Home thoughts from

Free Daily Bible notes by Rev Stephen Thompson


October 2021

Exodus 5:22,23: A serious reader of the Bible

Moses returned to the Lord and said, “Why, Lord, why have you brought trouble on this people? Is this why you sent me? 23 Ever since I went to Pharaoh to speak in your name, he has brought trouble on this people, and you have not rescued your people at all.”

 I heard a story about a preacher who had a highly effective ministry. When asked about the secret of his success he replied, ‘I don’t really know. All I can say is I am a serious reader of the Bible.’

God’s Word is congruent with reality. It describes the world as it is. God wants people to take Him simply at His Word, walking by faith and not by sight.

Serious readers of the Bible are careful readers. We need to be. Otherwise we might miss something, or misunderstand it.

As I will say in the next thought, leaders need to know how to bring their troubles to God in prayer. This is a good thing. But in his praying, Moses seems to have completely missed what God foretold about Pharaoh’s intransigence. Had Moses not heard this? Had he forgotten it? Was he simply worn down by the complaining and criticism? The truth is I don’t know. But as Moses prayed this desperate prayer, it was as if God had not said what He clearly had spoken (3:19), namely that Pharaoh would resist, but his resistance would not be the last word on the situation.

“Relying on God has to start all over everyday, as if nothing has yet been done.” C.S.Lewis

PRAYER: Lord God, help me to be diligent in studying and knowing your Word, faithful in believing it, active in obeying it

Exodus 5:17: Lazy, lazy, lazy!

‘Pharaoh said, “Lazy, that’s what you are—lazy! That is why you keep saying, ‘Let us go and sacrifice to the Lord.’ (See also verse 8).

Not everything said about you is true. Not everything you say about you is true. We can hear lies, and they can depress us. We are not ultimately defined by anything anyone says about us other than God. Be careful what you believe.

Three times in this chapter Pharaoh accuses the slave-driven Israelites of being “lazy.” That is a bit rich when you consider the details surrounding his accusation.

Simply to say this: you may well find the finger of a pharaoh-like conscience wagging at you whenever you endeavour to make time to pray (in obedience to God’s own Word). Or perhaps as you try to observe a weekly rhythm of Sabbath.

There may even be other Christians who think you are slacking if you spend much time in intercession. (But anyone who has attempted to make a serious business of prayer knows what hard work it actually is!) I think of Paul’s words about Epaphras: “He is always wrestling in prayer for you…” (Colossians 4:12b). I used to watch the wrestling with my dad when I was a kid – regular Saturday afternoon entertainment for him. In my memory, wrestling conjures up images of perspiration.

The devil is a ruthless opponent and he has a vested interest in trying to choke your prayer life. If the accusation that you are lazy works, then he’s going to use it.

I don’t remember the exact quote, but in ‘Brothers, we are not professionals’, John Piper said there is something counter-cultural about the sight of a pastor kneeling beside a desk piled high with papers. He has lots to do, but he’s going to prioritise time on his knees. He’s not going to allow the cry of the urgent to drown out the call of the all-important.

Exodus 5:6-23: ‘On the way to better…’

That same day Pharaoh gave this order to the slave drivers and overseers in charge of the people: 7 “You are no longer to supply the people with straw for making bricks; let them go and gather their own straw. 8 But require them to make the same number of bricks as before; don’t reduce the quota. They are lazy; that is why they are crying out, ‘Let us go and sacrifice to our God.’ 9 Make the work harder for the people so that they keep working and pay no attention to lies.”

10 Then the slave drivers and the overseers went out and said to the people, “This is what Pharaoh says: ‘I will not give you any more straw. 11 Go and get your own straw wherever you can find it, but your work will not be reduced at all.’” 12 So the people scattered all over Egypt to gather stubble to use for straw. 13 The slave drivers kept pressing them, saying, “Complete the work required of you for each day, just as when you had straw.” 14 And Pharaoh’s slave drivers beat the Israelite overseers they had appointed, demanding, “Why haven’t you met your quota of bricks yesterday or today, as before?”

15 Then the Israelite overseers went and appealed to Pharaoh: “Why have you treated your servants this way? 16 Your servants are given no straw, yet we are told, ‘Make bricks!’ Your servants are being beaten, but the fault is with your own people.”

