It's Not Fair!

Israelites’ Cruel Treatment by the Egyptians-Exodus 5-6:1-8

Theme: When life is unfair, God is good.

Key Verse: Nahum 1:7- “The Lord is good, a strong refuge when trouble comes.”

Note: This lesson and the next four were prepared for our VBS this year, Wild Bible Adventures by Group Publishing.


          “It’s not fair!”

          How many times have you said that?

  • Maybe your friend goes to Disney World when you really wanted to go.
  • Maybe you are punished for something someone else did.
  • Maybe your brother or sister disobeys your parents, and they don’t get caught.

          It’s just not fair. Listen to our Bible story today from Exodus where life was totally not fair for the Israelites.

Bible Story:

          “We need more straw.” An Israelite slave, sweat slick on his bare back, stood knee-deep in a pit of mud, mixing it with his feet. The consistency wasn’t quite right yet for the bricks. Without the straw, the bricks would break and crumble.

          Another slave dumped a load of chopped straw into the pit. It disappeared into the mud as he stomped on it.  

          A whip snapped over his head, barely missing his shoulders. “Faster!” yelled his Egyptian taskmaster.

          The mud sucked at his feet. He could barely lift his feet. But he had to. Every day he had to make a certain number of bricks, and if he didn’t, he would feel that whip on his back.

          He stomped and stomped, and by the time the sun went down, he was so weak, he could barely stumble home.

          His wife had supper waiting. His ten children gathered around to eat. He was too tired to talk.

          He hated being a slave. For four hundred years, the Israelites had been slaves to the Egyptians.

          It hadn’t always been like this. When there was a terrible famine in the land, his forefather, Joseph, had brought his father and his eleven brothers and their families to Egypt. God had blessed them with so many children that now there were more Israelites than Egyptians. Afraid that the Israelites might fight against them, the Egyptians made them their slaves to do all the work.

          It wasn’t fair. They were God’s chosen people. God should have taken better care of them.

          Someone pounded on the door and shouted, “Come quickly!”

          He opened the door. “What’s wrong?”

          “Moses is back. There’s a meeting. Come.”

          Moses? Moses was an Israelite who had been adopted by Pharaoh’s daughter. Forty years ago he had run away after killing an Egyptian taskmaster. No one had heard from him since. Why had he returned?

          No longer feeling tired, he followed his friend into the night to a gathering of the elders. They were circled around two men. One white-haired man he recognized. It was Aaron, a Levite priest. The other man must be his brother Moses.

          Aaron spoke. “Exciting news, men. The Lord God has appeared to my brother Moses in a burning bush in the desert and told him to ask Pharaoh to let all of us leave Egypt.”

          He was stunned. Leave Egypt? Not be slaves anymore? Oh, praise God! God had not forgotten about them after all.

          There was great rejoicing. The men bowed down and worshipped the Lord.

          The next day as he mixed the mud and straw, he didn’t feel as tired. Now he had hope. All day he prayed for Aaron and Moses as they appeared before the king of Egypt.

          That night the news was not good. Pharaoh had refused to let the people go. “But we will not give up,” Moses said.” We will try again.”

          The next day as he returned to his mud pit, the big pile of straw was missing. What did that mean? Would they not have to make bricks today?

          But the taskmaster shouted, “Men, today you must find your own straw.”

          What? How could they do that? Where would they look? That would take forever.

          “And you must still make the same number of bricks.”


          “Pharaoh says you are slackers if you have time to leave to sacrifice to your God. Now get to work!”

          It took all morning to find straw. By nightfall, their bricks were not done, and they were punished.

          Bloody and weak, they blamed Moses and Aaron.

          Moses felt terrible. He went before God and said, “Lord, why have you caused trouble for Your people? Why did You even send me? It has only made matters worse. You haven’t delivered Your people at all.”

          Essentially, he was saying, “It’s not fair!”

          But God replied, “Now you will see what I will do to Pharaoh. He will let my people go because of My strong hand. Tell the Israelites, ‘I am Yahweh, and I will deliver you from the Egyptians and free you from slavery.'”

          Does God always do what He promises? Absolutely. God is good all the time. Listen to this Bible verse:

Nahum 1:7- “The Lord is good, a strong refuge when trouble comes.”

          When trouble comes, when life isn’t fair, we can run to God for help, for He can work everything together for good.

          In our story tomorrow, we will see how God rescues the Israelites from the Egyptians.


          It breaks my heart when I think of how the Israelites were in slavery. You may think, “I’m glad I’m not in slavery like that.”

          But you know what? You are in slavery.


          You are a slave to sin.

          Listen to what John 8:34 says, “Everyone who commits sin is a slave to sin.”

          What does that mean? If you have ever sinned, if you have ever done anything wrong, you are a slave to sin. Just as a slave has to do whatever his master says, you are not able to say no to sin. You just keep sinning and sinning and doing wrong things, because you can’t help it.

          And because you have sinned, you are separated from God. When you die, you won’t be able to go to heaven to live with God.

          But there is good news. There is a way for you to have your sin forgiven and taken away.

          Listen to John 8:36- “Therefore if the Son sets you free, you really will be free.”

