Exodus 6:9 – “They did not listen to Moses because of their broken spirit and harsh slavery.”
What an insight into the frail mind of human kind. The people are so crushed by their slavery and the new rule for gathering straw that was initiated in response to Moses’ first encounter with Pharaoh, that they will not listen and are more demoralized than they were before Moses hit the scene. Regardless of the rightness or wrongness of their response to Moses, the fact remains that a broken spirit is a powerful obstacle to doing what should be done. It effects the psyche, the body, the heart, the soul. It hinders from getting necessary tasks done. It makes people cynical and hard of hearing. It makes them love the misery they are in more than the hope of deliverance that could be theirs if only they would get up and do something. They need to see that hope really does exist and that the help they have spurned is serious. In dealing with people whose spirits are broken a great deal of patience is needed and a great deal of love for them, a great deal of work needs to be committed to and a great deal of failure needs to be expected. Moses will experience all of this and more but God is on a mission to rescue His people and a broken spirit will not be the thing that will stop Him from getting His mission accomplished. Of course, Moses does not know what God is up to and his response is so very human, hardly like the hero of faith that we normally portray him as being
Exodus 5:22-23 – 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.”
The first thing that God does when the people refuse to join in with Moses is simply tell Moses to continue on in the job he has been given. He reminds Moses that Moses is not God, He is. Things are going according to plan, even when things seem to be heading from bad to worse. God is not asleep, not surprised, and not inactive.
Exodus 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.”
This will not be the last time that despondent, grumbling, unfaithful people will cause Moses to complain to God. Moses is reminded to look up more than around, to not let the despondency of these broken spirited people stop him. They will not join in right away. They want to get better and they want better circumstances, but they do not know everything and when we are dispirited, patience is not our most prominent feature. They have been given promises before and things got worse. They have had saviours parachute into their lives before only to see them depart rather quickly when those they were endeavouring to save did not welcome them immediately with open arms and good wishes. Broken spirit people can be helped. But the first task will be convincing them that the offer is genuine, that it will not make things worse, that their new helpers are in it for the long haul and that they really are valuable to and worth saving in the eyes of those seeking to help them. They need to know that God is not asleep at the wheel.
Finally, what an act of grace and faithfulness this whole rescue mission out of Egypt is. It is easy for us, 3500 years after the event to only see this in light of the whole salvation plan of God, which of course it is. But it is also the salvation of a grumbling, faithless, selfish, hard headed, hard hearted group of people. God demonstrates great patience, love and resolve in dealing with them. Kind of like the way He deals with me, and probably with you.