“Exposing the Exodus”
The Authority Assumed – (Chapter 5 Verses 1-9)
The Pharaoh adopts the I’m-in-charge style (v6). And his orders are immediately passed on down through the ranks. It would seem obvious to him that the people of Israel have far too much time on their hands if they can be thinking about holding religious festivals. And if this is allowed to continue it will put the politics and the economy at risk, he doesn’t want a recession on his hands. Religion is one thing, but when it interferes with production? Also here are these two shop stewards, Moses and Aaron, if left to continue they will make the workers even more rebellious, giving them illusions of power. The reactions of Pharaoh are of course typical of that of a totalitarian regime, no discussions, no negotiations. So he uses the labour laws to stifle any thinking of any religious feeling, unrest, and most definitely of any notion of freedom. As far as Pharaoh’s concerning these slaves are money and they are going nowhere soon. God must bow to the state. So the idea is to cause a division amongst them, penalise the workers and thereby turn them against the organisers of this freedom movement. Alas, Pharaoh makes a dangerous assumption. He is not even his own master, never mind that of others. When to begin to see what they have been given, position, power, or prosperity as their own, instead of coming from God, who is the ultimate Giver. Then ungodly arrogance, presumption and pride are the results. However, the voice of the Lord yet cries out, “let my people go!
And so the persecution of the workers commences (vv7-9). The conditions of the men are significantly worsened. This is an experience not likely to enthuse them towards this crusade that Moses and Aaron have instigated. A fiercer burden is imposed (v7). But we’ve experienced something like this ourselves have we not? In difficult situations or circumstances, we are reminded of God’s gracious plans and purpose. But we want it now, yesterday even. With no delays or complications. Without the discipline of a prayer life and facing up to our God-given responsibilities in trusting obedience, which, as it often does, leads us into conflict. We need to remember we live in a world that’s twisted, warped, distorted, out of sync with God. Conflict is inevitable. But it is God’s blood-bought world, and his plan is that we his people take it back from the enemy. Pharaoh’s got them not just making bricks with no straw, but scattered throughout Egypt looking for straw (v12), that will keep them busy, too busy to listen to the lies of Moses. Perhaps even cause them to question the integrity, even the authority of God’s servants. But that ultimately would be question God’s authority, his word, his revelation. “Did God actually say?” (Genesis 3:1). We know where that came from.
(© James R Hamilton, written Spring, 2015)