Moses and Pharaoh

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Opening Prayer

Eternal God, amid all the turmoil and changes of the world your love is steadfast and your strength never fails. Be to us a sure guardian and rock of defense. Guide our leaders with your wisdom, comfort those in distress, grant us courage and hope to face the future and inspire us in our service of you; through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord. Amen.

Moses and Pharaoh

Let My People Go

God’s people had lived in the land of Egypt since the time of Joseph, but over the centuries, God’s people had moved from welcomed guests to slaves. God called Moses to lead God’s people out of slavery into the promised land. When Moses, with his brother Aaron by his side, called on the Pharaoh to let God’s people go, the Pharaoh, as you might expect, was not excited about the idea of losing his enslaved workforce. Eventually, after a series of plagues that demonstrated God’s power both to Pharaoh and to God’s people, the Pharaoh relented and allowed God’s people to leave.

The story of Moses leading God’s people out of Egypt and into the promised land is recorded in Exodus 14. As the people of God quickly gathered their possessions and headed for their new home, the Pharaoh had second thoughts and sent his army after them. God was with Moses and God’s people, clearing a path through the Red Sea for them. When the Egyptians tried to cross, the waters returned and the Pharaoh’s army was lost.

God’s people were free from slavery in Egypt, but as Moses and the people would discover, they still had a long way to go if they wanted to become the people God was calling them to be.

So What Does this Mean?

The Pharaoh wants proof that the God of Abraham, Jacob and Joseph is real and active in the world. God sends a series of signs – plagues – in increasing intensity, which demonstrate God’s power and presence to Pharaoh. The Pharaoh sees the signs, experiences God’s power, but as each sign is revealed, the Pharaoh’s desire to maintain his power, wealth and control prevents him from accepting that God’s power and presence is greater than his own.

Many people in today’s world, like Pharaoh, want proof that God is real and active in the world. They want dramatic events and displays of power, but as we see in the story of Pharaoh and Moses, belief in God and God’s power is about more than miraculous occurrences.

Most of us will never hear God speak to us out of a burning bush or experience something as dramatic as one of the plagues, but as Pharaoh shows us – signs don’t equal belief. We come to know God’s presence with us through God’s story in scripture, through the witness of our brothers and sisters in Christ and through the help of the Holy Spirit which ultimately opens our eyes to see to the ways that God is present and active in the world today.

Discussion Questions

Answer the following questions.

1. Why do you think that the Pharaoh refused to let God’s people go?

2. While there is no doubt that the plagues are meant to demonstrate God’s power to the Pharaoh, how do you think the plagues affected the people of God and their confidence in Moses?

Closing Prayer

Grant, O God, that your holy and life-giving Spirit may move every human heart; that the barriers dividing us may crumble, suspicions disappear, and hatreds cease; and that, with our divisions healed, we might live in justice and peace; through your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Opening and Closing Prayers adapted from Sundays and Copyright 2017 Augsburg Fortress. All rights reserved. Reprinted by permission under Augsburg Fortress Liturgies Annual License #25165.