Life of Moses
Let My People Go, Diablo!
Intro…Let my people go! What a message! One that is still being proclaimed over 3400 years later! It is still being echoed in prayers and pulpits throughout the world, even as I write. Maybe not in those exact terms, but there are prayer warriors who daily intercede on behalf of God’s oppressed children, be that oppression economic or political; spiritual or physical; mental or emotional; marital, family, children or parents; job or employment-related; obvious injustice, drug-addiction, deception and denial, and a thousand other ways.
Let my people go! Let my people go, Diablo! They have been bought with a heavy price—the precious and powerful blood of God’s eternal lamb, the Son of God. Let my people go!
And yet the war drags on…the war between good and evil…God and Diablo…light and dark…It never ceases…It never goes to sleep…It never rests…Every second of every day in every corner of the planet.
And for whatever reason, God uses his saints to save other saints. He uses intercessions to intercede on behalf of those who need intercession. Perhaps to remind us that we do not fight this fight alone. We need each other. This is not a solo war.
If so…WHO are you fighting for? If people count…if lives matter…if you souls are important…who are you interceding for? Who are you bravely standing up to king of Egypt on behalf of, even if the king refuses to listen to your courageous intercession–Let my people go! Let my friend go! Let my family go! Let God’s saints go! Let my husband, wife, child, parent go! In the name of Jesus, let my loved one go, Diablo?
Series Introduction: You make a mistake…perhaps even a huge mistake; you think your life has changed forever–that there is no going back. In exile, you pasture your flock of sheep in an out-of-the-way desert valley. You see something strange in the distance. It’s a fire with an inextinguishable flame.
As you venture forth for a closer look, you experience something that changes your entire existence—you encounter God!
Out of all the people on the planet, God has chosen YOU to free and lead an exodus of a divinely-emancipated nation of over two million strong through a vast desert wasteland, with little food or water resources, to a land that is flowing with milk and honey and that was once given by God to your ancestors.
Impossible, you say? Ridiculous? Unless the God of Creation is the one doing the calling, as well as, the work of liberating and deliverance. Do you have the crazy faith to be obedient to this divine calling… to trust and to put one foot in front of the other no matter the costs?
I write all this to encourage all of you NOT to minimize what is about to take place in this one of the great stories of human history. It is one of gargantuan proportions. And yet, our faith…your faith, born in heaven itself, is a faith of gargantuan implications. If God could do this with Moses, what might he still have planned for you? For us?
Read the Passage three times…
Exod. 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.'”
What kind of festival? A party? A celebration? Food? Feasting? Drinking? Games? Music? Story-telling? Sacrifices? What did they do? And for how long? Why in the desert? At the mountain of God where the LORD called Moses from the burning bush? Why were festivals so important to cultures and did they follow the seasons of the year or the harvests, with the idea that God or the gods would look upon one’s crops with favor and send the rains at the appropriate times? Thus when the harvests would come in, including the spring harvest of the winter crops, such as wheat and barley, along with the fall harvests of grapes and olives, did the peoples pause to give thanks and celebrate? Why? Because God had been gracious, much as our tradition of Thanksgiving has been observed for hundreds of years.
2 Pharaoh said, “Who is the LORD (Yahweh or I AM),
that I should obey him and let Israel go?
I do not know the LORD
and I will not let Israel go.”
I don’t know who this god Yahweh is…he is not one of the Egyptian Gods. Why should I allow you refugees to worship a god that I know not of? What if you don’t come back and I lose all my workers?
3 Then they said, “The God of the Hebrews has met with us.
Now let us take a three-day journey into the desert
to offer sacrifices to the LORD our God,
or he may strike us with plagues or with the sword.”
The request is calmly restated, as well as elaborated upon, along with a threat of plagues directed at you from the hand of this god, if you don’t allow us to worship him. What kind of plagues? Did Pharaoh laugh at such a threat? Why three days journey? Protection? Privacy? The mountain of God?
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!”
Now we have a labor strike…
5 Then Pharaoh said,
“Look, the people of the land are now numerous,
and you are stopping them from working.”
6 That same day Pharaoh gave this order
to the slave drivers and foremen in charge of the people:
7 “You are no longer to supply the people
with straw for making bricks;
let them go and gather their own straw.
No mercy or negotiation going on here. Instead, Pharaoh’s iron hand has fallen more severely upon the people.
8 But require them
to make the same number of bricks as before;
don’t reduce the quota.
They are lazy;
that is why they are crying out,
`Let us go and sacrifice to our God.’
They don’t really want to worship. Instead this is just an excuse to get out of labor.
9 Make the work harder for the men
so that they keep working
and pay no attention to lies.”
