“Exposing the Exodus”
Defamation of Character – (Chapter 5 Verses 10-19)
Satan with his tyranny, if he doesn’t get us one way, then he will try another. Idle! “Ye are idle (v17). Insults, slander, false accusations. Their religion is their excuse for skiving. Religion, religion, it is always religion to blame, for wars and every other evil the world knows. The words here are defamatory (v17). But of course, it’s an accusation that never ought to be levelled at God’s people, legitimately, I mean. We should be like the ants, industrious (Proverbs 6:6). The Reformation theologian and Pastor when he was bidden to rest, cried, “would you have the Lord find me idle when he comes!” The good Bishop Jewel said, “I rejoice that my body’s exhausted in the labours of my holy calling.” Isn’t it strange that when we were in the world, prior to conversion, no one ever tells us to take our ease. But when we are spending ourselves for the Lord, we are constantly being told, don’t overdo it. Of course, the Bible has something to say about laziness, being idle (Proverbs 6:6). The New Testament as well, “But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel” (1Timothy 5:8). Our nation was recently likened to the Belarus of Europe, I think that might be an insult to the people of Belarus. But it’s true as a nation we certainly have lost our work ethic. But the problem’s spiritual, moral, that’s the underlying factor, and it’s only repentance and renewed faith that will bring the change needed. But here, with Israel, the charge is offensive, yes, and cunning too. Because it’s one that the Egyptian people will readily believe, for idleness was considered a great sin and condemned amongst the Egyptians. Alas, for the world to be falsely accusing the Lord’s people, nothing new.
Israel however, sees themselves in dire straights now (v19). They’ve got trouble, their case is an evil one. The officers themselves felt the bitterness. Having been rebuffed in such an inhuman way, what misery, hopelessness. But wait a minute, isn’t this the exodus, the great deliverance? Yes, exactly that. So whence this misery? All this human wretchedness, this can’t be the work of God, can it? This form of thinking has more to do with our own generation and culture than that of biblical revelation. It’s not popular to cause people to feel miserable about themselves. Everyone must be made to think that they are a real item, all the psycho-babble that they are fed. No wonder they so often left feeling totally empty. Yet again, though, even in churches, this is what is required, people must be made to go home feeling good about themselves. Woe betides the Minister who cannot attain that, he is seen as a failure. If he sends folk home feeling that they’re wretched, sinful beings, he had better be looking for another form of employment. Maybe John the Baptist would be a better role model for preachers today. His preaching devastated people, awakened, alarmed, left them afraid as a result of their sinful status. We need again to learn the kind of ministry that accomplishes the best, that which works on the consciences of people. It brings them down before it lifts them up. It brings them into dire straights, leaves them with no way out. For it’s only then that they are ready to hear of the grace that would lift and save. God has begun here, Moses is declaring God’s demands, deliverance will come, but the people don’t believe it, not yet. They expect to be magic’d out of Egypt. No pain, no conflict, no fight. Sadly, even after the great deliverance, some, many still did not believe, they perished in the wilderness (1Corinthians 10:1-13). Some people will just never believe. What about you?
(© James R Hamilton, written Spring, 2015)