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The Uniting Of the Children Of Israel

 It isn’t very often that we have the privilege of knowing the reasons why God allows suffering in our lives. As we grow in faith and knowledge of the Lord, we come to understand that God always has a purpose for the things that He allows to happen to us. Romans 8:28, one of the most comforting verses in the entire Bible, assures us that all things work together for good to them that love God and are called according to His purpose. Even so, it is exceptionally difficult to see this as we pass through the storms of life and seldom much easier as we look back on those storms in hindsight.

In the events of the Bible, we are sometimes specifically given the reasons for why certain hardships and tragedies come upon the people of God; other times we are not. The Book of Job, for instance, gives us a rare “behind-the-scenes” look at what is really going on in Heaven that is affecting Job’s circumstances here on Earth. We are provided an unusual “God’s-eye-view” and have an insight into the situation that even Job himself did not have at the time. Usually, however, the events (particularly in the Old Testament) are recorded primarily from man’s perspective and the lessons and conclusions to be drawn are left for us to surmise through the Spirit of God’s illumination of the narrative. The reasons why are not often spelled out for us in so many words and, like the events and circumstances of our own lives, we are left with the simple assurance that God has always caused all things to work together for the good of His own.

With this in view, let us take a look at what happens in the Fifth chapter of Exodus. God has called Moses to appear before Pharaoh and tell the king to let the children of Israel go. The Lord has promised Moses that He will both deliver them and bring them into the Promised Land (Ex. 3:8). The results of Moses’ first encounter with Pharaoh is, however, less than encouraging. Not only does Pharaoh refuse Moses and Aaron, not only does he mock them and God, he actually increases the burdens on the Jewish people. The slaves of the Egyptians will now be forced to go and gather their own straw for brick-making; yet they will be required to produce the same output as before. From Moses’ perspective, it sure looks like the plan has backfired and the Lord has let him down:

“And Moses returned unto the LORD, and said, LORD, wherefore hast thou so evil entreated this people? why is it that thou hast sent me?” (Exodus 5:22)

There is an unparalleled sense of discouragement, an unmatched feeling of despair that grips a person when they come to realize (with an anxious heart and queasy stomach) that the task set before them will be far greater than anticipated. The work that was believed to be easy and to be undertaken with leisure now reveals itself to be burdensome and grievous. The task which we hoped to complete in a day has now become the labor of several weeks. Moses knew that this would be no easy matter, convincing the King of Egypt to release his slave-labor force, but the resistance from all sides was something that he could never have expected. By obeying the commandment of God, Moses and Aaron have become the laughingstock of Egypt and despised by the children of Israel. How lonely it can be to truly be in the will of God! Moses had been begrudgingly persuaded by the Lord to fulfill this calling; he knew that it would cost him. But did he have even the slightest inkling of how great the price would be? He has alienated himself from the men of Egypt, become hated by his own countrymen, and now it seemed that even the God Who called him had turned His back to him.

“Then the LORD said unto Moses, Now shalt thou see what I will do to Pharaoh: for with a strong hand shall he let them go, and with a strong hand shall he drive them out of his land.” (Exodus 6:1)

Now shalt thou see what I will do… Now. Not only did Pharaoh’s response fail to catch the Lord by surprise, it was part of the plan! Now I am ready to proceed, God responds to Moses. These things needed to happen before God brought deliverance. Why was it necessary that Moses become despised by the Israelites and their burdens increase? First of all, I believe it was important for Moses to learn definitively that it would be God Who delivered the people, not him. He needed to learn to trust God and depend on Him for the mission at hand. I am sure that Moses would have much preferred for Pharaoh to immediately acquiesce to his request and set the Jews free at once. But their deliverance would not be accomplished apart from his development of a deep and abiding faith in God.

