Prequel: Exodus 1-3
So it's been a little bit, sorry about that. I just got married in December which is crazy awesome, and I get to serve in the Hampton Roads church Campus Ministry which is amazing! But all that doesn't always allow time for blogging. (There is a mission to make disciples after all) Anyway, we're back now, so break out your Prince of Egypt DVDs.....it's time for Exodus y’all!
The Exodus Narrative is the single most influential historical event for the Jewish people, and probably even for Christians until the Resurrection. It gets mentioned over 100 times in the Old Testament alone. It is like God's proof of how much he loves his people and how committed he is to his covenant with Abraham and by extension, the nation of Israel. Today we're going to read about how God introduces himself to his chosen-deliverer, Moses. If this was a movie, this would be the moment that the hero of the story is introduced. No, not Moses, at this point we look at Moses as a spoiled, impulsive, murderer-coward, princeling turned smelly shepherd. Not exactly the guy I would pick to free my people from a 400 year captivity, but like I said, God is the hero of this story not Moses.
Now Moses was tending the flock of Jethro his father-in-law, the priest of Midian, and he led the flock to the far side of the wilderness and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. There the angel of the Lord appeared to him in flames of fire from within a bush. Moses saw that though the bush was on fire it did not burn up. So Moses thought, “I will go over and see this strange sight—why the bush does not burn up.” When the Lord saw that he had gone over to look, God called to him from within the bush, “Moses! Moses!” And Moses said, “Here I am.” “Do not come any closer,” God said. “Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy ground.” Then he said, “I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob.” At this, Moses hid his face, because he was afraid to look at God.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 know their suffering. So I have come down to rescue them from the hand of the Egyptians and to 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.”
As always, there is way too much in this to unpack everything, but the thing I wanted to underscore here are the words SEEN, HEARD, and KNOW. God sees, hears, and knows the suffering of his people.
WHERE IS JESUS IN THE OLD TESTAMENT?
Exodus is an easy place to see Jesus. EVERYTHING in Exodus foreshadows Jesus in some way because this book is the gospel in allegory. God liberating his enslaved people. Today I want to look at SEEN, HEARD, and KNOW. God pays attention to the suffering of his people.
Do you ever feel like you aren't be heard? That you are in pain and hurting but no one sees it? I try to suck it up, but plaster a half smile of melancholy to my face hoping someone, anyone will notice it and ask me what's wrong. And even if someone does ask, that doesn't stop the problem. It makes it worse, because now I'm thinking about it more.
The amazing thing is, God sees it all. He hears your cries. And he knows your suffering. Not like he is intellectually aware of the broad strokes of trouble, but knows it in an intimate way. And he sets out to free you...forever. A passage that strikes me is this one:
"And Jesus went throughout all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the Kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction. When he SAW the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd." Matthew 9.35-36 ESV (emphasis added)
Jesus came and he didn't seek to establish his Kingdom through force, or divine right, or any self-interest although he could have and still would have been right to do all of that. He came and he SAW the crowds and he was moved in his inmost being because they were harassed and helpless. And so he becomes the Good Shepherd who lays down his life for the flock (John 10.11).
God has already heard your cry and he has seen your pain. He is intimately connected with your suffering. Not because your suffering is worse than other people's and therefore demands his attention. Not because you have communicated your suffering in a way that moves God's heart more than others, and not because somehow you deserve to have it removed more than other people who deserve their pain. NO! He sees, hears, and knows your pain simply because he is God and is moved because he is good.
Your cries are heard because of him seeing and not because you're screaming.
And there is the great comfort and the great truth. For disciples of Jesus, the greatest pain and suffering of sin, the greatest cries of suffering when you were in bondage have already been seen, heard and known AND COMPLETELY REMOVED. We are no longer in slavery. We are no longer captive because God has heard you already.
Think about that for your next prayer time and see how you might approach God differently, knowing not only that he hears you, but has already heard you and has already moved to save you.