August 9, 2021
1 Afterward Moses and Aaron went to Pharaoh and said, “This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: ‘Let my people go, so that they may hold a festival to me in the wilderness.’”
2 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.”
3 Then they said, “The God of the Hebrews has met with us. Now let us take a three-day journey into the wilderness to offer sacrifices to the Lord our God, or he may strike us with plagues or with the sword.”
4 But the king of Egypt said, “Moses and Aaron, why are you taking the people away from their labor? Get back to your work!” 5 Then Pharaoh said, “Look, the people of the land are now numerous, and you are stopping them from working.”
6 That same day Pharaoh gave this order to the slave drivers and overseers in charge of the people: 7 “You are no longer to supply the people with straw for making bricks; let them go and gather their own straw. 8 But require them to make the same number of bricks as before; don’t reduce the quota. They are lazy; that is why they are crying out, ‘Let us go and sacrifice to our God.’ 9 Make the work harder for the people so that they keep working and pay no attention to lies.”
One of the tactics of oppression. Make the people busy. Deny them time to think about things other than the work before them. Pharaoh determines that the best way to keep everyone in line and end this desire to get away for a few days is to give extra work. If the work is too great then the people can’t think about these other things.
I see this in people I have known where they have more and more work to do and then they can’t do anything but work. They need a break, but they are certain that they will never be able to get all the work done when they get back from a few days off. No one else can do what we do, so we can’t take time off.
It is also the tactic used against us often within the church. Make us so busy with the business of the church – bills, repairs, disagreements, anything that is just keeping us busy, but not serving the world around us – so busy that we can’t do anything for people beyond ourselves.
In our case it is not exactly like the bricks. We don’t need to get rid of the other things, but we need to put things in order. How do we see these things as enabling us to serve the community and the world? And is it actually enabling us to do so? How are we setting up our lives so that we are able to serve God because we have done these other things?
Let’s not concern ourselves so deeply with the things that are placed as barriers to actually serving God with our lives. Instead we find ways to use each of these as opportunities to serve God in the course of our day or week. And seeing that we will continue to do all these things for the sake of Christ and his kingdom.
Song – His Eye is on the Sparrow
Tender and compassionate God, you long to gather us in your arms as a hen gathers her chicks. Draw us to yourself in love, surround us with your grace, and keep us in the shelter of your wings so that in our time of testing we may not fall away. Amen.