Life of Moses
Seeing the Momentary Inch Versus the Divine Yardstick!
Intro…Often times when we try to do something right, it is not as quickly rewarded as we might have hoped, especially when we have been doing a lot of bad things. It’s as if, we hoped that just because we decided to go straight in the moment, that God would stand up and applaud after years and years of sin and Spiritual neglect. I am not saying that God or heaven doesn’t applaud a genuine turning back to God and the truth, but, as I have stated previously, it seems that heaven has built in a delay between deed and consequence, both good and bad, and the reason for this might just be to flush out how genuine our repentance truly is. Is it for a moment or is it genuine, sustainable and lasting?
In this case, Moses and Aaron will do what God tells them to do, but in life’s momentary inch, it will appear things are going backward in God’s deliverance of Israel. Pharaoh refuses Israel’s appeal for either more straw or less bricks to make, with the result being that the Israelite foremen turning upon the effective cause of Pharaoh’s harsh response, Aaron and Moses and their request to Pharaoh to allow the Children of Israel to go out into the desert to enjoy a festival with their God, Yahweh.
With all this in mind, have you ever had an experience in which your attempt to do what was right or good seemed to initially backfire? Be willing to share this with your classmates? Why did it backfire, do you think? Did things ever turn back around? Or did you give up on attempting to do good?
A major, major life lesson is to learn to sustainably remain committed to doing the good versus succumbing to Evil’s pleasure and ridicule.
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…
10 Then the slave drivers and the foremen went out and said to the people, “This is what Pharaoh says: `I will not give you any more straw.
Now I am sure that was received with great joy!
11 Go and get your own straw wherever you can find it, but your work will not be reduced at all.'”
Instead of rejoicing over Moses and Aaron’s prophetic message of divine deliverance, the Israelites will be forced to choose between their faith in what God is about to do or minimizing their losses.
12 So the people scattered all over Egypt to gather stubble to use for straw.
13 The slave drivers kept pressing them, saying, “Complete the work required of you for each day, just as when you had straw.”
These are hard days…
14 The Israelite foremen appointed by Pharaoh’s slave drivers were beaten and were asked, “Why didn’t you meet your quota of bricks yesterday or today, as before?”
What does Pharaoh think is going to happen? Is this a move to discredit Moses and Aaron?
15 Then the Israelite foremen went and appealed to Pharaoh: “Why have you treated your servants this way?
16 Your servants are given no straw, yet we are told, `Make bricks!’ Your servants are being beaten, but the fault is with your own people.”
17 Pharaoh said, “Lazy, that’s what you are –lazy! That is why you keep saying, `Let us go and sacrifice to the LORD.’
18 Now get to work. You will not be given any straw, yet you must produce your full quota of bricks.”
So, on royal reprieve. Beware, Pharaoh, of pushing things too far.
19 The Israelite foremen realized they were in trouble when they were told, “You are not to reduce the number of bricks required of you for each day.”
20 When they left Pharaoh, they found Moses and Aaron waiting to meet them,
21 and they said, “May the LORD look upon you and judge you! You have made us a stench to Pharaoh and his officials and have put a sword in their hand to kill us.”
Was this Pharaoh’s objective? Regardless, it is the result.
• The Israelites are told that they must keep up their daily quota of brick making despite not being the necessary straw to give substance to or hold the wet mud required to make the bricks.
• So the people, being both perhaps frightened and resourceful, scatter out to scrounge for more straw to make their quota of bricks with.
• When the people fail to meet their daily brick making quotas, they appeal to Pharaoh for relief, but instead Pharaoh describes their wanting to go into the desert to worship their God as laziness and refuses their appeal for relief.
• Having received no relief from their harsh taskmaster, Pharaoh, the Israelite foreman now turn on the only logical source of their frustration, Moses and Aaron.
Summary…Perhaps and shrewdly, Pharaoh’s unmerciful response to the Israelites request to go out in the desert to offer sacrifices to their God, Yahweh, now causes the once receptive Israelites to turn on God’s messengers for having been the effective cause of Pharaoh’s harsh treatment of them.
Summary…At the moment, Israel’s plan to celebrate at feast in the desert to their God has seemed to backfire.
Bottom Line…The Children of Israel’s desire to worship God has precipitated not only persecution, but seemingly, in the moment, a step backwards in God’s plan for their deliverance.
Whys? What do I learn about God? Life? People? Myself?
