The closest followers of Jesus learned a similar hard lesson repeatedly in their time with the Lord. You probably remember these "lessons learned":
- Feeding over 5,000 in the countryside with only five loaves and two small fish or 4,000 with a few loaves of bread.
- Facing a man with an uncontrollable and destructive legion of demons.
- Repeatedly confronting raging storms on the Sea of Galilee and despairing of life itself.
Jesus' apostles frequently found themselves in the humbling position of gross inadequacy. They wandered, and sometimes the Lord let them, into circumstances far too overwhelming for them to manage, much less fix. Each time, however, the Lord delivered them with his power and grace.
Moses' work to deliver Israel foreshadowed Jesus (Deuteronomy 18:15; Acts 3:22; 7:27). God called Moses at a burning bush in the desert and revealed to Moses that he cared about his people and was about to deliver them:
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 am concerned about 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" (Exodus 3:7-10).
Notice the not so subtle shift from, "I have come down..." to "I am sending you..." The Israelites were in an impossible position, and only God could redeem them. God chose to bring his deliverance through Moses. However, God didn't select Moses because Moses could deliver them; he chose Moses because his forty years in the wilderness as a shepherd had taught Moses to depend upon God!
The "larger than life" stories of Moses and Jesus' disciples are easy for us to dismiss as relevant for us. Our lives get caught in the undertow of problems, difficulties, disasters, illness, pandemics, politics, financial downturns, and loss. We can feel as if God has forgotten us, rejected us, or is ignoring us. However, we need to remember that 400 years passed from the time of Joseph until the deliverance of God's people through Moses.
Faithful Jewish people and their families had prayed untold thousands upon thousands of prayers for God to help them. Generation after generation came and went across the sands of Egyptian history. Somehow, however, some of God's people had passed on a thread of faith to their children and grandchildren. Some were faithful in the face of increasing cruelty, hopelessness, and slavery. Then, when the time was right, God called Moses, fulfilling his promise to Abraham (Genesis 15:13; Acts 7:6).
Image from "God's Eye View" in The Daily Mail, image credits © James Dive and Solent News & Photo Agency, all rights reserved. See the article for more images and explanation.
We don't know where you are in your journey through life. We do know that there are times when we all — even Jesus — feel abandoned by God because of our circumstances, problems, and pain. At that moment, despair, that time when we find ourselves wondering if God will save us, let's remember Moses. Let's remember the family of Moses and those in the generations before him who lived faithfully without seeing their redemption (Hebrews 11:39-40). Let's also recommit ourselves to endurance, remembering that God is faithful to keep his promises (Hebrews 10:23) and that his love will never abandon us (Romans 8:32-39).
God anchors the story of Moses delivering the Israelites from Egypt in Israelite history. Similar to Jesus' deliverance of his apostles from their impossible challenges, Moses' story is a reminder for us to endure. These great stories of rescue in our Bibles are not just for our entertainment or nightly reading. They demonstrate our God's power to act for us if we do not give up under hardship, persecution, oppression, and the crushing weight of our despair.
God gave us those biblical reminders of his faithfulness to encourage us to persevere and be faithful:
Such things were written in the Scriptures long ago to teach us. And the Scriptures give us hope and encouragement as we wait patiently for God's promises to be fulfilled (Romans 15:4).
Are you caught between your own version of an Egyptian army and the Red Sea? Are you stuck between a rock and a hard place? Are you battling circumstances way over your head? Remember Moses. Remember the apostles. Remember Jesus on the cross and stuck in a borrowed tomb. Remember the apostles locked in the upper room for fear.
What do these stories anchored in our history tell us?
Redemption is coming. God has you in a position to see his great work. You are in a moment of decision; persevering with God's help can make your life an enduring testimony of faithfulness for others when they face their struggles. God can bring victory for you and through you in the face of defeat.
We have a God who sees, hears, knows, cares and comes down to help his people. He did it in Moses. He has done even more fantastically, in Jesus!
The two previous images are from Ridley Scott's Exodus: Gods and Kings movie: it is not recommended for historical or biblical accuracy, but for its great visual imagery and emotive power. See the trailer below.