Then Moses went back to the LORD and protested, “Why have you brought all this trouble on your own people, Lord? Why did you send me? Ever since I came to Pharaoh as your spokesman, he has been even more brutal to your people. And you have done nothing to rescue them!”
Then the LORD told Moses, “Now you will see what I will do to Pharaoh. When he feels the force of my strong hand, he will let the people go. In fact, he will force them to leave his land!”
And God said to Moses, “I am Yahweh—‘the LORD.’ I appeared to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob as El-Shaddai—‘God Almighty’—but I did not reveal my name, Yahweh, to them. And I reaffirmed my covenant with them. Under its terms, I promised to give them the land of Canaan, where they were living as foreigners. You can be sure that I have heard the groans of the people of Israel, who are now slaves to the Egyptians. And I am well aware of my covenant with them.
“Therefore, say to the people of Israel: ‘I am the LORD. I will free you from your oppression and will rescue you from your slavery in Egypt. I will redeem you with a powerful arm and great acts of judgment.’” (Exodus 5:22-6:6)
What if you pray, do what God asks, and the problem still remains? When Moses reluctantly returned to Egypt he did exactly what God told him: he demanded the Egyptian Pharaoh allow the Israelites a holiday to worship God. The three-day retreat was a ruse designed to let the Israelites escape from slavery. To help Moses convince the Pharaoh, God had given him impressive miracles to perform.
His weak confidence was shattered, however, when Pharaoh not only turned down his request but also made life even more difficult for the Israelites. The Pharaoh punished his slaves for daring to request a vacation, and he made sure that they knew Moses was to blame. Angry and upset, Moses complained to God about the apparent defeat.
But God did not berate Moses. Instead, God reassured him. Just because the problem was still there—or had even gotten worse—did not mean God wasn’t on top of it. God was still going to rescue the slaves, but it would take ten plagues and at least a year. God’s methods and timing, Moses learned, are often different from our expectations.