17 Pharaoh said, “Lazy, that’s what you are—lazy! That is why you keep saying, ‘Let us go and sacrifice to the Lord.’ 18 Now get to work. You will not be given any straw, yet you must produce your full quota of bricks.”

19 The Israelite overseers realized they were in trouble when they were told, “You are not to reduce the number of bricks required of you for each day.” 20 When they left Pharaoh, they found Moses and Aaron waiting to meet them, 21 and they said, “May the Lord look on you and judge you! You have made us obnoxious to Pharaoh and his officials and have put a sword in their hand to kill us.”

22 Moses returned to the Lord and said, “Why, Lord, why have you brought trouble on this people? Is this why you sent me? 23 Ever since I went to Pharaoh to speak in your name, he has brought trouble on this people, and you have not rescued your people at all.”

‘If you’re going through hell keep going’ Winston Churchill.

I remember a line from Ronald Dunn’s excellent book ‘Don’t just stand there, pray something!’ He said he had noticed that when you start to seriously pray about a situation ‘on the way to better it regularly drops by worse.’ That observation resonated with me. It’s not always the case, but I think it often is, and faith has to persevere and hold on to the promises of God whilst traversing a barren landscape. Many times you may find yourself having to ‘return to the Lord’ (22), feeling the weight of doubt, fear and questions that threaten to asphyxiate your trust.

In Moses’ case, the promise of 3:18-22 still stood, and note that within it God had foretold Pharaoh’s hard-hearted resistance:

 “The elders of Israel will listen to you. Then you and the elders are to go to the king of Egypt and say to him, ‘The Lord, the God of the Hebrews, has met with us. Let us take a three-day journey into the wilderness to offer sacrifices to the Lord our God.’ 19 But I know that the king of Egypt will not let you go unless a mighty hand compels him. 20 So I will stretch out my hand and strike the Egyptians with all the wonders that I will perform among them. After that, he will let you go.

21 “And I will make the Egyptians favorably disposed toward this people, so that when you leave you will not go empty-handed. 22 Every woman is to ask her neighbor and any woman living in her house for articles of silver and gold and for clothing, which you will put on your sons and daughters. And so you will plunder the Egyptians.”

But it must have been hard to live through that middle bit when the king was digging his heels in and the people were suffering intensely. It is a test of faith when the promises of God assure us deliverance is coming, but our daily reality is the burden of oppression, with no end in sight.

‘Perseverance is the hard work you do after you get tired of doing the hard work you already did.’ Newt Gingrich.


‘By perseverance the snail made it to the ark.’ C.H.Spurgeon.

Exodus 5:1-5: Work versus Worship?

“Afterward Moses and Aaron went to Pharaoh and said, “This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: ‘Let my people go, so that they may hold a festival to me in the wilderness.’”

2 Pharaoh said, “Who is the Lord, that I should obey him and let Israel go? I do not know the Lord and I will not let Israel go.”

3 Then they said, “The God of the Hebrews has met with us. Now let us take a three-day journey into the wilderness to offer sacrifices to the Lord our God, or he may strike us with plagues or with the sword.”

4 But the king of Egypt said, “Moses and Aaron, why are you taking the people away from their labor? Get back to your work!” 5 Then Pharaoh said, “Look, the people of the land are now numerous, and you are stopping them from working.”

First of all, note the possible implication at the end of verse 3b that if the Israelites fear God, Pharaoh and the Egyptians certainly ought to! He is not to be messed with. They have been warned.

Secondly have you ever been in a situation where you felt valued only because of your work? (Maybe under-valued because of it?) Perhaps you were at a social gathering and someone asked what you did, and they quickly moved on to find someone ‘more interesting’ or ‘more important’ to talk to. Your status (or earning capacity) wasn’t quite high enough.

What of the unemployed, the parents who choose to stay at home, those who work in the voluntary sector, or the retired?

Henri Nouwen chose to spend seven months in a Trappist monastery from June to December in 1974, and afterwards he published a report of his time there in ‘the Genesee Diary.’ One entry I always remember referred to his father who had recently retired as an academic. His dad told him that stay in the monastery  would be ‘good preparation for that time which only seemingly is far away from you” (meaning retirement). His father, who he describes as a joyful man, not bitter, nevertheless felt something of the anonymity of his new status.

In Pharaoh I see an emblem of a world system which values work over worship, if it values worship at all. Pharaoh was not concerned about the Israelites as people; he was only interested in them as economic units – contributors to the Egyptian economy.

