04.5 Moses 4, Day 5

Part I: Pass the Burden and Part II: Outlaw to Obedience

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?


My Answers:

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

04.4 Moses 4 Day 4

Shifting Gears

Have you ever ridden in a vehicle with a stick shift?  Here is my illustration:

You are sitting in the passenger seat next to a race car driver, a professional.  You’re excited.  You’re ready to go.  He’s at the line ready to go and he steps on the gas and… you’re off.  That sudden burst of acceleration sets you back in your seat.  The thrill, the power of the engine, the feel of the vehicle.  When, all of a sudden he steps on the clutch and the acceleration slows.  You slip forward in your seat and you panic.  Did the ride stop?  Is that the end?  I thought we were going. I thought we would just keep going faster and faster, racing forward.  What went wrong?

This is what Moses’ experience must have been like.  But God wasn’t hitting the brakes, he was tapping the clutch, he was simply shifting gears.

Why did this happen?  Why didn’t God just have Moses do the miracles and have the people set free?  We see similar things in our journey as Christians.  We’ll work with a new believer only to see them stumble in their faith.  We’ll pray for those in our groups, but see them still struggle.  We’ll have a spirit filled event that gives us clarity of direction only to face obstacles that cause us to question our understanding or ability.

But the point of a Christian life is not simply to get from point A to point B – to get from this life into heaven.  The reason to sit next to a race car driver is for the journey not just the destination.  Seeing them in command of the vehicle, feeling the way they handle this instrument and any obstacle, that is where the joy is.

Don’t panic when God pops the clutch to shift you out of first gear – the journey isn’t ending, it is just about to get more exciting.


My Answers:

Why have you brought trouble on this people? Is this why you sent me?

That he had failed or misunderstood.  That something had gone wrong or that God had changed His plan.

Only temporarily.  We have stepped away from deals in business because, while lucrative, they did not fit our values and obedience to honor God.  We lost in the short run, but it always has turned out for the better.

Remember God does not change, that He and His plans are perfect.  While I am short sighted, He sees eternity.  He knows what is best and what needs to be done – a bump is not a cliff.

04.3 Moses 4, Day 3

Whose side are you on?

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?

My Answers:

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.


04.2 Moses 4, Day 2

Reasonable Request Reflects Reality

One of our questions today asked if the request of Pharaoh made by Moses and Aaron was reasonable?  That is a very interesting question on a lot of levels.  If the goal was to free the Israelite people from bondage, is it deception to ask for a 3-day pass?

But I believe, like everything else in the bible, this is here for a purpose.  Let’s look deeper.

1. There was no law against worship.  Egypt didn’t have a state religion, in fact the Egyptians worshiped many different gods and had feasts and feast days for many of them.  Everything from the sun god to the god of the Nile, the frog god and the god of flies.  They lacked not for gods and temples to worship them.  So it was not unprecedented for people to worship.

2. Pharaoh had the authority to grant the request.  As is evident later in Exodus 5, the slave drivers took their orders from Pharaoh.  He gave the quotas and provided the raw materials for their work.  He was the one in charge and the only one in Egypt with authority to grant this request.

3. It was not an ongoing or outlandish request.  They were not asking for a stop to labor or a 50% reduction in work.  They weren’t asking to go to work for Egypt’s competitors. They weren’t asking for major, ongoing concessions, just a respite for worship.

I think this is here so we can truly see Pharaoh’s heart and his view of the Israelite workers.  If this request and response weren’t here, then we wouldn’t know.  We may have thought that, while slavery is never good, but maybe things weren’t so bad.  Maybe if they had just worked with Pharaoh he would have been supportive.  Maybe if presented with the option, Pharaoh would have chosen God.

But, here we see the truth.  Pharaoh didn’t know the Lord nor did he want to.  Pharaoh did not care about the Hebrews. To Pharaoh, they were a resource.  They were machines in the production or buildings.  They were slaves.  They weren’t people.

But to God, they were people.  They would be His people and He would be their God.


My Answers:

The sacrifices they would offer to the Lord would be detestable to the Egyptians and they would stone the Israelites

Yes, they did not ask for Pharaoh to free the Egyptians, just to give them the opportunity to worship God by holding a festival in the wilderness a 3 day journey

I do not know the Lord – why are you taking them from their labor, get back to work, they are numerous (i.e., it would be a major impact to productivity to shut down for 3 days)

Slave drivers were Egyptians, Forement (overseers) were Hebrews

They were taking the brunt of the punishment and blame, they were being beaten, they were in a position of authority and honor (better to be foreman than making the bricks).  They are “part of management”