Secondly, the increased suffering of the people led to a united position for all the children of Israel. On December 6, 1941, the opinion of the War raging in Europe and Asia was divided amongst the American people. Many people felt that it was the obligation of the United States to come to the aid of their allies while many others felt that it was none of their concern. A war going on halfway around the world was believed by a lot of Americans to have little affect on their daily lives. But all of that changed the next day. When Japan attacked the Pacific Fleet stationed at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, killing Americans and destroying American property and equipment, it became clear that this War would have an effect on the United States after all. The attack on Pearl Harbor was a tragedy, but it did serve the purpose of uniting the American people in a common cause. Nobody on December 8th was questioning whether or not the United States should get involved in the War, the War had been brought to the United States!

So it was with the “officers of the children of Israel” (Ex. 5:14). These were the overseers of the general laborers, the “foremen” of the construction sites in charge of making sure everyone else was doing their job. These were not the ones bearing the heat of the day and breaking their backs under the weight of heavy burdens; these were the “pencil-pushers” whose lives were relatively luxurious compared with their less fortunate brethren. If God had not permitted the wrath of Pharaoh to come upon them through the cruelty of their Egyptian taskmasters, would they have been ready to move out of Egypt when the time came? Or would they have been inclined to remain in their positions, enjoying the comforts and pleasures of Egypt rather than setting out for the unknown? We do not really know, but God does. Based on all of the complaining that goes on after the people leave Egypt (e.g., Ex. 14:11, 16:3, 17:3), we can only imagine how much more apt many of these individuals would have been to remain in Egypt had they not been treated so harshly!

I believe that God’s purpose here was to prepare all of the Israelites for their soon-coming deliverance. They would now be united in their desire to get out from under the oppression that was laid upon them and this would set the stage for them all to hearken unto the Lord’s instructions through His prophet, Moses. God often allows similar hardships to come upon the lost sinner whom He is desiring to deliver from the bondage of sin — He allows sin to run its course in the person’s life that they might weary of it altogether and come to Christ and be set free. Until it becomes clear to a person exactly what they need to be delivered from, they will never fully see the importance and significance of their deliverance.

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12 responses

  1. Hi Loren,

    Psalm 119:71 says, “It is good for me that I was afflicted, that I may learn Thy statutes.”….. Suffering prepares our hearts and refines our faith into a pure faith…. And all of that because as you said, — “He allows sin to run its course in the person’s life that they might weary of it altogether and come to Christ and be set free. Until it becomes clear to a person exactly what they need to be delivered from, they will never fully see the importance and significance of their deliverance.”

    In all of our trials and temptations we need to learn to trust and obey…. And, that can be downright hard when we’re hurting and lack understanding…. God’s love never fails, and we need to learn to trust it…. Numbers 12:3 describes Moses as being meek and humble…. That probably had a lot to do with God using him to do great things.

    Thank you for this post…. It has so many good things for us to think about.

    Margaret

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  2. Loren, Excellent post! I love how you tied the events of the Exodus to the present day bondage of sinners in need of deliverance. Sometimes a person needs to hit rock bottom before they are willing to look up to find God. It can be hard for those of us watching them spiral when we love them, just as it must have been hard for Moses to watch as the burden of the Israelites was made heavier by Pharoah, but we have to trust God to know what He is doing. Peace, Linda

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  3. I love your insight and teaching! So good to come here and be a sponge. :)
    I don’t think I had ever thought about Moses being devastated by how hard it was. I don’t always think deeper into the situations, because I know what happens. But living it moment by moment? EEEkkkk.
    And I agree with Margaret and Linda, how you showed that often sin has to run its course in a person’s life before they will seek Jesus . . .that really explains a lot! (even about my own life!)
    God bless you Loren, for continuing to take the time, energy and talent to put these posts together. I grant you the teacher laureate of blogosphere award! (sorry . . .don’t really have one of those to grant you, but I would if I could! )

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  4. What a great reference to Psalms; perfectly fitting verse for this :)

    “In all of our trials and temptations we need to learn to trust and obey”

    Amen to that, but how hard a lesson this is! When we fully realize that everything that happens to us is either by God’s action or His permission, it becomes possible to patiently endure anything that comes our way. (P.S. – I’ll let you know when I fully realize that!)

