God Remembered His Covenant – Part 2

Exodus 2:23-25

Don’t live in era we read about on pages of God’s word the Bible – times when God moved in large and visible ways. You know, things like catastrophic worldwide flood, fire from heaven that devastates two cities, an all-night wrestling match (take that Hulk Hogan!). We know things different now, and for some good reasons – we have full and sufficient revelation of God on pages of Bible and life of Son, Lord Jesus. Yet we look for, perhaps long for God to act like he did in old days. Also like to think if we pray hard enough, using enough of right words, and long enough, God just has to answer our prayers.

When we don’t see exciting things happening, often think God isn’t working. When we don’t get immediate answers to prayers, wonder if God is even listening. Must remember – in between the big deal moments described for us in Bible, were extended periods of one day after another that all seemed pretty much the same. Must also remember – during what seem to us to be quiet times… God is still moving his eternal plan forward toward the next big thing. In our case, Lord Jesus’ return to gather his people, set all things to rights.

Were similar periods, not as lengthy :-), in history of God’s people, one of them in text this morning. Would seem like a lifetime to us, no word from heaven, yet God providentially preparing people and circumstances for next stage in his work of redemption. Number of things that needed to come together at appointed time, to satisfy conditions of God’s plan – his people and their leader not yet ready; nor were Pharaoh and retinue of advisors prepared to give up their plans; and residents of Canaan had not filled up their cup of iniquity yet (Gen. 15:16). Each day brought all participants closer to time when God would begin to move more visibly. Yet behind the scenes God was fully attentive to needs of his people.

A. the process of time v.23a

lit. “after many days”

Stephen provides more information – Acts 7:30 “And when forty years had passed, an Angel of the Lord appeared to him in a flame of fire in a bush, in the wilderness of Mount Sinai.”

not just few months, even several years – nearly four decades have passed, one day at a time, little incremental change

reminds us once again: God in no hurry to carry out some details of redemptive purpose – at same time God is busy with other particulars

good time to remember: “But, beloved, do not forget this one thing, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.” 2 Pet. 3:8-9

the stuff of daily life

will discover some more details in next few chapters – no dramatic moments, earth-shaking events apparently in Egypt or Midian

Moses went to work each day, laboring for Jethro, learning from Jethro with no “light bulb” moments from God, at least not recorded

same true for his Hebrew brothers back in Egypt but with one significant difference – simply existing more difficult each day

a new chapter

something big happened in Egypt, something life-changing about to happen for Moses (next chapter, next week)

new chapter in redemptive history beginning when God would begin to move / act in more visible ways

made the news in Egypt, apparently not in Midian, “king of Egypt died” – significant as God elaborates further in Ex. 4:19

giving instruction there to Moses, sets his mind at ease – “all the men who were seeking your life are dead.”

neither Moses nor his brethren recognized at the time: Pharaoh’s death a turning point in the action, God’s plan begins advancing in more obvious ways

God’s providence

Pharaoh’s death a secular event with spiritual consequences… according to God’s providence directed toward his people

two important things to note here: God’s providential actions taking place during all of 40 silent year period for both Moses and people

2nd, some important foreshadowing going on as well: young Jesus, taken by parents to Egypt until king who sought his life died, safe to return to Nazareth

is through the events and circumstances of everyday life that God providentially brings about spiritual change in his people

B. the place of prayer v.23b-24a

they groaned

king had died, maybe cause for rejoicing – new king couldn’t be as harsh as old king; um, yes, maybe even more so

demands made of Hebrew children surpassed previous harsh treatment – don’t know specifics, do know would get even worse

God doesn’t tell us who they expected to hear their groans – just says they moaned and groaned because of their slavery

they cried

same about their cry – doesn’t say who they cried out to; given what happened at Sinai, quite likely were crying out to idols

approx. 3 months after leaving Egypt arrived at Sinai – when Moses took too long on mountain, what did they do? golden calf

not something they invented in desert – had seen before, quite likely had participated in idol-worship while in Egypt

says “their cry came up to God”, not “they cried out to God” – were crying to anyone who might stop to listen and help

their cry went up… past the ceiling

they cried out, cry went up and… nothing changed from their perspective – still same oppressive slavery, day after day

nearly every believer has experience – cry out to God, are convinced sound of voice never left the room, never went past ceiling

listen for response, hear nothing, not even echo of own voice – wonder if God is listening… to you; of course he listens to others

their groaning was heard… even though they didn’t know it

groaning, crying out for help, getting no apparent response, yet God heard… and began to act in response

Hebrew children could not see God’s actions, could not hear any response yet God not ignoring them, had not abandoned them

God delaying their deliverance in part so they would have opportunity to learn futility of worshiping false gods – their cry went up and God heard – he is only one with ears to hear his people

C. the priority of covenant v. 24-25

God heard their groaning

would have to be stone deaf not to hear: Eze.30:24 “I will break the arms of Pharaoh, and he will groan before him like a man mortally wounded.”

was more than background noise to God – he paid attention to their circumstances, was attentive to their need

not simply gathering data to put in his collection – God listened with intention of acting in response; don’t forget, was not new information to God

implied here that God was waiting for certain things – Pharaoh’s life to play out, Hebrew children’s bondage to worsen, their cries for help to get more desperate

when all of details came together according to God’s plan, no sooner, no later he would begin next stage of redemption

God remembered His covenant

here is root cause why God moves plan forward – he has made a covenant that he intends to keep in order to save his people

is not their predicament that spurred God’s compassion – he was already compassionate; not cries for help that got his attention – was already attentive to his people

was not their inherent worth that made God move, not even all wonderful things they could / would do if he delivered them

it was his faithfulness to keep promises of his covenant when people recognized they needed help, his help

God looked upon the children of Israel

he looked on his people with interest and compassion – ultimately Pharaoh’s actions toward Hebrew children was action against God

at same time, God had compassion on them for much more than harsh physical treatment – he saw they were in even greater bondage to sin than to Pharaoh

God’s plan of redemption needed to move forward for their benefit and benefit of every last person Jesus came to save

God understood

lit. “God knew” – God knew their suffering, their circumstances, their sorrow… he understood because of Lord Jesus

Heb. 4:15 “For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin.”

for God to keep his covenant, for Son of God to enter time and space and human form to be our Substitute, had to deliver his people from slavery in Egypt so could deliver them from sin

Centuries later, baby born to couple that had given up trying. No longer believed was possible, would take miracle. And God did just that. Zacharias and Elisabeth had a son named John. Holy Spirit moved Zacharias to declare that God had “raised up a horn of salvation for us In the house of His servant David,As He spoke by the mouth of His holy prophets, …And to remember His holy covenant,The oath which He swore to our father Abraham” (see Luke 1:67-75). Months later the Deliverer himself would be born of a virgin, one more element of covenant made with Abraham.

God does not always bring his people out of their trials. Often he brings them through suffering. Many times what we expect from God is heaven on earth. God knows better… heaven on earth now would never fit us for new heaven and earth. Through it all, God remembers his covenant and his people. Whether we can see God at work or not, whether we hear him speak or not, his Word assures us that no matter what happens he will take care of us.

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