Greetings in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
“The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?” (Psalm 27:1)
Then Moses and Aaron returned to Egypt and called all the elders of Israel together. The elders of the Israelites gather around Moses and Aaron. They welcomed Moses and Aaron. To Moses, the difference was day and night. Moses was betrayed by his own people and ran away to Midian, which was known as “wildness” because, not like Egypt, no civilization was in the land of Midian. Thus, it was a perfect place for Moses to hide.
Then it took 40 years before Moses and the Israelites gathered together in place. The Israelites were still slaves in Egypt, but Moses became a humble man.
Now Moses was a very humble man, more humble than anyone else on the face of the earth (Numbers 12:3)
Moses no longer relied on his strength and wisdom as he used to be 40 years ago. He was the towering top prince in Egypt, and he was capable of leading the Israelites out of their slavery, but God blocked Moses. Why? Moses was of the world, not of God. If Moses had been successful, it would have had been the most disastrous event in Moses’ entire life. Moses would have never gotten to the spiritual maturity in God now, after 40 years of walking with God in the wilderness as a humble shepherd. Indeed, Moses became the most humble man on the face of the earth, whom God truly wanted from Moses. As Moses became ready, God came and convinced Moses using the dramatic event of meeting God through the burning bushes in Sinai at the Mountain of God.
For the humble Moses, God prepared two helpers. Moses truly needed these two helpers: His own brother Aaron and his wife, Zipporah.
First, Moses received full support from Zipporah, who left all she built with Moses for the last forty years and followed Moses with two sons. She became the encourager and supporter of Moses. Most importantly, Zipporah exposed Moses’ hidden sin and led Moses to God’s forgiveness. Moses’ sin was not circumcising his two sons. Why didn’t Moses circumcise his two sons? Moses avoided any potential conflict with his Midian wife, Zipporah, caused by circumcision. His wife was not Israelites but Maine. In other words, to Moses, Zipporah was more important than God. Then could God use Moses as the leader of the monumental work of God? The answer was no.
Moses was about to do God’s monumental mission, and he still carried his hidden sin, which was not acceptable to Gods. Zipporah, who knew Moses’ sins caused by her, quickly and wisely responded to God. What a wife she was!
Second, his brother Aaron also came out to the wilderness of Midian to support Moses. While praying, God touched Aaron’s heart, and Aaron responded by coming out to meet Moses, with whom Aaron had not had any exchange at all for the last 40 years. As they saw each other, they could not be happier. They hugged each other and gave thanks to God. Yes, God made two brothers united again.
As Moses was getting into the land of Egypt, Moses could not take off his painful memory of being rejected by his own people. Moses risked everything, including his prince title and all the comforts and privileges coming with the title of an Egyptian prince. Even 40 years later, it was not easy for Moses to overcome the mental breakdown from 40 year-ago rejection by his own people. However, with his brother Aaron, Moses could continue walking deep into the land of Egypt. Aaron was a true comforter for Moses.
Moses followed Aaron, and Aaron led Moses to the elders of Israelites. It took 40 years for Moses to see his own people again. However, there was a big change. For this time, he came in the name of God as a part of God’s mission, not his own mission. Both Aaron and Moses stood before the elders of the Israelites. Moses looked at Aaron. Aaron raised his hand and told them everything God had told Moses.
And Moses performed the miraculous signs as they watched. Some elders immediately shouted in joy while pausing God because God finally heard their prayer. Some were in tears. Finally, they saw the light. They lived in the dark, and their lives were too harsh to bear.
For many years, they prayed, but they did not receive God’s answer. But they kept praying to God, but God still did not answer. Thus, although they prayed, they did not truly believe God would answer their prayer. It was an everyday ritual to escape from the daily misery of slavery in Egypt to get a small comfort before going to bed. But they saw God’s answer with their own eyes. The countlessly many contrite prayers out of their heartbreaks suddenly found the home. Yes, God answered. He answered, Indeed!
Many continued weeping aloud. The others kept shouting for joy. The joyful shouting and weeping mingled together in a loud noise that could be heard far in the distance.
