But the number of bricks that they made in the past you shall impose on them, you shall by no means reduce it, for they are idle. Therefore they cry, ‘Let us go and offer sacrifice to our God.’” (Exodus 5:8, ESV)

I like the way the HCSB translates here: “They are slackers!”

Moses didn’t want to go be the leader whom God used to free his people from the evil clutches of Pharaoh.  He complained about it, but he still went.  He obeyed God who had promised to free his people…and things only got worse.  Not only did Pharaoh despise him, but the Hebrews themselves, for whom he was risking his life, they despised him also.

This seems to be the way that God works.  He puts us in a situation where it is obvious that he wants us, and then he seems to pull the rug right out from under us and make our difficult situation desperate.  It’s an interesting and unexpected [and for us uncomfortable] way to work, but it is God’s way.

Through the Bible Day by Day Devotional Commentary writes:

God’s way is to bring men to an end of themselves before he arises to their help. Our efforts to deliver ourselves only end in increasing our perplexities. The tale of bricks is doubled; the burdens augment; the strength of our purpose is broken; we are brought to the edge of despair. Probably this was the darkest hour in the life of the great leader. But from the obloquy that was heaped on him, he took refuge in God.

Moses went and complained about all this to God.

Then Moses turned to the Lord and said, “O Lord, why have you done evil to this people? Why did you ever send me? For since I came to Pharaoh to speak in your name, he has done evil to this people, and you have not delivered your people at all.”” (Exodus 5:22–23, ESV)

We may fault Moses for his lack of faith, although honestly anyone in his position would have done the same, it’s one thing to be hated by your opponents, its quite another to be hated by your own people.  However, Moses went to the right place and he poured out his heart to God and he was honest.  You see this a lot in the Psalms.  I don’t think God was upset with Moses here, indeed, I think God wanted to bring Moses to this exact place because, in the end when the Israelites were delivered from Pharaoh, they would see that the work was all of God and not of themselves.

It seems like this is God’s aim in taking a difficult situation and turning it into a desperate one.  He wants to bring us to the end of ourselves so that when he works, we have no cause for boasting, only humble worship.