, but listen to God. Pharaoh would let the people of Israel go. More precisely, Pharaoh would become so scared that he would force the people of Israel out of his own land by his own hand! Yes, the people of Israel would be pushed out of Egypt by Pharaoh, himself. This is how God respond to His own people when coming back to God.
Let’s ask to ourselves. How many times have we try to make God’s plan work out by our own wisdom and might? It is a common mistake and, in fact, a sin before God. Moses did and we do too. When such a temptation comes to us, let’s remind what Moses and we did before, and recite God’s word in our hearts:
For the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength. (1 Corinthians 1:25)
God then told about who God was, and God confirm His promise again. Moses was truly comforted again, but the world let Moses alone. Moses returned to his people to encourage with God’s Word, but they did not listen to Moses at all because they had been too discouraged by the brutality of their slavery.
Then, God, for this time, ordered Moses,
Go back to Pharaoh, the king of Egypt, and tell him to let the people of Israel leave his country. (Exodus 6:11)
If we were Moses, what would we respond? Yes, we know we should go back to Pharaoh, the king of Egypt. However, is it easy?
God gave huge encouragement to Moses. Thus, Moses went to his people, and encouraged them with God’s Word. What was the response of the people of Israel? They rejected Moses. Moses was now even more frustrated than before.
How did Moses actually respond to God?
“But LORD!” Moses objected. “My own people won’t listen to me anymore. How can I expect Pharaoh to listen? I’m such a clumsy speaker!” (Exodus 6:12)
Yes, Moses, for the first time, objected!!! Moses was now in the way of God and blocked God’s will. What was God’s response? Patience. God carefully and patiently listened to the end of Moses’ answer. Moses’ rationale was perfect. His own people did not listen to Moses. How in the world, would Pharaoh would listen to Moses? Then he directed all blames to God indirectly by telling “I’m such a clumsy speaker.” Did Moses want to become a clumsy speaker? No. It was done by God. Thus, God was responsible. Moses could not bear any more the heavy burden, and put all blames on God. Was Moses ready for the glorious job of freeing the people of Israel from slavery and leading them to the Promise Land? No. The Moses’ 40 years of training in the Median wilderness was not enough for this glorious task.
Our merciful God said to Moses,
“Pay close attention to this. I will make you seem like God to Pharaoh, and your brother, Aaron, will be your prophet. Tell Aaron everything I command you, and Aaron must command Pharaoh to let the people of Israel leave his country.” (Exodus 7:1b-2)
God presented a plan acceptable to Moses. Moses felt that he was alone and God did not do anything when he confronted Pharaoh and worked for God. For this time, God said that God would be actively involved. God would make Moses like God to Pharaoh, not like as one of Israel slaves who looked a poor shepherd just getting off from his 40 years’ shepherding job in the wilderness. Who would respect such a person? Then God would make Aaron Moses’ prophet. (Yes, Aaron actually did lots of things for Moses, such as throwing down Moses staff before Pharaoh to become a serpent.) Moses was not alone and no longer carried the full load of the God’s enormous mission to free the people of Israel. What a wonderful God was! God clearly made sure Moses would not be alone again.
Then God took care of Moses’ fear of speaking again to Pharaoh. Moses failed miserably, and he did not want to go back to the same place again. We cannot blame Moses. It would need a superman’s strength to speak again before Pharaoh. The painful experience was haunting him. It was next to impossibility to open up his mouth before Pharaoh. God was good. God accepted Moses as he was. God actually prohibited of Moses to speak again to Pharaoh. God said, “Aaron must command Pharaoh to let the people of Israel leave his country [Egypt].” God covered all fronts that Moses was afraid of. How great our God was to Moses! He is also and equally good to us. When we fail and are in fear, God comes to us and encourages us. Then He makes us rise up and stand again by Him, which is what God does to His people.
