The recent tsunami (26 Dec 2004) struck on a lovely warm day, and it caused a death toll that shocked the world. Of course, everyone blamed God. No-one blamed the experts who saw it coming and could have warned the people! Many tragedies have similar stories – human beings cause a problem, but God gets the blame!
Or, other people are blamed. I once sent an old person to hospital as an emergency. It was our custom to check the person’s whole body before letting them go to hospital. The reason was simple – hospitals are not the best of places to go and still come out in one piece! They usually returned with at least MRSA and usually a few nasty bed sores. Bed sores are very easy to get, but take many months to get rid of.
Fortunately I had done this myself and wrote it all down on our forms. Also fortunately, someone assisted me and was able to sign the form as a witness. Later that evening my superior received a telephone call from a very irate emergency department doctor, complaining about the state in which we had sent the person into hospital. He said that the woman had bad pressure sores over both legs and hips! We were, of course, blamed.
I was furious that such a charge had been laid and showed my forms to my superior. Anyway, it turned out that the poor woman had been fixed onto the ambulance stretcher with fabric restraints, and laid in one position for about an hour on the way to hospital. Then, in hospital, she remained in the same position held by the restraints, for a further several hours until seen by the doctor!
Before we discovered this I went onto the internet to ask highly experienced experts about the case, and was told that pressure sores can arise and erupt within an hour or two, in frail people. And this is what had happened. By the time the lady returned we had months and months of treatment to give for severe pressure sores. Obviously, though nursing inspectors had to investigate, we were exonerated. But, you can see how human beings try to evade blame by pointing at someone else. In this chapter the Hebrews blamed not just Moses and Aaron, but God Himself.
Today, men live in a world made ugly by their own efforts, but they blame God for the suffering this causes! Even AIDS is blamed on God!! Suffering, whether individual or universal, is caused by human sin that effects us all, even if we do nothing to bring it about.
“And afterward Moses and Aaron went in, and told Pharaoh, Thus saith the LORD God of Israel, Let my people go, that they may hold a feast unto me in the wilderness.
And Pharaoh said, Who is the LORD, that I should obey his voice to let Israel go? I know not the LORD, neither will I let Israel go.
And they said, The God of the Hebrews hath met with us: let us go, we pray thee, three days' journey into the desert, and sacrifice unto the LORD our God; lest he fall upon us with pestilence, or with the sword.”
Having consulted with the Hebrew elders, Moses and Aaron visited Pharaoh and told them that God demanded he should send the Hebrews into the wilderness to worship and hold a religious feast. We can imagine Pharaoh’s face and response! He probably looked around at his courtiers and laughed scornfully.
He replied, “Who is the LORD?” Why should he obey a God he did not know? No, he said, I will not let the Hebrews go. They explained that God had met them and gave them His instructions. Pharaoh must let them go for a three-day journey, so that they could sacrifice, or He might “fall upon us with pestilence, or with the sword.”
As I write this study the awful blackness of total homosexual control over all people is waiting to cover Christians. Through indolence and a refusal to face the threat when it first arose, men and women with inordinate and demonic desires are about to crush freedom to speak as God demands… demands few Christians have bothered to deal with. Thus we are just as much slaves to homosexuals as were the Hebrews to Pharaoh. But, it is time for us to strike out and be released.
A very few are making demands for freedom and, thus far, our masters have refused to listen. If we do not continue to press for this freedom, we will be crushed by pestilence or the sword. This is a very real comparison. Whilst many are watching the Muslim front, the more pressing enemy is already through our back door talking the spoil! When will Christians wake up? Will YOU tell all you know to gird their loins and enter the fray?
Verses 4 - 9
“And the king of Egypt said unto them, Wherefore do ye, Moses and Aaron, let the people from their works? get you unto your burdens.
And Pharaoh said, Behold, the people of the land now are many, and ye make them rest from their burdens.
And Pharaoh commanded the same day the taskmasters of the people, and their officers, saying,
Ye shall no more give the people straw to make brick, as heretofore: let them go and gather straw for themselves.
And the tale of the bricks, which they did make heretofore, ye shall lay upon them; ye shall not diminish ought thereof: for they be idle; therefore they cry, saying, Let us go and sacrifice to our God.