    Thanks, Margaret, for the wonderful comments, God bless you!

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  5. It can be so heart-wrenching to watch someone we love hit rock-bottom! How difficult it can be to even offer counsel; we know what they need, but they need to come to that realization. Thank God that we might not know exactly what to say, but we can sure pray for them.

    “We have to trust God to know what He is doing.”

    Indeed we do. Thanks, Linda, for the kind words of encouragement. May the Lord richly bless you!

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  6. You are too sweet and kind, Deb, but you always lift me up :) I am just honored that I have the privilege of sharing these thoughts from the Bible with folks who enjoy them and find them useful…what a blessing to me!

    Talking about the “living it moment-by-moment” thing — I just recently finished going through the Book of Job again in my own personal devotions and it always blows me away to consider how Job must have felt during his time of trial. I know that I have the tendency to think of everything from the vantage point of knowing in hindsight that everything happened to him for a purpose and God was doing a great work in his life through it all. But to think of it from Job’s perspective really challenges me to contemplate how I myself would have responded — I truly shudder at the thought!

    God bless you, Deb, I so appreciate your words of encouragement! (thanks for the award — I don’t know if I can live up to it, but I will cherish it deeply :) )

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  7. Thank you, Loren

    Thanks for this great piece. Thankful for the gift God has blessed you with. Praying others in search of Him will ‘stumble’ here and find He’s already left many of the answers they’re seeking.

    “It isn’t very often that we have the privilege of knowing the reasons why God allows suffering in our lives. As we grow in faith and knowledge of the Lord, we come to understand that God always has a purpose for the things that He allows to happen to us.”
    Romans 8:28 is a great comfort indeed but only to those who ‘love Him and are called according to His purpose’. If you have already written in depth on this, please direct me to the link, otherwise, I might ask kindly of you to share your thoughts :-)

    “In the events of the Bible, we are sometimes specifically given the reasons for why certain hardships and tragedies come upon the people of God; other times we are not. ”
    Only a heart / mind that is renewed and matured in God can take the blows and look at the issues as ‘part of His plan’ or ‘in His hands’. I often wondered what I would do if I were one of the Israelites who were rescued from Egypt’s bondage and then fed manna (for days and days and days)… would I have grumbled? very likely!! Would I be thinking about the good of all? I don’t know … Your last line speaks our thoughts. If someone doesn’t know what the danger is, they most certainly won’t see a need to be kept from it. Thankful for the Holy Spirit and the alarms He gives! Praying we’ll not dull our senses but be on alert for His direction.

    Standing up for all may not be the easiest thing to do but it’s the best thing to do in the long run.

    I’ve been following the news in Japan and other world events. The time is fast approaching when we will need to stand together as children of the Most High wherever we are in this world. Technology has made it easier for us to stay in touch and offer support and encouragement to each other but I believe it won’t be long before censoring becomes the norm. What we learn now and what we have been taught before will help to sustain us in the wilderness moments. Praying that He will be our Strength and Defense as we face the uncertainties.

    P.S. – Echoing Deb’s sentiments, teacher laureate :-)

    Blessings,
    ann

    SIDEBAR:-
    I had a great! rest-week, thanks :-) It meant I’ve fallen behind in a lot of small projects but I’m taking it in stride.

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  8. Thank you so much, Ann, for your kind words of encouragement…what a blessing they are :)

    I, too, pray that many who visit this website may find answers to their questions; yet even more so, I pray that they will be moved to search the Word of God themselves — for, as you and I know: in His Word, He may be found.

    I cannot begin to tell you how eager I am to reach the 8th Chapter of Romans in this study and write about verses like 8:28! What a greater joy it is to write about the grace and mercy of God than to focus on the sins of man. Yet the Holy Spirit judged it prudent to spend sufficient time looking at man’s depravity in the first three chapters of the book, so I dare not pass too quickly through it!

