Moses' Ministry Begins
Tim Temple

Introduction

Our text is Exodus, chapter 5, beginning with verse 1:

Exodus 5:

1 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.
2 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.
3 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.
4 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.
5 And Pharaoh said, Behold, the people of the land now are many, and ye make them rest from their burdens.
6 And Pharaoh commanded the same day the taskmasters of the people, and their officers, saying,
7 Ye shall no more give the people straw to make brick, as heretofore: let them go and gather straw for themselves.
8 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.
9 Let there more work be laid upon the men, that they may labour therein; and let them not regard vain words.
10 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.
11 Go ye, get you straw where ye can find it: yet not ought of your work shall be diminished.
12 So the people were scattered abroad throughout all the land of Egypt to gather stubble instead of straw.
13 And the taskmasters hasted them, saying, Fulfil your works, your daily tasks, as when there was straw.
14 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?

We have been looking at God's preparation of Moses and Moses' call to the ministry. In our last lessons, we saw Moses' call to the ministry and his ordination credentials and the unique way in which God went about in providing those things for him. In this chapter before us, we want to see Moses actually beginning his ministry. The beginning of his ministry has been a long time in coming. Moses had been prepared by God from his very birth for the mission that God had in mind for him of leading the people out of their bondage and out of their slavery in Egypt.

God then brought Moses along through the training of the Pharaoh and caused him to be an eloquent man, gifted in word and deed. He was learned and a very qualified man. Moses went out with all of those qualifications in mind and committed a complete and total flop in the original beginning of his ministry, but that was because he was starting in his own strength. He was not following God's timetable; he was following his own plan. So God took him back to the desert and continued with his training program.

Finally, after the training program was complete, God brought him out to begin the ministry in His own way. It is going to be interesting to notice that Moses is still learning even as he begins his ministry. I want us to notice also that the beginning of Moses' ministry is not a particularly enviable beginning. It is interesting and important for us to recognize the way that God actually operates in many of these cases that we tend to overlook.

As we think about the beginning of Moses' ministry, we have two things to think about. First, there is the presentation that Moses and Aaron made before Pharaoh, in verses 1-4. Second, there is the persecution that was commanded by Pharaoh as a result of that in verses 5-14.

Moses' and Aaron's Request

Notice with me in verses 1-4 the presentation before Pharaoh. We notice

that in verse 1, we have Moses and Aaron making a request before Pharaoh:

Exodus 5:

1 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.

Actually, this is not so much a request as it is a statement. It is a demand presented by God's spokesman, but it is stated in a formal, court-type presentation. It really shows God's power that Moses and Aaron got a hearing because they had no status before the court. They were representatives of a slave people. They were representatives of a God whom Pharaoh did not recognize, and so God's power is demonstrated that they were even able to come and make this statement before Pharaoh.

Notice in verse 1, the phrasing here and the way that God had them word this request: “…Let my people go, that they may hold a feast unto Me in the wilderness.” “Let them go that they may worship Me,” because in the days of Pharaoh, in the days of the Old Testament, a feast was a visible form of worship. What God is saying to Pharaoh is, “Let My people go so that they can worship Me.”

We have pointed out before, as we have been looking at the life of Moses presented in the Old Testament book of Exodus, that the life of Moses and actually all of the truth of the Old Testament is very picturesque of things that are true of the Christian life. Things that are revealed to us specifically in the New Testament are many times pictured for us in the Old Testament, and here in the very beginning of this presentation by Moses to Pharaoh is a picture of something that is a very basic part of the Christian life.

They are saying, “Let the people go that they may worship God.” One of the basic underlying truths of the New Testament, and really of the Old Testament too, although presented in the Old Testament in a picture form, is that we have been released from slavery to sin, just as God is going to release the Israelites from their slavery. We have been released from slavery and bondage to sin and to Satan, but we haven't been released to just wander around and do whatever we want to do. Rather, in I Thessalonians, chapter 1, verse 9, Paul wrote that the Thessalonians were effective men and women of God because they turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God and to wait for His Son from Heaven.

