“A three-hour tour, a three-hour tour…” Are you singing the theme song to Gilligan’s Island yet? Just this phrase is a trigger to sing the song for me. Okay, now the song is stuck in our heads. Sorry. Pull up a worship song.
But, seriously, doesn’t this sound like what Moses/Aaron are asking Pharoah as God directed them to say? “A three-day tour, a three-day tour…God said!
Gilligan’s Island recap: What was going to be a pleasant ride, set free to enjoy a glorious three-hour tour on the waters of the sea turned ugly very quickly. The three-hour tour ended up in shipwreck on an island where lives were altered forever—at least until the sitcom ended with a rescue. It was pretty amazing to have so many survival “props”, though, right?!
Just sit right back and you’ll hear a tale,
A tale of a fateful trip
That started from this tropic port
Aboard this tiny ship.
The mate was a mighty sailing man,
The skipper brave and sure.
Five passengers set sail that day
For a three-hour tour, a three-hour tour…
This silly story was a depiction of life where things get worse before they get better.
Exodus 5, The Message
Moses and Aaron and Pharaoh
After that Moses and Aaron approached Pharaoh. They said, “God, the God of Israel, says, ‘Free my people so that they can hold a festival for me in the wilderness.’”
2 Pharaoh said, “And who is God that I should listen to him and send Israel off? I know nothing of this so-called ‘God’ and I’m certainly not going to send Israel off.”
3 They said, “The God of the Hebrews has met with us. Let us take a three-day journey into the wilderness so we can worship our God lest he strike us with either disease or death.”
4-5 But the king of Egypt said, “Why on earth, Moses and Aaron, would you suggest the people be given a holiday? Back to work!” Pharaoh went on, “Look, I’ve got all these people freeloading, and now you want to reward them with time off?”
6-9 Pharaoh took immediate action. He sent down orders to the slave-drivers and their underlings: “Don’t provide straw for the people for making bricks as you have been doing. Make them get their own straw. And make them produce the same number of bricks—no reduction in their daily quotas! They’re getting lazy. They’re going around saying, ‘Give us time off so we can worship our God.’ Crack down on them. That’ll cure them of their whining, their god-fantasies.”
10-12 The slave-drivers and their underlings went out to the people with their new instructions. “Pharaoh’s orders: No more straw provided. Get your own straw wherever you can find it. And not one brick less in your daily work quota!” The people scattered all over Egypt scrambling for straw.
13 The slave-drivers were merciless, saying, “Complete your daily quota of bricks—the same number as when you were given straw.”
14 The Israelite foremen whom the slave-drivers had appointed were beaten and badgered. “Why didn’t you finish your quota of bricks yesterday or the day before—and now again today?”
15-16 The Israelite foremen came to Pharaoh and cried out for relief: “Why are you treating your servants like this? Nobody gives us any straw and they tell us, ‘Make bricks!’ Look at us—we’re being beaten. And it’s not our fault.”
17-18 But Pharaoh said, “Lazy! That’s what you are! Lazy! That’s why you whine, ‘Let us go so we can worship God.’ Well then, go—go back to work. Nobody’s going to give you straw, and at the end of the day you better bring in your full quota of bricks.”
19 The Israelite foremen saw that they were in a bad way, having to go back and tell their workers, “Not one brick short in your daily quota.”
20-21 As they left Pharaoh, they found Moses and Aaron waiting to meet them. The foremen said to them, “May God see what you’ve done and judge you—you’ve made us stink before Pharaoh and his servants! You’ve put a weapon in his hand that’s going to kill us!”
22-23 Moses went back to God and said, “My Master, why are you treating this people so badly? And why did you ever send me? From the moment I came to Pharaoh to speak in your name, things have only gotten worse for this people. And rescue? Does this look like rescue to you?”
WHAT DO WE LEARN—HOW DO WE RESPOND?
As most stories go, “it gets worse before it gets better” can be applied here as Moses does what God says with the resistance God told him he would have. God always knows. But God also knows the way to rescue. We need to realize that when we are in the middle of our own “three-hour tour” that takes us into the storms of life. God knows. God cares. God has a plan.
Jesus, while on this earth told his disciples and reminds us—”in this world you will have trouble, but relax, (take heart, be encouraged), I have overcome the world. (John 16:33) I know it’s hard to relax until the storm dies down but we have greater tools at hand when our trust is fully in our Savior as Lord of our lives, who in just three days was raised to life forever—our HOPE!
Do you feel shipwrecked on an island of no hope, it seems, of rescue?
Are you in the “getting worse” stage?
Friends, I hear you! I’ve been there many times. Our trust is tested. We want to bail from doing what God said. We are not getting the results in life we thought would happen. We are tired, tested and testy in our attitudes. People are overwhelming us with questions we cannot answer…ugh!
Our response is often similar to Moses’ honest pleas for help while doing God’s will—
WHY? Why is this happening (like you warned us it would)? Why is it worse instead of better? Why did you send me to do this in the first place? “Rescue, does THIS look like rescue to you?”
I’m not sure I could be this gritty in my honesty but then I think, God knows who I am and what I am feeling. We should be as honest as Moses with God but we can do it with humility and respect. This is what it means to have the “fear of God” in our hearts. We know God enough to know He has our best interests at heart. We know He loves us more than we can imagine. We “fear” (respect) His awesome power and what He is capable of doing IN the rescue. This fear-respect-awe leads to letting go of our efforts and accepting His will and plan completely. The details of the rescue may not be what we expect, (it rarely is), but it will be a rescue—
“God can do anything, you know—far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams! He does it not by pushing us around but by working within us, his Spirit deeply and gently within us. Glory to God in the church! Glory to God in the Messiah, in Jesus! Glory down all the generations! Glory through all millennia! Oh, yes!” Paul, writing to the churches while in prison—Ephesians 3:20)
A three-hour tour, A three-day tour…Life altering no matter which way you look at it!
It’s not over…stay tuned!
Thank you for teaching us the hard lessons of letting go of our puny wills and weak plans by clinging to the power of your will, purposes and plan in us and through us. Life is better, transformational, but it does get worse before it gets better because of what you must do IN us while rescuing us from ourselves and our selfishness. Thank you for your loving faithfulness and patience with me. I know you are not finished yet with me! I love you, Lord, heart, mind and soul. Help me to love like you love—unconditionally.
In Jesus Name, For Your Glory, Amen!