• We are so naïve, at least I am. I think one thing, or this is all that is involved in fixing a problem, but like an unforeseen money pit, one problem typically exposes many more underlying, but neglected flaws. It should be simple, right? God is on my side. Tell Pharaoh to let God’s people go out into the desert to worship, and of course Pharaoh says yes, and the world is wonderful. God exists. All is right with the world. God called me to worship. I worship, and therefore God is real, and my worship was rewarded or not in vain, not in question. But that’s not what happens at all. God calls me to do a task, and I do it—tell Pharaoh what God has told me to tell him—and then matters only become worse, not better. So is God still God? Does he really exist? Did he really talk to me? Was what I experienced in the desert real? If not, then why am I experiencing obstacles to his expressed will? Why is Pharaoh NOT cooperating? Doesn’t Pharaoh realize who he is dealing with? Does Pharaoh NOT realize the consequences of fighting God? Or why doesn’t God change Pharaoh’s heart? Why the obstacles? Fair question, but the answer is, our viewpoint is so limited. We see only the NOW…the brief. We see about an inch ahead of us on God or life’s ruler, when the ruler is much much longer, bigger and grander, perhaps NOT even twelve inches or a yard stick of life, but hundreds or billions of yardsticks. Bottom line, we cannot measure God only in the brief limited moment. While normal and human, it is utterly, from a longer-term Spiritual viewpoint… insane. And thus, the necessity of faith or trust in God’s decrees for the long term. Trust to last through not only the next inch or yard of life, but in the case of the Children of Israel and dating all the way back to their father Abraham, seven hundred years previous, thousands of yardsticks, looking both backward and forward…no doubt a tough thing to do…to, by faith, pull back and view yardsticks of life versus the inch or two that I am currently staring down–in this case, Pharaoh’s refusal to supply the Children of Israel straw to make bricks and yet require the same amount of bricks to be made as before when they were supplied straw for brick making. Fortunately, in this case, it will NOT be long, or in just a few, short divine inches, before Israel will see both the glory of God, as well as, his deliverance.
• As Pharaoh clearly demonstrates, some people are just jerks. Some people, for whatever reason are just hard and unmerciful.
• Man’s temptation to control perceived disorder…in this case…Israel’s request to take some time off from brick making to worship God as opposed to making more bricks…is to control more. By god, I will show you who is in charge because, to you, I am god. I will show you to challenge my will and authority.
• Man is so insecure. So frightened. So godless. All this seems so paradoxical. One approach to life is look inside insecure, threatened self for your own flawed godness, salvation and deliverance, and the other is, by faith, to seek or trust a divine, higher creative, original designing, and ever-present, loving and just power…God…to save me. Well, we all know how this story turns out. The man and kingdom which depends upon its own self or man-made gods is utterly wiped out, while the people, leadership and nation that thrusts itself on the mercy of God is born.
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.)
Thanksgiving…Much to be thankful for. Cards playing for the National League Championship…again…for the fourth time in four years. Rain is coming. Thanks, God. The fall rains have been gradually making their return, after a dry late summer and early fall. The weather is nice, although the storms are coming, and I have gotten do to some serendipitous, but provocative and powerful counseling this past week that involves drug abuse, boundaries, love and prodigals. It doesn’t get any better than this. Trial by fire. Life lived in the moment. Dependence upon God on what to do in the very next second, which makes for a very exhilarating and electric experience or dependence upon God in what to do next. Thank you, thank you, thank you, God.
Struggle…Trust…trust for finances, trust that as I am out there on the front lines dealing with sin…and seeking and obedience…God will take care of my rear…my supply lines. I am taking the fight to the enemy, will God protect my rear? Will he keep me supplied? It is a walk of faith. And if not, I choose no other battle, no other war, no other fight. My fight is against evil, do or die, sink or swim. There is no other life, no other calling, no other purpose. I will fight until I die. God, protect those I love and those around me that trust and follow my leadership. Honor their courage, their obedience, their faith, not in me, but in you. Make them strong, true and steady warriors in YOUR fight against evil. Amen.
Truth…that just because God calls you to do something big or small, heroic or not, requiring sacrifice or not, does not mean, that in the immediate future, or the next inch of life, that all will go positive. And that is okay. I can struggle. I can accept Pharaoh’s not only rejection, but his hardening and persecution. I don’t expect good to immediately come from good or confronting evil. The battle is not just about the now, but the long term. Obedience, confidence, hope, faith, love, joy, perseverance in the now… until my role is complete within this divine drama or the good is sustainably achieved.
Application…Fight on. Fight on. If God chooses to protect my supplies line, so be it, and if not, for his glory, so be it. I will fight on. Hopefully, unlike Patton, who often was fully willing to advance so far and so fast that he risked his supply lines being cut, or as Sherman who lived off the land in his total war approach to war and his March to the Sea during the Civil War, I will NOT outrun my divinely-inspired supply lines, but I will fight. I must fight. God, supply your servant, as he wages war in your honor and for your glory.
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.