20 And they met Moses and Aaron, who stood in the way, as they came forth from Pharaoh: 21 And they said unto them, The Lord look upon you, and judge; because ye have made our savour to be abhorred in the eyes of Pharaoh, and in the eyes of his servants, to put a sword in their hand to slay us. 22 And Moses returned unto the Lord, and said, Lord, wherefore hast thou so evil entreated this people? why is it that thou hast sent me? 23 For since I came to Pharaoh to speak in thy name, he hath done evil to this people; neither hast thou delivered thy people at all.
Now begins a pattern that we will see many times over. The Israelites would suffer some setback, they complained to Moses, and Moses entreated the Lord. Most commonly during these complaints the Israelites would desire to return to things as they previously were, and that is also the case here. In verse 21 the Israelites’ complaint was that they were no longer valued slaves of the Pharaoh. They had lost their savor to their cruel taskmasters. What a strange thing to want to go back to!
Obviously, there is a little more to it than that. They made clear that they were afraid of “the sword,” meaning afraid that the Egyptians would slay them now. But still, when they had prayed and prayed for the Lord to deliver them, did they not fathom how His doing so would incense the Egyptians against them? Did they not realize that they would necessarily make enemies by gaining their freedom? So yes, it makes sense to be afraid for one’s life, but if they would rather have enslavement than the dangers of freedom, why pray for the freedom?
Perhaps because they did not expect the Lord to save them this way. Perhaps they expected the Lord to send heavenly angels to slay all their enemies for them and make their departure smooth and easy. Certainly, many of us do the same in our own lives. We pray for God to just magically evaporate all of our problems at no cost to ourselves. But as we’ve already seen in the Biblical record already, and as we will continue to see many times throughout it, that doesn’t tend to be how God solves problems. God gives us what we need, but He does so through a process, through dangerous and difficult means. He most often makes us an active part in our gradual deliverance. If we want the worthy reward at the end, we have to be prepared to take the difficult path that leads us there.