Let My People Go! – Exodus 5:1-23

In our last sermon, Moses, the reluctant servant of God, finally obeyed the call of God. But Moses would soon find out that obedience to the Lord does not mean everything will be easy!

Now in the land of Egypt, Moses and Aaron are about to face the strongest and most powerful leader on earth: Pharaoh, who, in the eyes of the Egyptians, was a god. The Israelites, at this time, were the lowest class in Egypt, physical slaves to Pharaoh and the Egyptian people. They were slave laborers who constructed all of the Egyptian buildings and temples.

Our text opens up with a bold declaration from Moses and Aaron speaking for the Lord, “Thus says the LORD, the God of Israel.” What follows is a word directly from the Lord of all, Yahweh! “Let my people go, that they may hold a feast to me in the wilderness.” In this text we see the Sovereign will of God declared; His call through Moses and Aaron was simple: let my people worship me! But Pharaoh will have none of it, as he declares, “Who is the LORD, that I should obey his voice and let Israel go? I do not know the LORD, and moreover, I will not let Israel go.” So we begin the salvo of the battle of the wills: God’s Sovereign will against fallen man’s will. This will find its climax as the Israelites safely cross the Red Sea while the Egyptians are swallowed up by the crashing waves.

Moses warns Pharaoh with a plea that if they are not allowed to go, pestilence or sword will follow. But Pharaoh makes things worse for the Israelites by increasing their burden, making them find their own straw with which to make bricks, while keeping the quota the same. The Israelite foremen were beaten when they do not meet the quota. They cry out to Pharaoh; the Israelites cry out to Moses; and Moses cries out to God.

In our text we see the clash of wills between the Lord and Pharaoh. We also see the reality that following the Lord will bring with it all sorts of persecution. The Israelites, who were worshiping God at the end of chapter 4 with the promise that God would deliver them, are now crying out in disbelief, as they deride Moses, “The LORD look on you and judge, because you have made us stink in the sight of Pharaoh and his servants, and have put a sword in their hand to kill us.” The question for you today is, how will you behave when following the Lord brings earthly problems? How will you behave when you face trials and tribulations?


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