The foremen/overseers were in a unique position. On one hand, they were part of the management team. They were overseers pushing the Israelite slaves to produce the work. They took their orders directly from Pharaoh (vs 6. “Pharaoh gave this order to the slave drivers and overseers). They went with the slave drivers and gave the orders to the people, speaking on behalf of Pharaoh (v10-11). On the other hand, they were Hebrews themselves, not Egyptians.
Those who have chosen to follow Jesus live in a similarly unique position. We live in a fallen world with earthly leaders and day-to-day problems. On the other hand we are foreigners in this land because we are people of God, set apart for His glory and His kingdom. And, like the overseers, those we live and work with every day can quickly turn on us and we are faced with a decision, do we bend to them or do we stand with our brothers?
When the foremen/overseers face oppression themselves, they chose to stand with the oppressed, their fellow servants. They stood up to Pharaoh and asked “Why?”. They drew a line separating themselves from Pharaoh. “The fault is with your own people,” they told him. Clearly they knew the risk of their action: “put a sword in their hand to kill us.”
We tend to get down on the foremen for their “lack of faith”, but would we have the faith to do the same? How often do we stay silent about of faith to not be seen as “obnoxious” in our workplace? How often do we yield to world driven forces that take us away from our commitment to God? It may be a Sunday morning soccer game, a BSF night meeting, a work request that stands in the way. Each is nothing more than one more straw, not a big thing, just one more brick in the wall.
But isn’t it interesting that straw and bricks were the tools of oppression of the Hebrew people by Pharaoh?
They went and appealed to Pharaoh
They found Moses and Aaron and said, “may the Lord look on you and judge you! You have made us obnoxious to Pharaoh and his officials and have put a sword in their hand to kill us.”
Many, many times – most of the time I’m not blaming a specific person, mostly trying to shirk responsibility myself. Like the foremen I would blame the Egyptians, Moses, other foremen, etc., etc. Not so much to blame them but to keep from accepting responsibility.