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The Surprise That Shouldn’t Have Been

Exodus 4: 29-31, 5:1,4,17, 21 (New International Version)
4:29 Moses and Aaron brought together all the elders of the Israelites, 30 and Aaron told them everything the LORD had said to Moses. He also performed the signs before the people, 31 and they believed. And when they heard that the LORD was concerned about them and had seen their misery, they bowed down and worshiped.

5:1 Afterward Moses and Aaron went to Pharaoh and said, "This is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says: 'Let my people go, so that they may hold a festival to me in the desert.' "4 But the king of Egypt said, "Moses and Aaron, why are you taking the people away from their labor? Get back to your work!" 5 Then Pharaoh said, "Look, the people of the land are now numerous, and you are stopping them from working."

17 Pharaoh said, "Lazy, that's what you are—lazy! That is why you keep saying, 'Let us go and sacrifice to the LORD.' 18 Now get to work. You will not be given any straw, yet you must produce your full quota of bricks."

21.. and they said, "May the LORD look upon you and judge you! You have made us a stench to Pharaoh and his officials and have put a sword in their hand to kill us."

The assignment accepted, here they were, Moses and Aaron, standing before Pharaoh, engaging with the elders of Israel (so far, so good); when suddenly things began to unravel.

Hope had sprung up in the hearts of the Israelites like water on thirsty parched ground when they heard that God had seen their plight. But the fragile hope quickly turned to anger and a sense of betrayal, when things went from bad to worse.The outrageous request was made to Pharaoh to let his unpaid work force go on a three day journey into the desert to sacrifice to their Lord. Not surprisingly his response was, “Who is this Lord? Get back to work!” Furthermore, he decided that they must have way too much time on their hands to be thinking of such diversions and so he increased their workload.

Actually everything was going exactly as God had said it would (see Exodus 3:19), although Moses seemed to have forgotten the plot. It should have been obvious that a change as radical as the liberation of an entire nation was not going to happen easily.

How often I “forget the plot” too. It’s easy to listen selectively, focusing on the light, the good news, but not the shadows, the challenges to die to self, the predictions in God’s Word that we can expect tough times. I want to listen to, and understand, the whole counsel of God, so that I can build spiritual muscle and be prepared for times of adversity.

Prayer: Dear Lord, how easy it is to criticize Moses when actually his weaknesses are so often mine. I pray for better listening skills, when listening to fellow humans, and to you. I want to become a stalwart, brave, faithful and seasoned soldier who isn’t surprised to find myself in the midst of a battle.

John 16:33 (New International Version)33"I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world."James 1:4 (New International Version)4Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.
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