Perambula shrugged angel shoulders with wings fluttering in sympathy, and then looked at God in agreement with Gracefeld saying, "What exactly was it that you saw in Moses? From the first announcement he did not want this mission of Yours my Lord. He is often ready to quit or run away. What good can this kind of attitude do? Can't You start all over and find someone else my Lord? What is your hurry?"
God answered Perambula with the same opalescent patience that He later radiated toward Moses, "My dear Perambula, always measuring by inches, you expect too much. You would try to drive a nail with a ten pound hammer into a snowflake just for the satisfaction of the force. Fret not, where Moses is weak in resolve, I will breach the gap. I created Moses for this time." Then firmly added, "Do you dare doubt My design?!"
Perambula's wings fluttered slow and solemnly at the chiding from the Lord, while Gracefeld looked on saturated with an odor of satisfaction at the false notion that God never suffered frustration from the weakness of Moses. After all, God knew that He would rather work with a weak man who was receptive and pliable, than an rock-hard willful man.
With similar patience that God expressed to Perambula, He spoke loudly and clearly into the heart of Moses who was sitting on the outskirts of the city where he had gone to contemplate his situation, or rather where Perambula had guided him. God spoke to Moses in the familiar tone and language that Moses had come to recognize, the same intonations, the same characteristic authority. Moses and God had been developing a rapport, a quality of extended communication that God had never engaged in with another human being. The Lord made Moses to hear Him speak. Moses was the radio that picked up God’s wavelength.
Even if Moses didn't entirely trust God, as Abraham had in the moment he sacrificed Isaac, or as Noah when he built the ark, Moses was made in his mother's womb to be the tool God used to reveal Himself to humankind. This was something that the angels could never understand. For them God is as obvious as the sun and moon..
"Moses, now you shall see what I will do to Pharaoh. Indeed by a mighty hand he will let them go; by a mighty hand Pharaoh will drive them out of his land.
I am the Lord. I appeared to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob as God Almighty, but by my name, 'The Lord' I did not make Myself known to them. I also established my covenant with them, to give them the land of Canaan, the land in which they resided as aliens. I have also heard the groaning of the Israelites whom the Egyptians are holding as slaves, and I have remembered my covenant.
Say therefore to the Israelites, 'I am the Lord, and I will free you from slavery to them. I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with mighty acts of judgment. I will take you as my people, and I will be your God. You shall know that I am the Lord your God, who has freed you from the burdens of the Egyptians. I will bring you into the land that I swore to give to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob; I will give it to you as a possession. I am the Lord."
Perambula looked over at Gracefeld and whispered, "There He goes again. He has been promising this land for more centuries than their slavery, and still they don't have it. How long can the Lord keep promising and not deliver?"
Gracefeld replied , ""Sh! He will hear you! What's it to you? Sounds to me that He means it."
"Sounds to me that He is leading them to something other than land. The land is a decoy, or more like a mirage."
God ignored the idle chatter of His angels as He continued to bolster Moses's confidence.
Moses soaked his heart in the message which indeed renewed his resolve. Besides, he thought, what else could he do, but to continue? To quit and return to Midian as if nothing happened was not an option.
Moses rose from his trance and walked alone back to Miriam's house where he was surprised to learn that his own sons had been conscripted into slavery. "Sepphora! How did this happen?"
"After you left this morning, two supervisors came for Gersham and Eliezer! They said that now that Moses has returned as a Hebrew, there is no more pretense of His being the son of Pharaoh's daughter, then He and his family were to be slaves as well. What will we do Moses?! Now we can't leave. I want my father!"
"Sepphora my dear, don't fret. Remember, we have come to free the slaves. The Lord God will free us all from the burden of bondage. It is fitting that we live as Hebrews, that we too may fully understand their plight."
"But our sons, Moses. They have never known such bitterness!"
"Sepphora, this experience will make them stronger. You will see my dear."
When Gershom and Eliezer returned from their toils, wearing marks from their oppressors, their father hugged each young man and then looked directly in his eyes and said, "My son, I am proud of you. Be at peace. God has told me He will deliver us. Have faith in God. For this we have come to this harsh land."
After supper, Aaron and Moses walked to the village square. When the neighbors saw the brothers they grumbled. Moses heard one man say, "There go the idiots who said they would deliver us from slavery, only to make our lives worse than ever before. I could punch them, but I haven't the energy." The men around them all nodded. One man spit in their direction.
Moses approached the group and explained what he had heard from God. He tried to encourage them as he had been encouraged, but they would not listen to Moses because of their broken spirit and their cruel slavery. Moses and Aaron turned and walked back home with their heads hung low.
Aaron looking at the ground said, "What if you are wrong, and you are not hearing from God, but it is your own former self, the son of Pharaoh, who wants to play the big man, the deliverer? I have never heard this Voice, how can I continue to believe you? Moses, you may soon find yourself making bricks without straw."