          The Son is talking about Jesus. Jesus made a way for you to be set free from your slavery to sin. He died on the cross and took all your sin on Himself. Three days later He rose again, proving He really was God. But just because Jesus died doesn’t mean that everyone automatically goes to heaven when they die.

          No, you must personally accept God’s gift. You must believe that Jesus died for you, tell Him you’re sorry for your sin, and ask Him to come and live within you. When you do, you are no longer a slave to sin. You have the Holy Spirit in you to help you say no to doing wrong things.

          Does that mean you will never sin again? No, you still have that sin nature that you were born with. But now when you sin, tell Jesus that you’re sorry for that sin too, and He will forgive you.

          Have you ever asked Jesus to come into your heart to forgive your sin? If not, you can do it today. (Give an invitation.)

          So, we’ve learned that sometimes life just isn’t fair, not for the Israelites and not for us. What can we do about it? Listen to this Phil and Ashley story.

Phil and Ashley Story:

          “It’s a girl!” Mary Lou squealed over the phone.

          “A girl?” Ashley jumped up and down.

          “And we named her Laura Ashley after you,” Mary Lou said.

          Ashley couldn’t believe it. “When can I see her?”

          “Mom and the baby come home from the hospital tomorrow,” Mary Lou said. “Come over then.”

          Ashley could hardly wait.

          The next afternoon Mary Lou met her at the door. “Be quiet,” she whispered. “The baby’s sleeping.”

          Ashley smiled at Mrs. Findley who sat in a rocker wearing her bathrobe. She looked tired.

          In the dining room was a pretty bassinet. Ashley peeked inside. Laura Ashley slept on her tummy with her fist in her mouth. Her head was covered with soft brown hair.

          “She’s so tiny,” Ashley whispered.

          Mary Lou nodded happily.

          The baby stirred and opened one big blue eye. She whimpered. Mrs. Findley came in and picked her up.

          “Please, may I hold her?” Mary Lou asked.

          “All right. Sit on the couch.”

          Mary Lou sat in a corner and propped up a pillow. Her mom lowered the baby into her arms.

          Ashley sat beside her. “I’ve never seen such tiny fingers. May I touch them?”

          “Go ahead,” said Mrs. Findley.

         They were so soft.

          “Would you like to hold her?” Mrs. Findley asked.

          “Oh, yes!”

          Ashley traded places with Mary Lou. She couldn’t stop staring at the beautiful baby in her arms.

          When the baby cried, Mrs. Findley took her upstairs to feed her.

          “You’re so lucky,” Ashley told Mary Lou. “I wish I had a baby sister.”

          “I know. This is the best thing that ever happened to me.”

          When Ashley went home, she told Mom about the baby. “She’s so tiny and soft, and she had the prettiest pink nightie. Mom, can we get a baby sister too?”

          Mom smiled. “No, Ashley. It’s too late for that. We love our family just the way it is.”

          “Please, Mom. Babies are so much fun.”

          Mom’s smile faded. “Ashley, we can’t, and that’s final. I’m sure Mary Lou will let you play with little Laura Ashley.”

          “It’s not fair,” Ashley pouted. “Mary Lou gets all the good stuff.”

          “Stop that, Ashley. You have a lot to be thankful for too—a big brother that Mary Lou doesn’t have, the ability to play the piano and do well in school.”

          Ashley wrinkled her nose. “I don’t care. I want a baby.” She stomped up to her room and slammed the door.

          She had nothing! She looked at her room. Mary Lou had a white canopy bed with a store-bought comforter. Ashley just had a yellow patchwork quilt Mom had made. Mary Lou had a beautiful doll house filled with wooden furniture. Ashley didn’t even have a doll house. And now Mary Lou had a baby sister. It wasn’t fair!

          She flopped down on her bed, hugged her worn teddy bear, and pouted.

          When she came down for dinner, Dad said, “What’s wrong with you?

          “Nothing.” Ashley slid onto her chair.

          “Ashley’s jealous because Mary Lou has a new baby sister,” Mom said.

          Ashley lowered her eyes. So that’s what was wrong with her. Jealousy. She knew God didn’t like jealousy.

          But she couldn’t help it. Mary Lou had everything, and Ashley wanted it.

          “I don’t blame you for wanting a baby sister,” Dad said. “I’d like one too.”

          Ashley perked up.

          “But another baby in our house is out of the question. You’ll just have to be content with what you have. Let me show you a verse.” Dad pulled out his phone and clicked a few buttons. “Look, here in Hebrews 13:5 it says, ‘Be satisfied with what you have.’ Let me ask you, Ashley. What things do you have to be thankful for?”

          Ashley was about to say, “Not much,” when she stopped. Actually, she did have a lot to be thankful for. She had Jesus in her heart and knew He was saving a place for her in heaven. She had wonderful parents, and Phil wasn’t so bad either. She had a nice house and good friends, and really, she did have everything she needed. Sure, it would be fun to have a baby sister, but think of all the extra work for Mom. And if Mom were spending time with the baby, she couldn’t spend so much time with Ashley.

          She did have a lot to be thankful for. It was silly to be jealous of Mary Lou.

          So, the next time you say, “It’s not fair,” find something to be thankful for instead of feeling sorry for yourself.

          Can you think of some things you are thankful for?

Beth Livingston

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