Why Everything Went Wrong

Alec Motyer

READ : Exodus 5:1-23

Moses turned again to the Lord. (v. 22)

Moses was right to say, in effect, that since he arrived back in Egypt everything had gone wrong (v. 23). The Hebrews felt the same (v. 21). Yet he had come by God’s call (3:10), at God’s time (4:18), armed with God’s revelation (4:30-31). So what went wrong?

Compare Moses’ instructions with what he actually did (3:18 with 5:1-3). He was told to take the elders, but he went with Aaron; to speak of “the God of the Hebrews,” but he spoke of “the Lord”; to make a moderate request of Pharaoh for three days’ journey, but he made an absolute demand. And as well as subtly distorting the word of God, Moses compounded his error by adding to it his own bit (5:3) about the Lord falling on them with the sword. A pretty impressive performance of not doing exactly what he was told, of doing a right thing in a wrong way. In essence, Moses had the word of God but didn’t observe it, both taking a little from its truth and adding a little to its truth.

The Lord means us to have, hold, and honor his word, to obey it in detail, to shun all subtracting or adding. Let’s examine our personal and church lives, and if necessary do what Moses did—run back to the Lord (5:22).


Lord, make us diligent hearers and faithful doers of your word.