After 40 years, Moses returns to Egypt with his brother Aaron at his side. They show the Israelites the miraculous signs; they are convinced and worship God.

They are ecstatic that God is going to set them free!

Then Moses and Aaron go and talk to Pharaoh. This does not go as well.

The man who is now Pharaoh is quite possibly someone who grew up at the same time as Moses did in Pharaoh’s house. It is possible that Moses and this man were at one time friends; it is very likely that they were at least acquaintances.

We can only speculate, but regardless, this Pharaoh is not about to give up his free workforce. Pharaoh is full of pride, cares nothing about God, and does not want to lose any of the power or prominence that he has become accustomed to.

Instead of just saying no, Pharaoh decides that he needs to make things worse for his slaves.

The work that the Israelites had to do was to make bricks. The Egyptians provided the straw for the bricks. Pharaoh’s new decree was that now they had to find their own straw and still make the same number of bricks everyday.

The Israelites are forced to work harder, are unable to make the quota, and end up getting beaten for failing.

So at the end of the day, Moses hasn’t made much progress. Pharaoh is laughing in his face, and the Israelites are mad at him for making things worse.

Exodus 5:22-6:12

22 Then Moses went back to the Lord and protested, “Why have you brought all this trouble on your own people, Lord? Why did you send me? 23 Ever since I came to Pharaoh as your spokesman, he has been even more brutal to your people. And you have done nothing to rescue them!”

6:1 Then the Lord told Moses, “Now you will see what I will do to Pharaoh. When he feels the force of my strong hand, he will let the people go. In fact, he will force them to leave his land!”

2 And God said to Moses, “I am Yahweh—‘the Lord.’ 3 I appeared to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob as El-Shaddai—‘God Almighty’—but I did not reveal my name, Yahweh, to them. 4 And I reaffirmed my covenant with them. Under its terms, I promised to give them the land of Canaan, where they were living as foreigners. 5 You can be sure that I have heard the groans of the people of Israel, who are now slaves to the Egyptians. And I am well aware of my covenant with them.

6 “Therefore, say to the people of Israel: ‘I am the Lord. I will free you from your oppression and will rescue you from your slavery in Egypt. I will redeem you with a powerful arm and great acts of judgment. 7 I will claim you as my own people, and I will be your God. Then you will know that I am the Lord your God who has freed you from your oppression in Egypt. 8 I will bring you into the land I swore to give to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. I will give it to you as your very own possession. I am the Lord!’ ”

9 So Moses told the people of Israel what the Lord had said, but they refused to listen anymore. They had become too discouraged by the brutality of their slavery.

10 Then the Lord said to Moses, 11 “Go back to Pharaoh, the king of Egypt, and tell him to let the people of Israel leave his country.”

12 “But Lord!” Moses objected. “My own people won’t listen to me anymore. How can I expect Pharaoh to listen? I’m such a clumsy speaker!”

Exodus 7:1-13

Then the Lord said to Moses, “Pay close attention to this. I will make you seem like God to Pharaoh, and your brother, Aaron, will be your prophet. 2 Tell Aaron everything I command you, and Aaron must command Pharaoh to let the people of Israel leave his country. 3 But I will make Pharaoh’s heart stubborn so I can multiply my miraculous signs and wonders in the land of Egypt. 4 Even then Pharaoh will refuse to listen to you. So I will bring down my fist on Egypt. Then I will rescue my forces—my people, the Israelites—from the land of Egypt with great acts of judgment. 5 When I raise my powerful hand and bring out the Israelites, the Egyptians will know that I am the Lord.”

6 So Moses and Aaron did just as the Lord had commanded them. 7 Moses was eighty years old, and Aaron was eighty-three when they made their demands to Pharaoh.

8 Then the Lord said to Moses and Aaron, 9 “Pharaoh will demand, ‘Show me a miracle.’ When he does this, say to Aaron, ‘Take your staff and throw it down in front of Pharaoh, and it will become a serpent.’ ”

10 So Moses and Aaron went to Pharaoh and did what the Lord had commanded them. Aaron threw down his staff before Pharaoh and his officials, and it became a serpent! 11 Then Pharaoh called in his own wise men and sorcerers, and these Egyptian magicians did the same thing with their magic. 12 They threw down their staffs, which also became serpents! But then Aaron’s staff swallowed up their staffs. 13 Pharaoh’s heart, however, remained hard. He still refused to listen, just as the Lord had predicted.

To Think About…

Things don’t go as Moses had probably envisioned they would when he’d been talking to God at the burning bush.

So often we think because we’re obeying God that things are going to be smooth and life will be good. This definitely was not the case for Moses and the Israelites.

Maybe we’d be better off if we expected difficulties in life rather than always being blindsided by them.

Maybe God allows difficulties because He wants to put us in a position where we KNOW we need Him.

Maybe tough stuff comes our way to give us another opportunity to really trust God… to live by faith.

What do you think?