“Speak now in the hearing of the people that each man ask from his neighbor and each woman from her neighbor for articles of silver and articles of gold. The Lord gave the people favor in the sight of the Egyptians…” Exodus 11:2-3a
The Lord had just delivered 9 plagues to Egypt, almost completely crippling them. There was one more plague to come… the plague of death. Before the evening of death, God told Moses to deliver a message to Israel. He told them to go to the Egyptians and ask for their gold and silver. I’m sure many of them thought, “No way are they going to give us their treasures,” or “They’ll beat us as they have been. I’m too afraid,” but they mustered up the courage and did as the Lord commanded going door to door asking for their precious treasures. To the Israelites surprise, the Egyptians willingly gave them the items.
Throughout the 9 plagues, God asked Moses to speak for Him to Pharaoh. God gave Moses words to say in order to bring about His plagues, and He gave Moses actions to do along with the plagues such as stretching out his hands. Moses had to pray in order that God might answer and remove the plagues as well.
In both of these situations, God required that the people not only listen to His instructions, but to also do something about it. If Moses disobeyed and did not ask God to remove the plagues, would He have removed them? If the people did not go and ask for the silver and gold, would the Egyptians just have given the treasures to them anyway? Probably in both cases, the answer would be no.
God requires our active obedience.
We cannot just sit by, do nothing, and wait for God to ‘save the day.’ Yes, God can most assuredly, and sometimes does, ‘save the day’ on His own, but He more often desires a working partnership, where both ‘parties’ participate. He asks, we do, and things happen because of the working partnership.
This reminds me of a parable of a man stuck in a flood.
There was a great flood in the city. Everyone’s houses were flooded to the rooftops. One man had not yet been rescued. He sat on His roof, praying, and awaiting God to save Him. A life boat came by and the man refused to get in, “I’m waiting on God to save me.” A time later, a fishing boat came by and again the man refused help because He was waiting for God. Finally, a helicopter came and sent down a rope and again the man refused. The man died on the roof and at heaven’s door asked God, “Why didn’t you save me?” God said, “I tried, but you wouldn’t listen. I sent 2 boats and a helicopter.”
God chooses to use us in His plans. He wants our active participation in prayer, obedience, and in action.
In a more modern context, I can choose to say “The Lord will provide,” and refuse to go work for a living because I am trusting the Lord to miraculously provide for me. Will this work? In most cases, my guess would be… No. This goes against the principle described in Exodus and throughout the Bible. A partnership is two-sided.
“The Lord your God has blessed you in all the work of your hands.” Deuteronomy 2:7
It is a blessing to be a part of the work of the Lord. Praise God that He has desired a partnering relationship with us. He is a loving and gracious God.