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076 - Straw and Second Thoughts

More Than Ink / Pastor Jim Catlin & Dorothy Catlin
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January 8, 2022 1:00 pm

076 - Straw and Second Thoughts

More Than Ink / Pastor Jim Catlin & Dorothy Catlin

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January 8, 2022 1:00 pm

Episode 076 - Straw and Second Thoughts (8 Jan 2022) by A Production of Main Street Church of Brigham City

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You pick up your Bible and wonder, is there more here than meets the eye?

Is there something here for me? I mean, it's just words printed on paper, right? Well, it may look like just print on a page, but it's more than ink. Join us for the next half hour as we explore God's Word together, as we learn how to explore it on our own, as we ask God to meet us there in its pages.

Welcome to More Than Ink. You know how when you have these great expectations of good things happening and then they don't, what do you do after that? Oh, we always look for somebody to blame. Look for someone to blame. Whose fault is this? Yeah. Well, how did I get here? Well, we do that.

Have you ever been tempted to blame God? Well, Moses and Aaron sure were. And they did.

And they did today on More Than Ink. Well, a warm welcome to you this morning in the new year 2022. And I'm Jim.

And I'm Dorothy. And I'm glad you've joined us. We have turned the corner to the new year and we are adventuring, exploring, walking, striding our way through Exodus. We have come out of 2021. That's right. And this is a great story of this gigantic rescue on God's part of his people who've been in Egypt for hundreds of years, measured in centuries, and in slavery.

And then God takes the initiative because he hears their cry and he affects your rescue. And we're very early in that process. We're just starting to chapter five today. And why don't you recap for us where we left off last time. Do you remember?

Yeah. Well, at the end of chapter four, we left off where Moses and Aaron had gone and spoken to the people. And they had listened the way God had said that they would. They responded. And right at the end of chapter four, it says, so the people believed when they heard that the Lord has concerned about the sons of Israel and that he'd seen their affliction and they bowed low and worshiped.

Perfect response. So the people have this very welcoming response to this news that God is going to come and deliver. Yeah, yeah. So here's Moses and his brother Aaron and talking to the people.

They're going, we're in and everything looks just fine. Yeah. Now, before we really get into this, I was thinking today, it's been a little while since we've talked about the fact that we are not, we're not experts in Egyptian culture or Egyptian history. No. And we're not attempting to be exhaustive in the way we handle this text, but we are hoping to help you who are listening consider what the text actually says.

Yeah. How to ask good questions, how to evaluate the context, how to understand how the story is being told, what's being told to us about God and about God's activity. That's 80 percent of the effort when it comes to Bible reading.

It really is. It's just the first level observation. There's just a ton of understanding to mine at that level too. And often when I'm starting into a narrative as big as this one, as big as the book of Exodus, I will frequently turn back to the beginning and reread as quickly as I can from the beginning all the way up to where I'm currently studying so that I kind of reinforce everything that came before. And that's a way of picking up patterns and repetitions that perhaps you didn't see as kind of like not seeing the forest for the trees because you're focused on the details of the teeny portion you're working on.

Yeah. So it's good to go back and review. So like for us, if this was our daily devotion, let's say, and we said, I'm going to read Exodus 5 today, then you'd say, well, I'll go back to Chapter 1 and just read my way up to Chapter 5 and just see where we came from and where we are. It's a nice way to get context straight and also to get a bigger picture created in your mind.

And sometimes when you get farther into the book, like when you're in Chapter 25 or 30, you can't do that in a practical way, but you can kind of skim back through. Yeah. It's very helpful. Yeah, and that helps us just set the context.

That's a great comment. And that just puts me on a soapbox about people who pull a single verse out of a section of Scripture and have no clue what came before it and why it's even there. Okay, so this practice is a safeguard against that. Yeah, yeah, because without that context, you could interpret it almost any way you wanted to. And also it gives us a view into the fact that repetition is very, very important in the Scriptures. And so we see some things repeated again and again and again when we are in the habit of continually looking over the big picture. Yeah, and you can't spot that unless you do the big picture.

You can't see that repetition. Well, so let's just go in. We're exploring our way into it. And so Moses and Aaron, with the people, they're ready to have their confrontation with Pharaoh. Right. So here we go.

