God does not request His people's freedom; He demands
LET MY PEOPLE GO: This expression occurs 9 times (Exo
5:1; 7:16; 8:1,20,21; 9:1,13; 10:3,4). It might be more literally rendered as
"Send (out) My people."
FESTIVAL: The word refers to a sacrificial feast and is
often associated with a pilgrimage to a sanctuary or holy place. In Israel's
case this was, of course, Mt Sinai.
WHO IS THE LORD, THAT I SHOULD OBEY HIM?: Egypt and the
pride of man will bow to no one.
WHO IS THE LORD...?: The question is also found in Pro
30:9, suggesting that it is the kind of question we are liable to ask when rich
"They say that the night is always darkest just before the
dawn. It was like that for Israel when Moses arrived back in Egypt ready to
deliver them. They had been in slavery for as long as they could remember and at
last the time had come when they were about to be made free and taken to the
promised land. No doubt spirits were lifted as the news got around and they
thought that they were about to walk free.
"But instead of things getting better, they got worse. Pharaoh
got angry and they were forced to make the same amount of bricks in the same
amount of time but they also had to provide their own straw. Their anticipation
turned to bitterness and anger against Moses. But nothing happens without God
allowing it to happen. I wonder if it was to make them appreciate their escape
even more than if they had just got up and gone from their "normal" slavery. The
blacker the night, the brighter the day seems to be.
"It may be that our trials serve the same purpose. When things
go from bad to worse we can rejoice in the fact that when our trials are over or
when the kingdom comes, the day will be truly bright" (RP).
The "world" uses work as a means of drawing believers away
from their God.
THEY ARE LAZY: As though the only reason to serve any
"god" is boredom!
Vv 10,11: "Pharaoh, the tyrannical ruler loading ever greater
burdens upon his people and making ever increasing demands upon them, is a
fitting symbol for sin and the dominion that it exercises over mankind. Sinful
life gradually takes its toll upon us, and the effects of sin and corruption are
ever more visible as we age and weaken. Sin does not seem too awful or its toll
so heavy at first when we are young and active, but in time the limits of our
human condition make themselves all too apparent. So also now the Israelite
people are ever more crushed by the burdens they must face" (MV, Tes
THE ISRAELITE FOREMEN WENT AND APPEALED TO PHARAOH:
"Pharaoh had begun to turn up the heat for the Israelites, but their immediate
reaction is to turn for help, not to God, but to Pharaoh. In their desperation
they turn in the very opposite direction to the one from which help might have
come. They think they have more of a chance of remedying the situation by
turning to Pharaoh than they do by turning to God. Only when Pharaoh refuses to
budge, and all available options have been exhausted, do they turn to Moses --
and then only in complaint" (MV, Tes 71:448).
YOUR SERVANTS (and twice in the next verse): "It is all a
question of how one sees oneself. The Israelite officers saw themselves
primarily as Pharaoh's servants, and perhaps in some vague secondary sense [if
at all!] as servants of God. By their threefold identification as Pharaoh's
servants they implicitly state that for them Pharaoh's lordship takes precedence
"But this will not do. We are servants of God before we are
anything else, whether it be 'company men', members of various organisations or
institutions, partakers of particular social functions and roles, or even
members of the family into which God has placed us. Obligations and allegiance
to Him must be paid and acknowledged before any other duty is discharged.
Whatever happens in our lives, He must be our first port of call. He is the One
with whom we have to do and to whom we must report" (MV, Tes 71:448).
NOW GET TO WORK: The word is lit "serve" once more. The
phrase will come back to bite Pharaoh, for he will use the identical words with
quite different meaning in Exo 12:31, re "serving/worshiping" the LORD! The
death of the firstborns will have caused him to change his perspective
completely on what Israel should go and do -- yet the Heb language allows him to
use the sw to describe it (cp Exo 10:8,11,24).
WAITING TO MEET THEM: AV has "stood in the way". A
double entendre: Yes, Moses and Aaron were standing in the path as the officers
returned from Pharaoh's palace. But this is also exactly what they had been
doing metaphorically as far as the officers were concerned -- getting in the
way. If not for Moses and Aaron, their burdens would not have been
13 murmurings: Exo 5:21; 14:10; 15:24; 16:2; 17:2; 32:1; Num
11:1,4; 12:2; 14:2; 16:3; 20:2; 21:5. Cp Joh 6:41-43. Those who murmur without
cause are soon given cause to murmur.
