Summary: God had Moses lead the Israelites out of Egypt - but he did it the hard way - by hardening Pharoah’s heart. Why is it that sometimes God makes us go through things the hard way?

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This week I’ve been reading in the book of Exodus. And in my reading, I noticed something strange:

· First, God commanded Moses to go to Egypt, where he had fled from years before, and to go and risk his life confronting the Pharoah.

· Then God turns around and says, in effect, “Oh, by the way, Pharoah isn’t going to listen to you.”

Whenever we do something, we generally tend to do it the quickest, easiest, way.

· I mean, people don’t usually take the long way home on purpose. People don’t usually try to do things the hard way.

· So when I was reading the story of the Exodus, it struck me as strange, as to why God did things the hard way.

· I mean, here were the Israelites in Egypt – slaves for 430 years. Oppressed, hurting, miserable.

· God sees their misery and decides that the time has come to fulfill what had been promised generations ago – that the Israelites would go and possess a land of their own.

· And so God has to go about getting the Israelites out of Egypt and on to the promised land.

Now, if I were doing the thinking for God, I would put down on a piece of paper what the objective was; and the objective was, as I’ve said, to get the Israelites out of Egypt and into the Promised Land. Then I would figure out the quickest, most easiest way of doing that.

· I might have convinced Pharoah that he should let the people go. I might have softened his heart.

· I might have sent some prophet to speak to Pharoah and convince him that it is in his best interest to let the Hebrew people go.

· I mean, it’s not unreasonable. Surely God could do it! If God was able to convince a king to feed the enemy and let them go home, surely he could have convinced Pharoah to let the Israelites go home.

· But no. Instead of softening Pharoah’s heart, what does God do? He makes things difficult by hardening Pharoah’s heart!

· And so, when I read the story of Moses going up to Pharoah time and time again, with plague after plague, it made me wonder… why did God do things the hard way?

Poor Moses was probably wondering the same thing. After all, he was reluctant to go in the first place – he didn’t even want the job! But after he went to Pharoah, and after he was rejected, time and time again, and after the Israelites themselves were getting frustrated with Moses, Moses finally cries out to the Lord in Exodus 5:22-23:

· "O Lord, why have you brought trouble upon this people? Is this why you sent me? [23] Ever since I went to Pharaoh to speak in your name, he has brought trouble upon this people, and you have not rescued your people at all."

· Can you hear the cry in Moses? “God, what are you doing? Why did you send me?”

Instead of being rescued, Exodus 6:9 speaks about the “discouragement and cruel bondage” that the Israelites endured.

· The result was that the Israelites were blaming Moses for their increasing misery.

It just seems like everyone is upset – because God did things the hard way.

· Pharoah’s got his defenses up. He’s being stubborn.

· The average Egyptian Joe was suffering because of the plagues.

· The Israelites were being oppressed more and more.

· And Moses was losing the respect of his own people!

· It’s amazing: God calls Moses to a task, and then God proceeds to make life difficult for Moses!

Perhaps you’ve experienced a little bit of the same thing yourself.

· Perhaps you’ve wondered why God seems to do things the hard way? Why doesn’t God just solve the problem? Why doesn’t God just heal the sick? Why doesn’t God just restore the relationship? Why doesn’t God just help me out here a little.

· And maybe you’ve looked up to God sometime and wondered, God, why are you doing things the hard way? It would be so much easier if you would only _________. And you wait in the silence.

There’s no question that it was God who hardened Pharoah’s heart. But there was also a reason.

· And the reason for God hardening Pharoah’s heart was that God had a plan.

· Of course, God could have simply let the Israelites out… but God wanted all of Egypt to understand that He was the one true God.

· In Exodus 7:5 the Lord says “And the Egyptians will know that I am the Lord when I stretch out my hand against Egypt and bring the Israelites out of it."

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