All the elders of the Israelites were convinced that God had sent Moses and Aaron. After knowing that God was concerned about them and had seen their misery, they humbly bowed down and worshiped. Nobody did know when to leave the place. They were in the same place together with throughout the night. As the day broke, they went home. Many of their families had already heard the news that God listened to their prayers, and Moses came back with God’s message for them. It was a brand new day to all Israelites in slavery in Egypt. All together gave thanksgiving to God in hope in God.
Moses and Aaron continued discussing with the leader of the elders about what they would do next. All fixated their eyes on the staff of God that Moses firmly held in his right hand. All saw the miracles of God Moses performed with the staff of God, and all felt that it would be enough to convince that God was with them, and they felt that it would also be enough for Pharaoh. All, thus, were fully convinced that when Pharaoh saw the miracle of God performed by God’s staff, Pharaoh would immediately bow down to God in fear of God and let the Israelites go without any more questions.
All were in joy. No one doubted, and all said in a single voice, “We have to go into the palace and tell Pharaoh what God said through Moses.” Then they said they could not delay but go to Pharaoh on the same day.
Before departing to Pharaoh, they prayed again and gave thanksgiving to God. Then they set out to the palace. Aaron and Moses were leading the elders. In Moses’ right hand, he firmly held the staff of God. All were very confident that it was the day to be released from slavery.
They arrived together at the palace, which was huge and overpowering. They felt that they were small insects compared to the massive palace. As they approached, the palace guards and the palace guards stopped them. Then Aaron and Moses said that they came to see Pharaoh. Surprisingly, the palace guards were receptive to them for some reason, and one of the palace guards took them to Pharaoh’s chamber. They could not believe what was happening. They all felt that God was with them because something unthinkable was happening before their own eyes. It was a great sign that God was with them, and they firmly believed that it was the day that God had provided to free them from slavery.
As they entered the Pharaoh’s chamber, they immediately attracted the attention of all, including Pharaoh. Pharaoh was sitting on high, and many of his close high-rank officials were attending Pharaoh standing before him. Not all of them were showing their kindly faces but indifferent. But nobody prohibited them from coming into the Pharaoh’s chamber. They stood afar from Pharaoh’s throne, and Pharaoh signaled with his hand to come closer to him.
They felt their hearts were beating higher and higher. It was the moment God would subdue Pharaoh, and then Pharaoh would release them from their miserable slavery. They all thought that what a day it would be. All believed, including Moses, “God is with us. Who will be against us?”
However, Moses forgot God’s warning message that He would harden Pharaoh’s heart. Moses became rather emotional at the very important moment. Moses looked around. It was the very place where he grew up as a prince of Egypt. He still remembered he came to the Pharaoh’s chamber to see the previous Pharaoh, who treated Moses dearly. Moses was encouraged and nurtured by the previous Pharaoh. Moses was the best among the princes, and the previous Pharaoh really liked Moses. Moses came to the Pharaoh’s chamber more often than all other princes. Indeed, the current Pharaoh was his archrival. When the current Pharaoh was a prince, he was always the second to Moses. Moses was far superior to him. As he walked toward his old archrival, the current king of Egypt, Moses had to spend lots of his energy hiding his emotions mixed with the past.
Then Moses looked at himself. Moses did not wear the king’s robe. He wore a simple garment of a poor shepherd. Yes, indeed, Moses was a shepherd who had just come from a remote place. His filthy appearance was truly contrasting against his archrival sitting high on the throne in his royal robe, attended by many highest rank officials in Egypt. Moses could not take off his intimidation by the massive scene of Pharaoh. Indeed, the current Pharaoh was no longer his peer but the king of Egypt. Instead, Moses became a shepherd from the wilderness of Midian. Moses held tighter on the staff of God with all his strength. Moses kept praying in his heart to God for God’s strength.
The palace guard lined up before Pharaoh Moses, Aaron, and the elder of Israelites. Then the palace guard said, “Just wait till Pharaoh starts to say.” Soon Pharaoh said why they came to him. But Pharaoh did not recognize Moses. It was forty years ago. The Pharaoh saw Moses last time before fleeing away to the wilderness of Midian. Since then, the current Pharaoh had never heard about Moses again. As the previous Pharaoh died, he succeeded in the kingship. The current Pharaoh thought that Moses was yet another Israelite salve. The Pharaoh also reckoned his refusal would not be profitable because they were the leaders of the Israelites. He decided to demonstrate his majestic generosity.
