Perhaps, today, we see why Moses was so reluctant, and why he felt he needed so much confirmation from God for him to do what he was asking him to do. The concluding verses of chapter 5 are less than inspiring, and amply illustrate why Moses was reluctant. It’s almost as if Moses is saying to God, “I told you so!”
The passage begins with a further reassurance from God to Moses that those who sought his life are dead (4.19), before moving on to recount how Zipporah’s vigilance and instant obedience rescues Moses from death. I’ve yet to find a satisfactory explanation of this incident (particularly in view of its timing); it’s the kind of episode that pulls me up short and makes we want to sit in the text for a while to see if I can sense what God is saying through it.
Moses and Aaron then meet, Aaron apparently responding to a similar call (4.27). Either he took a lot less convincing than Moses, or we just don’t have the detail! Either way, they meet up, and the chapter concludes with the Israelites being convinced that Moses and Aaron are indeed God’s agents for their deliverance (4.29-31). How short lived this would prove to be!
Chapter 5 begins with the first encounter with Pharaoh. It does not go well. The result is that Pharaoh rejects Moses’ and Aarons’ advances, and, worse, makes the lot of the Israelites even harder by restricting their access to straw, an essential ingredient for their work. We conclude, as we saw at the beginning, with Moses’ rejection by the people that had only just acclaimed him – and his subsequent rant at God.
So again, like the end of chapter 2, we’re left mid-story; the situation’s looking bleak and there’s no immediate hope in sight. This is the kind of situation where we need to hang on, with white knuckles and gritted teeth, if necessary. God has spoken in the past, but there appears to be no path towards the future he promised. And, maybe, the last thing we did was rant at God and seem to get no reply. We can only look back to what he’s said in the past and hold on for dear life.
It’s a classic ‘Easter Saturday’ scenario, except sometimes, we don’t know for certain whether or when Sunday’s coming. If that’s where you are right now, hang on!
Father God, thank you that you don’t promise absence of difficulties, but presence through them. Thank you for your presence today. Amen.