In Chapter 5, a humbled and focused Moses and Aaron, now restored to unity with God and ready to obey his commandments, confront their opposite in a proud and mighty Pharaoh, ruler over all he sees. When Pharaoh doubles down on his persecution of the Israelites, Moses panics again. All the Israelites become furious with him for stirring up trouble and making life harder, completely losing track of their unity of faith in God’s deliverance just days earlier.
It is easy to identify with Moses – we are all reluctant and continue to doubt that God can work through us to do mighty things. One day we believe with ardent faith. The next day we faint and forget.
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Instead of punishing Moses for his lack of faith, God’s never-ending love comes shining through with a glorious promise: “Now you shall see.” Even though the people continue to rebel, Moses now understands.
Now, I have never identified myself with Pharaoh and I doubt you have either. But the Cycle suggests I may have more in common with Pharaoh than with Moses. This is a hard truth. God speaks to me through his “angels unaware” just as he speaks to Pharaoh through Moses and Aaron.
Pharaoh too succumbs to the Cycle. As Moses performs the miracles of God right in front of him, it dawns on the mighty ruler that he has encountered a strange, new and powerful force. But since he is not in unity with God and cannot comprehend God’s commands, his temptation grows to disobedience by repeatedly promising to let the Israelites go, and then breaking his promises once each of the plagues is removed.
So I must ask. Are we more like Moses, in feeble disunity with God because we really do not believe God will deliver us, yet we pour out our hearts and discover his never-ending love? Or are we more like Pharaoh, realizing as the plagues grow more severe that God is very real, yet tempted to break our promise to repent as soon as the current problem in our lives is removed?
We shall see over the next few chapters of Exodus that the warnings and judgments of Moses are in the full context of a loving father disciplining his dear child, while those of Pharaoh are infinitely more brutal and final.
Is there a price to be paid for the disunity of the church of Jesus? There is and I believe we are seeing more severe plagues in front of us.
But we are not Pharaoh. We should stop acting like him and pour out our hearts in repentance.