“Then they will heed your voice; and you shall come, you and the elders of Israel, to the king of Egypt; and you shall say to him, ‘The Lord God of the Hebrews has met with us; and now, please, let us go three days’ journey into the wilderness, that we may sacrifice to the Lord our God.’” (Exodus 3:18)
Notice that, initially, Moses was joined by the elders of Israel when he first went before Pharaoh. Now notice the demand, or should I say, what Moses failed to demand. He didn’t tell Pharaoh, “Let the Hebrews go free” so that they might journey to Canaan. His demand was “Let us go into the wilderness” so that they might sacrifice unto the LORD. Why did Moses make this statement when He knew that Israel was to be delivered from Pharaoh.
As we know, Moses had no intention of returning once they left. He demanded that Pharaoh let them go into the desert to sacrifice but never said a word about returning. Thus, we are left with the question, “Was God inciting Moses to be deceitful?” That can’t be possible because it is not conceivable that a Holy God would break His own laws. So what was going on? In my opinion, God instructed Moses to tell Pharaoh to let them go into the wilderness to sacrifice — which, by the way, they did — yet without revealing the entirety of the plan.
In other words, God is a good general. By presenting His demand in this way, He exposed the hardness of Pharaoh’s heart without exposing His intentions to Pharaoh. Frankly, this request could have been granted without any detriment to Egypt’s economy, assuming Israel returned after the venture, but Pharaoh wasn’t about to release them for any amount of time and God knew that. And so we have an example of God’s people being shrewd without being dishonest. This was not the first time something like this had occurred; years before Jacob fled Laban without giving him a notice and, interestingly, had a three day head-start before Laban overtook him (Gen. 31:22).
Now consider this — on the eve of His crucifixion, Messiah told His disciples:
I will no longer talk much with you, for the ruler of this world is coming, and he has nothing in Me.” (John 14:30)
After He was taken into custody to be interrogated, beaten and ridiculed, the Bible is clear that He seldom spoke, consistently refusing to answer many of the questions presented to Him. It seems that part of God’s plan was to keep the Adversary off balance and in the dark as to what was actually happening. Even when He was hanging on the tree, His enemies were taunting Him saying, “He saved others; let Him save Himself if He is the Messiah, the chosen of God” (Luke 23:35). I can’t help but wonder if He didn’t think to Himself, “Just give me three days.”
The point is that, sometimes, it is advantageous and even righteous not to reveal everything to the Adversary. In regard to the Messiah’s suffering and resurrection, Paul wrote that, “None of the rulers of this age knew; for had they known, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.” (1 Corinthians 2:8). If He had not been crucified and resurrected, all of us would remain in our sins. And so, when it comes to our redemption and deliverance, it is in our best interests keep the Adversary in the dark. It often serves God’s purposes for us to remain silent and let Him do the work. For many of us that is difficult, but time and again we see the wisdom in not revealing God’s plan to our enemy.
Blessings and Shalom,