In life we have burdens. Some burdens are physical. Some are injuries from situations or other people. Some are products of our own fears, inadequacies and insecurities. We know they are there. They interfere with our health, our sleep and our relationships with others. And, like those in our reading today, we often try to pass them to others.
When Moses told Pharaoh God’s command to “Let my people go”, Pharaoh became burdened. Who is the Lord that Pharaoh should obey? Is Pharaoh’s authority being questioned? Is he at risk of losing power or prestige? Do people think him weak? Is he making the right decision?
Pharaoh attempts to shift his burden to the Hebrews. He feels burdened so he increases their burden. He tells the slave masters and overseers. They tell the slaves. When results wain, the burden on the slave masters increases and they increase the burden on the overseers by beating them. When the overseers are beaten they go to Pharaoh and attempt to shift the burden to “your people”.
When that is not successful, the foremen pile the burden onto Moses and Aaron as a curse. Moses feels burdened and passes it to God. Why? Why?
But there it stops. God doesn’t pass the burden, He simply says “I am the Lord.”
The interesting thing about this progression is that up until the last step burden wasn’t off-loaded, it simply multiplied. When Pharaoh increased the burden on the Hebrews it in no way decreased the burden he felt – there was just more burden. When the overseers blamed Moses, their burden didn’t decrease, but Moses’ increased. But when Moses passed it to God everything changed. Not only did God take on the burden, but he actually removed it from Moses. How things would have been different if Pharaoh had stopped and taken his burden to The Lord instead of denying Him. How things would have been different if the overseers turned directly to God instead of blaming Pharaoh or cursing Moses.
We face these same challenges daily. We are tempted to try to pass our burden to others: to be mad a co-worker, short with our spouse, harsh with our children. But none of those “pass the burden” tactics make anything better – taking it to the Lord is the only source of relief. Matt 11:28, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”
Bonus: Moses’ Outlaw Roots
When we think of Levites we think of priests. But, as we read these verses starting at Exodus 6:13 we need to keep in mind that was not yet the case. Jacob’s first three sons were the outlaws of the family. In Genesis 49, Jacob brings his sons together for a final blessing before he dies and, in essence if not in direct words, curses the linage of his first three sons: Reuben, Simeon and Levi.
How interesting that these three sons are the ones Moses includes in this strangely placed lineage. But all of us have lineage. We are a product of our parents and our grandparents and great grandparents and the choices they made. Like Moses, we can continue down the same path or we can face the road in front of us and go a different direction.
God was shifting into a higher gear and Moses was choosing a new direction. His heritage was anger and fury. His ancestry was killing others in anger. His curse was to be scattered.
But his choice now was to change from outlaw to obedient servant of God. From fury to faith. From being scattered to being used by God to gather His people to Him.
We have the same choice. Are we defined by the actions of others or are we defined by our obedience to God?
He talked about His mighty hand and that He is The LORD.
I am The LORD
His commitment to them. His singular might (not relying on anyone else and no doubt present)
I will bring you out. I will free you. I will redeem you. I will take you as my own people. I will be your God. I will bring you to the land. I will give it to you. I am the LORD
Ezek 36:26 – I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you.
Discouragement over our circumstances can prevent us from receiving the comfort we desire. It can also stand in the way of us accepting God and His will for us.
Amram – Kohath – Levi
Elisheba. Ndab, Abihu, Eleazar, ithamar. Eleazar married one of the daughters of Putiel, had Phinehas