Then Pharaoh signed to speak up. Then Aaron and Moses told Pharaoh, “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.”
“Is that so?” retorted Pharaoh in shock. “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.” As God warned, God hardened Pharaoh’s heart. Moses still did not remember God’s warning.
“But I know that the king of Egypt will not let you go unless a mighty hand forces him. So I will raise my hand and strike the Egyptians, performing all kinds of miracles among them. Then at last he will let you go. (Exodus 3:19-20)
But Aaron and Moses persisted. “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.”
What? Did God really say, “If we don’t, He will kill us with a plague or with the sword?” Were they out of mind? Wouldn’t God have said God would kill Egyptians, not Israelites?
Why did Aaron and Moses distort God’s message? God appointed Aaron to relay God’s message faithfully for Moses as a spokesperson for God. Aaron heard exactly God’s message through Moses and what Aaron had to speak to Pharaoh. From that moment, everything quickly went down.
God warned Moses. God would harden Pharoh’s heart, but in reality, it was caused by Aaron and Moses themselves. Why then Aaron and Moses distort God’s message, which was indeed the opposite?
Fear. The fear of Pharaoh is the answer. Aaron and Moses were overpowered by the massive and intimidating look of Pharaoh and the people surrounding the Pharaoh. They looked at the Pharaoh sitting high on the throne with their eyes instead of God sitting on high in His Throne in Heaven. Who should they fear at the very moment? Pharaoh or God?
Of course, it is easy to say as we read this on a screen, “Yes, we should fear God, not Pharaoh.” However, imagine we were Aaron and Moses at the scene standing before the overpowering and intimidating throne of the mighty Egyptian king. How would we feel? Pharaoh could kill us immediately by simply uttering, not even moving his finger if we displease. The fear of Pharaoh is real and imminent. However, God is not visible. Then can we feel God is as real as the Pharaoh whom we are looking at now?
It is understandable why Aaron and Moses distorted God’s message. They did our fear of the Pharaoh. Fear of the world puts enormous pressure on us, distorting God’s word by making us give in to earthly power. Of course, the result is a sin against God. Aaron and Moses sinned, and the sin caused the Pharaoh’s heart to harden.
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.”
Aaron and Moses were expelled from the Pharaoh’s presence before showing God’s miracle. Then the palace guards kicked them out. They returned empty-handed to the Israelites still in slavery. All of the expectations and hopes were evaporated. Instead, disappointment and despair came into their hearts. They felt they fell from high in the sky to the ground. What a pain!
All had to return to the same place as slaves. The emotional toll was truly great. They were completely broken down spiritually. Then nobody liked Moses and Aaron. Moses failed again, and he experienced the bitter failure again. However, Moses knew, for this time, it was caused by the fear of the world. Moses confessed his sin and prayed bitterly to God. God lovingly and carefully heard Moses’ prayer.
Oh, Father. Please help us to be always faithful wherever we are and in all situations. We want to fix our eyes on you and Jesus Christ on the cross instead of the world. But our fear of the world is so strong. Even Aaron and Moses feared Pharaoh right after experiencing God, You, Your power, miracle, and promise. They gave in to the power of the Pharaoh, which only existed in this world. Father, we are weak, but you are strong. Only in you will we be strong and courageous. By you, we can overcome all our fears. We are yours and put all our trust in you. Please lead us and guide us through the paths of righteousness. This is our humble and contrite prayer to You. Amen.
I lift up my eyes to the mountains—
where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord,
the Maker of heaven and earth.
He will not let your foot slip—
he who watches over you will not slumber;
indeed, he who watches over Israel
will neither slumber nor sleep.
The Lord watches over you—
the Lord is your shade at your right hand;
the sun will not harm you by day,
nor the moon by night.
The Lord will keep you from all harm—
he will watch over your life;
the Lord will watch over your coming and going
both now and forevermore. (Psalm 121:1-8)