Pharaoh summoned Moses and said, “Go, serve the Lord. Only your flocks and your herds shall remain behind. Even your little ones may go with you.” But Moses said, “Not a hoof shall be left behind, for we must choose some of them to serve the Lord our God.” – Exodus 10:24-26 (NRSVUE)
After the River Nile had been turned to blood, after frogs infested the land, after gnats and flies filled the air, livestock were felled by diseases, boils covered every body, thunder and hail rent the sky, and locusts ate every living thing, Pharaoh still refused to let God’s people go. But at the ninth plague, three days of utter darkness, he seemed to surrender.
Take your people and go, he told Moses. Do whatever you people do, but—here was the catch—you must leave your livestock behind.
Some of us might have taken that deal. Some of us might have figured that was the best we were going to get, declared victory, and high-tailed it out of there.
But Moses knew better. He understood that true freedom comes from God, not desperate oppressors. As much as Moses desired his people’s liberation, he understood that some things are simply non-negotiable. Identity, for example. Religious and other rights, physical and emotional safety, agency, all the things that make us who we are.
So the people continued to wait, trusting that justice would come—eventually, by God—on their terms.
Sometimes it’s tempting to settle for apology without reparation, an end to the struggle, half a loaf. But God wants so much more for us than that, and God will make a way.
Liberating God, deliver us from the temptation to sell ourselves short. May we always hold out for your glory.