It looks like everyone's on board and everything's going to go right, right? Okay, so after the people respond really well at the end of Chapter 4, here we dive into Chapter 5. After that, Moses and Aaron went and said to Pharaoh, Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, Let my people go, that they may hold a feast to me in the wilderness. But Pharaoh said, Who is the Lord, that I should obey his voice and let Israel go? I do not know the Lord. Moreover, I will not let Israel go. Then they said, The God of the Hebrews has met with us. Please let us go on 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. But the king of Egypt said to them, Moses and Aaron, why do you take the people away from their work? Get back to your burdens. I think we should probably stop there. That's not a bad place. So they don't hit them first up with, let all these people go and you'll never see them again. In fact, that was by God's design back in Chapter 3.

It was, no, let's start with an easy task. Just let them go long enough to go out in the desert and worship. Yeah, and now, you know, I wondered at first, because God didn't actually say those words when he said, Go and say to Pharaoh. So I looked back in Chapter 4, and the Lord says in verse 21, The Lord said to Moses, When you go back to Egypt, see that you performed before Pharaoh the wonders which I have put in your power, and I will harden his heart so that he will not let the people go. Then you shall say to the Pharaoh, Thus says the Lord, Israel is my son, my firstborn. Well, we don't have a record of Moses saying that right here.

No, right here, yeah. So I said to you, Let my son go that he may serve me. So that's the idea of going out to worship, I think, is there.

Behold, I will kill your son, your firstborn, if you refuse to let them go. So, you know, this request to go and worship is kind of a, it feels like a tester. Well, yeah, that's what I mean. It's kind of an easy first step. You can see where Pharaoh is at right here. We're going to be actually uncovering Pharaoh's heart in all of this.

Right. So you start with an easy thing, and if he's going to say no to this, you know, where is he at? Yeah, I was just going to reference back in Chapter 3, verse 18. You know, Say to him, The Lord the God of the Hebrews has met with us, and now please let us go three days' journey into the wilderness that we may sacrifice to the Lord our God. So it's basically the nation of Israel worshiping God as God's son would. You know, you need to let us, you know, relate to God the way we're supposed to, because we're God's children. Okay, but you know, this phrase, the God of the Hebrews has met with us. I kind of didn't pay any attention to that until just a little while ago, when I suddenly realized the God of the Egyptians didn't come down and meet with them. No. Right?

They resided in. No. It's a way of saying we have a God who's alive, and he's right here. Right, and he's coming to us. And he's present. So he's called us out.

We need to go and meet with him. Yeah, it's a radically different idea from the God's, the panoply of God's. Yeah, and so this is totally foreign to Pharaoh. I don't know who this God is.

Yeah, and I think that's an honest thing. I don't know who your God is, but no, I'm not going to let you have, you know, a three-day vacation to go do this worship thing. I don't know who your God is. No. So he just says no. Yeah, stay here and worship like we do.

Yeah, exactly, exactly. Just stay right here and get back to your burdens. Right, get back to work. Is this a snow day for you?

You think you can go off at night? No, you've got to do your stuff, so go back to work. That's his last line, get back to your burdens.

So let's push on. So Pharaoh says, Behold, the people of the land are now many, and you make them rest from their burdens. That's his way of saying, we've come to rely on you all and you want them to rest now?

No way. Verse 6, so the same day Pharaoh commanded the taskmasters of the people in their formant, 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. And 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. He's kind of against this. Well, yeah, so here we begin to see Pharaoh's heart beginning to be revealed. We see the hardness.

Yeah, he says, okay, you want to go and do this thing to your God. Well, let's just make your work a little harder. You must have too much time on your hands.

Have too much time on your hands. All right, idle hands, you know, so we'll make use of that idle hand by making you collect all your straw. Which is, by the way, a pretty essential building ingredient when you made these bricks. Yeah, it holds the bricks together.

It gives the clay something to grab onto. Yeah, because these bricks are only sun-dried. They're not kiln-dried. You know, the bricks we think of are kiln-dried. You don't really need straw in them.

But these ones that are sun-dried, you really do. It's an important thing. So, yeah, so now I guess before this, some Egyptian, you know, low-level workers were bringing big bunches of straw. They were providing the materials they needed. They would collect it, and then the Israelis would just make the bricks. So now they have this extra work to do as well. Nuts.

So there's a lot of repetition here in the story to drive home the fact that this was unfamiliar to everybody. Right, so in verse 10, the taskmasters and the foremen of the people went out and said to the people, �Thus, says Pharaoh, I will not give you straw. Go and get your straw yourselves wherever you can find it, but your work will not be reduced in the least.� So the people were scattered throughout all the land of Egypt to gather stubble for straw. The taskmasters were urgent, saying, �Complete your work, your daily task each day as when there was straw.� And the foremen of the people of Israel, whom Pharaoh's taskmasters had set over them, were beaten and were asked, �Why have you not done all your task of making bricks today and yesterday as in the past?� Okay, so things are going really fast from bad to worse. Really fast. Right, the minute Moses comes with this message of deliverance that says, �God sees you, God's going to deliver you, we're just going to go to Pharaoh and ask.� Well, then things turn sour really fast. And I think sometimes we don't expect that, right? We think God's deliverance is going to be immediate and beautiful and there's going to be, yeah, that's right, immediately beautiful and good. But here we see in this story how the beginning of God's deliverance gets very hard.

