(22)And Moses returned unto the LORD, and said, Lord, wherefore hast thou so evil entreated this people? why is it that thou hast sent me?
(23) For since I came to Pharaoh to speak in thy name, he hath done evil to this people; neither hast thou delivered thy people at all.
Moses did everything right. He answered God’s call to return to Egypt. He confronted Pharaoh with God’s command to let His people go. Then everything got worse.
In His call to Moses, the Lord told him:
And I am sure that the king of Egypt will not let you go, no, not by a mighty hand. (Exodus 3:19)
He said this because He knew Pharaoh’s heart. The Egyptian leader would see the same miracles as everyone else and instead of reverence, it would trigger rebellion in his heart. I don’t know about Moses, but if I heard the Lord tell me: “You’re going to go into this, but Pharaoh will harden his heart,” it might have been one of those things that I’d hear but not fully appreciate in the sense of not fully comprehending, like the disciples not fully understanding what the Lord meant when He said he would die and then be raised up in three days. Jesus had told them that several times throughout His ministry and it was not until after the resurrection that they fully comprehended His meaning.
Moses is at that point in his understanding here. The Lord had told him what Pharaoh’s reaction would be, but it was not until Moses experienced it that he fully understood it. Hearing God’s demands, Pharaoh willfully misinterpreted God’s words and said:
…Ye are idle, ye are idle: therefore ye say, Let us go and do sacrifice to the LORD. (Exodus 5:17b)
The Hebrews would continue making brick, but now they would have to gather their own straw. The Egyptians would not provide it to them and they would still have to maintain their production output. Because of this increased hardship, the people of Israel turned on Moses and Aaron.
And they said unto them, The LORD look upon you, and judge; because ye have made our savour to be abhorred in the eyes of Pharaoh, and in the eyes of his servants, to put a sword in their hand to slay us. (Exodus 5:21)
Moses’ questions to the Lord are understandable. He’d done everything the Lord had asked of him and things had only become worse. What Moses learned and what we learn from him is that doing the right thing is not always the easiest thing – but it’s still the right thing. God sent Moses to Egypt knowing full well what Pharaoh would do and God allowed this so that He could show Himself mighty not only to Israel but to the Egyptians as well.
In His call to Moses, God also told him:
(21) And I will give this people favour in the sight of the Egyptians: and it shall come to pass, that, when ye go, ye shall not go empty:
(22) But every woman shall borrow of her neighbour, and of her that sojourneth in her house, jewels of silver, and jewels of gold, and raiment: and ye shall put them upon your sons, and upon your daughters; and ye shall spoil the Egyptians.
Through Moses and Aaron God sent ten plagues. In the last plague, God killed all the firstborn of Egypt. It was a plague not even Pharaoh could resist. He finally let the people go and by this time, the attitude of the Egyptian people had changed toward the people of Israel:
And the LORD gave the people favour in the sight of the Egyptians. Moreover the man Moses was very great in the land of Egypt, in the sight of Pharaoh’s servants, and in the sight of the people. (Exodus 11:3)
And the LORD gave the people favour in the sight of the Egyptians, so that they lent unto them such things as they required. And they spoiled the Egyptians. (Exodus 12:36)
When Jesus came to earth to die for our sins, He knew that the very world He was seeking to rescue would reject Him and crucify Him. Still, He came because it was the will of the Father and at its darkest moment, as He hung upon the cross, He kept His eye on the joy that would follow because of His faithfulness.
Doing the right thing is not always the easiest thing, but the most precious blessings in life often come to us at the end of struggles hard-won.