Faith Under Fire

Exodus 5:15-6:1

Often when we make request of God we expect immediate results… and the kind of results we imagine God should give. We have a way in mind that we think God will answer our request. Tend to get discouraged when we pray and nothing happens, when it appears God is not listening or responding to need for help. In a tough situation, ask God to deliver from it, last thing we expect is for life to get dramatically more difficult! Especially when most powerful and effective prayer warrior we know intercedes on our behalf!

When the consequence of interceding, pleading with God for relief, is that life that was difficult becomes unbearable, figure something must be wrong. If can’t identify what might be wrong, begin to doubt. Start asking questions, often of wrong people. Begin to seek help / relief elsewhere. Since we do that, don’t be too hard on Israelites because they did. When your faith is under fire, how do you respond? And how would God have you respond? In text, see an example of both approaches.

One more thing to keep in mind – major problem God’s people experiencing here in Exodus is that of suffering. Great suffering… attempted ethnic cleansing, unjust treatment, for nearly 100 years. Have been conditioned by culture to view suffering as bad thing, to be avoided if at all possible. Too often fail to see how suffering can serve good purpose. At least tempted to question God’s goodness when experience suffering of any kind, look for an immediate fix. Say this right up front: God was not being mean when he added to Israelites’ misery. God could have softened Pharaoh’s heart just as easily as he hardened it. God had good purpose in not doing so, must recognize God works similarly in our own lives.

In text, Israeilte foremen appeal to Pharaoh for relief; when that approach fails, take out their anger on Moses who in turn appeals to God. God then gives Moses assurance he knows what he is doing.

A. appeal to Pharaoh v.15-19

questioning

what are you doing? what are you thinking? what did we do to deserve this? – harsh treatment is not in Pharaoh’s best interests or theirs, will be bad for the economy

you’re expecting too much – they are people, not machines… even machines have their limits… must have certain supplies in order to make quality product

you’re punishing the wrong people – not our fault production is off, not anything we can do to change it… beating us won’t make them work any faster or better

blaming

fault is with Egyptian task masters – either thought taskmasters making up their own rules without Pharaoh’s knowledge or… didn’t dare accuse Pharaoh directly

evidence of fallenness – respond to criticism by looking for someone to blame – started with Adam & Eve, continued with Cain, down through all generations to us

Christians often fall into same trap – I didn’t do it, the devil made me do it, it’s his fault not mine

will see very quickly blame game didn’t stop with task masters – kept looking for someone to pin it on and have it stick

accusations

you’re slackers – see in his response just how weak a leader Pharaoh is… can’t stand up, take ownership of his own edict… “it’s that way because I said so… any questions?”

instead, turns blame back on laborers, accusing them of laziness, slacking off and wanting more liberties like getting a 3-day weekend under guise of religion

looking for excuse to slack off more

by this accusation Pharaoh at same time displaying utter contempt for Hebrew form of worship as well as the God they intended to worship

disappointment

now they’re in trouble – have it from Pharaoh’s mouth what working conditions and productivity expectations will be… if task masters don’t decide to add their own meanness to it

Pharaoh even more hardened in position – not the kind of person to hide true feelings, especially toward those he saw as far beneath him in social standing

obvious from body language just what Pharaoh thought – even more opposed to mercy at end of conference than beginning

B. anger toward Moses v. 20-21

more blame

look at the pickle you got us into – wait a minute, 3 days before were bowing in worship because they believed God would deliver them as Aaron and Moses said

now ready to vent all anger and frustration on Moses and Aaron as ones solely responsible for their current predicament

call for judgment

may God judge you for this – not content to merely cast blame on Moses/Aaron, even express hope Pharaoh deals with them

is actually veiled curse on Moses/Aaron – May God judge you for making us stink in Pharaoh’s opinion… and we hope he judges harshly, you deserve it

self-pity

now they want to kill us… and you gave them weapons – unjustly accusing Moses/Aaron of turning on them, inciting Pharaoh against them to do further harm

confusion

stuck on serving Pharaoh (“your servants” 3x, v.15-16) while expecting God to do their dirty work – looking to Pharaoh for relief, as one who could change circumstances, calling on God to punish Moses/Aaron

by actions, putting Pharaoh before God – three days before thanking and praising God for his promised deliverance, now seeking that deliverance first from Pharaoh

when situation changed in way they didn’t expect, especially negatively, pursued a solution from man instead of God

in case of true injustice, God has established civil authority for our help and protection – but… God expects us to go to Him FIRST, not as an afterthought

C. appeal to God v.22-23

questioning – tone of voice / attitude of heart is everything

about God and them – what is God’s purpose in bringing further hardship on already suffering people… how can that be good

and by the way, you promised / we promised you would deliver your people, not make them more miserable… huh?

about God and him – you sent me to do a job, not looking so good right now… Pharaoh refused me, the people hate me, if that wasn’t your purpose then what is

about God and Pharaoh – seems Pharaoh completely disregarded Yahweh, intent on pursuing his own agenda, doesn’t seem to be anything to hinder him

iow, questioning God’s goodness, purpose and actions – if I were you I wouldn’t have done it this way

need for clarity

what is going on here, help me understand – assuming the best in Moses, seeking help from God so he can be suitable leader

wants some idea of what to tell people, help them understand he’s not a fraud… he did get it straight from God

change of heart

heartbroken for people he wanted nothing to do with at burning bush – taking side of people wanted nothing to do with earlier

if Moses to be effectual leader and shepherd of flock God entrusted to him, could not remain emotionally distant from them, holding at arms length

had to feel their pain, get close enough so he could lead with understanding – had learned a lot from 40 years of tending sheep, still had some more things that needed change

those lessons wouldn’t get learned if everything went according to Moses’ plan, if no real reason to trust in God for anything

D. response from God v.1

just watch

I know what’s going on – “now” assures Moses God has been attentive, for reasons known to God this now is proper time for him to commence next phase of his plan

I’m not surprised – not only attentive, things are going exactly as God knew they would, as he had ordained… and told Moses they would: Ex. 3:19 “But I am sure that the king of Egypt will not let you go, no, not even by a mighty hand.”

Pharaoh’s time will come

God will do all necessary to accomplish His purpose in His way in His time – “you will see what I will do” – Moses, you will see God do as he had promised, as he intended to do all along

Pharaoh will not just release God’s people, he will drive them out – God still working on changing Moses’ heart, same is true of Pharaoh… hardening it until Pharaoh wants nothing more to do with Hebrews

no explanation / answer to questions

in God’s view, Moses didn’t need explanation – God never tells Moses… or us why events occurred as they did, just that was necessary part of his plan both for them… and as example for us

like Hebrew children, Moses needed to learn some things – had gotten lots of leadership training in previous 80 years but still needed further development

implied: “trust Me

if Moses to be effective when time to leave, needed to have a lot more trust in God – does trust God some, needs more personal experience to hone his trust even more

also needed to be equipped to help people gain trust in God – trusting God had to be more than bare principle taught from textbook… needed confidence rooted in personal practice

As culture grows more hostile toward God and godliness, our faith will come under fire. How will we respond? Retreat from the world not an option. When we think have clear direction from God and his Word the Bible on what comes next and goes totally sideways, our faith will come under fire. When rights are being trampled… When the boss won’t ease up on demands… Where do we turn first?

God expects and rewards faithfulness, not success. God expects and rewards obedience, not results. When faith is under fire, only one sure refuge: the Lord Jesus. Make sure he is one you turn to first, one you rely on for answers, for strength, for direction.

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