The Trouble with Being Delivered
For since I came to Pharaoh to speak in your name, he has done evil to this people, and you have not delivered your people at all. ()
Moses and his brother, Aaron, arrived in Egypt ready to deliver the Israelites from their slavery. Sent by God, they were confident of their success.
Exodus chapter 4 ends with Moses and Aaron meeting in the wilderness. Exodus 4:27 tells us that the Lord told Aaron to go meet Moses in the wilderness. The wilderness is a vast area. If I told you to go meet someone in California, where would you go first? San Diego? Los Angeles? San Francisco? Sacramento? Sequoia National Park? Also, when would you go?
We are not told how God directed Moses and Aaron as to their meeting place, but they would have had to have more direction than Moses tells us about. The Holy Spirit would have spoken to each one of them to bring them to the same place at the same time. This would have been the beginning of confidence building. The Lord told Moses He would give Aaron as a partner, and now He brings them together.
The text tells us that when they met, Aaron kissed Moses. This little detail is included to help us see the warmth with which these two brothers came together. This meeting made an impression on Moses so that he wrote about it years later.
The brothers are bonded by being directed by the Lord to their meeting and they are encouraged by their mutual affection for each other. Then, Moses tells Aaron all the words of the Lord and all the signs God commanded Him to perform.
Filled with confidence in their God-given duty and the success of their mission, they approach the elders of the people of Israel. Aaron told the people what the Lord had said and Moses performed the signs. In Exodus 4:31, Moses tells us:
And the people believed; and when they heard that the Lord had visited the people of Israel and that he had seen their affliction, they bowed their heads and worshiped. ()
By telling us the people bowed their heads and worshiped, Moses is telling us the people were overcome with gratitude for their coming deliverance.
When people have lost hope, the promise of deliverance brings great excitement and joy. The promise of deliverance restores hope, and hope makes the heart glad.
The gospel promises deliverance.
If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free. ()
Jesus promises eternal life, abundant life and He promises to set us free, free from slavery to sin and free from fear. When we first set out on the journey of following Jesus, often great excitement and joy accompany the beginning of our journey because of restored hope. Notice the word “journey.” This means that the trip covers an undetermined distance and demands stamina. Endurance is required. Jesus said:
As for what was sown on rocky ground, this is the one who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy, yet he has no root in himself, but endures for a while, and when tribulation or persecution arises on account of the word, immediately he falls away. ()
Using the image of seed sown on rocky ground, Jesus explains that some begin the journey with joy and excitement, but when hardship comes, they fall away.
Moses, Aaron and the people of Israel are full of joy and hope when they approach Pharaoh. They go to Pharaoh and say:
“Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, ‘Let my people go, that they may hold a feast to me in the wilderness.’” (Exodus 5:1, ESV)
Moses and Aaron used the name “Yahweh.” The sacred, covenant name of the Lord. In that day, to the present, this “name” of the Lord is so sacred to the observant Jew that they fear to pronounce it. We actually pronounce it either “Jehovah” or “Yahweh,” depending on which transliteration is used, and as is the case in today’s passage, translations of the Bible often translate the “name” as the “LORD.” In many translations, the “LORD” in all capital letters indicates that it is a translation of the name “Yahweh” or “Jehovah.”
Moses and Aaron could not have appealed to a higher authority. Jehovah, Himself, had spoken. Pharaoh should have bowed before the God of all creation and submitted to His will. However, consider Pharaoh’s words:
But Pharaoh said, "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." ()
Pharaoh uses the “name” twice. First, he says, “Who is the Lord?” And second, he says, “I do not know the Lord.”
When we begin the journey of deliverance, we do it because we have met with God. The Holy Spirit has made us aware of our slavery and of the promise of life and deliverance in Jesus Christ. However, those who have not had the same experience think that we are imagining it, believing in fairy tales and are deceived or fooled.
The trouble with being delivered is that one must choose between the wisdom of men or the wisdom of God.
Moses and Aaron are surprised by Pharaoh’s response and change their approach. They next say:
The God of the Hebrews has met with us. Please let us go a three days' journey into the wilderness that we may sacrifice to the Lord our God, lest he fall upon us with pestilence or with the sword. ()
Notice the complete shift in tone. Moses and Aaron make an appeal, using the word “please.” They also do not say, “Thus says the Lord,” but rather say, “The God of the Hebrews has met with us,” showing more of an explanation than an appeal to authority.
Again, Pharaoh responds:
Pharaoh discounts what Moses and Aaron are saying. Ignoring their message, he says, “Get back to work!”