Moses walked solemnly and quietly. He just wanted to sleep, for a long time, forever.
In his sleep The Lord spoke again to Moses. He said, "When you wake up, go back to Pharaoh and tell him to let the Israelites go out of his land."
"Lord! Are you fooling me?!" the dreaming Moses replied, "The Israelites won't even listen to me. How in the world will Pharaoh listen to me, poor speaker that I am?"
The Lord replied, "See, I have made you like God to Pharaoh, and your brother Aaron shall be your prophet. Expect Me to harden Pharaoh's heart, so then I can multiply my signs and wonders.
When Pharaoh does not listen to you, I will lay my hand upon Egypt and bring My people the Israelites, company by company, like a mighty army, out of the land of Egypt by great acts of judgment. The Egyptians shall know that I am the Lord, when I stretch out My hand against Egypt and bring the Israelites out from among them."
Moses gradually woke up. He could remember once again everything that God spoke to him. As he thought deeply about God's strategy, he realized how brilliant it was. Moses gradually came to understand how God planned to work on two fronts. There were the Israelites who wanted freedom but needed the signs and wonders to understand that their freedom was given by God, and not of their own powers of persuasion, or even Moses' influence, and there was Pharaoh who also needed to know that his power was limited.
At that moment Moses didn't know fully what God meant by signs and wonders. The staff that turned into a serpent was not something that he could control. For him, it was always a wooden stick. In fact it frightened Moses whenever it became a serpent.
As the fog of sleep dissipated into his current reality Moses's thoughts turned to prayer. "Lord, forgive me for my weakness, and my complaints. Use me Lord. I am your clay." Perambula watching and listening to this spirit-scene smiled with relief and pride.
Moses rolled to the edge of the hard bed and fixed his feet firmly on the ground. As he stood up, Moses became ready to shift from his dreams and thoughts and prayer into the world of action.
"Aaron, let's go back to Pharaoh today." he called.
Aaron who was sitting at the table eating breakfast said, "Come, have some food first, then we will go. I am ready." After all, visiting Pharaoh was better than a day of forced labor, even if it was useless.
Perambula followed closely behind the elderly brothers as they made their way back through the streets to the palace.
The guards, recognizing the brothers this time sent a messenger inside to ask Pharaoh if he wanted to see Moses again.
With nothing better to do Pharaoh agreed to receive the pathetic duo.
"Show me your signs from your Lord.” barked Pharaoh condescendingly, and then yawned. “Perform a wonder for me.”
Moses looked at Aaron and said, “Aaron take your staff and throw it down.” Aaron looked up at Moses, nervously wondering if it would work for him too.
Aaron placed the staff on the ground carefully. It lay stiff and still for several tense moments until a movement and then another occurred, the staff gradually transformed into a long serpent that slithered towards Pharaoh and his officials who recoiled. Aaron sighed from relief and then felt proud.
Pharaoh braced himself and shouted, "Summon my sorcerers and wise men." While the serpent slithered around Pharaoh’s feet, five men walked confidently into the throne room each armed with his staff. “Do you see that serpent?” said Pharaoh, “It was the staff of Aaron. I command you to turn your own staffs into serpents!”
To Moses and Aaron's surprise, the Egyptian magicians each one threw down his staff and each staff that fell to the ground became a slithering snake. As the audience of Moses. Aaron, Pharaoh, his officials and his sorcerers and wise men watched the snakes slithering around at their feet, Aaron shouted with glee, “Look, my serpent is swallowing the other serpents!"
"Enough entertainment for one day.” shouted Pharaoh. “Be gone! All of you!" Pharaoh was pleased with his sorcerers who replicated the wonder, and did not give a second thought to the fate of his magician's serpents. Aaron bent down and touched the tail of the serpent and it immediately stiffened into a staff again. He pick up his staff carefully and looked up at Moses in awe.
Even more pleased were Perambula and Gracefeld who had orchestrated the entire event. As Aaron and Moses departed from Pharaoh's sight, they were perplexed that Pharaoh's sorcerers were able to turn their staff into serpents too, and that that the long hard stick that marked their every step had just dined on a bevy of serpents.
Perambula hovered behind the solemn brothers laughing at their confusion.
Back at the palace Pharaoh commended his equally perplexed sorcerers for their good work while Gracefeld proudly accepted Pharaoh's misplaced praise.
Before either angel could relish too much in the misery of the humans, God called them to His throne room.
"How did it go today? Should we start packing?" asked Miriam as the brothers entered.
"I doubt that we convinced Pharaoh of anything except that we were magicians." replied Aaron and to Moses he said. "What do we do now?"
Moses replied, "Be patient. God told me that Pharaoh's heart would be hardened. This is only the beginning. I have no idea what other marvels the Lord will perform, but I suspect that those sorcerers will be kept busy." Moses knew that the way God would harden Pharaoh's heart was by making him think that Moses and Aaron were simply common magicians.