Despoiling Egyptians – Exodus 3:16-22

After God tells Moses His name, God then starts to tell Moses what he will do when he goes back to Egypt. At first, we know from chapter four, Moses resists. We’ll take that up later. Here we are examining what God tells Moses. There are a couple things that stick out to me.

First, notice verse 18. God tells Moses to go to the elders and declare that YAHWEH has sent him to deliver Israel, but it isn’t Moses that goes to Pharaoh. It is Moses and all of the elders of Israel that go to Pharaoh. Straightway we see the pattern and plan of God. Later Jethro will get on his son-in-law because Moses is having all civil disputes come to him as mediator. God never intended that Moses would be the guy up front that everyone must listen to.

Let us break this down a bit more in regard to modern day. When we establish our “churches” in a form that causes an elevation of the pastor, teacher, preacher, or minister (whatever your denomination/church calls them), it brings in a falsity that the gods of this world delight in. Our God and Father has nothing to do with it. Firstly, from the beginning – as far back as you can go – our faith and heritage has always been one of community. Our father Abraham lived daily in the presence of other followers and believers, even if they might have predominately been his servants.

God has established that the Church, the assembly of the Living God, would be something more than what you meet in. It is the people, the saints themselves, going from house to house daily, wrestling, interacting, seeking, learning, growing, and living life together. The nit and grit of life is played out before everyone’s eyes. Even in the most populous areas – in Jerusalem itself – we read in Acts 2 that 3000 people were able to be like family with one another, seeing each other daily, and sharing all they had with those in need.

What is your excuse?

“I live on the other side of town, and the majority of people who I know from church don’t have time…” Okay, move. Invite them over for dinner. Find out what they are a part of and volunteer. If you’re the one without the time, why are you without time? That which you find most important you put at the forefront. If it is that you work too often, then find employment with less hours. You might have to cut back on the luxuries of cable, Internet, steaks, multiple cars, bigger homes than you could ever use, or all of the junk that gets shoved into your closet and never seen again, but in reality you’ll be better off without it anyway. Learn to live within your means, and take less hours to spend more time with the saints.

Notice that in Moses going to Pharaoh with all the elders of Israel that there is no longer “hierarchy”. Moses received the call, and yet he isn’t distinguished in front of Pharaoh in any way other than that he went to the elders and told them God is delivering them. This is the way that we should live. The fact that it is obvious who is the pastor in the church building, simply by looking for the “pastor’s seat” at the front is a shame. There should be an overlap, that the people interact as if they are all saints, and therefore the pastors or the elders are indistinguishable from the people, and from one another, unless they are called upon to employ their God given authority in Christ.

I’ve noticed often that it seems like when I’m in the midst of other believers, my wife and I will take the backseat, listening and watching. Sometimes it leads to they who are in authority or leadership to pomp, bloating their positions so to show their superiority (as if we were even trying to challenge it). Other times, we’ve found that we’re able to speak and give advice, and that it is received with joy. All of this is most often experienced within the context of a Bible study, but we’ve even experienced it at a conference and several church services.

What is it that is inherent within us that desires to expand our egos when we’re given authority or power? It is precisely here that Jesus’ words are most devastating: “Anyone who wants to be greatest must become the least, and the servant of all” (paraphrase of Mark 9:35, Matthew 20:26, and Luke 22:26).

Another thing that sticks out to me in this passage is Exodus 3:21-22. What must take place for the people in Egypt to look favorably upon the Israelites, so that they might go to their neighbors and ask for gold, and precious things, and that request would be granted? Egypt is not considered for its generosity. It is seen as a place of bondage, which later shall also be labeled with Assyria and Babylon. Egypt is the place of merchandise, of prosperity, of wealth and obtainment of wealth. It is the place of glory, that is, human achievement and stature.

For the Israelites to despoil the Egyptians, one of two things must happen. Either the Egyptians must come to love the Israelites more than their wealth, or the Egyptians must desire the Israelites to leave more than their desire their wealth. We know the story well enough to know that it is the latter that takes place.

I end with a question, one that I’m not sure I’ve fully come to any conclusions on. What might it mean in our day and age for God to give a similar charge, even within our salvation and sanctification, for us to despoil the Egyptians? Are there other examples of the Exodus narrative in our lives, coming out of darkness and into light, that might give clue to in what ways we also despoil our own Egypt?

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