By Brooke Holt
“Then Moses turned to the Lord and said, ‘O Lord, why have you done evil to this people? Why did you ever send me? 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 5:22-23 (The Great “I AM” Study Reading: Exodus 5:22-6:13)
Moses laid it all out on the table: his doubts, his fears, his dismay. This was not the plan they had discussed. Why wasn’t God keeping his promise? Why were things getting worse, not better, for his people? How was Moses supposed to reassure the Israelites when he himself felt uncertain? Had he been a fool to ever believe the Lord?
Actually, events were unfolding exactly as the Lord said they would. Like many of us, Moses apparently had selective hearing. Thankfully, our God is patient and steadfast in his love. Instead of becoming angry because of Moses’ questions, God went over the entire plan again, from the covenant with Abraham to the Israelites inhabiting the promised land. He reminded Moses of his past faithfulness, his constant presence, and his larger purpose – to draw his people into relationship. By demonstrating his power and might across Egypt, God would not only humble Pharaoh, but also teach his beloved children to trust him. He would free the Israelites physically and spiritually, but it would happen in his time.
Moses heard and believed what God told him. He gathered his courage and his brother and then delivered the Lord’s message to the people. However, “they did not listen to Moses because of their broken spirit and harsh slavery” (Exodus 6:9). The same Israelites who had bowed their heads and worshipped God now turned their faces from him in despair. The same promises that once ignited hope were met with derision and disbelief. They had already tried trusting God, and it blew up in their faces. Or so they thought.
The call to wait, to trust a promise for the future in the midst of a painful present, can feel excruciating. Often, our circumstances seem to belie the hope God offers, and we wonder if he has forgotten or forsaken us. Both Moses and the Israelites experienced doubt, fear and anger as Pharaoh increased the people’s burden, but they responded very differently. Moses poured out those feelings at God’s feet and was comforted by God’s assurances. The Israelites complained to their masters, Aaron and Moses, each other, Egyptian deities…everyone except the God who could (and would) save them. Moses listened and believed God’s words. The Israelites rejected his message and remained mired in their misery.
Though it might seem counterintuitive, laying our fears and anxieties before the Lord is an act of faith. He already knows our hearts, but when we choose to reveal them, we demonstrate our trust in his presence and his love. We open the door for him to reassure us. God will not change his plans to suit us; however, he will provide for us where we are and lead us where we need to go. He will remind us of who he is and who he has called us to be.
How do you respond to the Lord’s message of hope and redemption? Do you remain absorbed in your pain, or do you open your heart to his Word? We would love to hear your thoughts in the comments.
Want to learn more about the book of Exodus? Check out "The Great 'I AM'" study written by Charlie and Brooke Holt below.
Come explore the grand story of God as the one who knows and loves his people. In one of the greatest love stories ever told, The Book of Exodus reveals God as Yahweh, the Great “I AM.” He is the transcendent, all-powerful creator of all things who defeated the greatest powers of the earth. This same God would have his people know and love him in an intimate and personal way. The Great “I AM” – A Study of the Book of Exodus is a 9-week study consisting of a small group study guide combined with weekly video teachings. Come and meet The Great “I AM”.
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