Summary: Moses, Pt. 4 of 15

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EARS WIDE OPEN (EX 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 joy 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’s 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 failed to show for the third plague; confronted Pharaoh again for the fourth and fifth plague (8:20, 9:1) before skipping the visitation for the sixth plague. He reappeared for the seventh and eighth plague (9:13, 10:3) but was absent for the ninth plague.

Pharaoh was a hard nut to crack. Worse, he was impossible to talk to or reason with. Pharaoh’s 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 speaks in actual words, through events or by signs?


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?"

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