YOU HAVE MADE US A STENCH TO PHARAOH: Heb idiom, sig
that Moses and Aaron had made Pharaoh hate them even more than he did before.
But notice the later play on this word: the sw is used to describe the literal
stench that filled Egypt as the fish and frogs decayed (Exo 7:21; 8:14). Pharaoh
may have found the behavior and complaints of the Israelites to "stink", but God
would soon give him a far greater and more literal stench to cope
YOU... HAVE PUT A SWORD IN THEIR HAND TO KILL US: "God
had to teach the utter contrast between the appalling slavery in Egypt and the
marvelous redemption of the Exodus. Though they may not have appreciated the
theology of the point at the time, the officers are brought to recognise this
contrast with increasing clarity... Pharaoh had said nothing about a sword, and
nothing about slaying them; the men simply had to do more work, and if they did
not they would be beaten.
"But the officers well knew where this was heading. The
ultimate consequence of Pharaoh's new legislation would be death, whether
through overwork and beating, or because Pharaoh was now set on a course in
which legislation would be made stricter and stricter until keeping it became an
impossibility and death became inevitable. This new Pharaoh is just like the old
one in Exo 1: he is a murderer. He is a man playing at God, wielding in his hand
a sword of death to which he has no right" (MV, Tes 71:449,450).
MOSES RETURNED TO THE LORD AND SAID, "O LORD, WHY HAVE YOU
BROUGHT TROUBLE UPON THIS PEOPLE? IS THIS WHY YOU SENT ME?": There is no
other help for us when passing through such discipline. When we see our hopes
blasted, our plans miscarry, our efforts do more harm than good, while we are
discredited and blamed, pursued with the taunts and hate of those for whom we
were willing to lay down our lives, we may preserve an outward calm; but there
will be a heartbreak underneath, and the noblest part in us will wither, unless
we are able to pour out our whole complaint before God. Thus is the purpose for
things going from bad to worse. As CHS puts it, "the Great Shepherd will send
out the black dog to bring the sheep closer to the Shepherd."
It is a lesson for all of us. God must bring us down before He
can raise us up. God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble (Jam
4:6). Emptying must precede filling. We must get to an end of ourselves before
He can begin in us. But what a beginning He makes! "Then the LORD said unto
Moses, Now shalt thou see what I will do to Pharaoh: for with a strong hand
shall he let them go, and with a strong hand shall he drive them out of his
land" (Exo 6:1). And as those words of encouragement and promise broke on his
ear, he must have forgotten the averted looks and bitter words of the people and
risen into a new world of restful expectation. Deliverance was sure, though he
had learned that it did not depend on anything that he could do, but on that
We must never let the difficulties which confront us indicate
that we are not on God's path and doing His work. Indeed the contrary is
generally the case. If we are willing to walk with God, He will test our
sincerity. He will cause men to ride over us; He will bring us through fire and
water. But out of all He will bring us into a large room and give us the very
thing on which we have been taught to set our hearts. Victory on the other side
of the Red Sea will wipe away the memory of those bitter disappointments in the
discipline of humility. "For whom the Lord loves he chastens" (Heb
O LORD: The orig "Yahweh" altered to "Adonai" by
Sopherim (Com App 32).
"With hindsight, something of why God chose to work in this
way may be seen. He is drawing out and protracting the clash and rivalry between
Himself and Pharaoh to teach a lesson which is central to the OT: that man must
wait God's time and learn to be totally dependent upon Him. 'If God wants to
deliver us,' they ask, 'why doesn't He just get on and do it?' So human, so
natural! But events like this in Israel's history teach that we must be rather
more patient and trusting of God's faithfulness when things do not work out
quite how we might expect or wish. By all means let us go to God with our
feelings, communicating with Him openly and honestly when we feel things are
wrong; the Scriptures set many a precedent for doing so. But let us also
remember the need for faithfulness, and that God has shown Himself to know best
and to have the best interests of His people at heart" (MV, Tes