The only Psalm written by Moses, identifies God to be beyond time where a thousand years are like a day for Him and a day like a thousand years. God sets time in motion at the birth of a child for her and answers to our prayers are also not bound by any of our timelines. We are unable to understand the delay in answers to our prayers for long periods and then due to sheer fatigue of waiting, we give up and change our focus on some other current issue of life. We presume that probably God does not desire to bless us with the blessings sought. But is that in line with the Scripture and God’s will? And should we not persevere in faith?
God spoke to Moses, ‘Therefore, say to the people of Israel; I am the LORD and I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians and I will deliver you from their bondage’ (Exodus 6:6). The Hebrew word ‘sivlot’ is translated as burdens but from the same root word comes, ‘salvanut’ which means tolerance. Tolerance is a form of carrying burdens or accepting to live with the challenge in one’s life. With this what God told Moses would mean, ‘Say to the children of Israel; I am God and I shall take you from tolerating Egypt’. I will liberate you from your patience, from tolerating the Egyptian horrors. Many of us after being in bad situations in life get used to it and that becomes the ‘new-normal’. And then we remain stuck there making least effort to move out of that prison, be it physical, financial, social or spiritual. The Exodus can only happen, once one gets really fed up of being weak and bullied, being a victim of addiction or fear.
Helplessness goes very deep and numbs the soul and after a while it becomes difficult to feel the pain and begin the journey of salvation. God created the situation that Moses had to be brought up not in his own family but in Pharaoh’s house so that his soul would be used to a life of liberty, learning and a higher sense of rights and denial thereof. Moses killed an Egyptian who was ill treating a Hebrew and then he saved the Midianite girls from the shepherd’s who were feeding their own flock from the water drawn by the girls (Exodus 2:11-12 & 17-18). This difference of attitude in Moses was because of his upbringing. Had Moses also grown up among the Hebrew slaves his sense of injustice would be lacking and that would bring in the inability to stand up for his and others’ rights. This would render him unsuitable for leading a group of slaves and transforming them into a great people. He would have never been able to take that giant leap of faith to go and confront Pharaoh (Exodus 3:11).
Dr Martin Luther King had developed that sense of revulsion for the injustice being meted out to his people thus inspiring a new era of liberty. The sin committed by Adam and Eve had not only led them away from God but the knowledge then gained by them turned their Divine inspired brain into two natures, one of God and the other of a reptile or an animal. This change restricted their view from the heavenly heights into what was and is fed by their circumstances to think and act in a calibrated manner. This change of attitude is evident in us, when anyone opposed to our viewpoint is given labels because they do not fit into our narrowly defined morality and justice. As it was true then it is also true today. But the greatest danger is when we tolerate a situation and accept it as normal.
The beginning of our redemption can commence only when we become aware that our situation is unnatural and cruel and cry out with our collective pain to escape that. God chose Abram to reveal Himself because he, despite being born into a family of idolaters, sought the true God and His desperation was answered (Genesis 12). God told Moses from within the burning bush, ‘I have indeed seen the misery of My people in Egypt. I have heard them cry out because of their slave drivers’. ‘And now the cry of the Israelites has reached me, and I have seen the way the Egyptians are oppressing them’ (Exodus 3:7, 9).
The slavery of the Israelites was of 400 years but why did God turn to them at that time only? Pharaoh ordered the Israelite midwives to kill the Hebrew boys at birth but they disobeyed with an excuse that the women delivered before their arrival. Then came the order to kill all male children of the Israelites. Jewish legend is that Amram separated from his wife Jochebed for this reason but was persuaded by Miriam his daughter to reunite and Moses was born. His mother hid him for four months and then put him in a small basket lined with tar and put him into the Nile river where Pharaoh’s daughter found him and raised him as her own child. God acted when the people’s desperation reached a level of intolerance and non-acceptance of the status quo. The Old Testament closes with the book of Malachi where God promised that those who revere His name will see the ‘sun of righteousness’ rise on them with healing in its rays (Malachi 4:2). The fulfillment of the promise and arrival of the Son of God as Redeemer took more than four hundred years. ‘But when the right time came, God sent His Son’ (Galatians 4:4). The right time is always the time when people really get fed up of their present situation and cry out for a change.