You know, the tragic thing about the Christian life of many individuals is that they are released from sin by faith in Jesus Christ. They accept Christ as Savior. They have their salvation secured. They are released from the bondage to sin and from the fruitlessness of their lives previously, but for whatever reason—and the reasons are many—they don't turn to serving God and to worshiping the Lord. They wander around and after awhile, their lives begin to be frustrating and their Christian experience isn't what they thought it would be. They look at other believers and they see others going on with the Lord and seeming to be fulfilled and enjoying it, and they wonder what the problem is.

If you find yourself in that category, and if all of these things that we talk about in our worship services seem to be just sort of empty and you wonder if some of us really mean that, you wonder why it is not as exciting to you as it seems to be to other people, may I suggest that one thing you might check out in your life is this: Perhaps you have been set free from slavery, but you haven't really turned to serving the Lord. You haven't really turned to walking with the Lord.

The Thessalonians were effective men and women of God. The Israelites eventually became effective men and women of God because they were released from slavery and they turned to worshiping the Lord. The Israelites are also going to present us a very good picture of this very same principle because it did take them a long time to learn this principle, and we are going to see, as we go along, the frustration and the failure that comes in a life that is not turned over to the Lord.

Think with me carefully. I am saying that to enjoy all that God has for you as a believer, to enjoy all that God has for you as one of His children, you must give your life to Him completely. Turn to God from idols to serve the living and true God and to wait for His Son from Heaven. “Let My people go that they may worship Me,” was the message that God gave to Pharaoh through Moses.

Response to the Request

The response to that request is in verse 2. Notice:

Exodus 5:

2 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.

Notice in verse 2 that the word LORD there is spelled with all capital letters. One of the good features of the King James version of the Bible is that there are some helpful indications in our English text as to what the wording of the original text was. When you find in your King James text the word LORD spelled in all capital letters, you will know that that is a translation of the Hebrew word Yahweh or, as we pronounce it more traditionally, Jehovah . It is the summary name of God. It was the name by which the God of Israel was known to those who did not necessarily accept Him. That was why Pharaoh would use this name. It was a very holy and precious name to the Jews, but it was a common denominator for God to other nations. So Pharaoh is speaking very literally. “Who is Jehovah? Who is this God that you talk about? I don't know your God. I know not Jehovah; neither will I let the people go.”

In saying, “Who is Jehovah?” in a very sarcastic way, Pharaoh is really expressing his own condition. He is ignorant of God and therefore he is totally disobedient to God. He has no loyalty and no honor for God. It is an interesting thing to notice, however, that as Pharaoh said, “I know not the Lord,” he is also expressing his own ignorance of his own condition. Turn over to Exodus, chapter 9, and notice verse 16. God is speaking to Pharaoh through Moses, and He says:

Exodus 9:

16 And in very deed for this cause have I raised thee up, for to shew in thee my power; and that my name may be declared throughout all the earth.
17 As yet exaltest thou thyself against my people, that thou wilt not let them go?

Do you see what God is saying? God is saying, “Pharaoh, you would not have any of the things that you have, you would not be in the position you are if I had not raised you up. Pharaoh, you would have been just another little Egyptian boy. You might not even be on the scene, Pharaoh, if I had not given you what you have.”

This is a very important thing to keep in mind, not only for Pharaoh, but for all of us. Pharaoh was so proud; He was so powerful. He had things all completely planned. It was his decision, he thought, whether to let the people go or not. God said, “Pharaoh, the only reason you are where you are is that I put you there. The only reason that I have put you there is to accomplish My purposes, and if My purposes were not accomplished, I would have no need of you, and I would not have put you where you are.”

What an ironic thing and what a silly thing that Pharaoh thought that he was in control. He thought that he was important enough and big enough to resist God, even though God was the one who put him there. It may seem simplistic, but the same thing is true of your life and of my life. God knew that this very problem was characteristic of human beings because He said to the Israelites, “When you go into that land and when you eat of crops that you did not plant and when you drink at wells that you did not dig and when you enjoy prosperity that has come to you from Me alone, be very careful that you remember that you did not provide these things; I provided them.”

How true is that of you and me? How often do we say, “God, get out of my life. It is my life and I will do what I want to do with my life. You have no claims upon me.” Do you realize that God could say to you just as realistically as He said to Pharaoh, “I put you where you are. For My purposes, you have been raised up.”

