Exodus 3:16-22 (ESV)
Go and gather the elders of Israel together and say to them, ‘The LORD, the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob, has appeared to me, saying, “I have observed you and what has been done to you in Egypt, and I promise that I will bring you up out of the affliction of Egypt to the land of the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Amorites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites, a land flowing with milk and honey.”’ And they will listen to your voice, and you and the elders of Israel shall go to the king of Egypt and say to him, ‘The LORD, the God of the Hebrews, has met with us; and now, please let us go a three days' journey into the wilderness, that we may sacrifice to the LORD our God.’ But I know that the king of Egypt will not let you go unless compelled by a mighty hand. So I will stretch out my hand and strike Egypt with all the wonders that I will do in it; after that he will let you go. And I will give this people favor in the sight of the Egyptians; and when you go, you shall not go empty, but each woman shall ask of her neighbor, and any woman who lives in her house, for silver and gold jewelry, and for clothing. You shall put them on your sons and on your daughters. So you shall plunder the Egyptians.”
This is an example of God’s amazing teaching methods. He just finished distinguishing Himself from all other Gods as the great “I AM.” You might expect Him to tell Moses to deliver the same message to Pharaoh.
But instead God deliberately avoids this confrontation. He’s going to give Pharaoh every chance to be reasonable. Moses is told to simply ask Pharaoh for three days to sacrifice to YHVH, the God of the Hebrews. For now, Pharaoh’s polytheistic belief system won’t be challenged.
God is setting him up. This is so that he will be without excuse. When things go sour later, Pharaoh can’t claim that the bar was set too high.
God is making this totally easy for him.
He does that with us too. None of the Ten Commandments is hard to obey; a robot would follow all of them effortlessly.
But humans can’t. We have this weird “rules are made to be broken” attitude. The fact that God’s commandments aren’t difficult highlights our fallen nature.
And that’s the point. We don’t need to be rescued from some impossible situation we’ve been tossed into; we need to be saved from ourselves.
Just as God’s plan will unfold to His glory by embarrassing Pharaoh, so His plan of salvation glorifies Him at our expense.
Of course, “our expense” here just means losing face. We gain so much more.
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