The New Testament warns us of this response. When we have found the wisdom of God for our deliverance, the world sees us as foolish. 1 Corinthians 1:18 says:
For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. ()
We start out excited about our deliverance, and yet there are those in our lives who refuse to discuss or even acknowledge that we have met with God. What is to us the most significant thing in our lives is completely discounted. This can make it difficult if a spouse or parent is the one who refuses to acknowledge that something significant has happened.
The trouble with being delivered is that others may not acknowledge what is going on.
After Pharaoh refuses to acknowledge what Moses and Aaron just told him, Exodus 5:6-9 tells us:
The same day Pharaoh commanded the taskmasters of the people and their foremen, "You shall no longer give the people straw to make bricks, as in the past; let them go and gather straw for themselves. But the number of bricks that they made in the past you shall impose on them, you shall by no means reduce it, for they are idle. Therefore they cry, 'Let us go and offer sacrifice to our God.' Let heavier work be laid on the men that they may labor at it and pay no regard to lying words." ()
Moses and Aaron came to Egypt excited about the prospect of God’s deliverance. Now they are meeting with active resistance. Life is about to get a lot more difficult for the people of Israel. The Israelites were living under such bad conditions that they probably did not think about how much worse it could get. This command of Pharaoh made it impossible for the Israelites to meet their work quotas so their foremen were beaten as punishment. Exodus 5:15 tells us:
Then the foremen of the people of Israel came and cried to Pharaoh, "Why do you treat your servants like this? No straw is given to your servants, yet they say to us, 'Make bricks!' And behold, your servants are beaten; but the fault is in your own people." But he said, "You are idle, you are idle; that is why you say, 'Let us go and sacrifice to the Lord.' Go now and work. No straw will be given you, but you must still deliver the same number of bricks." ()
The foremen of the people of Israel appealed to man and to reason to find relief, but could find no help there. They made the mistake many of us make when we are seeking deliverance. We seek for help where there is no help.
The Israelites were in a spiritual battle and did not realize it. The same is often true of us.
The problem with being delivered is that things almost always get worse before they get better, and in response, we seek help in the wrong place.
Slavery does not give up its victims easily. Slavery to sin, which is slavery to our flesh, does not give up its grip easily. We all have systems built into our lives to help maintain our favorite sins. We have habits built into our daily routines. We have friends consistent with our tastes. To deliver us from these things, the Lord must first disrupt our patterns and thus our comfort.
Our lives start falling apart. We do not see the Lord’s hand, but we panic because our lives become unmanageable. Not realizing the spiritual nature of the battle, we go to the wrong places for help. We start trying to fix what we see as the problems. However, if we are to be delivered, we must trust God and what He is doing. We must let God fix us rather than try to fix our unmanageable lives in our own strength.
This is harder to do than it sounds. Look at the point that Moses was driven to. Exodus 5:22-23 says:
Then Moses turned to the Lord and said, "O Lord, why have you done evil to this people? Why did you ever send me? For since I came to Pharaoh to speak in your name, he has done evil to this people, and you have not delivered your people at all." ()
Moses complains to the Lord that He has not delivered His people. Moses was expecting God to immediately show His mighty hand of deliverance and for the people of Israel to walk out, but that is not how God chose to deliver His people.
We also cannot expect deliverance to take place immediately. Sometimes it does, but usually God takes us through a journey of deliverance to help us grow. This is why James 1:2 tells us to consider it pure joy when we encounter various trials. In Matthew 24:12-13, Jesus tells us:
And because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold. But the one who endures to the end will be saved. ()
We must have endurance. Moses was driven to the point of giving up with his first encounter with Pharaoh. And, Jesus warns us that many will give up when they encounter the trouble with being delivered. Many never know the joy of being free because they encounter the trouble with being delivered and give up.
“Would you be free from your burden of sin? There is power in the blood...”
The words of the song are true. Forgiveness and cleansing are instantaneous and complete when we ask Jesus to save us. Adoption and acceptance into the family of God happen immediately upon accepting Jesus by faith. But the process of becoming like Jesus is not immediate. Romans 8:29 tells us:
For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. ()
He has predestined us to be conformed but He does not do it all at once.
In Exodus 6:1, God tells Moses, “Now you shall see what I will do to Pharaoh.”
If we ask God for deliverance, we have His promise that He will deliver us. But, we must trust Him. Usually, or almost always, things get much worse before they get better. We must not seek to fight a spiritual battle with our usual human tools. Imagine, they went to Pharaoh to fix a problem that Pharaoh was causing. You also will look to solve your problem in a manner that is probably a big part of a cause.
The best example I can think of is that we try to fix relationship problems by telling the other person what they are doing wrong. BIG MISTAKE. Let God fix YOU in the relationship and trust God to fix the relationship. I guarantee you that if you ask God to fix the relationship, things are going to get worse before they get better, and God will work on you. That’s the trouble with being delivered.