In today’s passage, Exodus 5:10-23, God’s promised deliverance of the people Israel from slavery has gotten off to a rocky start. Not only has Pharaoh rejected Moses’ demand to free God’s people, a command Moses delivered in obedience to God, but Pharaoh has also made the people’s condition worse by requiring more labor from them. The people must now make bricks as well as gather straw, a primary ingredient in the bricks.
The people cry out to Moses, enraged that his interference has worsened their plight. Moses in turn cries out to God asking, What kind of deliverance is this exactly, Lord? Moses had been resistant to the call of God to return to Egypt as God’s agent of deliverance. Now, his fears and insecurities seem to be confirmed as his attempts at obedience are met, not with consequences against his personhood but against the people he has come to deliver.
While God has made his intentions clear (deliverance!), God has not made the method clear. Where perhaps Moses and the Israelites expected to see broken chains and packed bags at their feet, they instead see the enraged, taunting faces of their taskmasters, asking more of them than ever before.
Was God’s word not to be trusted? Or is Pharaoh and his arsenal of gods too powerful for the God of this enslaved people? Is God’s arm too short too save? We have the advantage of seeing the outcome of the extended battle between the God of Israel and Pharaoh, but the Israelites did not. For them, the future is altogether unclear and God’s character has yet to be proved true.
It is uncomfortable to live in the tension of unresolved pain and suffering, particularly when a favorable outcome is not altogether assured from our point of view. What might faithful patience look like in such seasons?
The Israelites, and even Moses, brought their frustration and confusion to the Lord, and not quietly. How might their unvarnished honesty be a guide as to how we might approach the Lord in prayer and lament?
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Grace and Peace