Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Pharaoh Ignores God's Call-Sunday School Lesson

International Sunday School Lesson
For Week Ending June 21, 2009

Purpose: To recognize and accept that God's authority takes precedence over all competing authorities.

Scripture Text: Exodus 5:1-9, 22-23, 6:1 (NRSV)

Exodus 5:1-9, 22-23
(1)Afterwords Moses and Aaron went to Pharaoh and said, ‘Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, “Let my people go, so that they may celebrate a festival to me in the wilderness.” (2) But Pharaoh said, ‘Who is the Lord, that I should heed him and let Israel go? I do not know the Lord, and I will not let Israel go.’ (3)Then they said, ‘The God of the Hebrews has revealed himself to us; let us go a three days’ journey into the wilderness to sacrifice to the Lord our God, or he will fall upon us with pestilence or sword.’ (4)But the king of Egypt said to them, ‘Moses and Aaron, why are you taking the people away from their work? Get to your labours!’ (5)Pharaoh continued, ‘Now they are more numerous than the people of the land and yet you want them to stop working!’ (6)That same day Pharaoh commanded the taskmasters of the people, as well as their supervisors, (7)‘You shall no longer give the people straw to make bricks, as before; let them go and gather straw for themselves.(8)But you shall require of them the same quantity of bricks as they have made previously; do not diminish it, for they are lazy; that is why they cry, “Let us go and offer sacrifice to our God.” (9)Let heavier work be laid on them; then they will labour at it and pay no attention to deceptive words.’

(22)Then Moses turned again to the Lord and said, ‘O Lord, why have you mistreated this people? Why did you ever send me? (23)Since I first came to Pharaoh to speak in your name, he has mistreated this people, and you have done nothing at all to deliver your people.’

Exodus 6:1
(1)Then the Lord said to Moses, ‘Now you shall see what I will do to Pharaoh: Indeed, by a mighty hand he will let them go; by a mighty hand he will drive them out of his land.’

My Thoughts by Burgess Walter

T. S. Eliot wrote these words; “The greatest proof of Christianity for others is not how far a man can logically analyze his reasons for believing, but how far in practice he will stake his life on his belief.” Moses had received a call from God, and he had reluctantly answered that call, but was he really committed to the call? Likewise the children of Israel had received God's message by way of Moses and Aaron that God had seen their plight and was ready to move against the Egyptians. But were they willing to follow the lead of Moses and Aaron and this new revelation of Yahwey, (I Am, the Lord)?

Then there is the Pharaoh. The Pharaoh was a god in his own sight and in the sight of the Egyptians; he was not interested in the god of the Israelite's, regardless of what they called him. He looked at this request for a three day weekend to go out into the desert and offer a sacrifice, as a sign of laziness, nothing more.

The Israelites outnumbered the Egyptians; this problem was originally addressed earlier in Exodus, (where Moses’ birth and the Hebrew midwives actions are recorded). Pharaoh used the same psychology as many parents use, if you are complaining then you are not busy enough, or you have too much time on your hands. The answer is more work, more chores to do. The more they were required to do, the less they could threaten Egypt's sovereignty.

I am not certain Moses was completely honest with the Israelite leaders, when he addressed them. God had told Moses and Aaron he would harden Pharaoh's heart (vs 4:21-23), maybe Moses did not believe that part of the message, or maybe he thought that would be to hard for the Israelites to understand and they would feel defeated before they began. Whatever happened, the Israelites only listened to the good news, and they heard what they wanted to hear (Vs, 4:31).

That brings me back to Moses' call; sometimes the hardship falls on others around the one that has been called. I have often wondered about the pastor's or missionary's spouse, when they are called. Do they just follow in obedience to their spouse? Often we neglect to recognize the hardships that befall a family when a member of that family receives the call from God.

In our text, the hardship falls on the laborers that make the brick. Moses does not seem to waiver in his faith and he has the courage to confront God, still believing, but now is looking for answers. Why God, did you send me? Why did you bring trouble on your people? Why? Why? Why?

Our Purpose statement says “God's authority takes precedence over all competing authorities”. Pharaoh did not understand this. He thought he was equal with this Hebrew God.

The question for all of us to answer is: What competing authorities are we allowing to have authority in our lives? Are we so selfish we think our happiness is what is important? Or is it our security that we try to protect? What rules your life?

An interesting historical and archaeological note: If you Google Bricks of Pithom you will find what archaeologist have discovered in the digs of Egypt. On the bottom layers of walls the bricks they used were full of straw, and as the building rises they found less and less straw, and more stubble, finally on the upper rows there is no evidence of straw in the bricks. It could be scientific proof that the events transpired as written, just a thought.

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