• Moses and Aaron go to Pharaoh and ask him to allow all of Israel to journey into the desert three days in order that they may worship their God Yahweh.
• Pharaoh asks why should he allow Israel to do this since he has no knowledge of their god.
• Again, Moses and Aaron request to be allowed to lead the Hebrews into the desert to make sacrifices to their God, and if they are not allowed to, then their God will strike Egypt with a curse.
• In response, Pharaoh only makes the Hebrew’s labor that much more difficult by refusing them to supply them straw to make their required quota of bricks.
Summary…Pharaoh not only turns down Moses’ request to allow Israel to travel out into the desert to celebrate a festival to its God, Yahweh, but because he views this as an excuse for Israel to escape its slave labor to Egypt, he also makes their labors that much more difficult by refusing to furnish them straw to make their required quota of bricks.
Moses and Aaron before Pharaoh” by François II de Dinteville (1537)
Whys? What do I learn about God? Life? People? Myself?
• God’s messenger must deliver God’s message regardless of the anticipated response…even if the answer is or will be no.
• In this case, the reason for Israel’s momentary liberation is given as a time of communal and sacrificial worship of their God, thus what quite possibly would have been momentary, will now become forever deliverance. But of course, God knows and antcipates Pharaoh’s rejection. But this temporary request does reveal just how hard Pharaoh’s heart was to begin with, although it would be hard to believe that any ruler would have allowed a vassal nation such liberties. Why? Because the premise implies that the stronger nation needs to enslave a nation to prosper, and after all, we can’t just liberate this amount of slave labor, even if for only a week or two of worship. Because man does not see God as his strength, he therefore must take advantage of the weaker in order to provide his greater pleasure and security. Thus God’s request through Moses ultimately exposes or juxtaposes the two differing nations’ different trusts—the weaker trusts in Yahweh, while the stronger does not and thus must enslave the weaker for its support. In other words, Egypt’s worship, and therefore gods, are exposed as being inferior to Israel’s because their worship, out of weakness, demands that it exploits Israel as opposed to empowering the nation given to it as a sacred trust many years earlier. This whole concept of an inferior worship and trust is then only exacerbated when Pharaoh only increases the harshness of Israel’s labors.
So What’s? (Prayerfully connect a specific personal struggle to one of the above truths or principles and be willing to share or confess it with the group.)
This week’s struggle: Just a lot to do, the chief of which is to prepare, then present to the Body the elders ministry/financial goals for the upcoming year. There is also a renewed emphasis of work going on the church this week to finish up left over construction projects, as well as my message, etc. Just feel a little nervous getting it all done, managing it.
Principle/Application: Just because God may have called us to do something doesn’t mean that it will be easy.
Just because he may have called us to build a church facility or to strengthen our ministry via an increase in staff, does not mean it will be easy. But you step up to the plate, honestly present your case and allow the Body to respond how they are going to respond. So far they have always come through very solidly, particularly, in these last seven years. My part is just be obedient. God is responsible for the results.
2014 Update…There is a little to learn from looking back almost 12 years. Things that seemed so important turned out to be not so important and for reasons that you could have never imagined. No doubt, you must play the game in the moment, depending upon God’s leadership to do it, but it’s probably good to have perspective that what we feel is so important in the moment has a way, much like most of the fast-passing scenery viewed from the widow of a moving car, blurrily running together, and what we thought important or critical at the time was really just another test. What kind of test you ask? To learn how to do your homework and then seek the Lord for his guidance and direction. That’s about all you can do. And that’s what it is for Moses and Israel at this very moment within our narrative. Despite our flaws and imperfections, including within our how, can we in the raw moment, dig our fingernails into and grasp with all our soulful might that God wants to deliver us, and most especially, despite flawed man’s attempt to thwart that deliverance? Despite the details, grip! That’s all you have to remember. Grip!
How have my details changed twelve years later? Much in some ways, and in others, the same. Staff decisions have come and gone and come again. What was paid back then, is a bit more volunteer now, and yet no less talented people are being released to use their giftedness and passions for the kingdom of God. Some of the names have changed, but figuring out the ministry has not. Many of my struggles, needs and therefore applications, are still the same, including balancing the demands of the ministry, and yet the subtle nuances that the Spirit is still teaching me seem huge. The formula never changes. Life’s seemingly demanding complexities drive me to the foot of the cross once again seeking his amazing love and deliverance.
What about your students? What are some of their current struggles?
Which principles seem to relate?
How could God prayerfully apply these truths to their lives? (Just try a few in your preparation…then try leading the application in that direction. It may go another direction. Be sensitive to God’s leading among the group.)
Scripture quotations, unless noted otherwise, are taken from the Holy Bible: New International Version‚ NIV‚ Copyright 1973, 1978, 1984, International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers. All rights reserved.