Wait and See
It wasn’t that Moses hadn’t been warned that Pharaoh wouldn’t listen to his request to allow the children of Israel to leave Egypt. In his earlier encounters with God, the Almighty had told him: “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” (Exodus 4:21).
Still, Moses seems upset when, not only doesn’t Pharaoh let the people go, but he increases the burden of their labour, making it impossible to keep up the quotas that their Egyptian taskmasters expected. Moses goes off to complain to the Lord. “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 5:22).
It’s really annoying when God doesn’t do what we want Him to do, or what we expect Him to do, when we expect it.
You can almost hear the sigh from heaven. What part of “he will not let the people go” didn’t you understand? Worse yet, what part of “I will harden his heart” didn’t you understand? Moses was the kind of guy who would have fit well into our instant society. We might have thought that forty years in the desert leading sheep would have shaved off some of the rough edges of his impatience. But while God might have made Moses a humbler man from the one who fled Egypt so many years earlier, Moses was still a “work in progress,” still learning to embrace the journey in faith while waiting for its perfect end.
It’s hard to embrace the journey at times. The children of Israel were angry at Moses, blaming his “intervention” for their now impossible task of making bricks without straw. An old adage says it well: “Heavy the head that wears the crown.”
As we begin Exodus 6 we read how the Lord responded to Moses’ complaint. That’s a story for another day. But Exodus 5, and what we will see in Exodus 6, takes us back to Exodus 3 and 4 and the picture we are given of a reluctant leader, a man so humbled by the blows of life that he didn’t think he could do anything that would end up well. Though God had had to humble him from the arrogant young prince that he had been, now God would take this man and teach him that the humble earth-bound caterpillar can become a high flying and beautiful butterfly.
Sneak preview for Exodus 6. After Moses’ complaint the Lord begins His response with: “Now you will see what I will do...” (Exodus 6:1).
It never was about Moses, or us. Nor will it ever be. It will always be about what God can do—and will—at the right time and in the right way.