These small group studies of Exodus contain outlines, cross-references, Bible study discussion questions, and applications. Visit our library of inductive Bible studies for more in depth inductive studies on this and other books of the Bible you can use in your small group.
Exodus 5-6 Inductive Bible Study
Chapter 5 – Things get worse before they get better
Chapter 6 – The calm before the storm
- Moses and Aaron appear before Pharaoh for the first time. (5:1-9)
- Pharaoh’s taskmasters command the people to make the same amount of bricks, but without supplying the straw. (10-14)
- The Jews react against Pharaoh and Moses/Aaron that things are getting worse instead of better (15-21)
- Moses questions why God sent him to help the people when things were only getting worse. (22-23)
- God reassures Moses about His plan to deliver Israel, but Moses is not fully reassured yet (6:1-13)
- The heads of Israel and genealogies (6:14-27)
- Moses reminds God again that he is unskilled in speech (6:28-29)
How would one be able to talk to a king like Pharaoh?
What was Moses’ and Aaron’s request? Was this reasonable? Why should Pharaoh listen to their request (it came from the LORD)?
What can we learn about Pharaoh from his initial response in verse 2?
Did Moses and Aaron give up? What was different about their request the second time than the first time?
Do you think the second part of verse 3 was accurate?
What does the use of “your” in verse 4 show us?
What was the main reason Pharaoh didn’t want to let the people go to worship? Do you think if he really wanted to he could have tried to find a way to do it and still ensure the people’s return?
What was Pharaoh’s revenge for this request? Was this new requirement feasible? What was his reason for this new change in policy?
Verse by Verse Commentary
- These were likely formal proceedings in the palace. It’s even possible some paperwork would have to be done to show that Moses and Aaron were official representatives of the people (which is one reason they needed to go to the elders of Israel first). This would have likely been a session where Pharaoh heard one by one complaints or requests from representatives of his vast number of subjects. While the Bible hits the highlights it skips over a lot of the mundane and every day details of exactly how these things came to pass. If it were to include all of this kind of thing the Bible would be too long to read!
- Moses and Aaron lodge their official, formal request to allow the people of Israel to worship God in the wilderness. This was the first of many times they would appear before Pharaoh. The fact that they (Moses being a murderer who escaped from the country many years before) were even allowed into his presence demonstrates God’s sovereignty as rulers throughout all of history are hard to access. This was a simple and reasonable request for people who probably hadn’t gotten any time to even worship God in many many years.
- Notice the authority behind their request. It is not the people of Israel, or Aaron, or Moses demanding this. It is God. A prophet speaks, “Thus says the Lord.” He acts as a messenger of God. This is why Moses was called a prophet although most of the content of his messages was not predicting the future, but instructing people. It was only this authority from God that gave Moses and Aaron’s request true legitimacy. Because it was from God Himself, it demanded attention.
- Pharaoh was not impressed by this. He claimed no knowledge of this God. It wasn’t among the many gods that the Egyptians worshiped. Because the Israelites were slaves while the Egyptians were masters, he probably paid even less attention to the demands of their God.
- Pharaoh was extremely prideful. He set himself up as the final authority (Pharaohs considered themselves to be divine.) He expresses complete disdain for the LORD and scoffs at the idea that he should listen to Him. This is the height of arrogance. We learn from the Bible that Pride goes before the fall. It is also said “The bigger they are, the harder they fall.” Pharaoh raised himself up to be greater than God and therefore his fall would be historic, one of epic proportions.
- He unilaterally rejects their request.
- Moses and Aaron didn’t give up. They were speaking with God’s authority and could therefore be bold even in the presence of such denial. This is a reminder to us not to give up sharing God’s Word or the gospel easily. Sometimes people will express great skepticism or outright reject it, but we should not give up. This time they politely inserted “please” into their request appealing to the kinder side that Pharaoh didn’t have. They also mentioned the length of time of their request, only three days. In other words, they could go and be back working very quickly. Finally they mentioned the possibility of incurring God’s divine wrath for not worshiping Him as they were supposed to. Perhaps knowing that his valued slaves’ numbers could be greatly reduced as a result of this divine judgment might move Pharaoh. Do you think this view of God as one ready to strike them if they didn’t worship (although they were slaves) was accurate?