Let there more work be laid upon the men, that they may labour therein; and let them not regard vain words.”
Pharaoh, just like our modern masters, was dismissive and clearly unmoved by God’s demands. He told Moses and Aaron, ‘How dare you stop the people from working? Get out and back to your work!’ From this we can see Pharaoh thought Moses was just one of the slaves.
‘There are thousands of Hebrews, all working for Egypt. And you want to give them rest from this work!’ As an illustration of his contempt, Pharaoh sent out a command to all his taskmasters and his ‘officers’. You may know from history that in Nazi death camps, the Jewish inmates were supervised by fellow Jews. The same occurred here, in Egypt. The ‘officers’ were mainly Hebrews, who had immediate oversight of the slaves.
The new command from Pharaoh was to greatly increase their already intolerable burden. Before that day, the taskmasters brought straw to them, so that they could use it to make bricks. Now, the straw would not be given to them and they had to try and find it themselves. But, they must still make as many bricks as before, in the same time! They “shall not diminish ought thereof.” With grim humour, Pharaoh said the Hebrews were idle, because they wanted to worship God! Therefore, he said, give them even more work, so that they will not heed the words of Moses and Aaron.
Pharaoh regarded the words of these men as “vain”, sheqer: a deception, false, without substance. That is how all godless men regard God and His word. God has already sent a plague upon homosexuals, one that is increasing in severity. Yet, these godless people continue in their evils and in crushing Christian freedoms. They laugh at God and His word, claiming our warnings and opposition are in vain.
But, God is the Master, not men demonised into acting out disgusting sexual activities. He will bring further death and destruction upon homosexuals, even before they reach the Day of Judgment, when they will discover that their evil ways will be finally rewarded by eternal damnation… whether or not they believe it will happen.
Verses 10 - 14
“And the taskmasters of the people went out, and their officers, and they spake to the people, saying, Thus saith Pharaoh, I will not give you straw.
Go ye, get you straw where ye can find it: yet not ought of your work shall be diminished.
So the people were scattered abroad throughout all the land of Egypt to gather stubble instead of straw.
And the taskmasters hasted them, saying, Fulfill your works, your daily tasks, as when there was straw.
And the officers of the children of Israel, which Pharaoh's taskmasters had set over them, were beaten, and demanded, Wherefore have ye not fulfilled your task in making brick both yesterday and to day, as heretofore?”
The taskmasters and their officers then gave the bad news to the Hebrews. They told them that Pharaoh would no longer provide straw, but that the Hebrews must go in search of it themselves. This would be in the same allotted time, and their production figures must remain the same. They were already stretched to their limits, so the new edict could never be met. But they attempted to comply under the whips of their masters.
Straw had already been cut and stored. So, all the Hebrews had left was the stubble in the fields. This meant that they had to gather far more quantities of stubble, because it was very short. As they searched the fields and tried to rush back to make bricks, the taskmasters kept pushing them to hurry.
Now, the officers of the taskmasters, who were Hebrews, were themselves beaten, as production naturally fell. The slaves simply could not keep up and continue making bricks at the same volume. Despite doing their job of urging them on, the officers could not make an impossible task possible! But, the taskmasters had them beaten anyway, demanding to know why the same amount of bricks were not being made. This was as intolerable as the human condition can get.
Christians are sometimes put under pressure by God, in the form of a trial. The purpose is to test our spiritual resolve and faith, and to eventually make us stronger as Believers. Some experience extreme trials and are pushed to the very limits of their endurance. But, God says that He will never push us beyond those limits. So, at the very point of our limits, He will come and refresh us, bringing an end to the trial, though the end may seem never to come. What we have to do is keep going, faithful.
Verses 15 – 18
“Then the officers of the children of Israel came and cried unto Pharaoh, saying, Wherefore dealest thou thus with thy servants?
There is no straw given unto thy servants, and they say to us, Make brick: and, behold, thy servants are beaten; but the fault is in thine own people.
But he said, Ye are idle, ye are idle: therefore ye say, Let us go and do sacrifice to the LORD.
