Then Moses turned to the Lord and said, “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.” [6:1] But the Lord said to Moses, “Now you shall see what I will do to Pharaoh; for with a strong hand he will send them out, and with a strong hand he will drive them out of his land.”  God spoke to Moses and said to him, “I am the Lord.  I appeared to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, as God Almighty, but by my name the Lord I did not make myself known to them.  I also established my covenant with them to give them the land of Canaan, the land in which they lived as sojourners.  Moreover, I have heard the groaning of the people of Israel whom the Egyptians hold as slaves, and I have remembered my covenant.  Say therefore to the people of Israel, ‘I am the Lord, and I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians, and I will deliver you from slavery to them, and I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with great acts of judgment.  I will take you to be my people, and I will be your God, and you shall know that I am the Lord your God, who has brought you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians.  I will bring you into the land that I swore to give to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob. I will give it to you for a possession. I am the Lord.’ ”  Moses spoke thus to the people of Israel, but they did not listen to Moses, because of their broken spirit and harsh slavery.  So the Lord said to Moses,  “Go in, tell Pharaoh king of Egypt to let the people of Israel go out of his land.”  But Moses said to the Lord, “Behold, the people of Israel have not listened to me. How then shall Pharaoh listen to me, for I am of uncircumcised lips?”  But the Lord spoke to Moses and Aaron and gave them a charge about the people of Israel and about Pharaoh king of Egypt: to bring the people of Israel out of the land of Egypt.
Moses is speaking to the Israelites, what God has told him to say to them. God is going to liberate them from their slavery. He is going to establish them in their own land. They shall know the Lord and be known by Him. But the people do not listen. There are two things preventing them from hearing the good message that God has for them – a broken spirit and their harsh slavery. The harsh slavery has caused their brokenness of spirit.
It has now been more than ten generations that they have been slaves of the Egyptians. There is not a single person who can remember being anything more than a slave. The cumulative result is hopelessness and despair and an unwillingness to hear a message of hope. There is no hope. All hope is gone. Perhaps there have been other saviours over the years who have tried to redeem the people, stage a revolt, leave Egypt. All have failed. They are in a state of believing that it cannot get any better and that if they listen to Moses it will get worse. Since he came they have had their work increase substantially because of his words to Pharaoh (5:1-23). They are convinced that things will never change.
We can perhaps understand a little bit, why the Israelites in Egypt were skeptical. There has not been a word from God for over four hundred years. They have no written record of anything that God has said – Moses has not written the first five Books of the OT yet. Life is a misery and Moses appearance has only made things worse.
Their spirits are broken. And a broken spirit leads to unbelief, cynicism, depression, and a host of other emotional and mental troubles. In the Jews it led to a willingness to live in slavery rather than attempt to be free. This, even as they cry out for help (Exodus 2:23).
Despair is a horrible state to be in. God had some harsh lessons to teach the people as He carried out His plan to free the Jews from slavery. He did not let the unbelief of His people stop Him from bringing His plan to fruition. Grace triumphed over unbelief.
Many contemporary believers know the pain of despair. But we have far fewer reasons to end up in despair than the ancient Israelites did. We have the completed Word of God, the record of God’s dealings with people, a two-thousand year history of the church that records so much of the incredible providential workings of God for His people. Yet we still fall into hopelessness. This is sin. If we truly have God we always have hope. There are many things that can cause us to despair. In the work of the church, one’s own sin can lead to spiritual depression. The lack of involvement and commitment can be very discouraging for church leaders. The godlessness of the culture we live in can make us wonder if it is worth it to seek to be an influence for good and for God. And, to be fair, church leaders can sometimes be responsible for causing the church grief as well.
The account of Moses and the people’s despair can be a great encouragement to us. God did a great work in them and for them even though they did not believe. He is no less God today and the world which we live in is no more wicked than was theirs. Has God promised us great deliverance and freedom? We have God Himself living in us as a guarantee that such is the case. We have already been liberated from sin. We have a Gospel that is the very power of God, to deliver to the nations. It is not darker for us than it was for the Jews of Moses’ day. We must never become cynical, pessimistic and laissez faire. We serve a great God who does great things in great ways. Let us repent of sin, work diligently in the knowledge that it is not in vain and look to the future with great hope.
And finally, the exodus out of Egypt is a clear picture of salvation from sin and slavery into righteousness and freedom through faith in Jesus Christ. Sin is slavery and it crushes the spirit. Outside of Christ there is no hope. Many people are filled with despair and refuse to believe that the freedom offered in the Gospel is real. They are without hope, but the life they know is better to them than the unknown that is promised them. So what do we do? We just keep doing what God tells us to do. We give the Gospel. We pray. We live transformed lives. God will save people. It’s why Jesus hasn’t come back yet. There is hope for people. Let them know.