Moses and Aaron told the people of Israel all that God had said to Moses during his burning bush encounter. They performed the signs God gave them and Israel believed and worshipped God for remembering His people. Thus ended chapter four—a good, positive ending. One that would make a person believe that Moses’ mission was already a success. However, there was rocky water ahead.
Pharaoh did not take kindly to the message Moses and Aaron had for him. He was not ready or willing to let his free labor march off into the wilderness, never to be seen again. So he decides to make the Israelites’ burden heavy and give them harder work that “they may labor at it and pay no regard to lying words.” (Exodus 5:9b) Did his plan work? Unfortunately, yes. Here’s what happened to the Israelites’ heart towards Moses and God.
“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.’”
How quickly the Israelites allowed an ungodly ruler reshape their view of God and His good will towards them! At the first moment of hardship, they were ready to blame God and His messengers. It didn’t matter that Moses and Aaron had performed mighty signs in their presence or that God said He would deliver them and they had believed a few days ago. What was foremost in their mind was this new hardship. The moment things got worse they blamed Moses and Aaron—their advocates and leaders.
But how often do we do the same? How often do we forget all the Lord’s promises to us when we face trials? How quickly do we blame God and those in godly leadership when things get worse before they get better?
Israel wanted a quick fix to their slavery. They were happy that God heard them, and thought they would be redeemed right away, no more suffering. However, God had other plans. He was going to deliver His people, but He wanted to do it in such a way that it would declare His glory and greatness for generations to come and be a beacon to the world of His power and majesty. The stage had to be set. In order for His power to be displayed through the ten plagues, Israel needed to suffer a little longer. In fact, their plight needed to go from bad to worse. But God was still in control. He was working even though it didn’t feel like it to the Hebrews.
This is something we must remember in our own lives. Sometimes situations or circumstances must get worse in order that God’s power may be greater magnified. Sometimes, God lets us go through hard things in order to perfect us and make us more like Him. No matter the situation, God is working even if we can’t see it. He’s working even when things go from bad to worse. He’s working even if our burdens are getting heavy and our suffering more acute. God is in control and knows our suffering and will not forget us.
Therefore, let us stop and take a moment to learn from the Israelites. To remember that no matter how tough life gets or how painful the struggle, God is working out a marvelous story. So let’s trust Him. Let’s not be quick to blame God or reject Him because our lives are not getting any better. But rather, let’s patiently wait for what God has in store, because it’s going to be glorious.
Your turn: have you had moments where you felt like the Israelites? Did you feel life just kept going from bad to worse? What did you do? How did you trust God? What’s your story?
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