Summary: I'd always thought Moses just told Pharaoh "Let my people go." But Moses never said it quite that way. What did Moses actually say... and why should it matter to us?
OPEN: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0SJrHDSlE7A from 0:50 to 1:31 (it’s the part of the move “The Ten Commandments” where Charlton Heston/Moses confronts Pharaoh/Yul Brynner and declares “Let My People Go.”)
There’s an old Negro spiritual Louis Armstrong made famous back in the 1920’s called “Let My People Go”, and it went like this:
“When Israel was in Egypt land: Let my people go,
Oppress'd so hard they could not stand. Let my People go.
Go down, Moses, way down in Egypt land,
Tell old Pharaoh, let my people go.”
It’s a beautiful song. And it has such a haunting melody.
And the first time I heard that song I thought to myself “Yes. That exactly what Moses said to Pharaoh!”
And when I saw Charlton Heston stand before Yul Brynner and say “Let my People Go!” I thought to myself: “Alright. That’s exactly what Moses said to Pharaoh.
And I've seen other movies with Moses confronting Pharaoh and proclaiming “Let my people go.” And I've always thought “Yes, that exactly what Moses said to Pharaoh.”
(Pause) But then I read the Bible, and I realized that wasn't “exactly” what Moses told Pharaoh.
When God sent Moses to speak to Pharaoh He said:
“I am the LORD. Tell Pharaoh… EVERYTHING I tell you.” Exodus 6:29
And if all Moses had told Pharaoh had been: “Let my people go…” he wouldn't have been telling him EVERYTHING God commanded.
Take another look with me at what God told Moses to tell Pharaoh:
“Moses and Aaron went and said to Pharaoh, “Thus says the LORD, the God of Israel, ‘Let my people go, that they may hold a feast to me in the wilderness.”’
But Pharaoh said, “Who is the LORD that I should obey his voice and let Israel go? I do not know the LORD, and moreover, I will not let Israel go.”
Then they said, “The God of the Hebrews has met with us. Please let us go a three days’ journey into the wilderness that we may sacrifice to the LORD our God.”
Every other time Moses appeared before Pharaoh he shortens it up a little, but each time Moses said: “Let my people go, so that they may worship me.” (Exodus 7:16; 8:1; 8:20; 9:1; 9:13; 10:3 and 10:24-26)
7 times Moses appeared before Pharaoh – in Exodus 7, 8, 9 and 10 and never once did he simply say “Let my people go.”
As I prepared for this sermon it occurred to me that the message God had Moses give Pharaoh almost sounded like they’d go out in the desert, make their sacrifices, and then come back.
But Moses knew they weren't coming back.
And Pharaoh knew they weren't coming back.
And you've read the story before… and YOU know they weren't coming back.
So why did God have Moses say it the way he had to say it?
Because there was something in that message that Pharaoh needed to hear.
And there was something in that message Israel needed to hear.
And there was something in that message you and I needed to hear.
So let’s take Moses’ message apart bit by bit and see what God was saying.
1st – Moses tells Pharaoh – “let My people go.”
That was the first part of the message.
(Pause. At this point we showed a picture of an Egyptian Pharaoh’s sarcophagus on the screen. The headdress had a viper at the top)
As I was preparing for this message I got to looking at pictures of pharaoh’s online and something caught my attention. You see this picture on the screen? Do you see the headdress he’s wearing? What is that on that headdress?
That’s right, it’s a snake.
One of the sources read said that the viper stood for the power of Pharaoh to destroy enemies.
Who else do we know in Scripture who was symbolized by a snake?
That’s right – Satan.
Revelation 12:9 says “…that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan”
When Moses was sent, God spoke to Pharaoh and said: “Let my people go.”
And when Jesus came, God spoke to Satan –– and said: “Let my people go”
Jesus said… “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free… So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” John 8:31-32 & 36
Free from what?
Free from SIN!!!
Down through the ages there have been churches that’ve shied away from that declaration. There have been churches and preachers that don’t want to talk about sin.
Just recently I ran across an article about a mega-church out in Eugene, Oregon. It’s called the “One Love Church” and their preacher Tony Crank went on radio and claimed that churches talk too much about sin, so he goes out of his way to avoid terms like “sin” and “guilt” and “shame”. Those terms just aren't talked about by their congregation.