God has miraculously called Moses and laid out his plan. Moses has left his home and family, shared God’s words with the enslaved Israelites, and faced their powerful, oppressive opponent, Pharaoh. So far, things have gone exactly how God said they would, yet Moses is already discouraged, questioning God, and accusing him of “doing evil.”
Although God had told Moses beforehand that Pharaoh would initially refuse to let Israel go, apparently Moses didn’t expect him to double the workload as a result. Moses didn’t expect Israel, aka God’s people made up of his friends and family whom he was there to help, to turn on him when Pharaoh said, “No.”
These unexpected hardships have already broken Moses. In chapter 6, God answers Moses’ prayers of exasperation and accusation with grace.
First, God reassures Moses that “he will see” what God is about to do. He reminds Moses that Pharaoh is indeed going to let Israel go. Next, God reminds Moses about who he is, what he has done, and what he is assuredly about to do. God’s words to a discouraged and defeated leader are thus:
I am the Lord. (6:2)
I made a promise to these people. (6:4)
I have heard their cries for help. (6:5)
I have remembered my promise. (6:5)
Moses, tell them. Tell them again that I am coming to bring them out of slavery. Tell them I am the Lord. Tell them I will deliver them. Tell them I will redeem them. Tell them I am choosing them – that I am their God and they are my people. Tell them they will know me and I will keep my promise to them.
Wow. This is some good news! Especially for tired, burdened, oppressed slaves!
Moses obeys God. He tells them again of God’s plan to rescue them. But Israel did not listen. They did not believe. They were broken and bullied. Hope is hard when you’ve been down as long as these guys. Nevertheless, Matthew Henry warns us, “First, disconsolate spirits often put from themselves the comforts they are entitles to, and stand in their own light. Secondly, passions oppose strong consolations. By indulging ourselves in discontent and fretfulness, we deprive ourselves of the comfort we might have both from God’s word and from his providence, and must thank ourselves if we go comfortless.”
With their unbelief and discouragement at his true and faithful words, again Moses is ready to despair. How is Pharaoh going to listen to me if even my own people won’t?! In this way, one discouragement begets another and Moses begins to follow Israel’s lead rather than Israel following his as would have been proper. Matthew Henry has a good word concerning our leaders in this way: “The frowardness and untractableness of those that are called Christians greatly discourage ministers, and make them ready to despair of success in dealing with those that are atheistical and profane.”
How often the discouragement of hardships causes us to disbelieve God’s promises! When the whole world is saying, “No” “Impossible” “Give up” it is extremely hard to believe God’s promises of “Yes” “All things are possible” “Don’t give up.” But we must! Because children of God walk by faith, not by sight. Leaders for God walk by faith, not by sight. Christians walk by faith, not by sight.
Children, Leaders, Christians, never forget –
He is the Lord – here called El-Shaddai – a God all sufficient; a God that is enough and will be so.
He has made a promise to us – his people.
He is not deaf to our prayers and needs. He hears our cries for help.
He remembers his promise and will keep it.
Child, do not be discouraged.
Leader, do not be discouraged.
Christian, do not be discouraged.
Leader, tell them He is the Lord. Tell them again that He is coming. Tell them He will deliver them. Tell them He will redeem them. Tell them He is choosing them – that He is their God and they are His people. Tell them they will know Him and He will keep his promises to them. Child, believe. Christian, believe.
That’s the good news. Do not be discouraged if they do not believe you at first. Just make sure you believe God. Be encouraged because we know how the story ends.