Things get worse first. And is it because God's out of control? That's right.

It's not at all. God is delivering. No, but there's an essential thing that's becoming unveiled right here that's necessary. I think it becomes more apparent as we go on.

So this is a necessary step. But this probably, if you pulled a random Hebrew off the streets and said, is this going according to the plan you thought was going to happen? Like at the end of Chapter 4, you said, oh yeah, great, God's going to rescue us. Is this what you envisioned? And they'd say, no, I don't think so.

I mean, this has gotten worse. Well, we're going to see in a minute that it's not what Moses expected either. And just by way of saying, that is so often true about our relationship with God is that what we ask for, what we pray for. And when it doesn't come true the way that we think it is, we think that God's either not listening or He kind of botched the plan.

And it's not true. God's pretty darn smart. And He's got a lot of gears turning right here. Yeah, and God's always doing something bigger and other than we can see on the surface. And so I'll bring this up again at the end. But this whole idea that when God sets about to deliver and things suddenly go from bad to worse fast, sent me thinking of the story of Lazarus in John 11.

Oh, yeah, sure. Right, when the sisters send to Jesus and say, our brother is very ill, come now. And Jesus deliberately waits until Lazarus dies. Yeah, it's very clear in the text. Yeah, so we'll circle back to that at the end of the chapter, I think, in my thinking. But, you know, this whole idea that when God says, I will deliver you, but in my way and for my glory.

And it may not meet your expectations exactly. And by the way, it's always the best way. That's right.

Okay, you want to take it up at 15? Sure. Then the foreman 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 your own people. But he said, your idol, your idol. That's why you say let's 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 foreman of the people of Israel saw that they were in trouble when they said, you shall by no means reduce your number of bricks, your daily task each day. 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 have put a sword in their hand to kill us. Yeah, stop there. They blame Moses.

Yeah, yeah. And Pharaoh had blamed them for being lazy. There's lots of blame bouncing around here. There's lots of blame. I mean, yeah, everyone does not like the new situation.

Right. And I think it's actually, it's somewhat poetic that we started here that they, instead of them crying out to God, they cried out to Pharaoh. They cried to Pharaoh, yeah.

And trying to appeal to them like, you know, you need to change your decision because you're making things hard for us and that's why we're falling short. They cry out to Pharaoh to kind of adjust the situation. Whereas it was an intentional thing on God's part that this would ratchet up like this. Right, to reveal Pharaoh's heart.

To reveal Pharaoh's heart, yeah. And so, you know, here they're actually putting the blame back to where it actually is. The problem is, is Pharaoh's people aren't collecting straw. That's the problem. And, you know, logistically that is the problem. But that's not really central to the issue here. What we see here is the hearts of the people and the hearts of Pharaoh suddenly becoming revealed in a way that we didn't know before.

Right. And I'm just going to jump up to verse 20, you know, when they met with Moses and Aaron, who were waiting for them, because we didn't see how that was going to go. How'd that go? And they came out from Pharaoh and they said to him, Look, the Lord look on you and judge because you made us stink. Well, they act like they know what's going on and, you know, and they're basically saying we're right and you're wrong and God's going to judge between us. And you interfered. And you interfered, yeah. Right. We could have worked this out, but you interfered.

Yeah. And we asked God to judge. We're in the right. You're in the wrong, buddy.

Oh, my goodness. You know, when things go bad, that's exactly what we do. We end up kind of finding sides ourselves amongst the people around us who's the fault, you know. And in my perspective of what's going on, that's always right. So I'm right and you're wrong. God judged between us. You'll see.

God will prove it to you. And this is your fault. And this is your fault. You did this.

Yeah. This is not my fault. This is your fault. And the Lord look on you and judge, you know, God will tell you that you're in the wrong, Moses. You're in the wrong, Aaron. You guys are wrong. You're totally wrong because suddenly you've made us stink in the sight of Pharaoh. I love that phrase, the stink.

And you've given him a weapon to kill us with. Exactly. Exactly.

