Have you ever been in the position where something good is forming in your life as you begin a new phase? You expend all your energy in it. The potential in the future is visible, great, and satisfying.
And then the bottom falls out. Every step you take seems in the wrong direction. What was good now becomes bad, and then worse. Trying harder just doesn’t cut it anymore. You want to step back, not one step, but all the way to the beginning.
That is the position Moses finds himself in Exodus 5-6. God had revealed Himself to Moses by his name: I AM (Yahweh). He meets all of Moses’ objections to serving and leading the Israelites out of Egypt. The plan couldn’t go wrong.
But it did. BIG TIME.
The Consequences of God’s Revelation
Pharoah’s response to Moses and Aaron is ridicule (5:4–5). Worse, he orders that now the Isrealites have to collect their own straw for making bricks. The labor increases, but the demand remains the same.
And worse, now the foremen over the Israelites are beaten (5:14). After their protests to Pharoh were ignored, they turned to Moses and Aaron.
They said to them, “May the LORD look upon you and judge you, for you have made us odious in Pharaoh’s sight and in the sight of his servants, to put a sword in their hand to kill us.” (Ex. 5:21)
The foremen clearly blame Moses and Aaron and they want the LORD (Yahweh) Himself to act the judge of their case against Moses.
Not the way things should go
At this point Moses himself is questioning everything. But now he questions God.
Moses returned to the LORD, and said, “Lord, why have you caused trouble for this people? Why did you ever send me? From the time I went to speak to Pharaoh in your name, he has caused trouble for this people, and you have certainly not rescued them!” (Ex. 5:22-23 NET)
This almost sounds like Adam in Gen. 3 when God confronts Adam about sin, and God blames God for the woman whom He gave Adam. Interestingly, Moses returns to the LORD (Yahweh), but addresses him in an odd way. Remember the discussion from Ex. 3-4, and the name and vowels added to consonants. The NET textual note has:
The designation in Moses’ address is “Lord” (אֲדֹנָי, ʾadonay) — the term for “lord” or “master” but pointed as it would be when it represents the tetragrammaton. (NET Textual Note)
But we would expect Moses to use Yahweh (LORD) but he does not. And yet Moses pours out his heart about doing everything God had commanded him, but God seemingly not responding as Moses expected. Ah, there is the rub. “Not as Moses expected God to act.”
Covenant Reiterated and Remembered:
God spoke to Moses and said to him, “I am the LORD. I appeared to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob as6 God Almighty, but by my name ‘the LORD’ I was not known to them. I also established my covenant with them to give them the land of Canaan, where they were living as resident foreigners. I have also heard the groaning of the Israelites, whom the Egyptians are enslaving, and I have remembered my covenant. (Ex. 6:2-5 NET)
But further, God adds a statement of seven “I will” force: God will, not Moses.
Therefore, tell the Israelites,
‘I am the LORD.
I will bring you out from your enslavement to the Egyptians,
I will rescue you from the hard labor they impose, and
I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with great judgments.
I will take you to myself for a people, and
I will be your God. Then you will know that I am the LORD your God, who brought you out from your enslavement to the Egyptians.
I will bring you to the land I swore to give to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob–and
I will give it to you as a possession.
I am the LORD!’”
Notice that the section begins and ends with the declaration: I am the LORD. The rescue, deliverance, defeat of the Egyptians will not be by Moses’ faithfulness, but Gods’ faithfulness to His covenant. He will rescue.
HGow easy it is for us, maybe for me alone, to forget that all this is about God’s work.
His faithfulness in the new (covenant) testament of forgiveness
[The LORD says:] “for I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more.” (Jeremiah 31:34 NAS).
His faithfulness in forgiving sins
Who pardons all your iniquities,
Who heals all your diseases;
Who redeems your life from the pit,
Who crowns you with lovingkindness and compassion (Psalm 103:3-4 NAS)
[Jesus said:] “If you forgive the sins of any, their sins have been forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they have been retained.” (John 20:23 NAS)
Jesus’ righteousness is our by His work.
…and may be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith, [Phil. 3:9 NAS)
After this encounter Moses is a different person. Now he doesn’t look to himself as the source, responsibility, the weight of all covenant promises. He looks to God, and God begins the deliverance of His people, even as He promised.