Read Exodus 5
Bricks Without Straw
1 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.”
6 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.”
God Promises Deliverance
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.”
The demand to produce is crushing. In reading this chapter, you can almost feel the exhaustion within the Israelite camp. As the Egyptians ask for more, and more, and more, they literally cannot keep up. Because of the demands of Pharaoh, they are now required to work longer hours and produce more bricks. Their work is not only a burden, but their failure to produce led to physical beatings (v. 14). When you’re only seen as something that produces, you will be run dry.
While we aren’t in slavery in Egypt, many of us can associate with the demand to produce. This world seemingly asks more of us every day. We need to be a better friend, a better mom, a better Christian, a better worker. We’re required to be doers who produce what the world asks of us. But this is a burden too heavy for us to bear. We aren’t machines caught up in some grand assembly line. We’re people, meant to be loved.
As Christians, we don’t have to fall in line with the demands of this world. As it asks for more of what you can produce, Jesus just asks for more of your heart. His concern isn’t that you’d impress Him today with all you can do for Him. Jesus is more impressed with those who can put down their work and sit at His feet (Luke 10). Today, you don’t have to keep up with the expectation to produce. Instead, you have the opportunity to love Jesus and be loved by Him.
How did you feel as you read this chapter?
What are the similarities to how Pharaoh treated the Israelites and how sin deals with us?
Do you feel caught up in the rush of being a producer? Why is it so hard for you to just sit and be with Jesus?
Did You Know?
The Hebrew slaves had two levels of overseers who supervised them: the Hebrew foremen and, above them, the Egyptian taskmasters. According to historical documents, the Israelite foremen were beaten because they could not bear to force their fellow Hebrews to fulfill the impossible quotas the Egyptians demanded.