“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” (Exod. 3:7, NIV).
Four hundred years is a long time to wait, especially when waiting in conditions of increasingly harsh slavery.
God had promised that He would return to His people and bring them out of Egypt, but for generation after generation they were left to build the wealth and prestige of their idolatrous oppressors, and all the while God seemed silent.
Then God manifested Himself in a unique way. He appeared in a burning bush out in the remote desert to an unlikely leader, a fugitive prince and humble shepherd named Moses. He gave the reluctant Moses a job to do, and the first part of that job was to go back to the Israelites in Egypt with the message that God had heard and seen their oppression—and, yes, He did care. In fact, He was about to do something to change their situation dramatically.
Read Exodus 3:16-17. Why was it important for God to begin outlining His plan for these people with this specific message? What catches your attention about this statement from God?
But God does not stop there. Not only does He have a plan for a better land, He does not intend for the people to escape from Egypt destitute. For hundreds of years, they had contributed to the wealth of the Egyptian Empire. God foresaw the initial resistance from Pharaoh, but He assured Moses that the Israelites would be compensated for their years of hard labor: “And I will make the Egyptians favorably disposed toward this people, so that when you leave you will not go empty-handed” (Exod. 3:21, NIV).
After their years of oppression, God took the opportunity to establish a new kind of society with these former slaves. He wanted them to live in a different way and to establish a society that would continue to be sustainable and viable. His plan was that this new kind of society would be a model for the surrounding nations and, like Abraham, that the blessings they received from God would also bless the whole world.
|How important is it to you that God is a God who sees the suffering of people in the world and hears their cries for help? What does this tell you about God? Consider Exod. 4:31.|