Exodus 5:1-23



In the beginning when God created the world, He divided the light from the darkness with the power of His Word. And it is with His Word that He has continued to divide the light from the darkness, the good from the evil, in the spiritual warfare of this age; because faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God.


Exodus chapter 5 is the story of how Pharaoh opposed the work of God by resisting the Words of God that Moses gave to him and by persecuting the children of Israel. But more than just being an accurate historical account of God’s dealings with Israel, this story teach us many things about spiritual warfare.


The Bible says in Exodus chapter 5:1-2, And afterward Moses and Aaron went in, and told Pharaoh, Thus saith the Lord God of Israel, Let my people go, that they may hold a feast unto me in the wilderness. And Pharaoh said, Who is the Lord, that I should obey His voice to let Israel go? I know not the Lord, neither will I let Israel go.


One of the first lessons that we learn in Exodus chapter 5 is by looking at the life of Pharaoh. What is life? Life is a spiritual war every day. And all men are willing participants even if they don’t know it. You either fight on God’s side, or you oppose Him by resisting the grace that is only found in Christ Jesus. Pharaoh was an opposer of God.  If you know any thing about the book of Exodus and Pharaoh, then you know that here was a man with a very hard heart, a heart as hard as stone. Here is a man completely in opposition to God and God’s great grace.


The question is, how is it that Pharaoh became such a foolish person. How is it that His became so harden to the will of God? Pharaoh answered this question himself when he said in verse 2, “Who is the Lord, that I should obey His voice, to let Israel go? I know not the Lord, neither will I let Israel go.” For such an ungodly person Pharaoh sure was unknowingly honest about himself. Is there a worse thing a man could about himself than to say, “Who is the Lord, I know not the Lord.”


This is the reason that Pharaoh was so opposed to God; because He did not know God. Jesus said seek and ye shall find. As a man thinketh in his heart so is he. 2 Peter 3:9 says, The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” Not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.


Pharaoh apparently lived a life of consistent opposition to God. We don’t know what opportunities he had growing up to learn of God; but he certainly had opportunity, after all he had contact with God’s chosen people Israel. But pharaoh’s heart had become so hardened that by the time of Moses, neither the great miracles nor the plagues that would be done, or the Words of God would soften his heart. Not because the Word of God is not powerful but because God’s Word is for those who want to hear it.


Seek and ye shall find; ask and it shall be given unto you. Who is the Lord, that any man would be foolish enough to oppose Him? This world is filled with millions of little pharaoh’s whose hearts like stone resist the grace of Jesus Christ. There is a certain amount of truth you can learn of God through creation. Romans chapter 1 tells of this. But you will never know God in a personal way except through the study of His Word. Psalms 119:105 says, “Thy Word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.”


This is the reason people are so often like pharaoh. They do not know God. And they do not know God because they do not know the Word of God. What an extreme contrast was the life of Jesus compared to the life of Pharaoh. Philippians chapter 2:5-8 says, “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made Himself of no reputation, and took upon Him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, He humbled Himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.” Jesus is the living Word. There is not a person on this who could ever know the Word of God the way that Jesus did but that’s because Jesus is the Word. Yet, He gave us the perfect example of humility, the perfect example of, “not my will, Lord, but Thine be done.” If you don’t want to be like pharaoh but if you want to be like Jesus then you had better remember that man shall not live by bread alone but by every Word that proceeded out of the mouth of God.


The end result for pharaoh would be destruction. But the end result of Jesus is found in Philippians 2:9, “Wherefore God also hath highly exalted Him, and given Him a name which is above every name.” Psalms 32:10 says, “Many sorrows shall be to the wicked, but he that trusted in the Lord mercy shall compass him about.” It always pays to go God’s way. Who is the Lord that you should obey Him? He is the Savior of the World.


