Meanwhile Back in Egypt
Moses switches the scene. He leaves his own story and takes us back to Egypt to see what’s been happening over the last forty years. Thutmose I has died, but the new Pharaoh obviously continues the war against God and His people. Nothing has changed except the people are crying out more than ever, and their cry goes up to God.
The wording of verses 24-25 are strange to our ears. They represent the attempt to express the actions of God in human terms that are clearly inadequate. First, we are told God hearing the cries of Israel remembers His covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
“Then the LORD said to Abram, “Know for certain that your offspring will be sojourners in a land that is not theirs and will be servants there, and they will be afflicted for four hundred years. But I will bring judgment on the nation that they serve, and afterward they shall come out with great possessions. As for you, you shall go to your fathers in peace; you shall be buried in a good old age. And they shall come back here in the fourth generation, for the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet complete.”
And the LORD appeared to him [Isaac] and said, “Do not go down to Egypt; dwell in the land of which I shall tell you. Sojourn in this land, and I will be with you and will bless you, for to you and to your offspring I will give all these lands, and I will establish the oath that I swore to Abraham your father. I will multiply your offspring as the stars of heaven and will give to your offspring all these lands. And in your offspring all the nations of the earth shall be blessed, because Abra- ham obeyed my voice and kept my charge, my commandments, my statutes, and my laws.”
So Isaac settled in Gerar. Behold, I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land. For I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.”” (Genesis 15:13–16; 26:2–6; 28:15)
When we speak of God’s remembering, the implication is He had previously forgotten. But if you examine passages that speak of God’s remembering, you see it is the way God tells us He is about to take some action based on covenants, promises, etc. Here God’s concern is recognition that in the scheme of things, the time has arrived to take action for Israel. He has been preparing Moses for what is to come. Now Moses is telling us the time for action has arrived.
Some forty years earlier, Moses knew God had chosen him to be a deliverer, but here it is forty years later, and nothing has happened. Moses’ confidence in himself is gone, as it should be. How often, when we end up in the backside of the desert with nothing happening and unhappy, do we say “Hey how long is this to go on?” Well, as long as we’re not there as long as Moses, I guess we can’t complain. The point is the forty years were the time necessary for Moses, but they were also needed for Israel.
Have you ever been trapped on the back side of the desert? Do you have any understanding of why God had you there? The Lord allows us to remain in our desert for reasons that He knows best, and we must rest in Him.
“… Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6–7).
Conclusion: One thing that I think we should note here, for our own growth, is Moses’ focus was with his people. Though the time he was forced to flee Egypt, through the next forty years tending sheep, he was emotionally tied to his people, the Hebrews. In Midian, he considered himself a stranger, an alien. How should we apply this to ourselves as believers? We must remember we are pilgrims, strangers to this world. Our home is not here, but with the Father. Our focus is to be on His will for our lives.
“Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul. Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation” (1 Peter 2:11–12).
Moses himself was soon to become a wanderer for the balance of his life. This is part of his service of the Lord. We too are, in reality, pilgrims on our way to an eternity with the Father. Unfortunately, we have a tendency to set our tent pegs in concrete, so that the Lord has to use dynamite to blast them loose. Our society is one that focuses on material security, money, job, etc. But as believers, our security is in the Lord. And we need to live accordingly. As Paul notes:
“He delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us. On him we have set our hope that he will deliver us again” (2 Corinthians 1:10).
If our true security is grounded in God, then we will not be totally devastated when we lose those things the lost depend on for their security. Instead, our security is in God, and we can live in the truth that this world is not our home, we too are strangers in a strange land. And He will provide for all our needs.
How has He done so for you? Spurgeon put it this way:
“Thy shoes shall be iron and brass; and as thy days, so shall thy strength be”
~ Deuteronomy 33:25
Here are two things provided for the pilgrim: shoes and strength.
As for the shoes: they are very needful for traveling along rough ways and for trampling upon deadly foes. We shall not go barefoot–this would not be suitable for princes of the blood royal. Our shoes shall not be at all of the common sort, for they shall have soles of durable metal, which will not wear out even if the journey be long and difficult. We shall have protection proportionate to the necessities of the road and the battle. Wherefore let us march boldly on, fearing no harm even though we tread on serpents or set our foot upon the dragon himself.
As for the strength: it shall be continued as long as our days shall continue, and it shall be pro- portioned to the stress and burden of those days. The words are few, “as thy days thy strength,” but the meaning is full. This day we may look for trial, and for work which will require energy, but we may just as confidently look for equal strength. This word given to Asher is given to us also who have faith wherewith to appropriate it. Let us rise to the holy boldness which it is calculated to create within the believing heart. 3
- Spurgeon, C. H., Faith’s Checkbook: a Daily Devotional, Accordance electronic ed. Altamonte Springs: Oak- Tree Software, 2006, n.p.
Exodus study to be continued.
All verses are from the English Standard Version (ESV) unless otherwise noted.
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