Scripture: They met Moses and Aaron, who were waiting for them, as they came out from Pharaoh; and they said to them, “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.” Then Moses turned to the LORD and said, “O Lord, why have you done evil to this people? Why did you ever send me? Exodus 5:20-22 ESV
Observation: As we turn the page to chapter 5, the confrontation with Pharaoh and pushback from Moses’ kin begins. Here, Moses respectfully asks Pharaoh to let his people go on a three-day journey into the wilderness to hold a feast and make sacrifices to their God, lest pestilence and sword fall upon them. But, as Pharoah arrogantly contends, he does not know the Lord nor will oblige (5:2). Moreover, he instructs his taskmasters to increase the Hebrew slaves’ workload by making them additionally gather straw for brick-making to teach them not to be idle or believe Moses’ lying words regarding Yahweh’s command and consequences (5: 6-9).
So when the Hebrew supervisors inquire of Pharaoh why the added burden, he tells them that they are idle, that this is why they seek to go and worship their Lord (5:15-17). Thus, when they return to Goshen, they meet with Moses and Aaron and rant at them for the trouble they have brought upon their people. Indignant, they further add that Moses and Aaron have made them a stench to Pharaoh, who is bent on killing them (5:15-21). As one reaction sparks another, Moses then turns to the Lord and complains that his plan is only making things worse and questions why Yahweh sent him, for he has not delivered his people at all (5:22-23).
Takeaway: It’s easy to let the tension escalate when we are scared or angry. In the above story, anger primes the pump, beginning with Pharaoh, who then riles the Hebrew foremen who vent on Moses and Aaron, leading to Moses complaining to and questioning God. And underlying their hostility is fear:
- Pharaoh feared he would lose control of his slave labor.
- The Hebrew supervisors feared the increased workload would lead to their demise.
- Moses feared that he would fail.
And each of these men demonstrated either no knowledge of God (Pharaoh) or a poor understanding of God (the Hebrews).
What does this mean to you and me? To break the chain reaction of fear-mongering and consequential anger-response, we need to develop a larger view of our Triune God. For his perfect plans unfold in his timing and entail sacrifice and suffering. Indeed, at just the right time, the Son of God came into our world and dwelled among us as our suffering servant to bring us deliverance. And as his disciples, we should expect nothing less for ourselves. Setbacks and suffering very much characterize the Christian journey. So if we want to break the chain reaction, refusing to escalate fear and anger, we need to deepen our understanding of the sacrificial love of our Father and Brother so that their grace and peace prevail.
Prayer: Father God, we thank you for sacrificing your Son to deliver us from the penalty of sin. Would you please help us break the chain reaction of fear and anger that so marks these troubled times in our world that we might be your vessels of grace and peace? Amen.
Rev. Gordon Green, M.Div., M.A. Counseling