On the day when the Lord spoke to Moses in the land of Egypt, he said to him, ‘I am the Lord; tell Pharaoh king of Egypt all that I am speaking to you.’ But Moses said in the Lord’s presence, ‘Since I am a poor speaker, why would Pharaoh listen to me?’ The Lord said to Moses, ‘See, I have made you like God to Pharaoh, and your brother Aaron shall be your prophet. You shall speak all that I command you, and your brother Aaron shall tell Pharaoh to let the Israelites go out of his land. But I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and I will multiply my signs and wonders in the land of Egypt. When Pharaoh does not listen to you, I will lay my hand upon Egypt and bring my people the Israelites, company by company, out of the land of Egypt by great acts of judgement. The Egyptians shall know that I am the Lord, when I stretch out my hand against Egypt and bring the Israelites out from among them.’ Moses and Aaron did so; they did just as the Lord commanded them. Moses was eighty years old and Aaron eighty-three when they spoke to Pharaoh.
Moses and Aaron had already spoken to Pharaoh to no avail. The state of the Israelites became worse for they had no straw to make their bricks.
Life is full of hard, impossible questions. And the question “why?” often tops the list and we wonder what God is up to.
God’s very patient with us. How often have you felt, “I can’t do it, I haven’t the ability.”
God said to Moses, I’ll give you my authority in Pharaoh’s eyes. You shall do all that I command you and Aaron your brother shall do the talking and tell Pharaoh to let the people of Israel go out of his land.
God is giving his reluctant servant Moses instructions for the task ahead. God has already listened to all of Moses’ “yes, buts” and has allowed Aaron to accompany him on his quest to free the people of Israel.
First, God tells Moses that, in Pharaoh’s eyes, Moses will seem like a god – that is, he will be able to do things Pharaoh hasn’t seen before. Moses and Aaron are to do exactly what God tells them to do. But then God tells Moses that God will harden Pharaoh’s heart. God will permit his stubbornness to remain, so that God may have the greater opportunity to multiply wonders in the land.
The miracles will just get greater and greater, but Pharaoh still isn’t going to listen. Until judgment will fall on Egypt and they will “know that I am the Lord and the Israelites will be brought out. And then we’re told that “Moses and Aaron did just as the LORD commanded them.”
So, never be afraid if you’re asked to do something. Be sure that God will give you the ability and the strength to do it whatever it is.
Loving God, thank you for the account of history in Exodus that shows You heard the cries of your people and you rescued them from their oppressors. Help us to be people of Prayer. Help us trust your faithfulness and be willing to serve you when you call knowing that you will equip us for the task.
The Rev’d Sue Henderson, retired minister, Bradford on Avon United Church