But in the beginning man/woman had a relationship with God before they were set to work. First and foremost we are called to worship God, then our work flows out of our worship. It is empowered and informed by our worship. In fact we should not drive a wedge between worship and work. Our work can be an act of worship when we do everything in the Name of Jesus.

Exodus 5:1: How’s your appetite?

“Afterward Moses and Aaron went to Pharaoh and said, “This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: ‘Let my people go, so that they may hold a festival to me in the wilderness.’”

“Why is it,” comedian Lily Tomlin asks, “that when we speak to God we are said to be praying but when God speaks to us we are said to be schizophrenic?” Dallas Willard.

At this time, in these circumstances, Moses and Aaron knew God’s mind; they were aware of what God wanted. When you have such an insight it tends to give you a boldness to be able to speak to people – those inside and outside the church. They may or may not listen; they might or might not like the content of your message. But you have the courage to speak it regardless.

This is a crucial element of Biblical leadership. We need to so position ourselves that we are in a place to hear from God should He choose to speak to us. We are not asked to come up with our own clever strategies for growing the church. It’s not about going to a conference and picking up a brilliant idea from someone else’s context and then trying to make it work ‘here’. Of course we can learn from other churches and leaders, and I think we should want to, but our essential call is to walk with God.

As God leads you, He may not give you the whole map, but if He let’s you have even a fragment showing you the next step it will be sufficient.

As I reflected on this I thought about those from “Issachar, men who understood the times and knew what Israel should do.” 1 Chronicles 12:32.

May all church leaders be in their tribe!

Thought: “Few people arise in the morning as hungry for God as they are for cornflakes or toast and eggs.” Dallas Willard.

Exodus 4:27: Divine appointment

The Lord said to Aaron, “Go into the wilderness to meet Moses.” So he met Moses at the mountain of God and kissed him.

Before moving on in Exodus I want to share another thought on ‘divine appointments’.

Recently, Jilly and I visited Morecambe, and we walked past ‘353 Marine Rd’ where I lived, in my early twenties, in a cramped (and slightly damp!) bed-sit, for almost three years. I was there between 1980 and 1983 as the first pastor of a church plant in near-by Lancaster. While I was there I met two men who became close and dear friends. I have no doubt that God brought them into my life. They gave me so much practical help and support. At the same time I know God made me a blessing to them. These were divine appointments, and they were mutually beneficial.

I’ll tell you about one of the men. His name was John. Prior to the church holding its first Sunday services, an evangelist, George Canty, held a month of meetings in ‘Ryelands House’, the former home of Lord Ashton who was an MP and a great public benefactor. One night I noticed a rather rugged and serious- looking man who came to the meeting along with his wife. Just a few weeks later I ‘happened’ to pass him in the street. He was stood by a shop door-way, dressed in his ‘Rediffusion’ overalls. (He installed and fixed telly’s for a living). There was recognition between us, and shortly afterwards he turned up at church. I arranged to visit him, and so began a very rich friendship, with numerous coffees and conversations. I loaned him a book by John Stott on Romans chapters 5-8, entitled ‘Men made new’, and I think he read and re-read it. It lit a fire inside him. As his story tumbled out, I discovered that as a young man, living in the highlands of Scotland, John had been a Christian. In fact, he had been a preacher, and God had so blessed and used him that there had been a kind of revival. But then something went wrong (I can’t remember the details now) and for years and years he had been a ‘backslider’. He had come to the mission meetings with his wife ‘kicking and screaming’, as he put it. He only came because she had seen the meetings advertised in the local press, and at the time she was feeling a need, an emptiness in her soul. But John came whole-heartedly back to Christ. He was a faithful member of the church, and eventually one of its first deacons. He has been dead many years now, but I treasure the memory of this dear friend.

As God took Philip to the desert to serve the Ethiopian (Acts 8), I believe I was sent to Lancaster to meet  John. He was not the only reason, I’m sure. But if it were just for him, a thousand times and more it was so worth it!

PRAYER: Thank you Lord that you bring people together. May I always be ready and available to do your bidding

Exodus 4:29 – 31: And it came to pass…

Moses and Aaron brought together all the elders of the Israelites, 30 and Aaron told them everything the Lord had said to Moses. He also performed the signs before the people, 31 and they believed. And when they heard that the Lord was concerned about them and had seen their misery, they bowed down and worshiped.