The Bible goes on to say in Exodus chapter 5:3-18 “And they said, The God of the Hebrews hath met with us: let us go, we pray thee, three days' journey into the desert, and sacrifice unto the LORD our God; lest he fall upon us with pestilence, or with the sword. And the king of Egypt said unto them, Wherefore do ye, Moses and Aaron, let the people from their works? get you unto your burdens. And Pharaoh said, Behold, the people of the land now are many, and ye make them rest from their burdens. And Pharaoh commanded the same day the taskmasters of the people, and their officers, saying, Ye shall no more give the people straw to make brick, as heretofore: let them go and gather straw for themselves. And the tale of the bricks, which they did make heretofore, ye shall lay upon them; ye shall not diminish ought thereof: for they be idle; therefore they cry, saying, Let us go and sacrifice to our God. Let there more work be laid upon the men, that they may labour therein; and let them not regard vain words. And the taskmasters of the people went out, and their officers, and they spake to the people, saying, Thus saith Pharaoh, I will not give you straw. Go ye, get you straw where ye can find it: yet not ought of your work shall be diminished. So the people were scattered abroad throughout all the land of Egypt to gather stubble instead of straw. And the taskmasters hasted them, saying, Fulfill your works, your daily tasks, as when there was straw. And the officers of the children of Israel, which Pharaoh's taskmasters had set over them, were beaten, and demanded, Wherefore have ye not fulfilled your task in making brick both yesterday and to day, as heretofore? Then the officers of the children of Israel came and cried unto Pharaoh, saying, Wherefore dealest thou thus with thy servants? There is no straw given unto thy servants, and they say to us, Make brick: and, behold, thy servants are beaten; but the fault is in thine own people. But he said, Ye are idle, ye are idle: therefore ye say, Let us go and do sacrifice to the LORD. Go therefore now, and work; for there shall no straw be given you, yet shall ye deliver the tale of bricks.”


For anyone that serves God there will be persecution. And this is exactly what happened to the children of Israel. Because pharaoh did not know who God was, he unknowingly was used of the devil to try to thwart God’s plans for Israel. But the great irony of all the devil’s opposition and the great irony of all the people that oppose the work of God is that in the end when God has finished His work in this world, even the persecutions and all the ways that wicked men and the forces of darkness have attempted to oppose God will be used to glorify God and accomplish His purposes because, “all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose.” We know this is true of pharaoh because the Bible says concerning him in Exodus 91:6 and in Romans 9:17, “For the scripture saith unto Pharaoh, Even for this same purpose have I raised thee up, that I might shew my power in thee, and that My name might be declared throughout all the earth.”


Exodus 19-23 says, “And the officers of the children of Israel did see that they were in evil case, after it was said, Ye shall not minish ought from your bricks of your daily task. And they met Moses and Aaron, who stood in the way, as they came forth from Pharaoh: And they said unto them, The LORD look upon you, and judge; because ye have made our savour to be abhorred in the eyes of Pharaoh, and in the eyes of his servants, to put a sword in their hand to slay us. And Moses returned unto the LORD, and said, Lord, wherefore hast thou so evil entreated this people? why is it that thou hast sent me? For since I came to Pharaoh to speak in thy name, he hath done evil to this people; neither hast thou delivered thy people at all.”


After 400 years of hard bondage in the land of Egypt now came the time that God began to fulfill some of the promises that He had made to Abraham. Persecution is never easy to face. But if you have God’s promises in your heart and in your mind then you will be able to pick up your cross and follow Jesus. The problem with the children of Israel in the face of this persecution from pharaoh is that they did not believe the promises of God that Moses had just given to them or the great signs that Moses had shown the people, telling them of how God would free them from their bondage to Egypt. It should be apparent by that the children of Israel did not give much consideration to God’s promises. God even told Abraham in Genesis 15:13, “And he said unto Abram, Know of a surety that thy seed shall be a stranger in a land that is not theirs, and shall serve them; and they shall afflict them four hundred years.”


As we look at the way the children of Israel reacted to the persecutions of Pharaoh and as we look at the way Moses reacted to the same opposition we are reminded of the importance of faith. Remember in the previous chapters God was very careful to build up the faith of Moses and the children of Israel: God did this by giving signs and wonders to Moses to show the people. And even more importantly He reminded them of His Holy and faithful Character and the promises He had previously given to Abraham. And then God also told Moses and the people what the outcome of this conflict with Pharaoh would be. He would let the people go, and they would go with the wealth of the land and the presence and blessings of God.


The question is do you find yourself reacting the way that the children of Israel reacted in the face of persecution and opposition from the world? If you do then you need to consider more thoughtfully the promises of God. Perhaps in your life you find that you are making bricks without straw. But despite all of the sufferings and sorrows, and despite all of the persecution and fiery trials there is victory in Jesus. I Corinthians 15:57-58 says, “But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.” There is victory over your own sinful flesh because you are crucified with Christ. There is victory over all the sufferings and sorrows of this life because surely goodness and mercy shall follow you all the days of your life and you shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever. And There is victory over this world because I John 5:4 says, “For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith.”


Perhaps you find that you no such victory from sin, from the world, and from all of life’s sufferings. Then you need to turn from your sins and turn to Jesus. Faith in Jesus Christ is the victory. Jesus is the victory over the condemnation of the law and even over death. Pray to Jesus right now. Ask Him to forgive you of your sins. And then you will find victory in Jesus. John 11:25 says, “I am the resurrection and the life: he that believeth in Me, though he were dead, yet shall he live.”





Copyright; 2003 by Charles F. (Rick) Creech
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