When they left Pharaoh, they found Moses and Aaron waiting to meet them, and they said, “May the LORD look upon you and judge you! You made us a stench to Pharaoh and his officials and have put a sword in their hand to kill us.” (Exodus 5:20-21 NIV)
While God worked to free Abram’s descendants from their misery and bring them into the Promised Land (cf. Genesis 15:13-14), the people were overcome by their fears. It seems they wanted a better life for themselves in Egypt–though they were slaves–rather than deliverance.
Earlier, God described to Moses what would happen (Exod. 4:21b): “When you return to Egypt, see that you perform before Pharaoh all the wonders I have given you the power to do. But I will harden his heart so that he will not let the people go.” Which part of harden Pharaoh’s heart didn’t Moses understand? God’s servant passed the complaint up the authority chain: Moses returned to the LORD and said, “O Lord, why have you brought trouble upon this people? Is this why you sent me? Ever since I went to Pharaoh to speak in your name, he has brought trouble upon this people, and you have not rescued your people at all.” (Exod. 5:22-23)
For the Hebrews, they could blame God for their harsh treatment and reject his words, yet He would fulfill his gracious promise anyway (Exod. 6:6-9). It is the Lord’s pattern that things get worse–much worse–before he acts to fulfill his precious promises.
Yesterday, my late-brother’s daughter gave birth to her first child. The midwife had been carefully chosen. All was prepared for the blessed event. The baby balked at coming on time.
Days past our niece’s “due date” the labor began. Then complications. It was more than the midwife could handle. So, no water birth, but off to the hospital they went. Hard labor cast a doubt over a long-anticipated process. Would mother survive? Would baby be okay? God answered in the affirmative! It is all good now, thank the Lord! Mom and baby girl are fine.
The world laments news of one atrocity after another. With each mass shooting or bombing attack, Christians cry, “Come Lord Jesus. Come!” Do we stop and consider that, according to the Bible, labor pains then the hard labor precede Christ’s return?
Some would teach rescue precedes great tribulation, but has that ever been true of God? For the saints, Daniel and Jesus prophesied a time of great deceit and intense persecution. This is followed by unparalleled distress (Luke 21:7-24, Matthew 24:4-25). Paul warned in 2 Timothy 3:1, “But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days.”
Does this sound like we should be optimistic about the near future? We ought to ask “Do we want rescued or a better life in Egypt?” If you and I believe God’s Word, we prepare for the worst before the, oh, so much better. -jf