The above was not all that God did. His wisdom is beyond our imagination, and his love is greater anything else. The most important one was changing Moses himself. Moses needed more training along with the people of Israel. If Moses and the people of Israel would have had left Egypt by the power of God on the following day, what would have had happened? Could they know God’s love? Could they actually get out of Egypt? Could they cross the wilderness and arrive at the Promised Land? What would have happened when they entered in the Promised Land? God clearly told before when God called Moses,
“I have promised to rescue you from your oppression in Egypt. I will lead you to a land flowing with milk and honey—the land where the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Hivites, and Jebusites now live.” (Exodus 3:17)
The promised land is a land flowing with milk and honey—the land where the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Hivites, and Jebusites now live. Yes, the Promised Land is not an empty land waiting for the people of Israel, but it is the land currently occupied by not just one, but the six native peoples. The people of Israel were just one, but the land was occupied by six. Six to one, and the native vs the foreign. How do you think? What’s the chance that the people of Israel would occupy the land? The chance is almost none.
For the upcoming God’s plan, Moses and the people of Israel were not prepared and not ready to occupy the Promised Land, let alone leaving Egypt. It must have not been easy to leave the 400-year-old home, although they lived as slaves. Later, the people of Israel told not just once, but many times they said to God they would be better off remaining in Egypt as slaves whenever they confronted with a small difficulty in the wilderness after their exodus to the Promised Land.
God had to make them ready at least at a bare minimum level. What’s the way to make them meet them the bare minimum God’s requirement? There was nothing but additional training. For this time, God used Pharaoh and the entire nation of Egypt to train the people of Israel.
“But I will make Pharaoh’s heart stubborn so I can multiply my miraculous signs and wonders in the land of Egypt. Even then Pharaoh will refuse to listen to you. (Exodus 7:3-4a)
God said that God would make Pharaoh’s heart stubborn and refute to listen. Yes, God would make the heart of Pharaoh stubborn. The stubbornness of Pharaoh’s heart was not Pharaoh’s choice, but God’s choice! What can we learn from this? God uses all things even the Pharaoh’s heart to teach and train His own people. The history of this world is, in fact, a series of events designed by God for His own people, although many believe that they make their own choice by their own ways. Not true. God uses all things including what people think their own decisions. This is the power of God, and the manifestation of the love of God toward His people. Praise God for His omnipotent power and His infinite goodness to His people! This is the reason why we believe and are joyful in Him in all circumstances. All things are prepared for His own people. In other words, the world is revolving around God’s people, i.e., us.
“So I will bring down my fist on Egypt. Then I will rescue my forces—my people, the Israelites—from the land of Egypt with great acts of judgment. When I raise my powerful hand and bring out the Israelites, the Egyptians will know that I am the LORD.” (Exodus 7:4b-5)
Yes, God would bring down God’s fist on Egypt. God’s judgement would be on Egypt who refused to listen to God. However, in the meantime, God was preparing His people for the exodus planned by God for many generations ago. In fact, God foretold this when God called Abraham as His chosen people,
Then the LORD said to Abram, “You can be sure that your descendants will be strangers in a foreign land, where they will be oppressed as slaves for 400 years. But I will punish the nation that enslaves them, and in the end they will come away with great wealth. (Genesis 15:13-14)
For Moses, what was told by God was completely new, but it was not. It was already told to Abraham when God called Abraham. Like Moses, we feel something completely new, but it is not. God has already foretold even before our existence on earth. Yes, God is always faithful, and has never changed and will never change forever, which is our faith and hope. Once we became His people, we will be His people forever because this is not done by our own effort, but by God’s infinite wisdom, goodness and love toward us. After all, all nations will know God. It was not an exception. At the end, the Egyptians truly knew God.