Perhaps you have a place of importance in your school or in your business or your community and you are thinking, even though you might not ever say so publicly, “I have designs and I have priorities that God has no right to interfere with.” You are thinking like Pharaoh. You are thinking like the Israelites, and God knows that is a characteristic of the human race. In the New Testament we have read, as we mentioned so many times, God has written these things so that we may learn them by example, that we not have to learn them by experience.

Could God be speaking to you, saying, “You are a Pharaoh type. You are an Israelite type. For this cause, I have raised you to power. For this cause, I have put you where you are, only to accomplish My purposes.” Pharaoh was not only ignorant of the Lord, but he was ignorant of himself also.

This response that Pharaoh gives, as we go back to Exodus, chapter 5, is a good demonstration of the cruelty of this Pharaoh to whom Moses and the Israelites are going to have to deal. It may be, to look at it from the human standpoint, that Pharaoh might have thought that the God of the Israelites was not very powerful because, after all, they were in bondage and they had been for four hundred years. Surely if their God was very powerful, He would never have let this happen to them. He may have thought that this was just a silly request from a silly bunch of folks and that he didn't have to accede to it.

However, on the other hand, Pharaoh was a believer in many gods, and God has brought this situation to bear to demonstrate to Moses and the Israelites and to us that Pharaoh was completely unreasonable because surely a believer in many gods, as Pharaoh was, could have very easily let these people, whose worship to him was just another of many gods, have a little bit of time to worship their God, even if he didn't believe in the validity of that God. But he was so cruel and so unthinking and so uncompassionate that he wasn't even willing to let them go and worship a God that evidently was important to them. This is the same thing that is true of any rejecter of the Lord Jesus Christ: “Who is the Lord that I should obey Him? I know not the Lord, and I will not accede to His demands.”

God Clarifies the Request

The request is clarified in verse 3, if you will notice:

Exodus 5:

3 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.

This verse shows God's graciousness. It was as if Pharaoh didn't really understand their request, and so God, in His grace, causes Moses to clarify the request, to state it over again, just as if Pharaoh were too busy to understand or too thick to understand. God takes the trouble to clarify the request. Notice the specific wording of verse 3:

Exodus 5:

3 And they said, The God of the Hebrews hath met with us…

Pharaoh said, “I know not the Lord. Who is the Lord? I don't know Him.” Moses comes back at God's direction and says, “The LORD Jehovah, the God of the Hebrews…” Here is God's formal name explained. It is as if God wanted to show us and to show Pharaoh that He really means business about this. He had said, “Who is this that I should obey him…” and God in His grace said, “All right, Pharaoh, the Lord is the God of the Hebrews.”

A question that comes up very often about verse 3 is, why did they say, “Let us go three days' journey into the desert,” when they knew that they were asking him to let them go? Their intention was that God would deliver them from slavery, and yet they came to Pharaoh and said, “Let us go three days…” Wasn't that misleading? Wasn't that deceitful? Why did they do it in that way?

That question may have come to your mind already, so let's think about that for just a minute. Go back to Exodus, chapter 3, and notice that as God was commissioning Moses for this job, He prepared him in advance. Notice verse 19, where God is previewing things for Moses:

Exodus 3:

19 And I am sure that the king of Egypt will not let you go, no, not by a mighty hand.

God had already told Moses and Moses had conveyed this information to the Israelites that Pharaoh was not going to let them go, and so as we go back to chapter 5, this request was designed by God just to demonstrate Pharaoh's unreasonableness. We have just been talking about his cruelty and his unrelenting spirit. God has already said, “Moses, he is not going to let you go. I am going to have to bring you out with a mighty hand. I am going to have to bring you out miraculously,” but here is proof for Moses and for the Israelites and for us of the unreasonable nature of this man. You see, if they had come in and said, “Pharaoh, let us go. We need to be free people.” Certainly none of us would have thought it unreasonable if Pharaoh had said, “No. You are the backbone of my economy. I am not going to let you go.” That would have only been reasonable, at least from a human standpoint, but to come in and say, “Pharaoh, we want to take a three day break. Let us go for three days.”

There was nothing unreasonable about a request like that. Pharaoh was a mercenary man. Pharaoh, I am sure, insisted on a certain number of bricks being produced, but even an unreasonable and hard taskmaster could have considered the possibility of letting the people have three days off. You see, God wants to demonstrate the fierce, unbending and unreasonable nature of this man.

