Scriptural Analysis- Exodus 5:13-14

13 And the taskmasters hasted them, saying, Fulfil your works, your daily tasks, as when there was straw.

14 And the officers of the children of Israel, which Pharaoh’s taskmasters had set over them, were beaten, and demanded, Wherefore have ye not fulfilled your task in making brick both yesterday and to day, as heretofore?

We see in these verses what is now a well-known method for breaking a community. The taskmasters are made responsible by Pharaoh for the Israelites fulfilling his impossible command, the taskmasters in turn beat the Israelite officers when the people fall short, and the officers are motivated to turn against their own flock and punish them as well. By only punishing the first layer of the Israelite hierarchy, they hoped to have the punishments progressively dispersed to the entire nation. Like a bit in a horse’s mouth, the entire creature is made to turn by a minimal effort.

The question that the taskmasters gave to the Israelite officers shows a most heartless attitude. “Wherefore have ye not fulfilled your task?” As if they did not know! This was a question that didn’t want an answer. It was actually a statement. A statement that the taskmasters were not going to acknowledge the reality of the situation. They were going ignore the impossibility of the task, and any attempt to blame the requirements as unrealistic would not be considered acceptable. It was a message to the Israelites that they needn’t expect fairness or justice from Egypt.

But that was exactly what the Israelites sought for next, taking a petition to Pharaoh for the burdens to be lessened. Perhaps they did not understand the writing on the wall, or perhaps they saw no other recourse. In either case, we will hear of their plea to Pharaoh in tomorrow’s verses.

Scriptural Analysis- Exodus 5:10-12

10 And the taskmasters of the people went out, and their officers, and they spake to the people, saying, Thus saith Pharaoh, I will not give you straw.

11 Go ye, get you straw where ye can find it: yet not ought of your work shall be diminished.

12 So the people were scattered abroad throughout all the land of Egypt to gather stubble instead of straw.

Pharaoh had commanded that the Israelites would have their burdens increased as a punishment for Moses and Aaron seeking their release. Pharaoh had said that the people would need to gather their own straw, and we see in today’s verses that he didn’t only mean that they had to fetch their own supplies, they even had to find it in the first place! I would imagine that there were already fields of straw dedicated to the cement-mixing process, but the Israelites were not being given access to them. They were expected to scour the entire land, scraping together what bits and pieces they could to fulfill their order.

Thus, Pharaoh was demanding productivity subsistence from a people that didn’t even enjoy basic freedom. This was an impossible burden, and I have to assume it was deliberately so, for the express purpose of breaking the Israelite people. It seems to me that getting the bricks from the Israelites was only a secondary concern to Pharaoh, first and foremost what he sought was to crush whatever life remained in them. It may have been his predecessors who first enslaved the Israelites and murdered their sons, but it seems he was determined to earn God’s wrath for his own sake!

The Virtue of Remembering- John 14:26, Luke 24:31-32

But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.

And their eyes were opened, and they knew him; and he vanished out of their sight.
And they said one to another, Did not our heart burn within us, while he talked with us by the way, and while he opened to us the scriptures?


But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, he shall bring all things to your remembrance
And their eyes were opened; And they said one to another, Did not our heart burn within us
We have discussed how difficult it can be for us to remember the things of God, to keep the fire of Him burning in our hearts. There have been many times where I have been able to remember a past spiritual event clearly in my mind, but just haven’t known how to bring back the feelings of the heart that went with it.
And frankly, I think it is because I can’t. A sign to the disciples that they had truly met the resurrected Christ was how he brought the fire back into their hearts, something they had known before in his presence, and which only he was able to return to them.
And just before his departure, Jesus had explained to his disciples that they would be given the Holy Ghost, whose express purpose was to bring back to them the things they could not bring back to themselves. It is essential that we return to the fire that we have felt before, but we are not supposed to try and force those feelings back into us. It doesn’t work that way. It does not return by our own power, only by His grace. Thus what is required of us is simply to remain open to receiving that presence that is already beside us. We must permit it to stir our souls back to Him again.

The Virtue of Remembering- Isaiah 40:31, Isaiah 41:10, 13

But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.

Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.
For I the Lord thy God will hold thy right hand, saying unto thee, Fear not; I will help thee.


But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength
Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee

Our natural state is to be deeply aware of our own limitations. We are intimately familiar with all the things that we cannot do, for we live within those constraints every moment of every day.
What is unnatural, then, is to remember the power that exists outside of ourselves. It takes genuine effort to keep in remembrance the influence of God, and how it can make the impossible things become possible.
Thus there is no shame in saying that we have difficultly remembering to make use of God’s help in our lives. Of course we do. But this tendency of ours has to be fought against, because otherwise life takes us into waters that are too deep for us and we start to drown in poor choices.
God, Himself, knows that we tend to forget Him, and it is for that very reason that He has seeded reminders of Himself all throughout our lives. We find the reminders to lean into God through the scriptures, in church sermons, in the majesties of nature, and in the pricking of our own conscience. Of all the things that we must remind ourselves of on a regular basis, the first must be the reality of Him.