Wednesday, September 08, 2021

2021.09.08 Hopewell @Home ▫ Exodus 4:27–5:19

Read Exodus 4:27–5:19

Questions from the Scripture text: To whom had Yahweh spoken (Exodus 4:27)? What did He tell him to do? What did Aaron do (cf. Exodus 4:14)? What two things did Moses tell him (Exodus 4:28)? Then what did they do (Exodus 4:29)? And what two things did Aaron do (Exodus 4:30)? What do the people think of what they hear (Exodus 4:31a, cf. Exodus 3:18a)? And how do they respond to Yahweh (Exodus 4:31b)? Then to whom do Moses and Aaron go (Exodus 5:1)? What do they say to him? How does Pharaoh respond—what question does he ask and answer (Exodus 5:2, cf. Exodus 3:19)? What do they add to the request in Exodus 5:3? What is Pharaoh upset about in Exodus 5:4-5? What new command does he give (Exodus 5:6-8)? What rationale does he give? What does he hope to accomplish by this (Exodus 5:9)? Who do what in Exodus 5:10? What do they say (Exodus 5:10-11)? What do the people have to do now (Exodus 5:12)? What is the outcome of this new policy (Exodus 5:13-14)? Who go to whom in Exodus 5:15? What do they say (Exodus 5:15-16)? How does Pharaoh answer (Exodus 5:17-18)? What do the Israelite officers now see (Exodus 5:19)? 

Believers often miss how encouraged we ought to be by our troubles! If such a sentence sounds strange to us, then it’s because we’ve strayed from the faith of the apostle in Acts 14:22. In order to give us peace(!) Jesus told us that in this world we would have trouble (cf. John 16:33). When we actually have trouble, isn’t it an encouragement that our Lord’s Word holds perfectly true? We often fail to see that, but this passage in Exodus can help.

The Hebrew stem of the verb translated “said” in Exodus 4:27 (most?) often communicates past-perfect tense. “Now, Yahweh had said to Aaron…” This is likely, because of what the Lord had said in Exodus 5:14 and because Aaron “met him on the mountain of God.” This shows not only that the Lord’s Word is true, but also that He had already provided the response to Moses’s wickedness and weakness before Moses even made his complaints. Our Lord is not surprised by our failings but has already prepared His perfect response to them.

Secondly, just as Yahweh had prophesied, Aaron is glad to see Moses, as evidenced by the kiss at the end of Exodus 4:27. One might have expected otherwise. Moses not only enjoyed the benefits of ruling-class upbringing, but for these last forty years while Aaron had suffered in bondage, Moses had lived in comparatively great liberty and comfort. How easily the sentiment could have been resentment rather than fondness! But again, the Lord’s Word holds true.

Next, Moses briefs Aaron on what to say and do (Exodus 4:28), and they come and tell the elders of the children of Israel (Exodus 4:29-30). Based upon the way the people later act, and how Moses has already been treated by them (cf. Exodus 2:14),  Moses’s concern about their reception of him does not seem unfounded. Indeed, by the time we get to know this people well, we might consider the positive reception here to be almost miraculous. But the Lord had told Moses that the people would heed his voice (cf. Exodus 3:18). So it is; in Exodus 4:31, they believe, and they worship. Again, the Word of the Lord has held true. How perfectly reliable is the Word of the Lord!

Now, we come to the part that is instructive for when we run into those troubles about which the Lord Jesus has forewarned us. For, that is exactly what the Lord had done for Moses. He had told him in Exodus 3:19, “But knowing, I know that the king of Egypt will not let you go.” In fact, He had even told Moses some of the reasons behind this refusal: so that the Lord’s wonders would be displayed (cf. Exodus 3:20) and so that the people would not be sent away emptyhanded but rather plunder the Egyptians (cf. Exodus 3:21–22).

So here we are in Exodus 5:1–19, and things are just as Yahweh had told Moses. Pharaoh doesn’t just refuse to let the people go; he positively states it as a refusal to acknowledge Yahweh (Exodus 5:2), which sets up the display of Yahweh’s wonders against him. And the increased squeeze by Pharaoh, trying to get as much as he possibly can out of the Israelites (Exodus 5:6-19) sets up the reverse situation about which the Lord had told Moses: that this was the means by which Yahweh would enable the Israelites to squeeze as much as possible out of the Egyptians.

Knowing how this story ends, we can see that the Lord is indeed doing exactly as He has said. Shouldn’t the Israelites be encouraged that Pharaoh responds exactly as predicted? When we get to next week’s passage, we’ll find that neither they nor Moses respond well. 

But don’t we also know how our own story ends? And don’t we know many of the saint-sanctifying, Christ’s-victory-glorifying reasons for our own troubles? Shouldn’t we be encouraged that our lives are so much like the Lord told us they would be? But even if we often fall short of this, we can yet be encouraged not only that His Word does in fact hold true, but that it does so even in the lives of those who are discouraged because they fail to see that this is what is happening. What a faithful, merciful Lord we have in the midst of our troubles.

In what troubles do you find yourself? What has the Lord said about them? How does this encourage you? Where can you find mercy if you have failed to be encouraged?

Sample prayer:  Lord, we praise You for Your perfectly true Word and marvelously patient mercy. For, we are often forgetting how our troubles themselves show You to be true, and we look to You for patient mercy as we confess our unbelieving discouragement. Glorify Yourself by growing us in faith and peace and joy, we pray, through Jesus Christ, AMEN!

Suggested songs: ARP23B “The Lord’s My Shepherd” or TPH243 “How Firm a Foundation”


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