What would it be like to stand in front of the most powerful person in the world, and tell them they’re wrong?
That’s exactly what God asked Moses to do.
He stood in front of Pharaoh, the leader of a superpower with one of the largest armies known to the world, and told him he was wrong.
Moses acted as God’s mouthpiece in order to deliver God’s message to Pharaoh- let my people go.
In other words, release the Israelites from slavery. Stop profiting from their forced labor. Stop believing that you can actually own another child of God.
You’re probably familiar with this part of the story. Pharaoh refuses. He doesn’t want to release the Israelites.
Pharaoh provides two primary reasons as to why he isn’t willing to let God’s people go.
Reason #1- Pharaoh Doesn’t Know God
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.”
In Egypt, Pharaoh promoted the worship of many different gods. Each god was linked to a certain human need or aspect of the world. For example, there was Osiris, god of the underworld and controller of life and death. There was Horus, god of the sky and often associated with war and hunting. And there was Re, god of the sun.
But Pharaoh had never heard of the God of Moses. Why should he believe a God he’s never heard of before?
God performs a series of signs and wonders to convince Pharaoh of his power, such as turning the Nile river into blood. Even so, it takes a long time for Pharaoh to become convinced that God is real.
Reason #2- Pharaoh Thinks The Israelites Are Lazy
“They are lazy; that is why they are crying out, ‘Let us go and sacrifice to our God.’ Make the work harder for the people so that they keep working and pay no attention to lies.”
Pharaoh accuses the Israelites of laziness. He must’ve seen the Israelites not as people, but solely as a source of free labor. He strips their humanity down to the point where their desire for worship is transformed into a scheme to get out of work, at least in Pharaoh’s mind.
Despite these excuses, God doesn’t relent in seeking to restore the Israelites dignity as children of God. God is committed to freeing God’s people.
How do we apply this story to our lives today?
Let’s begin by reflecting on these questions:
1. Are there places in our world where people have had their dignity stripped away?
When people are overlooked or taken advantage of, we have the opportunity to speak up. Being led by God, we can help them reclaim their true identity as children of God.
2. How can we transform a world that too often values people based upon what they can produce?
How can we share with others that they’re valued just as they are, and not based on how much they earn? As followers of God, we must learn to see others as worthy simply because they have been created by God.
The story of God freeing his people from slavery has been told thousands of times over the generations to struggling people who’s humanity has been stripped away. They look to this story and see a God who sees them, values them, and liberates them from oppression.
This story is an encouragement for all of us to notice the places in our own world where people’s voices are silenced or their human dignity is denied.
Because we follow a God who deeply cares for each person God has created.
This Sunday will be our Palm Sunday cantata at both services. This will be a great service to invite friends to!
See you on Sunday!