Wednesday, December 26, 2012

The Hebrew Foremen Blame Moses and Aaron -- Exodus 5:15-21


Then the foremen of the sons of Israel came and cried out to Pharaoh, saying, “Why do you deal this way with your servants?  There is no straw given to your servants, yet they keep saying to us, ‘Make bricks!’  And behold, your servants are being beaten; but it is the fault of your own people.”  But he said, “You are lazy, very lazy; therefore you say, ‘Let us go and sacrifice to the Lord.’  So go now and work; for you shall be given no straw, yet must deliver the quota of bricks.”  And the foremen of the sons of Israel saw that they were in trouble because they were told, “You must not reduce your daily amount of bricks.”  When they left Pharaoh’s presence, they met Moses and Aaron as they were waiting for them.  And they said to them, “May the Lord look upon you and judge you, for you have made us odious in Pharaoh’s sight and in the sight of his servants, to put a sword in their hand to kill us.”
Seeing that their fellow Hebrews could not deliver the quotas they were assigned due to the fact that they also had to now collect their own straw with which to construct the bricks, the foremen who were Hebrews went to Pharaoh and complained strongly.  They appealed to his sense of fairness in the way servants should be treated and to his sense of logic in terms of what was to be reasonably expected in terms of product within a set timeframe.
But Pharaoh would hear nothing of it.  Instead he accuses them of being lazy and the scripture in fact says, he repeated the words “very lazy”.  Their request to be given time to sacrifice to the Lord in his opinion was simply an attempt to get out of work.  The requirements remained in place and he sent them back to their work.
So the Hebrew foremen sensed they were in trouble having gained no good news to report to their people.
Realizing they could not win any concessions from Pharaoh, they next meet with Moses and Aaron who had been waiting to see what the outcome of the foremen’s meeting with Pharaoh was.  The foremen then take their frustration out on Moses and Aaron, accusing them of making the people hated in the sight of Pharaoh and his representatives, so much so that they believed they would kill them if they did not meet their daily production quotas.  You will remember this whole thing of the extra demands started when Moses and Aaron had asked Pharaoh to let the people go into the desert to sacrifice unto God.
What do we make of this short passage?  This was the first instance where Moses was faced with opposition from his own side as a result of his willingness to obey God with respect to his mission for God.  And interestingly enough, it came from the very people that stood to benefit from what God was doing through Moses.  There is more to come later.
The lesson is simply this – you can expect challenges and grief from the very people that should be supporting you when you set about doing the hard things that God wants you to do.  Anyone in leadership can well identify with this, be he/she a pastor, an executive, or a politician.
One may well ask “but why does God allow this to happen?”  The answer seems to be that part of the leader’s development for real challenges is the ability to handle the frustrations and oppositions that come from his/her people.   If you are experiencing this today and still feel you are doing what God wants you to do, then consider it as part and parcel of the training process.  God is not finished with you yet.  He is watching to see how true you will remain to the cause and the methodology He has given you to follow.  Hang in there and as Bill Hybels says, “Stay the Course”.
You may also ask, "why do the very people we are trying to help do this?"  That is a good question.  I can only offer these suggestions.  First, you are the leader, not they.  They often cannot see the process that has to be followed from start to finish.  Second, God has spoken to you, not necessarily to them.  There will be some in the group that will support you -- God has chosen them to be your Aarons.  Be thankful for them and pray that they can influence others.


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