God, in coming toward His people in mercy may sometimes employ strange methods so that people will think themselves ill-treated.
God suffers it to be so that we may learn to cease from man and cease depending on second causes.
1 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.
2 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.
3 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.
4 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.
5 And Pharaoh said, Behold, the people of the land now are many, and ye make them rest from their burdens.
6 And Pharaoh commanded the same day the taskmasters of the people, and their officers, saying,
7 Ye shall no more give the people straw to make brick, as heretofore: let them go and gather straw for themselves.
8 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.
9 Let there more work be laid upon the men, that they may labour therein; and let them not regard vain words.
10 ¶ 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.
11 Go ye, get you straw where ye can find it: yet not ought of your work shall be diminished.
12 So the people were scattered abroad throughout all the land of Egypt to gather stubble instead of straw.
13 And the taskmasters hasted them, saying, Fulfil your works, your daily tasks, as when there was straw.
14 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?
15 ¶ Then the officers of the children of Israel came and cried unto Pharaoh, saying, Wherefore dealest thou thus with thy servants?
16 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.
17 But he said, Ye are idle, ye are idle: therefore ye say, Let us go and do sacrifice to the LORD.
18 Go therefore now, and work; for there shall no straw be given you, yet shall ye deliver the tale of bricks.
19 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.
20 ¶ And they met Moses and Aaron, who stood in the way, as they came forth from Pharaoh:
21 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.
22 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?
23 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.
Exodus 5 Intro – J. Vernon McGee
Exodus 5:1-23 – J. Vernon McGee
Exodus 5:1-14 – The Request to Worship Jehovah Answered by Oppression
The bondage of Israel in Egypt is an apt type of our bondage to sin. See John 8:34-36; Romans 7:23-25. The weary tyranny of our besetting sins; the imperious demands of Satan; the absence of all reward to our hopeless toils—these are striking points of analogy. Though we weep and struggle, there is no help for us but in God. No straw! No lessening of the tale of bricks! The charge of idleness! Cruel beatings! Deliverance apparently more distant than ever! But the darkest hour precedes dawn.
The hue and cry is always raised when a prisoner is escaping. The tyrant, who has so long held his prey, is not minded to surrender it without a struggle. The devil convulsed the child, as he was about to depart. Moreover, Israel must be taught to look beyond Moses or Aaron to the Eternal Jehovah. —Through the Bible Day by Day
Exodus 5:15 – 6:1 – Moses Appeals from Pharaoh to God
God’s way is to bring men to an end of themselves before He arises to their help. Our efforts to deliver ourselves only end in increasing our perplexities. The tale of bricks is doubled; the burdens augment; the strength of our purpose is broken; we are brought to the edge of despair. Probably this was the darkest hour in the life of the great leader. But from all the obloquy that was heaped on him, he took refuge in God. There is no other refuge for a limited man than to “return unto the LORD,” Exodus 5:22. Return unto the Lord with your story of failure! Return unto Him for fresh instructions! Return unto Him with your appeal for his interposition! Be perfectly natural with your Heavenly Father! Humble yourself under His mighty hand! Even dare to reason with Him, saying: “Why!” Then the Lord will say to you, as to Moses: “Now shalt thou see what I will do” (Exodus 6:1). —Through the Bible Day by Day
Exodus 5:22 – Why is it that Thou hast sent me?
Before God can use us, He must bring us to an end of ourselves. When Paul was summoned to the greatest epistles and labors of his life, his strength was drained to utter weakness, and he despaired even of life. So in the case of Moses and Israel.
Moses, for forty years, had been undergoing the emptying process; but perhaps when God called him to this great enterprise, there may have been a slight revival of confidence in himself, in his mission, his miracles, the eloquence of Aaron’s speech. So in the rebuff he received from Pharaoh, in the bitter remonstrance of the elders of his people, in the sad consciousness that his efforts had aggravated their condition, the lesson was still further taught him—that of himself he could do absolutely nothing.
Israel also had begun to hope something from his mission. Through the brickfields the story ran of his early years, his uncompromising speech to Pharaoh, of his miracles; and the wretched slaves cherished faith in him and Aaron as their heaven-sent deliverers. They had, however, to learn that all such hopes were vain, and to see that the brothers, at the best, were as weak as themselves. Then the way was prepared to lean only on God.
Ourselves.—By repeated failures all along our life-course God is teaching us the same lesson. We fail to justify and then to sanctify ourselves. Our efforts to serve and please Him only end in increasing perplexity. The tale of bricks is doubled; the burdens augment; the strength of our purpose is broken; we are utterly discouraged; and then, when the soul is utterly desolate, the heavenly Bridegroom draws near and says, “I will do all; I am Alpha and Omega; I am thy salvation.” —Our Daily Homily