I’m reading through the Bible in a year for 2017. I didn’t do it last year, and I missed getting more time in the scriptures. I had a thought today when I read Exodus 3. You remember this chapter. Moses and the burning bush ring a bell? How about a visual?
Not to be confused with Burning Man.
Here’s the passage that gave me pause.
But I know that the king of Egypt will not let you go unless a mighty hand forces him. So I will raise my hand and strike the Egyptians, performing all kinds of miracles among them. Then at last he will let you go. And I will cause the Egyptians to look favorably on you. They will give you gifts when you go so you will not leave empty-handed. Every Israelite woman will ask for articles of silver and gold and fine clothing from her Egyptian neighbors and from the foreign women in their houses. You will dress your sons and daughters with these, stripping the Egyptians of their wealth. – Exodus 3:19-22
God reassured Moses that He would be with him. He used the sign of the burning bush to initiate a conversation with Moses. The elders would follow Moses’ lead, too. He basically says, “Go tell Pharaoh you want to leave. I will do the rest.” He gave Moses a synopsis of what would happen. But he sort of left out all the details. By details, I mean plagues. Flies. Frogs. Water turned to blood. You remember now, right?
I wonder if Moses thought this strange. Why not rain down fire and brimstone, God? So I’m just going to walk up to Pharaoh and say, “Let my people go.” Remember I killed a man, God? I might get arrested. Why can’t we fight these losers? They enslaved us, Lord. They did this to your precious people. A little payback might be nice.
God instituted a sort of civil disobedience here. No fighting allowed. No armies. Only a straightforward exodus and persistent asking. Yes, it got heated at times. Pharaoh didn’t want his free labor force to leave the country. And the Egyptians did chase the Israelites into the Red Sea. But I wonder why God wanted it to go down this way. Could it be that the Lord knew His people couldn’t fight and had few weapons?
I think God wanted to show Himself strong on behalf of His people. He hadn’t forgotten them, despite the 400-year gap of time from Jacob’s family moving to Egypt during the famine to the rise of Moses as liberator. They needed to grow in numbers so they could inhabit the Promised Land. God’s promise to Abraham – “your descendants will outnumber the stars in the sky” – needed time to mature. Pharaoh and his kingdom helped the Hebrew population to grow (Ex.1:12).
Sometimes, God promises us things that take time to come about. God’s plan will prevail. He will use all the circumstances for His glory. May we learn to wait and trust as the pieces move into place.