Why is this important? This is important because our purpose is not so much to study the book of Exodus as it is to study the life of Moses presented in the book of Exodus, but God is going to do some terrible things to Pharaoh. Some of these things we will be looking at, and some of them we won't because Moses was not directly involved in some of the things that God did to Pharaoh, but God did some terrible things to Pharaoh. Sometimes people say, “How could a God of love do things like that? If He is really a God of love, how can He rain down that kind of judgment on what are relatively innocent people? After all, Pharaoh was the one who was responsible, so how could God do that?”

It is that kind of reasoning that has even caused people to reject the literalness of this part of the Bible. Surely a God of love will just not do these kinds of things. Therefore, they are some sort of fairy tales or some sort of figurative illustrations or something, but you see, God is illustrating here in chapter 5 a principle that He illustrates again and again in the Word of God, and that is that He is a God of love, but He is also a God of judgment. God is a God who cannot and will not tolerate sin. Ultimately, He allowed His Son to die on the Cross to pay for sin. That is the extent to which He could not tolerate sin. If God could have in any way tolerated sin, Jesus would never have had to die. God is intolerant to sin to such an extent that even His only begotten Son had to die to settle the sin question. God is a God of love, but He cannot tolerate sin. God is also a God of judgment because of His intolerance of sin, but it is important to know that His judgment is always preceded by His love. His judgment is always preceded by His mercy. God is giving Pharaoh every opportunity to be reasonable by giving a three day pass as an option. God is giving Pharaoh every opportunity to respond in mercy to God's extension of mercy. Because Pharaoh continues to go on against God, even as God gives him opportunity, then God's judgment falls.

This is illustrated again and again in the Scripture. Noah, you remember, took a hundred and twenty years to build the ark. Before the flood ever came, Noah was working on that ark day after day. In the New Testament, Noah was a picture of righteousness, and by looking at the details in the Old and the New Testament together, we find that during the time that Noah was building that ark, he was constantly warning of the judgment of God that was about to come. How could a God of love send a flood that would wipe out the whole human race? He could do it because He gave the human race a hundred and twenty years to repent of their sins. Surely with the population the size that it was in those days, in a hundred and twenty years' time, a man building a boat when men had not even seen a body of water, the news would have spread pretty rapidly. A hundred and twenty years would have been plenty of time for the whole world to hear about this nut over in Canaan who was building a boat and saying that there was going to be a flood. God chose an impressive way in an adequate amount of time to warn people, but finally when people did not heed to His warning, God sent judgment.

The same thing was true of the prophets of Israel. For two hundred years, they warned the Israelites, both in the northern and southern kingdoms, “Repent. Turn back to God. Obey the Word of God. If you don't, certain destruction is going to come.” For two hundred years, God pleaded with the people to return to faithfulness, but finally when they did not return, God's judgment came; and when it came, it was terrible.

Peter tells us in the New Testament that the same thing is true of the day in which we live, that as the last days draw to a close, people are going to say, “Where is the promise of His coming?” They are going to scoff at people who talk about the fact that Jesus Christ might return again. We're beginning to learn by experience what a scoffing thing that is, aren't we? We are beginning to see that it is a very, very unpopular thing to talk in literal terms about the Lord's return. It marks you as some kind of nut in our society.

God told us it would be that way, but remember what else God said in Peter's first epistle. He said, “God is not slack concerning His promise, but is long suffering to us, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.”

Do you know why God is withholding judgment that He has slated for this earth? Do you know why He has withheld it to such an extent that people scoff when we talk about the end of all things, and they bill us as some kind of prophet of doom, and they look at us in an askance sort of way when we talk about all things coming to an end? Do you know why that is? It is because God is waiting for people to repent. You talk about a God of mercy when people are taking God's name in vain in everything they do and say, when the whole trend of our society is away from God, when the things of God are scoffed at, and yet God waits and God waits. God puts upon us the responsibility, in the meantime, of spreading His Word. If God is gracious and merciful enough to wait His judgment in the hope and knowledge that some will repent, isn't it incumbent upon us to be messengers of God about that truth? Isn't it our responsibility as believers to warn men of the coming destruction?