- Pharaoh not only rejected them again, but he decided to punish their perceived laziness by upping their work load. They would be required to make the same number of bricks, but they wouldn’t be given the materials to make them from. This policy shows us again Pharaoh’s complete unreasonableness bordering on madness. Sometimes it seems as if he doesn’t live in the real world, but just continues to sit on his egotistical thrown throwing out tantrems of rage. Besides taking revenge on their perceived laziness, his ulterior motive was to squash in the bud the Jews’ attempt at some privileges. He reasoned that if he punished such requests they would be more hesitant to make such requests in the future. Also, perhaps they would stop listening to Moses and Aaron and focus on their work instead of dreaming of freedom.
Who were the enforcers of this policy?
Were the Jews able to keep it? What does this show us about Pharaoh (he is unreasonable)?
- This was not a democracy. It was a dictatorial regime. Whatever Pharaoh said, went. His followers didn’t argue with him or try to ease his stupid regulations.
- The Israelites then began trying to fulfill the requirements. To fail to do so meant beatings and if they would have just said “no” and not even tried they probably would have been killed. We already saw the national policies of the previous Pharaoh/Pharaohs of genocide. They looked upon the Israelites as inferior, perhaps not even better than animals. These failures went for two days.
What was the Jews’ response to this new policy?
Was Pharaoh willing to listen to them? What was his verdict?
What did the Jews think about Moses and Aaron after these new developments? What does this show us about their belief at the end of chapter 4?
What principles can we get of how God worked from this chapter?
What principles can we get for today from this chapter?
What applications can we get from this chapter?
Matthew 9:4 – He knew the hearts of men.
Verse by Verse Commentary
- These failures went on for two days before the Israelites had had enough. They then appealed to Pharaoh. Evidently, all subjects of Egypt could air grievances to the throne just like Moses and Aaron had done several days previously. They called themselves his servants, using very concilliatory wording. Yet their complaint was straight to the point. They were given a near impossible mission and then were beaten for not doing the impossible. While they didn’t mention Pharaoh specifically, their point was clear. His new policy was completely unreasonable and unfair.
- Pharaoh didn’t care anything about their requests. He again accused them of laziness and repeated this accusation twice. In fact, he had to have known his new policy was ridiculous, but he had the power and he intended to use it. He didn’t compromise or back down one iota, but reaffirmed his decree.
- The Jews despaired. They knew they were in serious trouble. They expected the worst of what might come. Their hopes of merely returning to the former state of work were crushed.
- They quickly turned on Moses and Aaron, who had been waiting to hear the results of the appeal. They blamed Moses and Aaron for this. Before they came, everything was going along OK (in comparison). But to this point the only results of M and A’s request was Pharaoh toughening his stance and giving more work to them. Their faith was quickly put to the test and proved to be weak and shallow.
- Principles/applications from this chapter:
- God’s promises might be fulfilled more slowly than we would like. Accompanying application: We must be patiently looking forward to what He will do instead of doubting. Hebrews 11:39-12:2.
- Sometimes things get worse before they get better. Examples: David becoming king (first Saul kept trying to kill him), Israel lost to Benjamin twice before defeating the tribe in battle, Jesus had to die before He could arise again. Why do you think God works like this instead of fixing things immediately? Accompanying application: Stand firm through trials. Keep doing good knowing that in due time we will reap a good harvest if we don’t give up. James 1:3-4, Galatians 6:9.
- Things on earth might look bleak, but God is still on the throne. Accompanying application: keep the faith. Trust in the King of Kings.
What was Moses’ response to this new challenge?
What can we learn about Moses from his questions to the LORD?
What principles can we get from this?
- Moses showed definite compassion for the people. He was distraught that his efforts had this negative effect. This is the opposite of Pharaoh who would show complete disregard for the plight of his own people.
- Although, he had finally accepted the task, he didn’t change as a person immediately. His own relationship to the Lord was growing just as everyone else’s. We see in this exchange a lot of the same kind of attitudes of doubt and reluctance we see in chapter 3. Maturing is a process so keep plugging away.