Go therefore now, and work; for there shall no straw be given you, yet shall ye deliver the tale of bricks.”
The officers had to visit Pharaoh with a complaint. ‘Why are you doing this to your slaves? They have no straw, but the taskmasters still insist that the Hebrews make bricks! And when they can’t, they are beaten… but it isn’t their fault; the fault is in your own people.’
This did not go down well with Pharaoh, who taunted them: ‘You are lazy, you are lazy! That’s why you want to go off to sacrifice to your God. So, get back to work. You will get no straw – but you must still produce the bricks.’ (Note: the word ‘tale’ is token, meaning a measured amount).
Have you ever reached the point of your own endurance and thought the trail you are in is about to end? Then, it simply starts up all over again and the dismay is profound? The Lord takes Christians through trials, which seem hard enough, but it also seems true to me that the Lord sometimes extends the trial, increasing the suffering, but also increasing our threshold of endurance, so that we can put up with far more.
I do not believe this is for our punishment, but for our extra favour (because a trial is for our benefit). If we are faithful, the trials will be greater, and this is then a sign of His love, not His anger. As servants we are never perfect, and are always prone to sin. But, faithfulness is far more than that. It is to do with our heart’s desire, not the number of times we sin, or don’t sin. Every true Christian’s desire is to serve the Lord in truth and love. We will always fail along the way, but the Lord knows that and repentance is the key. Even when we sin (I’m talking about ‘everyday’), our faithfulness can still remain the same.
Verses 19 – 23
”And the officers of the children of Israel did see that they were in evil case, after it was said, Ye shall not minish ought from your bricks of your daily task.
And they met Moses and Aaron, who stood in the way, as they came forth from Pharaoh:
And they said unto them, The LORD look upon you, and judge; because ye have made our savour to be abhorred in the eyes of Pharaoh, and in the eyes of his servants, to put a sword in their hand to slay us.
And Moses returned unto the LORD, and said, Lord, wherefore hast thou so evil entreated this people? why is it that thou hast sent me?
For since I came to Pharaoh to speak in thy name, he hath done evil to this people; neither hast thou delivered thy people at all.”
When Pharaoh told them that the number of bricks will not be diminished (‘minished’, gara’) they knew they and their people were in serious trouble: “they were in evil case”, ra’: worse off than before, suffering evil deeds resulting from malignant reasons.
On the way out, the officers met Moses and Aaron nearby. As far as they were concerned, this was all their fault. This is a natural but wrong way of thinking. The Hebrews were dying and being killed every day. They were already slaves under a vicious regime. Pharaoh’s newest commands did not, really, make that much difference to their suffering. It was just ‘more of the same’. Yet, when God’s word comes, and causes a change, men always blame God!
They looked at them and said ‘God will judge you! You have now made us to be despised in Pharaoh’s eyes and in the eyes of our brethren, whose lives are in danger from the sword.’ There is a sense of quiet irony here. Before this they died as a result of whipping, beating, and sheer hard labour. What difference does it make if a sword is now added to the methods of killing? It is true that in volume and type, the suffering had now increased, but when people are enslaved and already dying, what is the actual difference?
It is an observable fact that people enslaved come to regard their captors with some sense of loyalty, and may even come to love them. It is how the mind copes with severe problems. But it is a deception. Today, the world is standing alongside those who would kill them - homosexuals and their vile diseases – and whose godlessness has already destroyed them in history. Christians must never do this. We must stand firm against evil, even if the suffering it causes gets worse. It is a matter of honour and truth.
Even so, Moses was in anguish. He prayed to God and asked Him why He had allowed this further evil to arise, and why He had sent Moses in the first place. Was it to make matters worse? He said, ‘Since I saw Pharaoh to give him your demands, he has increased the suffering of the Hebrews, and yet you have not delivered them.’
Moses, then, was challenging God, because his time-scale and reasoning were human, not of God. Trials do not come to an end when we want them to, but when God knows the trials have wrought their desired effects. There is no point in running a race and sitting down a few inches away from the winning post! We must cross the line and win, or all the training and effort will have been lost, as if we had not suffered at all. Hard though it is, we must stay the course.
© October 2006