In the fifth chapter of the book of Exodus we are able to draw out a comparison of the slavery trodden Hebrews in Egypt to the western church; namely, the church in the United States. This next part will quote lengthier portions of scripture but I believe it is necessary that we look at the key points of this chapter together.
”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.
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.”
Exodus 5:1-4, 18-23
Summary: Moses and Aaron ask Pharaoh to let the people go into the wilderness to sacrifice to God. Pharaoh denies their request. The gap of 5-17 is the detail of how Pharaoh not only refused to let them go, but he made their life harder than it was. The people began to complain about the newly increased burden and went to Moses to let him hear about it.
There are two more important verses/passages to point out that will help to add some context:
”And they will listen to your voice, and you and the elders of Israel shall go to the king of Egypt and say to him, ‘The LORD, the God of the Hebrews, has met with us: and now, please let us go a three days’ journey into the wilderness, that we may sacrifice to the LORD our God.’” Exodus 3:18
”Aaron spoke all the words that the LORD had spoken to Moses and did the signs in the sight of the people. And the people believed; and when they heard that the LORD had visited the people of Israel and that he had seen their affliction, they bowed their heads and worshipped.” Exodus 4:30-31
So, to save you an elaborate, analogy filled, observational buildup into the main point, allow me to just cut to the chase and lay it out for you. I will close it out with two paragraphs of how this is a peek behind the curtain of the church in America.
God calls Moses out of Egypt to lead His people out of Egypt. In 3:18 we read that the elders of Israel were also present at the time that Moses and Aaron stood before Pharaoh and demanded a brief hiatus. I have never performed an in depth study on Israeli leadership but seeing as Moses appoints elders later in Exodus as a form of hierarchy to the needs of the people, I will here deduce that the Word is quite literally talking about all of the old people of Israel. After Moses and Aaron receive marching orders they go to the Hebrew people and tell them that the great I AM has heard their cries. The people, full of gladness, “bowed their heads and worshipped.” This, to me, is a stamp of approval from the Hebrews. In other words: “Praise Yahweh that he has heard our cries and sent this Moses to deliver us from this land!“
All is well now. Write a Hallmark movie script. Except.. this is where the Hallmark movie turns into something you are more likely to find on Lifetime.
Moses, Aaron, and the elders of the Hebrews are standing before the throne of Pharaoh (mind you they just figuratively/spiritually stood before the throne of God). They tell Pharaoh to let the people go to which he says no. So here we have to wonder what exactly was going through Moses and Aaron’s mind. They knew, as we read in Exodus 3:19-20, that Pharaoh would not let the people go and that his heart would instead be hardened by God. So, they just leave! Perhaps they were anticipating God’s judgment to fall immediately. Maybe they were thinking Pharaoh would pull the classic “Sike!” Maybe they lost faith in the great I AM. I can almost assure you they were not expecting Pharaoh to ramp up the physical demands of the slave work so much so that the people became angry with Moses.
Now, here is the peak of this scene. Everyone is back in their normal routine of slave life with no deliverance in sight. Not only that but life is much more taxing on them now than it was before Moses showed up. Just one chapter earlier we read about and get this sense of a jubilation amongst the Hebrews and a ”buying in” of the redemption plan. Now, we see them literally telling Moses they hope the Lord judges him for this. “The Lord look on you and judge, because you have made us stink in the sight of Pharaoh and his servants..” Did you catch that when you read it initially? They were worried about how Pharaoh and his servants perceived them. They were back worrying about their duties and no longer focused on the redemption. They took out their frustration on the one called to lead them. The people became so impatient that they were no longer waiting on God’s power to shine through as it would in chapter seven.
So, how does this shadow our church?
When I read this I see an American church that, when presented with a powerful presentation of the gospel and the power of God, shake their head in agreement and give lip service. Then, when the going gets tough, they fall back into their old ways of chasing the American dream and keeping up with the Joneses. I see a church that no longer understands the sacrifice that it takes to pursue Godliness and see to it that the people of this earth submit to the kingship of Christ. I see a church that is more worried about living their lives in the hustle and bustle of our culture even though a life not in pursuit of the will of God is a self righteous path to destruction. I see a church that cares more about what Pharaoh and his servants think about them than they care about resting in and waiting on the promises of God. I see a church that mumbles at the leadership placed over them that God has called out; leadership that seeks to do what is right and submit to the will of God. We have a church that has been nurtured in instant gratification so we no longer accept that God’s deliverance could take more than a week.
We demand God’s plan be revealed now. We demand that our deliverance be now. This is the main problem. I just recently told my wife that this is especially hard for me. We cannot fathom not being a part of that deliverance. But please understand this: an entire generation of people wondered through the wilderness for forty years and never tasted the promised land. Yes, it was because of their disobedience but these are the same people that raised up the generation that did inherit the promised land. There were good times and their were frightening times. These people were most certainly tried. But without their perseverance in the wilderness, their wouldn’t have been a generation to inherit the land. I could go on and on about what all needs to be happening in the church and in families right now for us to prepare our children and grand children to handle the world that‘s coming. I already have (see below) and certainly intend to do it some more (stay tuned). Right now though, we need to understand how to be patient and faithful. We must rest in God. We must trust that one day the whole earth will be as full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters that cover the seas.
Many other parallels can be drawn from this passage in different ways than what I have here presented. This is the beauty of scripture. There is always an original intent that the author meant to convey to the readers but because they were written by men carried along by the Spirit of God, there are many lessons that are able to be drawn from every story. This is one of the secondary reasons why the Scriptures are timeless.
God bless you.