Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Exodus 3:7-10 Tag...You're It

"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.

So I have come down to rescue them from the hand of the Egyptians
and to bring them bring them up out of that land into a good and spacious land,
a land flowing with milk and honey --
the home of the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites.

And now the cry of the Israelites has reached me, 
and I have seen the way the Egyptians are oppressing them.

So now, go.
I am sending you to Pharaoh to bring my people the Israelites out of Egypt.' "

Exodus 3:7-10 (NIV)

One of the first things which impressed me when I read this passage was that God was intimately connected with His people.  He heard their cries of pain and their cries for help, and was concerned about their suffering.  Sometimes in the midst of a difficult situation, we may wonder if God hears or cares.  This passage assures us that He does.

Another thing which I noticed is that the Lord's response is both to rescue the Israelites from their oppressors and to bring them into the land which He had long ago promised to Abraham.  God is not only going to bring them out of Egypt, but He also has a destination for them.

God acknowledges that this land which He will bring them to is already the home of other people groups:  Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites are living in Canaan.  Wondering if this was fair to those inhabitants?  Of course, God, who created the earth, obviously has the right to distribute living space as He sees fit.  However, God has been extremely fair and patient with these inhabitants of Canaan.

Over 400 years ago (from the time of those Israelites living in Egypt) God had already known what would happen in the future.  He had told Abraham (who was at that point still called Abram):

"Know for certain
that your descendants will be strangers in a country not their own,
and they will be enslaved and mistreated four hundred years.

But I will punish the nation they serve as slaves,
and afterward they will come out with great possessions.

You, however, will go to your fathers in peace
and be buried at a good old age.

In the fourth generation
your descendants will come back here,
for the iniquity of the Amorites has not yet reached its full measure."

Genesis 15:13-16 (NIV)

The last line of that passage is the main one which we are considering here.  One reason why the Israelites were going to go down to Egypt (aside from escaping the famine and growing into a nation) was that the sins ('iniquities') of the Amorites (which name seems to be a shorthand for all the peoples of Canaan) had not yet reached critical mass.  God had been giving them time to repent. 

God had actually given the people groups of Canaan over 400 years to repent from their wickedness.  His desire was for all people to come to know and worship Him.  Apparently they had continued in their wickedness, for now God is preparing to bring the Israelites into Canaan to bring His judgement upon them.

Moses would probably have been glad to hear that the Lord was about to rescue his fellow Israelites from slavery in Egypt.  Since he apparently knew about Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, he probably also knew about God's promise to bring the Israelites back to Canaan after about 400 years in Egypt.  The time was right, and Moses probably rejoiced to think that their release from Egypt was at hand.

However, I think it was a bit of a shock for Moses to hear God's final message:
       You are the one I have picked to lead my people out of Egypt.

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