British missionaries aiming to convert slaves in the West Indies used a truncated edition of the Bible. First published in 1807, it omitted texts dealing with rebellion, freedom, or liberation. This turned out to be quite a lot! About 90 percent of the Old Testament was missing, along with half the New Testament. Only three copies of this “slave Bible” are known to exist, with one currently on display at the Museum of the Bible in Washington, D.C.
The story of Moses and the Exodus plays a key role in God’s redemptive plan. The cry, “Let my people go!” has resounded through the ages. As instructed, Moses initially petitioned that the Israelites be allowed to go and worship God in the wilderness. The deeper issue at stake, as Pharaoh recognized, was whether Israel’s God was superior to the gods of Egypt (v. 2). Irritated, the king refused Moses’ request and increased the slaves’ workload, ordering them to make bricks without the straw needed to do so. A clever politician, he thought hard work would keep the Israelites’ minds off revolution and turn their hearts against Moses.
At first, Pharaoh’s strategy worked (vv. 20–21), but what the ruler did not realize was that God was still in control. When Moses asked, “Why have you brought trouble on this people?”, God assured him that His “mighty hand” would prevail (6:1; see the fuller response in 6:2–8). Not only would Pharaoh let them go, but he’d also be so eager for them to leave that he’d drive them out of the country!
But first, the Israelites needed to have their faith strengthened. The ten plagues would prove to Pharaoh, all Egypt, and the people of Israel as well that the great “I AM” is the one true God, far above the “gods” of Egypt.
>> The Israelites’ faith and worship did not lead to immediate reward or blessing, but to increased trouble and suffering. If this seems to describe your current situation, remember that God is still with you!
We worship You, Majestic God, because You are worthy, not because You meet all our wishes or dismiss all our fears. Though we often don’t understand what You are doing, we praise You for Your omnipotence and goodness!