How complacent we are! God is holding back judgment at the risk of His very name. The very fact that He is waiting has caused men to say that He is unfaithful to His promise; but God, in His mercy, waits His judgment, and we go on about our merry way, knowing that judgment is coming and not doing anything to warn those around us. What a challenge! God is a God of mercy, and God's people need to respond to that mercy. You and I need to be faithful in the ministry that God has given us, whether that is a gift of evangelism or whether it is a ministry of exhortation or whether it is a ministry of helping others; whatever God has equipped us to do, we are doing despite to the name of Christ if we don't pursue that ministry, knowing that God is waiting His judgment just because of His mercy.

The Response is Clarified

Coming back to the book of Exodus, Pharaoh and God's dealing with Pharaoh is a perfect example of His mercy and His goodness. He is waiting to give Pharaoh every opportunity to respond to His grace. The request has been made, the request has been clarified and so in verse 4, we find the response clarified. Notice:

Exodus 5:

4 And the king of Egypt said unto them, Wherefore do ye, Moses and Aaron, let the people [keep the people] from their works? get you unto your burdens.

Since the request was clarified, the response is clarified also. It is very obvious that Pharaoh thought that this was just another dodge, just another attempt to get the people out of work. Probably the Israelites had stopped working. We didn't look at chapter 4 in detail because it doesn't deal directly with the life of Moses, but in chapter 4, after God had commissioned Moses in the verses that we did look at in our last lesson, Moses went to the people of Israel and he gave them the news that God was going to deliver them. Probably they quit working right then. So what Pharaoh had on his hands was a work stoppage, and he thought that Moses was just some sort of labor organizer. He had come in here and gotten the people agitated, and so he was going to put a stop to this and get them back to work. That is all that he thought of it. Probably when he said, “Get you to your burdens,” he was speaking to the labor leaders who came in there with Moses and Aaron.

Pharaoh is now irreversibly on record. His response is, “I will not let the people go even for a three day break. They must get back to their work.” God is demonstrating very clearly for us where Pharaoh stands on this issue. He is hardhearted. He is rebellious against God. He is ignorant of God, and so God is going to have to deal in the situation.

Persecution Commanded by Pharaoh

In verses 5-14, we find some persecution commanded by Pharaoh. In verse 5, we see the opinion behind Pharaoh's command. Notice:

Exodus 5:

5 And Pharaoh said, Behold, the people of the land now are many, and ye make them rest from their burdens.

You see, it was just an idea. There was no spiritual significance involved in this thing. In Pharaoh's opinion, this was just a labor problem. “Moses, you are the agitator. You're the guy who is keeping them from working, so we are going to have to do something about that.”

The command is given in verses 6-9. We are going to read through these verses because they speak for themselves. Notice, beginning in verse 6:

Exodus 5:

6 And Pharaoh commanded the same day the taskmasters of the people, and their officers, saying,
7 Ye shall no more give the people straw to make brick, as heretofore: let them go and gather straw for themselves.
8 And the tale [number] 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.
9 Let there more work be laid upon the men, that they may labour therein; and let them not regard vain words.

Here is the occurrence of the command. Not only are they going to have to make the same number of bricks, but now they are also going to have to gather their own straw. In other words, “If you have time to go worship, if you have time to go and have some kind of ceremony to your God, then you have plenty of time to go gather your own straw.” Again, this shows the cruelty of Pharaoh, but let's think about it from the standpoint of the Israelites and from our standpoint as God's people. Do you see that this illustrates that sometimes it is God's will for things to get worse? The Israelites were in a terrible situation. They had been crying out to God for deliverance, some of them for years, and then news comes that God is going to deliver them. He has a deliverer on the scene. He brings the deliverer to them and the deliverer says, “I have come at God's direction to deliver you.” They think that their problems are solved, and then things get worse.

Are you surprised at that? Well, don't be surprised if you are going along in life and you recognize that you have needs and problems, and for whatever reason and through whatever course of events, you finally turn to God with those needs, and God assures you through His Word that He is going to meet those needs and solve those problems. Then things get worse. Sometimes God does allow things to get worse, and here is perfect evidence of it. Some of you have experienced it in your own lives, and we think, “What is this? I prayed. I trusted God. I thought I had a promise from Him and things are no better. In fact they are worse.”

In fact many times—perhaps most of the time—God takes what seems to us a lengthy route in the meeting of our needs, but it is because there are things that can only be accomplished by going through certain details, and the story of the Israelites will demonstrate that for us very clearly.

