Just Announced: Philippians Sermon Series

Summary: Don’t blame God in your disappointment. Instead, believe in Him and get back to work.

A man in a hot air balloon realized he was lost. He reduced altitude and spotted a woman below. He descended a bit more and shouted, “Excuse me, can you help me? I promised a friend I would meet him an hour ago, but I don’t know where I am.”

The woman below replied, “You’re in a hot air balloon hovering approximately 30 feet above the ground. You’re between 40 and 41 degrees north latitude and between 59 and 60 degrees west longitude.”

“You must be an engineer,” said the balloonist.

“I am,” replied the woman, “How did you know?”

“Well,” answered the balloonist, “everything you told me is, technically correct, but I’ve no idea what to make of your information, and the fact is I’m still lost. Frankly, you’ve not been much help at all. If anything, you’ve delayed my trip.”

The woman below responded, “You must be in Management.”

“I am,” replied the balloonist, “but how did you know?”

“Well,” said the woman, “you don’t know where you are or where you’re going. You have risen to where you are due to a large quantity of hot air. You made a promise, which you’ve no idea how to keep, and you expect people beneath you to solve your problems. The fact is you are in exactly the same position you were in before we met, but now, somehow, it’s my fault.” (Andrew Chan, www.SermonCentral.com)

I love that story, because it is so real. When things go wrong, a lot of people play the blame game, but that doesn’t help anyone.

There’s a better way to handle disappointment, and if you have your Bibles, I invite you to turn with me to Exodus 5, Exodus 5, where we see how God helps Moses handle a major set-back in their plan to rescue the Israelites from slavery in Egypt.

Exodus 5:1 Afterward Moses and Aaron went to Pharaoh and said, “This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: ‘Let my people go, so that they may hold a festival to me in the desert.’” (NIV)

Now, this was not an unreasonable request. Egypt had enslaved other desert peoples, who were known to make sudden departures for a pilgrimage to some desert shrine. In fact, ancient Egyptian records speak about absenteeism among the workers for these kinds of festivals. Well, Moses is just asking the same favor for the Israelites. You see, Moses is testing the waters here. He knows Pharaoh won’t let the Israelites go forever, but perhaps he might let them go for a 3-day religious festival as he does for other slaves. How does Pharaoh respond?

Exodus 5:2 Pharaoh said, “Who is the Lord, that I should obey him and let Israel go? I do not know the Lord and I will not let Israel go.” (NIV)

Pharaoh has no regard for Israel’s God. He may recognize other gods and allow his slaves to worship them, but not Israel’s God.

Exodus 5:3-5 Then they said, “The God of the Hebrews has met with us. Now let us take a three-day journey into the desert to offer sacrifices to the Lord our God, or he may strike us with plagues or with the sword.” But the king of Egypt said, “Moses and Aaron, why are you taking the people away from their labor? Get back to your work!” Then Pharaoh said, “Look, the people of the land are now numerous, and you are stopping them from working.” (NIV)

“The people of the land” is a derogatory term for commoners as opposed to nobility, and they were 2 to 3 million people at this time. There is no way Pharaoh is going to let 2 to 3 million of his workers time off at the same time, so he refuses their request. Then he increases their labor.

Exodus 5:6-7 That same day Pharaoh gave this order to the slave drivers and foremen in charge of the people: “You are no longer to supply the people with straw for making bricks; let them go and gather their own straw. (NIV)

Straw was used to reinforce the bricks. They would mix the straw into the mud, so the bricks wouldn’t fall apart after they dried in the sun. Usually the slave drivers provided straw for the slaves to use. Now, the slaves would have to find their own straw, and yet with this added work, still make the same number of bricks.

Exodus 5:8-9 But require them to make the same number of bricks as before; don’t reduce the quota. They are lazy; that is why they are crying out, ‘Let us go and sacrifice to our God.’ Make the work harder for the men so that they keep working and pay no attention to lies.” (NIV)

Pharaoh doubts their intention to worship. He believes the slaves only want to get out of work.

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