He said, "I'd sooner send you off with God's blessings than let you go with your children. Look, you're up to no good—it's written all over your faces. Nothing doing. Just the men are going—go ahead and worship God. That's what you want so badly." And they were thrown out of Pharaoh's presence. Exodus 10:10-11 (MSG)
There are two refillable water pitchers in our refrigerator so that there is always cold water ready and available. The rule of the house is: if you empty one of the pitchers, you go to the filtered water spicket at the sink and fill it up, then place it behind the other full pitcher so that the pitcher with cold water is readily accessible for the next person who wants water.
There is nothing more frustrating than to get to the fridge, open it and reach for the water pitcher to find that there are about two molecules of water left in the bottom. "It's not technically empty!" I can hear a teenager reasoning in the back of my head. "There's still water in it! RIGHT THERE! TWO MOLECULES RIGHT THERE AT THE BOTTOM!" (For the record, my wife would be giving me "that look" right now; the "you're such a hypocrite" look. Okay, maybe I've been guilty of leaving the water jug empty a time or two.)
The truth is that we all like to approach the rules on our own terms. There are so many examples in my life that I, like Pharaoh, have tried to set the terms of obedience with God. In my heart I'll agree to do just so much. It's not quite what God is asking, but I reason that it's part way so that should be good enough. I know God wants total obedience, but I'm sure he'll take what I'm giving because it's more than most people give. I know I'm supposed to fill the water jug when it's empty so that the next person has a full jug of water to enjoy, but it's technically not completely empty.
Silly Pharaoh. Silly me. Obedience is not negotiable.