Sometimes things get worse. They did in this case. Notice Pharaoh says, “This is just emptiness. These are just vain words. All this talk about worshiping the Lord, is just a bunch of emptiness.” This is Pharaoh's attitude demonstrated.

Obedience to the Command

Then, in verses 10-14, we have the obedience to the command. Notice in verse 10:

Exodus 5:

10 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.
11 Go ye, get you straw where ye can find it: yet not ought of your work shall be diminished.
12 So the people were scattered abroad throughout all the land of Egypt to gather stubble instead of straw.
13 And the taskmasters hasted them, saying, Fulfil your works, your daily tasks, as when there was straw.

Here we see the things that Pharaoh had said put into effect. The command is given and the people of Pharaoh are obedient to command. Sometimes it not only appears things are going to get worse, they actually do get worse, and that was true for the Israelites. I am sure they were wondering, as you might be wondering, why has God allowed this to happen?

Conclusion

As we conclude our thinking about the situation of the Israelites, you may find yourself in a situation similar to theirs or you have a friend who is in a situation similar God seems to have started working but now things are at a standstill again. Or perhaps you have thought about claiming a promise of God, but you have seen this kind of thing happen before, and you think that God does not keep His promises and there is no point in making a fool of myself by claiming a promise of God.

From a human standpoint, Moses' ministry is not getting off to a very effective start. Moses' ministry is not very successful here at the beginning, but always remember, God writes the last chapter. Fortunately, we are familiar enough with this story to know that this isn't all there is. If we had to bring the curtain down here, it would be a pretty sad place to end, but God is not through in your life, either. You see, God had to take time to demonstrate the hardheartedness of Pharaoh. God had to take time to demonstrate the fickleness of the Israelites. God had to take time to do these things in order to work this out perfectly.

Years and years later, when we get into the book of Joshua, and the people of Israel begin to go in and take over the promised land, do you know what happened? Kings of the city states that were around the area that they were going to take over sent delegations to Joshua, Moses' successor, and they said, “Don't attack us. We will surrender. We don't even want to fool with you because, “We have heard of your God and what He did to the Egyptians. We know what kind of God you worship.”

We read these things and we hear these stories in Sunday School and we tend to forget about the time factor, but do you realize that when these nations said to Joshua, “We have heard of your God and what He did to the Egyptians,” they were talking about things a hundred years in the past? They were talking about the things that God was just setting the stage for in this chapter.

Why is God taking so long to keep His promise to you? Why has God actually let things get worse for you instead of better? I say on the authority of the Word of God that God has not forgotten about you and God has not let this thing take Him by surprise. God is doing in your life what He was doing for the Israelites. He is setting the stage for some action that He can take decisively in the future that will have benefits that will last forever. You see, if God had not set Pharaoh up, to coin a phrase, if God had not allowed the circumstances to develop in the way they did in these chapters, He would never have been able to have people come to Joshua and say, “We have heard of your God, and we don't want to have anything to do with you. We will submit to you.”

God has great victories for you and me to win. God has great things to accomplish through us, but many, many times He can only accomplish those things if we allow Him to properly set the stage as we stay out of His way and let Him do with our lives and in our lives the things that He knows are necessary to be able to use us in the way that He plans to use us.

The Israelites could have bailed out. In fact, they tried to several times, but God was faithful and God kept working and God eventually was able to use them in a mighty way for His honor and glory.

James reminds us, when we are under testing, when we face a time of pressure, don't squirm out of the pressure. Remain under the testing, knowing that when God is finished with the testing, you will have been brought forth pure and usable for His purposes.

I know that all of us are not in this situation, but I know that there may be some for whom things have gotten worse. They have turned things over to the Lord, and things are worse now than when they started. I am not preaching to those people because the ones I have in mind are already aware of these principles, but I am preaching to those of us who may face this kind of situation or those of us who are wondering why that is happening to those folks, and are a little scared of what may happen to us. You see, God had a perfect plan for Moses and for the Israelites and was faithfully working that plan. God has a plan for you, and He is going to faithfully work that plan. Moses had learned that.

We are going to see in our next study, as Moses' problems continue, that Moses was able to rest in the Lord and was able to cope with these problems. Will you remember that God's will is perfect enough to include even the worsening circumstances that you or someone you love may be facing, and God's purpose is to get glory to Himself, and He will do it, even through these difficult times?


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