“Years passed, and the king of Egypt died. But the Israelites continued to groan under their burden of slavery. They cried out for help, and their cry rose up to God. God heard their groaning, and he remembered his covenant promise to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. He looked down on the people of Israel and knew it was time to act.”
Many of us know the backstory, even if it’s just from Charlton Heston’s iconic portrayal, or even Disney’s animated version. The people of Israel had been rescued from a catastrophic famine by the Hebrew patriarch Joseph who had become the Number Two chariot in Egypt. God had sovereignly brought the “nation” of Israel (only about seventy people at that time) all the way from the Promised Land to be provided for during the remaining five years of crop failure.
The only problem was that the remaining five years was over….400 years ago.
Fast forward to the current story. The Israelites are now over a million strong, and the Egyptians, being more than a little intimidate, have made the Israelites their slaves. Clearly, Jacob’s family had out-stayed their welcome.
I was pondering why God allowed His covenant people to be put under such hardship as this for so many years before this great deliverance. And why would He wait soOOO00oo long, allowing them to (barely) endure such hardship?
Then I wonder if God’s people “got stuck” in the blessings of Egypt. I just wonder if God had intended for them to return to the Promised Land once the famine was over.
Obviously, God was not surprised by their decision to stay put (we humans generally gravitate toward the place of least resistance), but consider that He had given them His promises, His obvious good intention toward them, and the legacy of their past. Rather than “get moving on” with those promises, the generations continued to pass by and those stories and promises became more and more foreign…
…and Egypt became more and more comfortable.
So God waited. (He’s r-e-a-l-l-y patient.) And then it says, (love this part):
“He looked down on the people of Israel and knew it was time to act.”
The people had to get unbearably uncomfortable, even to despise the place. “Home-sweet-home” had become quite bitter, and God had to bring them to a severe discomfort to blast them out of there.
We often wonder why God allows such hard things even to His own. Obviously, the creature can’t always know the mind of the Creator, but sometimes God gives us clues as to how the human condition, mindsets and circumstances that predispose our blessings to become idols. And God refuses to share His loved ones with idols…of any kind, including what USED to be His own blessings. However, it can take a while for us to realize that.
And God takes all the time He needs to allow that to happen.
Exodus 2: 23-25 Tyndale House Publishers Inc (2008-06-01). The One Year Bible NLT (One Year Bible: Nlt Book 2) (Kindle Locations 3278-3281). Tyndale House Publishers. Kindle Edition.