Moses was living in the wilderness of Midian when God approached him and commissioned him to go and challenge Pharaoh of Egypt and tell him to release God’s people to go worship in the wilderness. Moses had fled to the wilderness after his first effort to save his brethren from the cruelty of Pharaoh had failed. He fled Egypt just 40 years prior, after killing an Egyptian. You see, he really was called to deliver his brethren from their slavery to the Egyptians. (Acts 7:19-29) That was the plan of God for his life. He just blew it the first time he tried. He wasn’t ready and it wasn’t time. He tried to do it in his own strength and not in God’s strength. Moses had much to learn about God.
I think we all do that. We sense something of God’s call on our life and we act on it. We have inspiration to do it. We have abilities and talent. We may feel compelled. But it’s premature and things don’t work out. But that doesn’t mean it’s over…
So Moses went to Egypt and challenged the world ruler of that time. Think about that. He was 80 years old! He only had a wooden staff in his hands and he went to the most powerful man in the world, and demanded he let a few million slaves have some days off work to go and worship in the wilderness.
I’m sure Pharaoh laughed. The whole court probably laughed at this sheepherder from the wilderness. And then, to reward the Israelites for Moses’s audacity, he made their labor even harder. They usually made bricks using straw, but Pharaoh punished t hem and took their straw away. They were still expected to keep their quotas the same. I don’t know much about brick making, but I would assume that the straw probably helped the bricks hold together.
The Israelites really didn’t enjoy having their work made more difficult, so of course they got mad at Moses and blamed him for their predicament. We would too.
So things were getting tough for them, and they weren’t really sure about this deliverance thing and going on a camping trip in the desert to worship a God they probably didn’t know much about, except maybe through stories. They had been in Egypt for over 400 years and slaves for much of that time. They didn’t know much else besides that. But the time of the promise had drawn near….Acts 7:17, Acts 7:6,7
A prophetic man named Bill Cloud said something about this particular story that I have never forgotten. He said, “The things we think are bad, God says are good.”
If you believe in the scripture from Romans 8:28 that says, “And we know that all things work together for good for those who love God and are called according to His purpose,” you know what that means.
If you know the bible story, you know there were 10 judgments that came upon the whole nation of Egypt because Pharaoh refused to let the people of God leave to worship their God. The interesting thing about all of that is, while Egypt and Pharaoh were being dealt with, the Israelites, it is said, were not touched by the judgments. They dwelt “in the secret place of the Almighty God,” kept safe from the terrible judgments that came upon the place.
The judgments went from bad to worse. One of them was complete darkness over Egypt, “But all the children of Israel had light in their dwellings.” Exodus 10:23. Goshen, where the Israelites lived, was the “suburb.” Since they were slaves, it may have been more like an ‘inner city” or a slum. But they had light while, in the rest of the country, there was a total blackout. Do you think the Egyptians would have wanted to have some friends in Goshen? I do! Think about your own county. If the whole rest of the nation was in a blackout and your county had light, wouldn’t everyone want to come to your county? I think they would.
This all looks bad, right? It certainly looks bad for Egypt, or can we call them, the people who don’t believe in God? But God’s people were doing alright; they were being protected from what the Egyptians were going through. It was all leading up to something. This was a mighty display of a power greater than the world ruling power of that time. A lot of the Egyptians were convinced too, because we later find them leaving Egypt right along with the Israelites. They saw there was favor on them and, I would submit to you, that they believed in their God.
600,000 men, along with women and children, left Egypt and headed out to an unknown future. But God was leading them. They took a huge leap of faith. The difficulties of their slavery pressed on them until they were ready, perhaps even eager, to leave. The plagues that came upon Egypt caused the Egyptians to want them to leave! They gave the Israelites all their gold and jewelry to take with them. Maybe they were paying them to leave town.
So what the Israelites thought was bad, actually worked in their favor: it pushed them to leave Egypt. It made them more willing. This was to fulfill a promise to their forefather, Abraham. God had told him the nation would be in Egypt 400 years. Genesis 15:13,14. It was now time to go.
“Now the sojourning of the children of Israel, who dwelt in Egypt, was four hundred and thirty years. And it came to pass at the end of the four hundred and thirty years, even the selfsame day it came to pass, that all the hosts of the Lord went out from the land of Egypt.” Exodus 12:40-41
I think God may work like this a lot. He stirs us, making us dissatisfied with where we are spiritually, and in our everyday circumstances. He may allow discomfort to come into our lives, not physical discomfort per se, but perhaps some type of hardship. This is designed to make us change in some fashion, to press us towards Him. It will work for our good, no matter what it is. We must keep faith!
If you know the story, you will remember that after they left, and with many Egyptians with them, then Pharaoh changed his mind about letting all those slaves leave. He and his army in chariots chased them down to the Red Sea. The Israelites were hemmed in between the Egyptians and the Red Sea, but the people saw a miraculous deliverance of God that day, not only in delivering them from the Egyptians, but destroying their enemy also. Moses had told them they would never see the Egyptians again. It was quite a day…
Read the whole story of their miraculous deliverance in Exodus 14.