My thoughts (Robert Ferguson):
I have to admit, I have always had some irrational fear of studying the Old Testament. Perhaps it’s the long lists of genealogical references or the even longer lists of ritual laws. Whatever the reason I’m challenged to sit down with an Old Testament verse and really chew on it.
Take today’s reading, for example. The whole idea of God commanding Moses to return and speak to Pharaoh seems futile in light of the fact that God follows the instruction with, “I will harden his heart and Pharaoh will not listen to you!” It practically became impossible for me to read on because I was stuck on why God would call Moses (or us) to do something and then, seemingly, make it all but impossible to accomplish.
To fully grasp a very small portion of the larger lessons in Exodus and the story of the ten plagues, I believe we should focus on two facts:
- Fact number one: Moses was afraid to speak to Pharaoh as God had instructed. According to many scholars there is a reasonable likelihood that Moses had a speech impediment. This fact alone would make speaking directly to the king of Egypt a frightening prospect.
- Fact number two: Even though the Egyptians had enslaved the Israelites and tried to oppress them, the Israelites were growing in number, prospering (as much as enslaved people can) and maintaining their faith. Unbroken, the Israelites instilled fear in the Egyptian people and caused them to feel threatened. As a result what followed were horrible atrocities against them, including the murders of babies.
How many times are we called on by God to do things that are lump-in-your-throat, sick-to-your-stomach, and wet-your-pants scary? I can think of a few, but lately I have been struggling with letting go of situations that are either out of my control or best left for God to work out.
Surely you have read the bumper stickers, “Let go and let God.” The very idea of turning situations over to God seems to be the greatest imaginable leap of faith for me, and I believe I am not alone. It is part of our human nature to try to control our environments and attempt to make decisions that will have the most positive impact on our future. Perhaps it is some sort of survival mechanism, but not worrying about a predicament and not giving into fear seems akin to jumping blindly off a cliff. But here is God saying that, although the outlook is bleak and the challenge seems daunting at the least and impossible at its best, I am in control.
In the very beginning of our reading today God says, “See, I have made you like a god to Pharaoh and your brother Aaron shall be your prophet.” What does it mean when God makes us powerful masters over our problems? Moses was fearful of Pharaoh. Moses felt like a stumbling, stuttering fool compared to the mighty Pharaoh, but God says I have made you like a god over this situation. Even though God hardened the heart of Pharaoh there was a greater plan at work.
Sometimes I find it hard to see how God is going to work out situations. However, faith calls for us to not worry about God’s grand scheme. We can never know or understand it all. However, we are able to trust that the Holy Creator God is able to make us victors over all of the obstacles that stand between us and the divine will of our Heavenly parent.
Exodus also reveals to us that the king of Egypt was fearful of the growing population of Israelites (Exodus 1:8-22) and even though they appeared to be the oppressors, God knew that the Egyptians actually feared the Israelites. It is good to know today that regardless of the challenges that lie ahead, God has already walked out our steps before we are called upon to walk them. God knows what is at the heart of our adversaries. God has already equipped us with all of the necessary tools to defeat whatever it is that is holding us in bondage.
No matter what the situation or circumstance our creator is able to make us gods over them. Moses teaches us today that God calls for our attentive ear and active obedience. Neither one of those things is easy, but God’s perfect design has already ordained that you are victorious!
Thought for the day: What has God called me to do that feels as scary as jumping off a cliff? What problems am I attempting to control and decide on my own? What would happen if I could trust God with all of it?
We encourage you to include a time of prayer with this reading. If you need a place to get started, consider the guidelines on the How to Pray page.