SBC Banner


Wednesday in the Word

Second Baptist Church

April 19, 2017

Exodus  5:1-21

  1. One of the things we must remember is that God told Moses that Pharaoh was not going to agree to let the people go. God had forewarned Moses that God would use the hardheartedness of Pharaoh to provoke the Mighty Hand of God to deliver the people in a powerful way. Pharaoh doesn’t know it, but he is being set up for many to see what God can do. Oftentimes we need the enemy to demonstrate resistance so God can demonstrate real power. At this time the Pharaohs were the most powerful men in the world, but God was going to show the world that nothing was bigger than the Almighty God. Did you ever consider that the resistance you were experiencing was God setting you up to see his deliverance?

  2. Verses 1-2. After Moses and Aaron met with the Hebrew officials and told them of God’s plan to deliver them, Moses and Aaron go to visit Pharaoh. They meet with Pharaoh and request that he let the people take a break from their labor and go on a three day retreat. God instructed Moses to only ask for a short break to see how Pharaoh would respond. It was reasonable to request a break. The people were working every day without any breaks. Surely they could get a little R and R to rest up. This was to demonstrate just how unreasonable the Pharaoh was. The Pharaoh is symbolic of all-powerful people who only think of themselves and their goals versus decent humanity. There are people and corporations who only think of the bottom line, and the humanity of others comes second to the profit they make. One of the best ways to keep people oppressed is to keep them in a constant state of basic survival and extreme exhaustion. This is why many companies love to pay people slave wages and work them relentlessly. The goals of these corporations is to maximize profits and control the labor force by keeping them in survival mode. When folks are in survival mode they are afraid to complain and challenge the system. Moses represents a revolutionary leader that is asking for people to be treated like humans and not property. Of course the Pharaoh resist because he is a lover of self and not humanity. He tells Moses that he doesn’t know any God of the Hebrews, he isn’t going to obey any God of slaves, and nobody is being set free to go worship. The previous Pharaoh recognized the God of Joseph, but this Pharaoh doesn’t know anything about how the Hebrews came to Egypt. As far as this Pharaoh is concerned, the Hebrews have no God. He doesn’t recognize or know their history. The Hebrews don’t have a history in the mind of this Pharaoh. This is often how people are oppressed. The oppressor justifies their oppression by diminishing their history and negating their historical significance. They are just slaves. They are not descendants of the one who saved Egypt. Even in this country the justification of enslavement had at its roots the negation of a history of the oppressed people.

  3. Verses 3-5. Moses and Aaron then respond to Pharaoh’s first “no” by stating that if they don’t go their God will strike them down with plagues and the sword. Moses basically tells Pharaoh that God will kill them if the doesn’t let them go. Something bad is going to happen to the Hebrews if they don’t go. They have met with God and he is adamant that they go worship. Pharaoh is not having it. He doesn’t know this God and is not about to let his entire free labor workforce stop working. He even states that the workforce is too numerous to stop working. They are too valuable to the bottom line of Pharaoh to let them go anywhere. At this point Pharaoh gets mad and demands that they go back to work. Pharaoh’s profit is all connected to the vast free labor force. The powerful love to get the most for nothing. To Pharaoh, a simple no is not good enough, he must now punish the people for even allowing Moses and Aaron to make such a disrespectful request. The request for a three day break will be met with a terrible consequence.

  4. Verses 6-9. The process of making bricks was heavily dependent on straw as a binding agent and strengthener with the mud. You really couldn’t make the bricks without the straw. Initially the straw was brought to the slaves for them to make the bricks. Pharaoh decided that the Hebrews had too much time on their hands and in this time they were thinking about freedom. His goal would be to fill that free time up with even more hard labor. The goal was to keep the slaves so tired and so exhausted that they wouldn’t have time to even think about anything else but sleeping and working. The Pharaoh told the slave drivers (Egyptians) and overseers (Hebrews) to tell the Hebrew slaves that they would now have to get their own straw. This is like doubling a day’s work, but still requiring to make the same amount of bricks in a day. This would require work to start several hours earlier and end several hours later. The people would only have time to sleep, eat and work. Exhaustion in oppressed people causes them to lose the ability to resist and makes them more amicable to oppression. Resistance take strength, physical and mental strength. Pharaoh even admits that this tactic is to keep the people from listening to lies. He wants to do two things: 1. To keep the people exhausted and tired, and 2. To get the people to hate the revolutionary words of Moses. Powerful people always want to turn oppressed people against their own who are speaking against power. Pharaoh wants the people to think that they are working harder because of Moses and Aaron, but in reality they are working harder because Pharaoh is an evil man. These same fear tactics were used in this country against people of color.

  5. Verses 10-14. So the plan to make life harder was put in place. The word went out to the Hebrew overseers to make the people get their own straw. The people had to find straw from all over the country. This was so hard and so unreasonable that it was impossible to make the quota of bricks. When the quota of bricks came up short, the Egyptian slave drivers beat the Hebrew overseers. Violence is now used to control the people. Violence is a very persuasive tool. Notice how the violence was used to somehow convince the people that they were the problem and not the unreasonable request. The goal of the violence was to make an example out of the overseers to the rest of the people. If you don’t comply you will be hurt and beaten. This psychological warfare was to make oppressed people feel that they are responsible for not being able to do something with less. No one could do what Pharaoh requested, but this was all to get the Hebrews thinking they were not working hard enough.

  6. Verses 15-18. The Hebrew overseers tried their best to appeal to Pharaoh about this straw business, but he was not having it. They told him that the reason for the shortage of bricks was not the Hebrews fault, but the fault of the Egyptians and the lack of straw. Pharaoh wasn’t having any of that. He quickly called the slaves lazy. How do you call slaves who work all day lazy? Even today this idea that descendants of former slaves are inherently lazy still persist. This is a tactic of powerful people to get the oppressed people thinking that they are good for nothing. This has a way of making oppressed people internalize their own oppression with the words of their oppressor. The oppressor wants to get you to believe his narrative of you and not God’s narrative of you.

  7. Verses 19-21. Pharaoh’s plan to turn the people against Moses and Aaron was working. The Hebrew overseers left the presence of Pharaoh and went straight to Moses and Aaron and blamed them for Pharaoh’s harsh treatment of them. They have turned on the ones God has sent to bring about their deliverance. Instead of being mad at their oppressor they got mad at the one who was trying to deliver them from their bondage. Pharaoh’s plan was to divide the oppressed from anybody who was advocating being free from oppression. This tactic has worked for centuries. Moses and Aaron are now seen as the enemies by the very people who should see them as helpers in the cause of freedom. If Pharaoh can keep the people divided he will succeed. But he underestimates God.

click here to select another lesson