Wednesday, August 08, 2012

God Hears the Cries of the Israelites -- Exodus 2:23-25


Now it came about in the course of those many days that the king of Egypt died.  And the sons of Israel sighed because of the bondage, and they cried out; and their cry for help because of their bondage rose up to God.  So God heard their groaning and God remembered His covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.  And God saw the sons of Israel, and God took notice of them.

We leave Moses momentarily and return to the scene in Egypt.  We do not know how long exactly the “in the course of those many days” refers to.  But it was a long time.  The king or Pharaoh of Egypt had died and it appears that the new king was much tougher on them now.  The influence of the old Pharaoh’s daughter who had adopted Moses no longer had any impact with the new Pharaoh.  It is possible there may have been some relaxation in their treatment in that babies were no longer likely being killed.  The Egyptians were happy to just oppress them, let the Israelites multiply under the pressure, and then misuse more and more of them in slavery.  So much so that the text tells us the Israelites “cried out”.  They suffered under present bondage and they feared even worse bondage ahead.

We would note that there is no indication that the ‘crying out’ that took place was indeed a calling on God for help and we learn later in Scripture that many had wandered away from their God, as they lived in Egypt.  Still, the Scripture says their ‘cry for help’ eventually rose up to God.  The implication here is that either they, in their struggles, finally started remembering God or, in spite of their disobedience, God chose to hear their wailings though not necessarily directed to Him.  The next line in the text referring to that reads, “So God heard their groaning…”.  It suggests to me it was the latter – God chose to hear their cries.  They groaned and hurt.  God heard it and He was moved.  Either way, God was certainly keeping on eye on His people.

The text here suggests God sometimes acts even when we do not ask Him to.  It suggests He can act even when we are ‘groaning’ rather than praising Him and simply asking for His strength to carry on.  He sometimes acts even when we are not dependent on Him.  Having said that, we also must point out that there is no indication that all the Israelites were ‘groaners’.  There is a possibility that God also heard the prayers and supplications of the faithful ones that had never forgotten Him and they cried to Him as an act of dependence and utter trust in Him as a Deliverer.  Not unlike a child in distress calling out to his/her father.

In any case, the Bible says that as a result of His hearing them, “God remembered His covenant.”  We can rest assured that when God makes a promise, He’ll keep it.  It was true of His promise to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and it is true of all the promises we find in Scripture, some of which can correctly be applied to each of us through the ages right up to today and beyond.  One does not need to read too far into the Old and New Testaments to find these gems.  They are there for us just when we get weighed down with the disappointments and challenges of life.  Heavy hearts and lost hope can be turned around when we realize that “God remembers” His promises to us.

I love the last portion of this passage.  It implies that God remembered His covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob of long, long, ago.  And because of that promise, God still saw the sons of Israel many years later, and takes notice of them.  What promises of Scripture have you carefully claimed as applying to you as well?  The good news is we can count on God to deliver, in His perfect timing.  In the meantime, trust and obey.

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