MOSES WRESTLES WITH GOD IN PRAYER
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In the Name of the Father, and (+) of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Afterward Moses and Aaron went and said to Pharaoh, “Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, ‘Let my people go, that they may hold a feast to me in the wilderness.’ ” 2 But Pharaoh said, “Who is the Lord, that I should obey his voice and let Israel go? I do not know the Lord, and moreover, I will not let Israel go.” 3 Then they said, “The God of the Hebrews has met with us. Please let us go a three days’ journey into the wilderness that we may sacrifice to the Lord our God, lest he fall upon us with pestilence or with the sword.” 4 But the king of Egypt said to them, “Moses and Aaron, why do you take the people away from their work? Get back to your burdens.” 5 And Pharaoh said, “Behold, the people of the land are now many, and you make them rest from their burdens!” 6 The same day Pharaoh commanded the taskmasters of the people and their foremen, 7 “You shall no longer give the people straw to make bricks, as in the past; let them go and gather straw for themselves. 8 But the number of bricks that they made in the past you shall impose on them, you shall by no means reduce it, for they are idle. Therefore they cry, ‘Let us go and offer sacrifice to our God.’ 9 Let heavier work be laid on the men that they may labor at it and pay no regard to lying words.”
10 So the taskmasters and the foremen of the people went out and said to the people, “Thus says Pharaoh, ‘I will not give you straw. 11 Go and get your straw yourselves wherever you can find it, but your work will not be reduced in the least.’ ” 12 So the people were scattered throughout all the land of Egypt to gather stubble for straw. 13 The taskmasters were urgent, saying, “Complete your work, your daily task each day, as when there was straw.” 14 And the foremen of the people of Israel, whom Pharaoh’s taskmasters had set over them, were beaten and were asked, “Why have you not done all your task of making bricks today and yesterday, as in the past?”
15 Then the foremen of the people of Israel came and cried to Pharaoh, “Why do you treat your servants like this? 16 No straw is given to your servants, yet they say to us, ‘Make bricks!’ And behold, your servants are beaten; but the fault is in your own people.” 17 But he said, “You are idle, you are idle; that is why you say, ‘Let us go and sacrifice to the Lord.’ 18 Go now and work. No straw will be given you, but you must still deliver the same number of bricks.” 19 The foremen of the people of Israel saw that they were in trouble when they said, “You shall by no means reduce your number of bricks, your daily task each day.” 20 They met Moses and Aaron, who were waiting for them, as they came out from Pharaoh; 21 and they said to them, “The Lord look on you and judge, because you have made us stink in the sight of Pharaoh and his servants, and have put a sword in their hand to kill us.”
22 Then Moses turned to the Lord and said, “O Lord, why have you done evil to this people? Why did you ever send me? 23 For since I came to Pharaoh to speak in your name, he has done evil to this people, and you have not delivered your people at all.”
In the beginning of Exodus chapter 5, Moses declares the Word of the LORD to Pharaoh, but Pharaoh refuses to listen and instead makes things even more difficult for the Israelites by requiring them to make bricks without giving them straw.
The LORD, through Moses, had commanded Pharaoh to let His people go so that they could hold a feast to Him. Pharaoh considered himself to be the incarnation of the deity Horus and the son of Ra. Since the LORD is not one of the gods that the Egyptians worshiped, Pharaoh refused to let the people go and worship the true God and instead saw it as an excuse for the people to be lazy.
At the end of Exodus chapter 4 the people were excited that their deliverer, Moses, had come. But that joy quickly turned to complaints when their deliverance did not come as quickly as they had hoped. Rather than being delivered right away their suffering was made even worse. The conditions of their slavery had been made impossible by the efforts of their deliverer!
The people blamed Moses and Aaron. They said to them, “The LORD look on you and judge, because you have made us stink in the sight of Pharaoh and his servants, and have put a sword in their hand to kill us.” (5:21)
Moses, in response to Pharaoh's hardheartedness and the people's grumbling, goes to the LORD in prayer with his own complaint. Then Moses turned to the LORD and said, “O Lord, why have you done evil to this people? Why did you ever send me? 23 For since I came to Pharaoh to speak in your name, he has done evil to this people, and you have not delivered your people at all.” (Ex 5:22–23)
This is evidence of Moses’ faith – when Moses doesn’t understand the ways of the LORD, he flees to him in prayer. The cry of “Why, O Lord? How long, O Lord?” does not show a lack of faith in a believer – it shows that they know where to go in the time of need. The LORD actually wants us to wrestle with Him in prayer!
Many times things appear to get far worse before they get any better and those are certainly times of severe testing for our faith. And yet, we must look in faith because God is always helping us – even though it often isn’t in the way we think he should. Consider Paul praying for deliverance, and God instead giving him the grace to endure it. The fact is we don’t usually know what is best for us and we must trust our good and gracious heavenly Father who ALWAYS does what is best for us.
Christ has accomplished everything necessary for your salvation in His life, death, and resurrection, and He has given you the wonderful gift of prayer. Know for certain that you are blessed by Christ. Keep praying – even when you don’t understand what the Lord is doing…especially when you don’t understand what He is doing. Take refuge in your God who hears your prayers because of Christ and promises to give you whatever you ask in His name.
Eternal God, You counsel us not to be anxious about earthly things. Keep alive in us a proper yearning for those heavenly treasures awaiting all who trust in Your mercy, that we may daily rejoice in Your salvation and serve You with constant devotion; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.
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