Bricks without Straw, Exodus 4-6. God is not unjust. It is often hard for us to see that, but it is true. It is difficult when we turn to God in the midst of great trials, believing that He will deliver us, and then that deliverance does not come.
31 And the people believed; and
when they heard that the Lord had visited the people of Israel and that
he had seen their affliction, they bowed their heads and worshiped.
Exodus 4:31, ESV
1 Afterward Moses and Aaron went and said to Pharaoh, “Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, ‘Let my people go, that they may hold a feast to me in the wilderness.’” 2 But Pharaoh said, “Who is the Lord, that I should obey his voice and let Israel go? I do not know the Lord, and moreover, I will not let Israel go.” 3 Then they said, “The God of the Hebrews has met with us. Please let us go a three days' journey into the wilderness that we may sacrifice to the Lord our God, lest he fall upon us with pestilence or with the sword.” 4 But the king of Egypt said to them, “Moses and Aaron, why do you take the people away from their work? Get back to your burdens.” 5 And Pharaoh said, “Behold, the people of the land are now many, and you make them rest from their burdens!” 6 The same day Pharaoh commanded the taskmasters of the people and their foremen, 7 “You shall no longer give the people straw to make bricks, as in the past; let them go and gather straw for themselves. 8 But the number of bricks that they made in the past you shall impose on them, you shall by no means reduce it, for they are idle. Therefore they cry, ‘Let us go and offer sacrifice to our God.’ 9 Let heavier work be laid on the men that they may labor at it and pay no regard to lying words.”
20 They [Israelite taskmasters] met Moses and Aaron, who were waiting for them, as they came out from Pharaoh; 21 and they said to them, “The Lord look on you and judge, because you have made us stink in the sight of Pharaoh and his servants, and have put a sword in their hand to kill us.”
22 Then Moses turned to the Lord and said, “O Lord, why have you done evil to this people? Why did you ever send me? 23 For since I came to Pharaoh to speak in your name, he has done evil to this people, and you have not delivered your people at all.”
Exodus 5:1-9 & 20-23, ESV
In Exodus 4-6 we find the beginnings of many altercations between Pharaoh Ramses and Moses. God has called Moses to return to Egypt so that he, with his brother Aaron as the spokesperson, may lead the Children of Israel back to the promised land. The Israelites bowed their heads and worshiped God at the news, however, things were going to get much worse for them before they got better.
The picture we tend to paint of God in this 21st century is often quite different than the God of the Old Testament. His ways are truly not our ways! Does it seem as though God is being unfair to the Israelites? They have been in slavery for almost 400 years, and now when they are told they must continue to make bricks without straw their circumstances suddenly become worse.
The happiness of the Israelites toward Moses and Aaron did not last long. After the Israelite taskmasters return from speaking with Pharaoh, learning that they will have to make bricks without straw, they looked at Moses and Aaron and said, “The Lord look on you and judge, because you have made us stink in the sight of Pharaoh and his servants, and have put a sword in their hand to kill us.”
Even Moses is perplexed when He cries out to God, “O Lord, why have you done evil to this people? Why did you ever send me? For since I came to Pharaoh to speak in your name, he has done evil to this people, and you have not delivered your people at all.”
Moses expected immediate deliverance for the people by the hand of God. He certainly did not expect the taskmasters to now demand that the Israelites continue to keep their quota of bricks made each day even through they now must make bricks without straw provided for them. However, God still had some unfinished business with Egypt. The treatment of the Egyptians toward His people was unconscionable; before the Children of Israel would finally leave, Egypt would be completely destroyed.
In the mean time, God was strengthening the faith of the Israelites; God desired that they serve Him with their hearts, and not just because He would deliver them from the hands of the Egyptians. Even today we, as Christians, must learn to be patient when God seems to send more and more troubles our way. Using these trials, God teaches us to trust in His unfailing love and word.
God is not unjust. It is often hard for us to see that, but it is true. It is difficult when we turn to God in the midst of great trials, believing that He will deliver us, and then that deliverance does not come. Instead our circumstances become worse; we are required to make "bricks without straw." However, we know the rest of the story. We know that God did, indeed, give the Israelites a great victory over Pharaoh.
Pray today that God would grant us faith and trust in Him, no matter what deep valleys we are made to go through. Remember, this world is not our home; deliverance will come for all of God's people when we go to be with Him forever.