Summary: Moses, Pt. 4
EARS WIDE OPEN (EXODUS 5:1-12:30)
A father once tried to talk to his son about how college was going. The father said, “How are things going?” The son said, “Good.”
The father said, “And the dormitory?” He said, “Good.”
The father said, “How are your studies going?” He said, “Good.”
The father said, “Have you decided on a job yet?” He said, “Yes.”
“Well, what is it?” asked the father. The son said, “Communication.” (William J. Carl III, Church People Beware! C.S.S. Publishing Company.)
The typical way people communicate today is like this fax reply to a recorded message: “What do you mean we don’t communicate? Just yesterday I faxed you a reply to the recorded message you left on my answering machine!”
Listening, as experts see it, is intentional, active and responsive. It is a science and an art – study and practice are essential. The heart, mind and will are involved. That’s why it’s been said, “People hear what they want to hear.”
In Exodus 5-12, Moses was in a running battle with Pharaoh. Moses thundered “This is what the Lord says” eight times (Ex 5:1, 7:17, 8:1, 8:20, 9:1, 9:13, 10:3, 11:4) – seven times to Pharaoh and once to the Israelites. The counter response from Pharaoh and his men in Hebrew - “This is what Pharaoh says” - occurs just once (Ex 5:10), shortly before the plagues arrived. At the onset, Pharaoh made fun of Moses’ signature remark but it backfired on him and he did not try that arrogant stunt again.
Moses’ announcement to Pharaoh followed an unusual pattern. The 2-1 pattern was repeated three times. Moses visited Pharaoh and stated the first two plagues (7:17, 8:1), but then he failed to show when the third plague occurred; confronting Pharaoh again for the fourth and fifth plague (8:20, 9:1) before skipping the sixth plague’s outbreak, and reappearing for the seventh and eighth plague (9:13, 10:3) but missing the ninth plague.
Pharaoh was a hard nut to crack. Worse, he was impossible to talk to or reason with. Pharaoh’ response was similar up to the seventh plague; the Hebrew text says, “He would not listen.” (7:13, 7:22, 8:15, 8:19, 9:12) Moses’ last visit to Pharaoh ended with Pharaoh’s warning ringing in his ears: “Get out of my sight! Make sure you do not appear before me again! The day you see my face you will die.” (Ex 10:28)
Pharaoh did not listen well - to Moses, Aaron or the Lord, the God of the Hebrews (7:16, 9:1, 13, 10:3). Even his officials, who failed to persuade Pharaoh the only time they spoke up, protested: “Do you not yet realized that Egypt is ruined?” (Ex 10:7).
Are you a good listener? Do you know how to communicate with others? Why do we need to listen more and talk less? What needs to happen when God intervenes, through words, events or people?
Show a Respectful Attitude
10 Then the slave drivers and the foremen went out and said to the people, “This is what Pharaoh says: ‘I will not give you any more straw. 11 Go and get your own straw wherever you can find it, but your work will not be reduced at all.’“ 12 So the people scattered all over Egypt to gather stubble to use for straw. 13 The slave drivers kept pressing them, saying, “Complete the work required of you for each day, just as when you had straw.” 14 The Israelite foremen appointed by Pharaoh’s slave drivers were beaten and were asked, “Why didn’t you meet your quota of bricks yesterday or today, as before?”
A black man went to a recognizable church, and after the service he approached the pastor and told the pastor he wanted very much to join the church. The pastor did not think he fit into the establishment and did not want to appear cruel and harsh, so he said to the man, “Uh, why don’t you go home and pray for two weeks for the Lord to guide you definitely whether He wants you to join this church.”
The man took the advice, went home, and two weeks later came again to the church. After the service, the pastor said to him, “So, what was the guidance of God for you?” “Oh, the man said, “the Lord said, Go elsewhere, forget about it.” The pastor was stunned, and asked. “Why?” The black man said, “God said, ‘I have been trying to get in here for the past fifteen years and I have not succeeded, so you had better give up trying where even I cannot find an entrance.’” (Adapted from Pulpit Helps)
When Moses and Aaron requested for a three days’ leave (Ex 5:3), Pharaoh not only denied the request, he instructed that the Israelites be given less resources (Ex 5:7) and called them names (Ex 5:8). Pharaoh could care less about Israel taking a three-day journey to sacrifice to the Lord (Ex 5:3, 8, 17); all he could think of was lost labor, work stoppage and unmet quotas if the Israelites were to leave. Pharaoh ordered his taskmasters to nag Israel about their daily tasks (Ex 5:13, 14, 19).