    Romans 8:28, to me, is one of the most beautiful and uplifting verses in the entire Bible. It is simply not possible to say too much about it. It is an assurance of God’s mercy in times of trial, it is a reminder of God’s wisdom in times of suffering, and it is a promise of God’s fulfilled purpose through all circumstances. It is an echo of our Lord’s promise: “I will never leave you nor forsake you” (Heb. 13:5). It is the realization of what He told us when He declared that God knows the number of hairs on our heads and that our worth is greater than many sparrows (Luke 12:7). The notes of the Scofield Reference Bible state:

    “If the Epistle to the Romans may be likened to a great cathedral of Christian truth, then Ch. 8 is the highest of the towering spires of that divine revelation. The grandeur of the theme is shown in the largeness of its references to God; the sweep of its revelation which includes past, present, and future — from creation to eternity; the good news of its message about God’s answer to sin’s tyranny; its lovely and soul-sustaining homily on suffering; and its closing triumphant note on the security of the believer.”*

    I completely agree with this assessment and, if I might add to it, would consider Verses 28-31 to stretch even higher atop this “towering spire.” What a sharp contrast this is when we consider the condition of the person redeemed by Christ compared to the condition of the lost in the opening chapters of Romans! And yet the only thing that has changed between the redeemed sinner mentioned in Romans 8:28 and the lost sinner in Romans 3:23 is the fact that God has gotten a hold of them and worked His grace into their lives. The Lord Jesus Christ has caused them to be born again and has saved them from the fate that awaited them before.

    “The time is fast approaching when we will need to stand together as children of the Most High wherever we are in this world”

    Indeed it is. I am truly thankful every day that we are able to continue to freely share the Gospel on the Internet and that our words are not censored or silenced. I personally believe, like you do, that it is only a matter of time before we see that begin to change.

    God bless you, Ann, and thanks so much again! I am glad to hear that you were able to rest up. Unfortunately, I live about 90 feet from the Pacific Ocean and the events of the week were a little stressful for us! Tsunami warnings were issued Thursday night and we had to evacuate. Didn’t sleep much for a couple of days. Keeping the people of Japan in our thoughts and prayers.

    Loren

    * Quote taken from: “The Scofield Reference Bible, King James Version” (Scofield III) (c) 2003 by Oxford university Press, Inc.

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  9. Loren . . .I didn’t know where you were located at. I’m so sorry for all you’ve been going through. Thankful you are safe . . .is your home okay? God bless you and cover you during this time.

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  10. Hey Deb,

    Yeah, we’re fine. We ended up just having a little higher tide than normal (and by “little”, I mean it was only like 2 feet higher than normal…no big deal at all but we had to evacuate because they were unable to predict for sure how big the waves would get). It’s kind of funny, though, because I really took Ann’s post to heart and tried to focus on slowing down the pace of things a little this week and spending more family time, relaxing, etc. As the comedian Woody Allen said: “If you want to make God laugh, tell Him your plans.” Maybe this week will be a good chance to rest up…but then again… :)

    Thanks for your concern, it sure means a lot!

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  11. […] The Uniting Of the Children Of Israel (answersfromthebook.org) Posted in: All My Blogs, Babe In Christ No Comments Tags: 1 Kings 9, Christian, Egypt, God, Israel, Israelite, Lord, Moses, Satan […]

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  12. Thank you for your thoughts, Loren ( I just wrote an epistle on your later post so I’ll keep it short here! :-) )

    It does seem to boil down to His grace and the difference it makes. What would we do without it I eagerly await the rest of the story. The book Romans has much to offer. I can’t get enough of it. :-)

    I appreciate your taking the time to respond despite your current positioning. Thanking God for the safety of your family. We continue to pray for those who have been adversely affected.

    Blessings
    ann

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