Friday, October 21, 2011

Exodus 5:19-23 Why, God?

"The Israelite foremen realized they were in trouble
when they were told,
'You are not to reduce the number of bricks required of you for each day.'

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 have made us a stench to Pharaoh and his officials
and have put a sword in their hand to kill us.'

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.' "

Exodus 5:19-23 (NIV)

The Israelite foremen were understandably upset with the results from Moses' and Aaron's meeting with Pharaoh.  Instead of helping their fellow Israelites, the meeting seems to have made the situation even worse.  Pharaoh is angry, the overseers are probably annoyed that the foremen had gone over their heads and appealed directly to Pharaoh, and, worst of all, Pharaoh now has an excuse to kill the slaves, for their work will continue to yield even more unsatisfactory results.

Moses and Aaron had been waiting nearby to see what would be the result of the foremen's appeal to Pharaoh.  Now these foremen were asking God to pass judgment upon them, for Pharaoh's orders seem designed to hasten their annihilation.  Even though God had told them that Pharaoh would be uncooperative, this latest development seems to have been somewhat shocking to Moses and Aaron, who had only wanted to help the Hebrews.

Moses goes back to the LORD for answers.  His words are strong, but not disrespectful.  He just does not understand why God would allow the situation to get worse if He truly wanted to deliver His people as He had promised to do.  It is as though Moses is bringing the fact of the covenant which God had made with the Israelites to the forefront:  If they truly were His people, then why wasn't He helping them?

[This reminds me of how people react when bad things happen to good people, when innocents suffer, etc.  It is the age-old problem of  'How could a loving God allow such evil?'.]

I am glad that Moses was so straightforward and honest in his questions.  There is a kind of integrity in his speech which comes across and lets us know that he loves both God and the Israelites.  God certainly knew Moses' heart in these matters.  He does not seem offended at Moses' question.

God has not forgotten His covenant.  He does have a plan, which He will continue to reveal to Moses.

As for the problem of evil, there are some answers found in the fact that mankind's sin has had devastating effects upon individuals, society, and even nature.  God's character (all-knowing, all-powerful, loving, righteous) assures us that all wrongs will eventually be made right.  Sometimes this takes time, for all the purposes of God take time to develop.  That is, of course, the short answer.  Books could be written explaining the details.

At any rate, God has a reply for Moses.  We will read about it in the next section, Exodus chapter 6.

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