Exodus 4:18 through 5:21

Daybreak for Students

Exodus 4:18 through 5:21

Exodus 4
Exodus 5
And they met Moses and Aaron, who stood in the way, as they came forth from Pharaoh: 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. — Exodus 5:20-21

Rejection is a painful experience no matter what the cause. Gladys Aylward knew the feeling. As a teenager, she read a magazine article about China that changed her life. She could not escape the impression that she had a responsibility toward the millions of people in that distant land who had not yet heard of God’s love. She knew she had to tell them. 

In her mid-twenties, she applied for and was given a probationary position with the China Inland Mission Center in London, but her probation ended in failure; she was rejected for service as a missionary. However, her inner sense of calling did not abate. She began to save the meager wages she earned as a housemaid, confident that God would help her get to China. And He did! On October 15, 1932, at the age of thirty, Gladys Aylward left London to begin the work God had called her to do. She spent many years in China caring for unwanted children and ministering in villages, prisons, and among lepers. 

Throughout her stay in that country, Gladys’ ministry was characterized by a humble dependence upon God in a steady stream of extreme circumstances. At the end of her life, she wrote, “My heart is full of praise that one so insignificant, uneducated, and ordinary in every way could be used to His glory for the blessing of His people in poor, persecuted China.” Though rejected by man, she proved that when an endeavor is undertaken at God’s direction, He will make a way.

Moses and Aaron proved that as well. Today’s focus verse describes their rejection by the Hebrew people. Confronting Pharaoh with God’s demands had only increased the oppression inflicted upon the people Moses was sent to deliver, and they responded by lashing out in anger and frustration. However, Moses was motivated by the fear of God and a love for the people of God, and he followed through in obedience in spite of rejection. 

When we commit ourselves to follow God’s call upon our lives, people around us may question, deride, or even actively resist us, but faithfulness to God will always be rewarded. Gladys Aylward was rewarded by seeing her efforts in China used to God’s glory. Moses’ commitment to do the will of God led to the eventual deliverance of the Children of Israel.

Are there situations in your life today that leave you feeling rejected? Are you afraid of what may happen if you follow God? Take courage, and do what is right. God will note your obedience, and His blessing will rest upon your life.


Convinced at last of God’s call, in today’s text Moses took leave of his wife’s family and returned to Egypt, accompanied by his brother, Aaron. True to God’s forewarning, Pharaoh was not receptive to Moses and Aaron’s request to let the Hebrews go, and responded by increasing his oppression of the Israelites.

Exodus 4:21 contains the first of multiple references to the hardening of Pharaoh’s heart. Pharaoh chose repeatedly to set his will against God and ignored the miracles and workings of God. Calamities which do not soften the heart will harden it. Though God did not arbitrarily decide to pre-set Pharaoh’s heart and mind so he could not respond to Him, Pharaoh’s continued resistance conditioned his heart to give the same response. His own free will was the cause of his downfall.

The passage in Exodus 4:24-26 is a subject of debate among Bible scholars. However, the main point is that God was emphasizing to Moses the importance of circumcision, which was part of the Abrahamic covenant. Also, God made it clear that obedience to His directions is vital. It is possible that Zipporah and Moses’ sons went back to Midian after this episode (see Exodus 18:1-5). 

Verses 27-31 relate how, at God’s direction, Aaron went to the wilderness, where he met Moses in the area of Mount Sinai. Together they went to Egypt and approached the elders of Israel.

Exodus 5 tells of Moses and Aaron’s first appearance before Pharaoh. The Egyptians had many gods; in fact, Pharaoh himself was considered to be a god. Thus, Pharaoh had no respect for the Hebrew God. Also, the requests to hold a feast in the wilderness and to go three days’ journey into the desert indicated to Pharaoh that the Hebrews were asking to make a substantial trip. 

Pharaoh responded by increasing the work required of the Hebrew slaves, who were making mud bricks which were dried in the sun. These were large bricks, and the straw was chopped and mixed with the mud or clay, adding strength. Originally, the straw was collected by the Egyptians, but Pharaoh’s new order stipulated that the Hebrews were to collect the straw while still producing the same amount of bricks. When they could not fulfill their quota, beatings occurred. Because their situation was worsening, the Hebrew people turned against Moses and Aaron.


(Hannah’s Bible Outlines - Used by permission per WORDsearch)
I.   The oppression of Israel in Egypt
     B.   The deliverer for Israel
           3.   Moses’ return to Egypt (4:18-31)
                 a.   The command to return (4:18-23)
                 b.   The episode in the inn (4:24-26)
                 c.   The meeting with Aaron (4:27-28)
                 d.   The confrontation with the elders (4:29-31)
     C.   The struggles with Pharaoh
           1.   The confrontation with Pharaoh (5:1-21)
                 a.   The command of Pharaoh (5:1-9)
                 b.   The oppression of the taskmasters (5:10-14)
                 c.   The cry of the sons of Israel (5:15-21)


  1. In his initial request to Pharaoh, how far into the wilderness did Moses propose to take the people?

  2. Why do you think the Hebrews responded to Moses and Aaron as they did after their first confrontation with Pharaoh?

  3. At times, doing what is right in God’s sight is met with resistance. What should be our course of action in such circumstances? 


God does not ask us to go anywhere that he will not go with us, or to do anything that He will not help us accomplish. It might seem hard to do right, but God will provide the strength, courage, and ability.