Then God commanded Moses and Aaron to go back to Pharaoh. Neither a revelation nor a calling, but a strict order for this time. In order words, Moses was grown enough to handle a command from God. Yes, Moses made lots progress in God. Please note that Moses failed many times to get to this point. Moses’ recent failure was so painful that he even made an objection to God. What Moses really needed was to grow up in God. Our spiritual growth in God is not like a 100 meter dash by running a straight line as many people wish, but it is a life-long walk with God as we are going through our journey on this earth toward His kingdom. Sometimes we feel we are way off from God and feel even lonely, but we should not fear. Such a feeling is also a part of our walk with God. However, we should remember that our feeling does not tell the truth. The real truth is that our God is with us even at the moment that we feel alone without knowing where to go. Indeed, His mighty and loving hand always holds us strongly, and so strong that nothing can separate us from His loving hand.
Then God continued by equipping Moses and Aaron. God said to Moses and Aaron,
“Pharaoh will demand, ‘Show me a miracle.’ When he does this, say to Aaron, ‘Take your staff and throw it down in front of Pharaoh, and it will become a serpent.’” (Exodus 7:9)
God does not send away His people bare, but He fully equip His people before sending. Especially, for a spiritual battle, God provides full armors and weapons for His people. However, we often feel that God has not fully equipped us. But don’t be afraid. Here is what Jesus said,
“And when you are brought to trial in the synagogues and before rulers and authorities, don’t worry about how to defend yourself or what to say, for the Holy Spirit will teach you at that time what needs to be said.” (Luke 12:11-12)
If God is with us, who can dare to against us?
So Moses and Aaron went to Pharaoh and did what God had commanded them. For this time, Moses and Aaron exactly repeated what God said. They did what God had commanded for them to do. Yes, it was a huge progress in Him.
Aaron threw down his staff before Pharaoh and his officials, and it became a serpent! Then Pharaoh called in his own wise men and sorcerers, and these Egyptian magicians did the same thing with their magic. They threw down their staffs, which also became serpents! But then Aaron’s staff swallowed up their staffs. Pharaoh’s heart, however, remained hard. He still refused to listen, just as God had predicted.
As God predicted, Pharaoh hardened his heart and refused to listen to what was told by God through Moses and Aaron. Many of us already know how many times Pharaoh refused to listen. Ten times. Yes, 10 times. Pharaoh resisted all, but at the last tenth plague, Pharaoh lost his own first-born son.
Then Pharaoh sent for Moses and Aaron during the night. Not the following day, but the same night of the tenth plague. Pharaoh and his officials were that much pushed to the limit by losing their own first-born sons.
“Get out!” he ordered. “Leave my people—and take the rest of the Israelites with you! Go and worship the LORD as you have requested. Take your flocks and herds, as you said, and be gone. Go, but bless me as you leave.” (Exodus 12: 31b-32)
Pharaoh, in fact, pushed out the people of Israel from Egypt as God told. It was not all. All the Egyptians were in the same fear of God. They urged the people of Israel to get out of the land as quickly as possible, for they thought, “We will all die!”
The Israelites took their bread dough before yeast was added. They wrapped their kneading boards in their cloaks and carried them on their shoulders as commanded. Yes, they carefully listened to God.
And the people of Israel did as Moses had instructed; they asked the Egyptians for clothing and articles of silver and gold. God caused the Egyptians to look favorably on the Israelites, and they gave the Israelites whatever they asked for. So they stripped the Egyptians of their wealth!
As God foretold, the people of Israel were actually blessed by the Egyptians when they left. This is what God did to His people, and is doing now to His people. How blessed God’s people are. God is also truly patient toward us. God is patiently waiting for us to grow into Him till we are ready. When we are ready, God provides and uses us for us to do God work specifically and specially prepared for each of us. God is good. Always good to His people! Praise God! Let’s put all our voices together, and shout to God, making joyful noise before Him. Praise Him. He is worthy of our highest praise. Praise Him. We give thanks to God!
Seek the LORD while you can find him.
Call on him now while he is near.
Let the wicked change their ways
and banish the very thought of doing wrong.
Let them turn to the LORD that he may have mercy on them.
Yes, turn to our God, for he will forgive generously.
“My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,” says the LORD.
“And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine.
For just as the heavens are higher than the earth,
so my ways are higher than your ways
and my thoughts higher than your thoughts. (Isaiah 55:6-9)