So, you know, the presumption when they say you made us stink with Pharaoh was that before this moment in time, they did not stink with Pharaoh. However. Which is really not true. Which is not true. And that's what's interesting about their observation here. Moses didn't cause this stinking in the heart of Pharaoh against the Hebrews. That had been growing for quite some time. That's why they were stuck making bricks in the first place.

That's right. Because Pharaoh was already feeling threatened by the numbers, if you remember back to early in the book. He said, oh, there's a lot of Hebrews, let's put them to hard work. Yeah.

But the Hebrews didn't know this is where the status of Pharaoh's heart was. They didn't really. And, you know, after hundreds of years of being there, they have been enslaved, yes. But it seemed like things were going kind of okay as long as you played the game and you made your bricks. You figured out what their place was in this society. Yeah. You keep Pharaoh happy.

We have relatively good lives. And now Pharaoh is no longer happy. Pharaoh wasn't happy. And they didn't know that until this very thing happened. He wasn't happy. He was actually antagonized against them.

And they didn't know that until right here. Until Moses poked the blister. So Moses, yeah. Moses and Aaron didn't make them stink in the sight of Pharaoh.

Right. And Moses and Aaron just exposed the fact that he hated the Hebrews. That's what happened. They exposed what was already there.

And that's a really important issue. And I think, for me, that's personally why God did this whole event right here, is so they could get a better look into the heart of this Pharaoh, who they thought was a relatively fair, although enslaving kind of, you know, king. Still, they didn't realize how much animosity was building in his heart against them. And they thought they could actually, if Moses and Aaron hadn't done what they had done, things would be fine with Pharaoh. See, I think also it gives us a view into the heart of the Israelites, the heart of the Hebrew people. They're called Hebrews up to this point. Because look how fast they turned from receiving the message of deliverance with joy and worshiping God. Well, clearly a God they did not yet know. To the minute things get worse, blaming the messenger.

And then what does the messenger do? Look at verse 22. Then Moses turned to the Lord and said, Oh Lord, why have you done evil to this people?

Why did you ever send me? This is your fault, right? For since I came to Pharaoh to speak in your name, he's done evil to this purple and you have not delivered your people at all. Wow, and the blame is passing quick here.

No kidding. So he's not only blaming the Lord for this turn of events, but he's also feeling very sorry for himself. Why did you send me if you knew it was going to turn out this way? God had told him it was going to happen. He told him it would. I mean, yeah, he told him it would happen.

And I think it was back in chapter three. He predicted exactly Pharaoh's response is going to be tough. It's not going to go really well. I'll get you out eventually.

He's not going to let you go. So this shouldn't be a surprise, but now the people, you know, the people are blaming Moses and Aaron and now Moses is going and blaming God and the blame is going around everywhere. And no, it's this like us. It is so much like us. Oh my goodness.

Yeah. I mean, the righteous response would be to look around and see how the circumstances gone south and then get on your knees and say, God, I don't understand what's happening, but I trust, I trust you got things under control, but man, I'm really confused. Well it's even okay to say, God, what are you doing?

Because I don't understand this. The problem is my understanding and my response, not your righteous activity. And then see, that's where you come down, Paul says, we walk by faith and not sight. And so your sight tells you that Pharaoh has gotten bad and Moses and Aaron aren't helping you. Your sight's telling you everything's bad, but God said he was going to get you released. He was going to get you. He told you this already, even through Moses and Aaron, I'm going to get you out. So are they willing to trust that statement or are they willing to trust what their eyes are telling them? But here's the really big thought that I take away from here and that is that the beginning of God's deliverance of his people out of Egypt looks like a disaster.

Things turn very bad right after the announcement, let my people go. And I think we need to take that to heart because as I said before, that set me thinking about the story of Lazarus, right? And Jesus said, this is for the glory of God and so he holds still and waits three days for Lazarus to die and be buried.

And then he says later to the sisters when he's standing in front of the tomb about to raise him, he says, if you believe, you will see the glory of God, but he let them endure those days of grief. Yeah. Yeah. That was deliberate.

That was totally deliberate. Well, Jesus himself also died, right? And the disciples were like, well, this shouldn't have happened when he had been telling them all along. I'm coming up to Jerusalem and I'm going to die. And even Paul himself says in the beginning of 2 Corinthians 1, he says, we despaired of life itself so that our hope would be in God and not in ourselves.

That's 2 Corinthians 1, 8 and 9. So I think that is a huge principle here that when God says I will deliver, he may not do it in the way we expect and things might look like they're getting a whole lot worse before they get better. And it's constantly keeping you on this knife edge of whether you're willing to trust God's promises over which your eyes are telling you what's going on around you. Your eyes are telling you it's all going south, but you don't see the half of what goes on in God's plan.