It came to pass just as God had said it would:

10 Moses said to the Lord, “Pardon your servant, Lord. I have never been eloquent, neither in the past nor since you have spoken to your servant. I am slow of speech and tongue.”

11 The Lord said to him, “Who gave human beings their mouths? Who makes them deaf or mute? Who gives them sight or makes them blind? Is it not I, the Lord? 12 Now go; I will help you speak and will teach you what to say.”

13 But Moses said, “Pardon your servant, Lord. Please send someone else.”

14 Then the Lord’s anger burned against Moses and he said, “What about your brother, Aaron the Levite? I know he can speak well. He is already on his way to meet you, and he will be glad to see you. 15 You shall speak to him and put words in his mouth; I will help both of you speak and will teach you what to do. 16 He will speak to the people for you, and it will be as if he were your mouth and as if you were God to him. 17 But take this staff in your hand so you can perform the signs with it.”

Whatever God decrees must take place. We can count on it.

‘Moses had expressed fear that the Jewish leaders wouldn’t believe his message or accept his leadership, but they did, and so did the rest of the nation when they saw the demonstration of God’s power in the signs. On hearing that God was concerned for them and was about to rescue them, they bowed in grateful worship. Worship is the logical response of God’s people to God’s grace and goodness.

This was the lull before the storm. God was about to declare war on Egypt and Pharaoh, and life for the Jews would become more difficult before it would get better.’ Warren W. Wiersbe: Old Testament Commentary, p.152.

PRAYER: Lord I want to thank you for the lovely truth that you are concerned about us.

Exodus 4:27,28: The principle of partnership

The Lord said to Aaron, “Go into the wilderness to meet Moses.” So he met Moses at the mountain of God and kissed him. 28 Then Moses told Aaron everything the Lord had sent him to say, and also about all the signs he had commanded him to perform.

Around this time last year I was reading a book by A.P.Boers, entitled ‘The way is made by walking.’ I found it to be an encouraging read, full of insights gained from his pilgrimage on ‘the Camino.’ One of the things he said was that time and again he met the people he believed he was meant to meet. He clearly didn’t view these encounters as coincidental. He saw them as divinely orchestrated. God orders the movements of His people. Sometimes, as with Aaron, we know we are being directed. But on other occasions, it happens without our obedient participation. We are just where we are meant to be, and God has His reasons.That said, let’s do all we can to be sensitive and alert so we can hear whenever God says, “Go…”

These verses describe the reunion of Moses and Aaron after forty years of separation.The Bible teaches that:

“Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labour…” (Ecclesiastes 4:9: see also verses 10-12). We also remember that Jesus sent out His disciples in two’s (Mark 6:7), and God called Paul and Barnabas to take the gospel to the Gentiles (Acts 13:2). In spite of his faults, Aaron ministered alongside Moses for many years, and he became the founder of the priesthood in Israel.

Exodus 4 vv 24-26: Live it at home

 At a lodging place on the way, the Lord met Moses and was about to kill him. 25 But Zipporah took a flint knife, cut off her son’s foreskin and touched Moses’ feet with it. “Surely you are a bridegroom of blood to me,” she said. 26 So the Lord let him alone. (At that time she said “bridegroom of blood,” referring to circumcision.)

This is in some ways a difficult passage, but I think it teaches a simple principle: namely that leaders need to live it at home. We are called not just to a public ministry, but to private integrity. This is not about perfection, because no-one is going to hit that standard in this life. But leaders can’t be ‘off-duty’ in their morals. What we preach and teach in the public arena we must strive, with God’s help, to live in the privacy of the home.

‘Moses was chastened by God and almost died because he had failed to make his child a son of the covenant (Gen.17:10). How could Moses lead Israel if his own family was not dedicated to God? (See 1 Tim.3:5).’ Warren W. Wiersbe: ‘With the Word’, p.50.

In his Old Testament Commentary, Wiersbe also says:

‘After all, Moses couldn’t lead the people of Israel if he was disobedient to one of the fundamental commandments of the Lord (Gen.17:10-14). Even if the Jews didn’t know it, God knew about his disobedience, and He was greatly displeased.’

The need to ‘live it at home’ is, of course, applicable to all believers, but today’s passage speaks particularly about the responsibility of leaders to be people of integrity. Let’s ensure they have our prayers.

Blog at

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: