These small group studies take us through almost twenty of the key events in the Old Testament. Our Old Testament Survey 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.
Old Testament Survey Lesson 6 – Let My People Go – Exodus 5-7
Moses’ and Aaron’s first encounter with Pharaoh (Chapter 5)
Their request (1)
Pharaoh’s response (2)
Repeated request (3)
Pharaoh’s second response: a scheme to set the people against Moses (4-9)
The results (10-14)
Increased work (10-12)
Cruelty and beatings (13-14)
The people’s appeal to Pharaoh (15-16)
His response (17-18)
Pharaoh’s plan succeeds: grumbling and division begins (19-21)
Moses’ entreats the Lord for help (22-23)
God reassures Moses (Chapter 6 – Chapter 7:7)
His perfect plan (1-8)
Continuance of the covenant (2-5)
Mighty judgments (6)
Protection as His people (7)
A new home (8)
The people still don’t listen (9)
God repeats His command to Moses (10-11)
Moses repeats his problem of having a slow tongue (12)
The families of Israel (13-27)
God’s command repeated (28-29)
Moses doubt repeated (30)
God’s command repeated again (7:1-2)
His purpose (3-7)
Second encounter with Pharaoh (8-13)
The miracle of the serpent (8-12)
Pharaoh’s heart was hardened again (13)
How come Pharaoh would not listen to Moses and Aaron and let the people go to sacrifice?
What was the need for a three days’ travel?
Why was the Pharaoh of Egypt generally considered to be?
What purpose do you think Pharaoh had in greatly increasing their work and beating them?
Was it wise or stupid?
Who did the Israelites end up blaming?
How do events end in chapter 5?
Why did God let Moses and the people suffer this “defeat”?
What does verse three of chapter 6 mean?
Did God perhaps forget the covenant He made with Israel, hence the 400 years of slavery (6:5)?
Then why might He possibly have led them be enslaved so long?
What promises did God make (through Moses) to the people?
How many times did Moses repeat his excuse of being an unskilled speaker?
How can we compare the people of Israel’s response to ours when we face difficulties?
Is it easier to believe and follow God in easy or difficult times?
What about Moses’?
What does it say about Moses that he also included his own weaknesses when he wrote this book?
What does it mean that Moses would be as “God to Pharaoh”?
Was it God or Pharaoh who hardened his heart? Why would God do that? Is that fair?
What about for people today, who hardens the unbelievers hearts?
How is it that these sorcerers were able to repeat the same miracle of the snake that Aaron did?
First encounter with Pharaoh (1-9)
The time had finally come. Moses and Aaron had come to Egypt and spoken with the people of Israel. It was finally time for them to go to Pharaoh and present their request. They did not find Pharaoh an easy, pleasant, or merciful person to deal with. Pharaoh was considered a god in Egypt. It would seriously hurt his pride to bow in submission to the Hebrew God. He did not recognize Yahweh. Also it would have been an amazing economic loss to his country to let the people of Israel go. In them, he had at least hundreds of thousands of slaves. He wasn’t even willing to let them go for three days. It was a matter of pride and economic gain.
Moses and Aaron should also be commended for their bravery. Moses was exiled and a wanted criminal. They could be killed for even mentioning this subject to Pharaoh, yet they delivered the message with boldness.
This is the first time in the Bible that God is referred to as the “God of Israel”. The people were on the verge of becoming a nation.
Pharaoh was also not a stupid man. Before Moses and Aaron got there the people had been working with seemingly no revolts. After Moses and Aaron got there the problems started. He devised a plan to turn the people against Moses and Aaron and also to punish them for even thinking of freedom. He ruled with an iron fist. By pouring more and more work onto the Israelites as well as beating them and blaming them he hoped to get them angry and show the consequences of listening to Moses. His goal is seen clearly in verse 9.
A previous Pharaoh had been afraid of the numerous Israelites. What would happen if they did unify and turn against their masters? They were so numerous that they could stage quite a revolt. Pharaoh wanted to stop it before it got started. He was likely afraid of what would happen if they did unify behind two such strong and capable leaders as Moses and Aaron.
Straw was an ingredient that was put into the clay as bricks were being formed to strengthen it. You can be sure their workload was already heavy. The additional step of gathering straw would have made it next to impossible to finish as many bricks as before.
The results (10-23)
The taskmasters over the people of Israel set to work fulfilling Pharaoh’s commands. The people of Israel tried to do it (12), but simply couldn’t reach this new standard. As a result they were beaten and ridiculed. We are not masters, but if we ask others to do something we should make sure it is reasonable and possible. Sometimes bosses ask their employees to do things that are virtually impossible and then berate them when they fail.
The foremen of Israel took the recourse of appealing to Pharaoh. However, Pharaoh was an extremely prideful man and not prone to have mercy on anybody. He misrepresents them by saying that they were “very lazy”. This was not the case. The people of Israel labored for years and built cities, etc. for Pharaoh. But he puts false motives into their hearts. Again, we should be careful not to assign false motives to others. That is one of the quickest ways to make people upset.
The world is often harsh against believers. They persecute, mock, ridicule, and trample down. They mistreat and misuse and take advantage of us. From our study of the Bible we should expect this and it should not come as a surprise to us. We cannot control how other people treat us. What can we control? We can control our attitude and our response.
The people of Israel did not have a good response to this. They turned against the very leaders that were trying to help them and that were sent by God. They complained against the leaders God had appointed for them (that is sin). In this verse we can catch a glimpse at the nature of the people God was rescuing and Moses was leading. They were very selfish. At times they did display great faith in God, but when trials came their faith evaporated. They followed when everything was going smoothly, but when things became difficult they rebelled against their leaders. They complained whenever things weren’t up to their standards.
We need to not just look and say, “they are wrong”, but we need to take a deep look into our own lives and see how we respond to trials, how strong our faith is, what kind of attitude we have when things are difficult. Do we follow the leaders God has given us with submission and contentment during good times and bad? Does our faith evaporate at the first signs of trouble? Do we tend to complain or give thanks? Hebrews 13:17
Moses also wonders why God planned it this way and why He hasn’t acted more quickly. How many of us have asked the same questions of God before? We can’t always understand God’s plans. If we were in charge, we surely wouldn’t do it the same way! But that is part of following. We need to have faith in God that His way is best, and in this situation it most certainly was. The whole region heard about God’s wonders and His care for His people. It led many to fear Him.
God reassures Moses (6:1-13)
Here God basically repeats to Moses what we read at the end of chapter 3. He makes a number of promises. First He promises freedom. Then He again emphasizes His name Yahweh compared to how He identified Himself with the patriarchs, God Almighty. He promises to continue the covenant through them. He also promises redemption and mighty judgments upon the Egyptians. He promises to take them as His people. This is a big and important promise. Israel was the chosen nation of God. They were His special people, His elect nation. Why did He choose one nation like that? Was that not fair to others? What was special about Israel that prompted God to choose them? He also promised again to give them the land that He promised to Abraham’s descendents many years before. God never does forget His promises. When He makes them He will keep them in His perfect timing.
In verse 5 God says that He remembered His covenant. So during the four hundred years that they were in slavery did He forget it? Why then the four hundred years? What purpose could God have had for keeping them in slavery so long?
The people still wouldn’t listen to Moses. Because of their present harsh conditions they could think of little else and they had truly lost hope. Don’t let the world get you down. Don’t think that because things are so bad in the world now there is no hope for it in the future or because Jesus’ second return seems so far away that it won’t come. We do have a blessed hope.
Moses seems to keep coming back to this problem, his slowness of speech. To him it really seems unlikely that God could use him with this problem. (Because he mentions it here again I think maybe there was at least some truth to it and not only a completely made up excuse). He can’t get past his own weakness to see the power of God. How often have we focused on our similar problems? Perhaps it is because of your lack of money, status in society, marriage, education, or other things that you think others who are “better” than you might not listen to you share the gospel. Or you think that you cannot serve God fully because of some physical, intellectual, or mental limitation. In fact we can. If we were strong in an of our ourselves we would have no need for Christ. But Christ is strong in us when we are weak and when we bring ourselves to God’s throne in humility asking for His help. (2 Corinthians 12:9-10) Weakness is not an acceptable excuse. God has used many weak people and will use us too. (Samson. Of himself Samson was not exceptionally strong. But God made him strong.)
Genealogies (6:14-27) –
This only gives the lines of three of Jacob’s sons, Simeon, Reuben, and Levi. Perhaps the reason is that these were the three who committed sins during Jacob’s life and were shamed when he blessed his sons. Simeon and Levi killed the Shechemites. Reuben committed incest with Jacob’s concubine. God may want to highlight His mercy and forgiveness in these three lines.
These patriarchs lived an extremely long time. Why might God have wanted them to live a long time? Likely it was to help Israel rapidly multiply. By this time it had multiplied a lot and longevity wouldn’t have been as important. God had promised that in the fourth generation He would deliver the nation of Israel out of the country that enslaved them. Because of the tremendous long lives here this promise was fulfilled (apparently they had the children in this line very late in life).
His father married his own aunt, a relationship later condemned as incestuous.
God’s command and plan (6:28-7:7)
Moses AGAIN mentions this same thing to God, that he is unskilled in speech. God promises to make Moses as God to Pharaoh. They are to go to Pharaoh a second time to ask Pharaoh to let the people of Israel go out from the land. Again, God tells them what to expect. Pharaoh will harden his heart, but God has a special purpose for this. God wants to show His power through the situation. Even though Moses seemed to doubt what would happen, he did obey God and do what God commanded him.
The second encounter with Pharaoh (7:8-13)
Here is the first miracle that Moses and Aaron did before Pharaoh. Is there anything symbolic about it? How were the sorcerers of Egypt able to do the same thing? Satan appears as an angel of light and he does have a lot of power, much more power than any human. Through Satan they could have done a trick or an illusion. Whatever they did, it was clearly less powerful than the miracle which God did, for the snake from Aaron’s rod ate the other two. Pharaoh should have seen quickly that he and his gods were no match for the true God, but he was extremely prideful and his heart was hardened. Notice that though God said He would harden Pharaoh’s heart, here it does not say that God hardened it, only that it was hardened. There are fourteen times where it says that Pharaoh’s heart was hardened in one variation or another. At the beginning of Moses’ encounter with him the Bible just says it was hardened or that Pharaoh hardened. Only after it being hardened repeated times did God harden it. Sometimes people harden their own heart so many times that they basically harden it beyond remedy.
Some argue that maybe God miraculously allowed the sorcerers rods to turn to serpents in order to harden Pharaoh’s heart. Anyway, it turned out to be powerful enough for Pharaoh to have an excuse to hold out against God and the truth.
Follow God and our leaders fully and happily even during difficult times. Hebrews 13:17. Be thankful for the blessings that He has given instead of complaining.
God is strong even as we are weak. Never feel you are too weak to carry out God’s commands well. Of ourselves we are, but through Christ we can do it. God often uses weak people, ones whom the world would never choose.
As Moses and Aaron were bold to deliver God’s message to Pharaoh, even though it could have cost them their lives, so we need to be bold to preach God’s message wherever He sends us without fearing criticism, hatred, persecution, loss of life, limb, or property.
Genesis 15:16 (fourth generation deliver Israel)
Romans 9:15-18 (the reason why God hardened Pharaoh’s heart)
Joshua 9:9 (the result of hardening Pharaoh’s heart and freeing Israel in the way He did eventually led to the fear of Him spreading around the region)
Hebrews 13:17 (we are to submit to the authorities God has set over us)
2 Corinthians 12:9-10 (Christ is strong when we are weak)
OT Event #1 – Creation
OT Event #2 – Fall of Man
OT Event #3 – The Flood
OT Event #4 – Babel and Abraham
OT Event #5 – Call of Moses
OT Event #6 – Let My People Go
OT Event #7 – 9 Plagues
OT Event #8 – The Passover
OT Event #9 – Ten Commandments
OT Event #10 – The Promised Land
OT Event #11 – Early Kingdom
OT Event #12 – David is Anointed
OT Event #13 – Divided Kingdom
OT Event #14 – The Prophet Elisha
OT Event #15- Kingdom Under Hezekiah
OT Event #16 – The Dispersion, Esther
OT Event #17 – Daniel in Babylon
OT Event #18 – Call of Isaiah
OT Event #19 – OT Period Ends, Malachi
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