Well, and not just your eyes, but your hard experience. This was painful and difficult for them. And what God was doing in the Hebrews was making them want to get out, right? And I would maintain that that's one of the primary reasons for this whole part of it. Because soon Pharaoh's going to be given enough motivation to want them to get out. But the Israelites themselves after hundreds of years there, I think they're experiencing what today we call the Stockholm Syndrome where you're kept by a captor and you tend to think well this is maybe what normal life is like so let's just not antagonize them and they'll be nice to us and things will be okay even though we're enslaved. It's kind of a status quo kind of affair. And so that's what they're saying to Moses.

If you hadn't stepped in, things would have been sort of fine. Wow, okay, so that makes me think later on in the wilderness we're going to see them say, oh, why did you bring us out here because we want to go back to Egypt where we were eating cucumbers and melons and we could cook the way we wanted and we just got water by pumping it. I'm like, oh, except they were slaves. A land flowing with milk and honey, do you not believe that promise? So we're constantly put through all these nerves, we're put up against are you willing to trust God's promise to us or instead are you willing to trust what your eyes are telling you what's going on because there's so much more going on than you can see when God executes his plans. So I think this is really instrumental not only for us seeing what Pharaoh's heart is really like, I mean he's really, he's hard-hearted right now, but the people I think don't realize how much that they've been sort of connected into Egypt and they need to be disconnected and it's not until this kind of nasty event happens here that they don't really understand how much that they really need to be gone from here because all of a sudden they stink in the nose of Pharaoh, they need to be out.

And that's not something that Moses and Aaron created, that's something that's always been there, so God needs to pull them out of there. And they're suddenly realizing that, they're suddenly realizing, man, this is not our home, things are packed. Hey, we're enslaved. They sort of wake up and go, do you know where we're enslaved here and you realize that Pharaoh doesn't like us?

This is like a bad deal. We need to get out of here. Yeah, you know, you said Stockholm syndrome, I'm thinking more frog-in-the-pot syndrome, right? They just kind of drifted into this over the generations and this is just their life now, right? And maybe in some way they've sort of forgotten that God promised them a land someplace else that's much, much better and they just got used to being here. That's very likely. And so by revealing Pharaoh's hearts they're saying, oh, we really do need to get out of here.

We really do need to. And I think God's revealing their own hearts to themselves. That's what's going on here. So that brings us to the end of chapter five. We're going to go into chapter six and this whole thing will continue. And we hope you're following with us. And I hope the attitude of the Israelites, the Hebrews gets better into chapter six.

But don't count on it too much. Well, you know, the thing that stands out to me too at this point is that these are not perfect people. Moses and Aaron were not perfect men.

And their relationship with one another and their relationship with their people was not perfect. And yet God says, I'm going to do this and I've chosen you to be my instruments. As a matter of fact, we're going to see them in the next chapter.

Balkan, Balkan, Balkan, God charges them. He gives them an executive order. Just go do it. Just do it.

Just do it. Yeah. So, you know, at the end of this chapter, Moses and Aaron, if they were the real hot righteous guys, we like to think that they are the righteous superstars. They would have they would have said to the people, hey, you know, people you need to wise up. You know, we have a God who made a promise to us. He's going to get us out of here. Let's all fast and pray and we'll work through this instead. Moses and Aaron come up to God's presence and blame him for kind of messing up the exit strategy. It's your fault. Why did you send me in here?

What a bad deal. So we're seeing Moses and Aaron grow as well. And what a necessary skill it's going to have to be for Moses and Aaron much, much later when things get even worse as they're moving their way into the promised land.

So God is changing everybody in all this. And now I think at this point, the Hebrews for the first time ever are truly motivated to say we've got to get out and we've got to get out now. Well, I'm not even sure they're motivated yet, but they will be. There's a little bit more to come. They will be. There's a little bit more to come.

So that's good to know. And so that's why God gives us these stories, really to reveal the nature of the human heart to, and that's where he brings us through tough times in order to reveal the nature of our own hearts. So we'll see that revealed more as we go on here. So I'm Jim.

And I'm Dorothy. And we're glad you're with us. And we hope to join us next week as we come into Exodus 6 and we hope things turn out better. We'll see how it goes. Come join us next time on More Than Ink. More Than Ink is a production of Main Street Church of Brigham City and is solely responsible for its content.

To contact us with your questions or comments, just go to our website, I'm just seeing what happens. Okay. Without a game plan? Without a game plan. I'm just seeing what happens.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-06-30 19:24:57 / 2023-06-30 19:37:55 / 13

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