I may have mentioned previously that my husband and I joined a Bible study this fall. The organization is called Bible Study Fellowship (or BSF). We meet separately but it works out well because the women’s group starts at 6:50 and the men’s group starts at 7:00. They are roughly 3 miles apart. Since I am really not able to drive at night, he drops me off, heads over to his location, and then picks me up when finished. The study is about the life of Moses. I have really enjoyed the first few weeks and have had some revelations that have changed the way I think about some things.
This morning as I was going through the day’s lesson, I came across a phrase I hadn’t noticed in my previous readings about Moses’ call from God. It read, “The Lord said, ‘I have indeed seen the misery of my people in Egypt. I have heard them crying out because of their slave drivers, and I am concerned about their suffering.'” (Ex.3:7) At this point in the narrative, God is speaking to Moses through a burning bush. You see, Moses had fled Egypt about forty years prior to this encounter with God. He had killed an Egyptian and the pharaoh sought to kill him for his act. Moses ran in fear and ended up in a place called Midian. We don’t know much about Midian except that it was a large desert area. Through a chain of events, all ordained by a perfect God, Moses ends up staying in Midian and marrying the daughter of one of the country’s priests. He settled there and lived the life of a shepherd for approximately forty years. He was actually tending to his flock of sheep when he noticed that a bush was on fire, yet it was not burning up–it wasn’t being consumed by the fire. Intrigued by such a strange sight, Moses went to investigate. That’s when God’s voice spoke to Moses through the fire and told Moses that he should remove his sandals for the ground on which he stood was holy ground.
Okay, now you have some background.
Before Moses ran from Egypt, he believed that he would be the one to deliver the Israelites from their captivity. He was the perfect candidate. He had been adopted and raised by the pharaoh’s daughter. He had been educated in all the wisdom of the Egyptian culture. A Hebrew by birth, God had miraculously preserved his life and Moses thought for sure that his purpose was to be the hero for the captive Israelites. The problem at that time, though, was the Israelites did no see him as their deliverer and Moses was a bit rough around the edges. He was arrogant, prideful, and quick tempered. These are not the qualities desirable in leadership. God knew Moses had to have some heart work done before he was ready to shoulder the responsibilities of leading the Israelite nation out of captivity. We aren’t given details about the forty years Moses spent in Midian, but we can be sure that God didn’t waste one minute of those years. We can know this because we have the advantage of reading the entire story. We only need to finish the book of Exodus to see how God used Moses (and some helpers) to free His people. Moses, though, didn’t have that opportunity. He couldn’t see the ending. Likewise, the Israelites didn’t have that advantage either. For both parties, life went on day to day. Moses focused on shepherding and the Israelites groaned under the weight of their oppression. Finally, when God feels Moses is ready for the daunting task ahead, He grabs Moses’ attention with a burning bush. God tells Moses that He has heard the cry of His people and that He is concerned for them. In all the years they had spent in Egypt, God had not forgotten them. He knew what was going on, but He needed to do a mighty work in the heart and life of the man He chose to lead them out of Egypt.
As God was working in the life of Moses, the Israelites woke up day after day to the same miserable existence. Wake up, go work in ditches, go make bricks, go be driven so hard that you wonder if you’ll even survive, sleep, wake up and do it all again…day after day after day. Surely many died before they could see freedom. I wonder how many times the Israelites thought God had forgotten them? As men and women died from their working conditions, did they shake their fists at heaven? As babies were killed and thrown into the Nile, did the people give up on God? How could they know that God had not given up on them? The death of innocent babies and the grueling day to day slave labor they were forced to endure did not paint a picture of a loving God or a God who saw what was happening.
In my own life, I am tempted to shake my fist at heaven or to resign my heart to the fact that God must have forgotten me. Like the Israelites in Egypt, I can’t see the ending of the story–my story. Part of me, as I read about the struggles of God’s people in Egypt, wants to scream at the pages of my Bible, “Don’t give up! Moses is coming–he just needs God to get him ready!” Like the Israelites in Egypt, I only see the mundane day to day labor of living in a world of sin. I often entertain the thought that God has forgotten me or that I am of no use to God.
But then that phrase–“God was concerned for them”.
Since I am one of His children, those he calls “precious in His sight”, God is concerned about me too. He hasn’t forgotten me. He sees my pain, my fears, my sadness, my doubts, my loneliness. He hears my cries for help. And just as God sent Moses to be the deliverer for the Israelite people, my deliverer will come as well. I don’t know when or how much longer I will have to wait, but God has promised. “For he will deliver the needy who cry out, the afflicted who have no one to help.” (Ps. 70:12)
Hang on, Becky. Your deliverer is coming. Don’t give up. Just keep hanging on.