“Then the Lord told him, “I have certainly seen the oppression of my people in Egypt. I have heard their cries of distress because of their harsh slave drivers. Yes, I am aware of their suffering. So I have come down to rescue them from the power of the Egyptians and lead them out of Egypt into their own fertile and spacious land. It is a land flowing with milk and honey—the land where the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Hivites, and Jebusites now live. Look! The cry of the people of Israel has reached me, and I have seen how harshly the Egyptians abuse them. Now go, for I am sending you to Pharaoh. You must lead my people Israel out of Egypt.” (Exodus 3:7-10 NLT)
What an amazing experience it must have been. Moses talking to a bush that was on fire but wasn’t burning up…Moses, whose heart was for his people, hearing God say that He was going to deliver Israel and lead them back to Canaan…
Sure, Moses had some problems with the fact that he was the one to lead Israel out of Egypt – Hey, I would have had problems with that, too! – but overall, it must have been so exciting to realize that his dream would finally be realized!
We don’t know what timeline Moses was believing in, and the Bible doesn’t record that God gave him one. In trying to put myself in his shoes, I can only imagine that I would have expected something immediate. I mean, when God speaks, it happens, right? And as a result, I can only imagine how disappointed Moses must have been when Pharaoh not only said ‘no’, but also increased the workload of the people (see Exodus 5:6-18). Did he stand there and scratch his head? Did he get angry? Especially when the people turned against him as well, “The foremen said to them, ‘May the Lord judge and punish you for making us stink before Pharaoh and his officials. You have put a sword into their hands, an excuse to kill us!’” (Exodus 5:21 NLT)?
We do know that Moses took this back to the Lord, and when he did, he did what I would most certainly have done…He complained! “Why have you brought all this trouble on your own people, Lord? Why did you send me? Ever since I came to Pharaoh as your spokesman, he has been even more brutal to your people. And you have done nothing to rescue them!” (Exodus 5:23 NLT).
God’s response? “Now you will see what I will do to Pharaoh. When he feels the force of my strong hand, he will let the people go. In fact, he will force them to leave his land!” (Exodus 6:1 NLT). A precious promise, yes, and in Moses’ shoes, I would have taken great comfort in this. Yet we know from history that the trouble wasn’t yet over. God would go on to bring great plagues to Egypt. We don’t know the time frame on the plagues, but from the references to the different crops and things that were affected, it is believed by some that the plagues could have gone on for up to a year! In fact, that is what the Jewish Mishnah* says! So it was up to a full year before Israel would finally see the realization of the promise, and during that time, things continued to be hard!
No, I’m pretty sure Moses had no idea from the beginning just how involved this deliverance would be. All he had was a promise without a timeline. Yet, perhaps that was by design. Perhaps if Moses had known what would transpire between the time he received the promise and its fulfillment, he would have been discouraged. I would have been! And perhaps God planned to use this waiting time as a perfect opportunity for Moses – and all of the people as well! – to grow their faith! We don’t know. We aren’t told. We can only guess. We only know that there is a time for everything (See Eccl. 3) and that God’s time is always right, for He is omniscient (“’My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,’ says the LORD. ‘And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine. For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so my ways are higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.’” Isaiah 55:8-9 NLT)
Has God given you a promise? Are you discouraged because you don’t yet see its fulfillment? If so, then remember the story of Moses, and be encouraged! God is faithful. He keeps ALL His promises! He will not fail you! But it may not happen today. There may be a timeline to God’s promises, and He asks us to have faith in Him to know when the time is right, ever trusting that in the waiting time, He is faithful to carry you through!
In His love,
Lynona Gordon Chaffart, Speech-Language Pathologist, mother of two adult boys, Author — “Aboard God’s Train — A Journey With God Through the Valley of Cancer”, Author and Moderator for The Nugget, a tri-weekly internet newsletter, Scriptural Nuggets, a website devoted to Christian devotionals and inspirational poems, The Illustrator, a four-times-a-week internet newsletter, and the Sermon Illustrator website, all with Answers2Prayer Ministries.