- Making a decision to obey God is not a one time thing. Only several days in Moses faced difficulties and doubts. He had to decide again whether to continue obeying God or abandon it. Many times after we first decide to obey God Satan will ratchet up the pressure on us and exert even more energy to try to get us to break. Obeying God is a daily or even minutely decision that we need to constantly renew, especially in the face of pressure. For example, choosing to become a Christian when one is a student at a university away from his family is great. Can the person keep their commitment when they go back and tell their family? Can the person keep their commitment when they start work? When they want to get a girlfriend/boyfriend?
In one word, summarize the purpose of God’s talk with Moses (reassurance).
In one sentence summarize the main content of this reassurance message.
Did God change or rescind any of His previous promises here? Fill in the blank. “God ____ the promises He made to Israel.” (reaffirmed)
What can we learn from this section about God’s character?
What principles can we get from this section we can use today?
Did God change or rescind His command to Moses?
What we can we learn from this about God’s character?
What principles can we get from this for today?
What was Moses’ response to this renewed command? What was God’s answer to Moses’ old objection?
Numbers 23:19 – God is not a man that He should lie.
Hebrews 13:8 – Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and forever.
1 Kings 8:56 – Not one word of God’s promises to Moses for Israel failed.
Verse by Verse Commentary
Go through verse by verse to discuss. Main points below:
- God reassures Moses. Moses himself was starting to question God’s plan and if it would work.
- God reassures Moses that He has made a covenant with them.
- God reassures Moses that He will give them the land of Canaan.
- God reassures Moses that He has heard their cry and remembers His covenant.
- God reassures Moses that He will deliver them.
- God reassures Moses that He will take them for His own people.
- God reaffirms His previous command to Moses to tell this to the people and to Pharaoh.
- There is phrase that we can bend but don’t break. God doesn’t break and neither does He bend. He is a rock. He is unchanging yesterday, today, and forever. The most powerful and the most stubborn of all human rulers cannot change God’s plans one iota. Psalms 2:4. He laughs at Pharaoh and his egotistical pronouncements knowing that his result is already sealed.
- We can get two main principles from this.
- Whatever God has said, He will do. If we are on the right side of this promise we can take comfort in it.
- Whatever God has commanded us to do, He will not back down on it. We can’t change His mind. For example repeatedly praying that God will allow us to do something we know is wrong (like marrying an unbeliever) will never change God’s principle on it. He doesn’t change His principles because they are right and don’t need to change. Circumstances (and these were looking pretty bleak) doesn’t change God’s principles either.
Why do think this genealogy is included here?
What can we get from it?
What characters can you recognize in it?
- This genealogy serves to show us Aaron and Moses’ ancestry. This would have been very important to Jews. They came from the Levitical line, which would eventually be the line of priests.
- In this genealogy we also see that Moses’ father, Amram, married his aunt. The Mosaic Law had not been given yet forbidding marriage to family members. Therefore it was not yet sin at that time. At that time the number of people was far less than today and the gene pool was still more pure.
- Besides Levi, it also gives partial genealogies of Reuben and Simeon. All of these three men had committed great sins previously (Reuben slept with his father’s concubine, Simeon and Levi ruthlessly slaughtered the inhabitants of the city of the guy who raped their sister). It is unclear why these specific genealogies are given, but perhaps this is one reason these three are grouped together. These lines are not complete, but are just meant to provide some background information.
What can learn about man from Moses’ repeated excuses? What can we learn of God from His repeated commands? Who was right? Who won? What principles can we get from this for today?
Fill in the blank with an adjective. Moses was a _____ leader.
Verse by Verse Commentary
- Moses repeats the same excuse he made previously. The miracles God had led him to do seemed a distant memory compared to the present troubles inflicting them from Pharaoh’s hardhearted egotism. (think Peter waking on the water, but looking at the waves.) Just like we saw at the end of the last chapter. Continuing to obey God with faith day after day is much more difficult than making a decision and saying “I will obey God in this.” Our commitment will be challenged every day.
- Moses was a reluctant leader. Even at this point, he was still hesitant. His faith was still growing and he needed a lot of maturation. No one starts off a spiritual giant. It is a growth process day by day.
- God never let up. He continued telling Moses to do the work. This was His plan. This was the right thing to do. No amount of excuses would change God’s mind. We can also learn from this to stick to what is right and also know that we can’t change God’s plans.
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