|Series Theme: Meditations in Lessons from Israel|
Meditation No. 13
Meditation Title: Difficult Fulfilment
Ex 5:1,2 Afterward Moses and Aaron went to Pharaoh and said, "This is what the LORD , the God of Israel , says: `Let my people go, so that they may hold a festival to me in the desert.' " 2 Pharaoh said, "Who is the LORD , that I should obey him and let Israel go? I do not know the LORD and I will not let Israel go."
When we were discussing, in a previous meditation, the content of the Lord's conversation with Moses at the burning bush, we commented then that really Moses should not be surprised about all that was to follow, because the Lord had simply laid out what would happen and part of it was that Pharaoh would not accept Moses' pleas on behalf of his people. Our problem is that when God says something to us, we don't get the whole picture and we tend not to think through the ramifications of what He has said.
For instance when the Lord brings a prophetic word that says something like, “I am going to make a great warrior out of you” what we tend to forget is that warriors only become great when they overcome in great battles! That was a word that says that you are going to find yourself in great battles! Or there is the word that says, “I am going to make you strong.” What we tend to forget is that strength is only built when we make great effort, so this is the Lord warning to get ready to make effort! Or the word that says, “I will work patience in you.” This simply means you are going to have to wait! All of these sorts of things come as a result of a process and the process usually means that we are going through tough stuff so that we will learn in a new way to receive the grace of the Lord in whatever form it comes.
Do you remember we read God's strategy: “But I know that the king of Egypt will not let you go unless a mighty hand compels him. So I will stretch out my hand and strike the Egyptians with all the wonders that I will perform among them. After that, he will let you go. "And I will make the Egyptians favorably disposed toward this people, so that when you leave you will not go empty-handed.” (3:19-21) We like to focus on the wonders that God will perform and the fact that He will make the Egyptians favourably disposed towards us, but we forget the initial bit that the signs and wonders will only come because Pharaoh is going to refuse Moses' requests. Worse that that, we don't think about how he will feel when he refuses our requests.
What we didn't realise was what he was going to say: “That same day Pharaoh gave this order to the slave drivers and foremen in charge of the people: "You are no longer to supply the people with straw for making bricks; let them go and gather their own straw. But require them to make the same number of bricks as before; don't reduce the quota. They are lazy; that is why they are crying out, `Let us go and sacrifice to our God.' Make the work harder for the men so that they keep working and pay no attention to lies.” (Ex 5:6-9) i.e. part of his refusal is to make life harder for Israel . Oooops, we didn't see that coming!
The way this works in our lives is that suddenly things seem to get worse, or in the case of promised healing, the sickness seems to get worse. We didn't realise that when the Lord said, “I will set you free” or “I will heal them” He didn't necessarily mean immediately. So often He allows there to be a process involved during which we change. Oh yes, we read about and think about the fact that the Lord wants us to grow and change but so often we don't realise that changes take place in us by us coping with the trials of live and learning to receive the grace of God in a new way. Often we have to learn to cope with and battle through the thing getting worse, before it gets better. When the Israelite foremen realise what is going on, they said, “May the LORD look upon you and judge you! You have made us a stench to Pharaoh and his officials and have put a sword in their hand to kill us.” (Ex 5:21 ) Oh yes, even the people of God can turn against us while we are waiting the outworking of God's word. The enemy will find some vulnerable soul who will mutter, “Oh right, so you heard God did you? Doesn't look like it from where I'm standing!” Don't worry about them; they just don't understand the process!
But when we come to the end of this chapter we see something that makes us realise just how much Moses has got to learn: “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.” (Ex 5:22 ,23) Excuse me, Moses, isn't that exactly what God said would happen? Well the best we can say is that at least he went to the Lord with his complaint. Very often people just mutter to themselves as they struggle to work out their misunderstandings. Go to the Lord with your confusion because then, at least, you'll get an answer if you are willing to listen, which is what we'll see in the next meditation. Talk to God about it! Learn to press on! Understand the process!