The REC Book of Common Prayer’s readings for this morning are:
Now the Lord sends Aaron to meet Moses at Mt. Horeb, they discuss what the Lord told Moses and then depart for Egypt. The Lord’s plan is moving forward now. Israel is on the precipice of being delivered although the people don’t know this yet. (verses 27-28)
Moses and Aaron arrive, assembly the Elders and the people, Aaron told them the words of the Lord and Moses shows them the signs the Lord gave him, the serpent, the leprosy and the water turned to blood and the people believed the Lord had heard their cries and was going to deliver them. This led to their worship of Him. This was probably the first time they corporately worshipped the Lord: the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. (verses 29-31).
Now the battle was beginning with Pharaoh. Who was more powerful: Pharaoh or the Lord. All of Exodus Five recounts the initial meeting between Moses, Aaron and Pharaoh and Pharaoh’s response to their request to let Israel go into the desert for three days to worship the Lord.
Pharaoh has two telling responses: first, “Who is the Lord that I should obey His voice to let Israel go? I do not know the Lord, and besides, I will not let Israel go.” (verse 2) And “Moses and Aaron, why do you draw the people away from their work? Get back to your labors!” (verse 4).
In addition to the historical significance of this story it also teaches us how to understand Christian salvation. In this story Egypt represents the world, Pharaoh the devil and work their means of salvation.
Moses was skilled in the ways of Egypt prior to his departure forty year prior which means the ways of the world which are power: political, financial and physical supremacy. Thus when Moses sought to help the Israelite who was being beaten by the Egyptian he acted in his role as a Prince of Egypt and killed the Egyptian. He demonstrated his power.
The ruler of this world is the devil and the world’s means of salvation is works. All world religion sand pagan thought is that works justify you. Christianity teaches that God justifies you. (Romans 4:4-6)
This puts Pharaoh’s response into perspective. He says, “Who is the Lord that I should obey His voice to let Israel go.” Obviously Pharaoh as a person does not know the Lord, he believes he is God, but this is also the response of unbelievers in our day: who is your God that I should obey His voice. The devil spoke to Eve in the Garden, “Did God really say…” (Genesis 3:1) The same idea is being communicated: I am not going to obey God.
Then Pharaoh says in verse 5, “Look, the people of the land are now many, and you would have them cease from their labors!” Out of all the responses Pharaoh has he emphasizes their ‘works’ as the reason they cannot leave to worship the Lord.
Remember: unbelief and works are the two categories of responses given by unbelievers over the ages although they are expressed in different ways.
Pharaoh increases the work of the people and by the end of Chapter 5 the Israel leaders were angry at Moses and Aaron. However, the Lord arranged this so He could show Moses and Aaron that only He could deliver Israel from Pharaoh:
Then the Lord said to Moses, “Now you shall see what I will do to Pharaoh; for under compulsion he will let them go, and under compulsion he will drive them out of his land.” (Exodus 6:1).
In conclusion this scenario has two messages for us: first, the world system says to work to justify yourself and even increases the expectation and requirements of your work indicating there is no rest nor freedom from the system. Second, God is the only one who can deliver us from this system for He alone has the power to set us free.
Hebrews 10:19-39 tells us immediately we enter the Lord’s presence through the blood of Jesus and not from our works. The purpose of these verses is to contrast with the works of the world and to give us insight into how the Lord delivered Israel and us: through His Word.