A church wanted to buy an old bus to ferry the elderly of the congregation who had no means to arrange transport to come. A visiting preacher heard their discussion and told them that you can’t afford a new bus because in your mind you have accepted the old one as sufficient. The day we decide that we need a change, God will intervene and provide the resources for the new bus. The standards that we set for ourselves define the ultimate quality and destiny of your life. Moses was destined to lead his people out of slavery and God joined into the efforts of Jochebed and Miriam to not only save him but also to raise him in Pharaoh’s house to train him for the role.
How can a believer develop change in attitude? – God used Moses to perform various miracles that destroyed Egypt economically, militarily and socially, forcing Pharaoh to let the Israelites go. Before sending him, God told Moses, ‘See, I have made you like a God to Pharaoh’ and having been brought up in a culture where Pharaoh considered himself to be god, Moses could relate to this statement of God and act accordingly (Exodus 7:1). God brought the Israelites out of Egypt but it took forty years to get Egypt out of them. The journey from Egypt to the Promised Land was just 11 days but God diverted their move through a longer route to prepare them for the new region and they remained in the wilderness for forty years.
Moses had sent the twelve spies to check out the land and on return ten of them gave a frightening report, saying, ‘We were in our own sight as grasshoppers, and so we were in their sight’ (Numbers 13:33). On the other hand, in Jericho, Rahab told the Israelite spies, ‘I know that the LORD has given this land to you and that a great fear of you has fallen on us, so that all who live in this country are melting in fear because of you’ (Joshua 2:9). Only Joshua and Caleb had declared in faith to go in and capture the land God had given to them but the people refused to accept the report of the two despite the fact that the enemy was terrorized by their presence.
While facing the Red Sea, the Israelites saw the Egyptian army behind them and they cried out to Moses, ‘Didn’t we say to you in Egypt, leave us alone, let us serve the Egyptians? It would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the desert’ (Exodus 14:12-14). Moses’ reply to them is about assurance that the LORD will fight for you and they were to just watch the end of the Egyptians chase. God rained Manna from heaven for the Israelites, the bread of angels, to change them from within and be like the angels, totally focused and dependent on God and not on self (Exodus 16:4).
God appeared on Mount Sinai to reveal His law to the Israelites by giving them the Ten Commandments but they said to Moses, ‘Speak to us yourself and we will listen. But do not have God speak to us or we will die’ (Exodus 20:1-20). After that God spoke to mankind through the prophets like Moses many times and finally through His own Son, through whom all of universe was made (Hebrews 1:1-2). Much like the Israelites at Mount Sinai, people today also refuse to listen to God’s voice through His Son.
Lord Jesus walked on water to reach out to the disciples who were struggling because of the opposite wind but ‘He would have passed them by’ if they had not cried out (Mark 6:48). God is ready to bless those who seek Him earnestly and are ready to follow His commandments. Prophet Isaiah saw God’s glory filling the Temple and heard God calling out, ‘Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?’ The calling was general but the Prophet replied, ‘Here am I. Send me’ (Isaiah 6:8). The Lord never sends out anyone without fully equipping with all authority and power. Adam was given dominion and then sent out to dominate and subdue the earth (Genesis 1:28). Lord Jesus sent the twelve disciples and then another seventy to ‘heal the sick and preach the message of the kingdom of heaven’. The seventy returned rejoicing that even the demons submitted to them in Lord Jesus’ name (Luke 10:1;9;17). The command to baptize the disciples in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit brings us into a close relationship of oneness with God authorizing us to move in His power (Matthew 28:19). This new birth gives a new identity, for the old gets buried and forgotten much like the prodigal son being given ‘the best robe, ring on his finger and sandals on his feet’ ((Luke 15:22).
By faith in the Son of God as Redeemer, we become children of God and joint heirs (Romans 8:17) with Him and are then seated with and in Him, in heavenly places with all spiritual blessings. Dominion is then restored back to each believer through defeat of the devil. Satan sought Apostle Peter and other disciples to sift them as wheat but the Savior Lord prayed for them (Luke 22:31-32). The Redeemer has paid the penalty in full and now the devil has no rights on us (Romans 8:34) and Lord Jesus intercedes for us in heaven. All believers are ‘a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His wonderful light’ (1 Peter 2:9). A lion is a king of the jungle and nobody teaches him this, yet he behaves as a king ‘refusing to retreat before anything’ (Proverbs 30:30).
Do we behave as children of God upholding His name and character and then act as ones having dominion rights over everything. An heir as long as he is a child, is like a slave and so is a believer who does not grow in faith (Galatians 4:1). Lord Jesus declared, ‘Everything is possible for one who believes’. He has promised to be with us to the ‘end of this age’ (Matthew 28:20) and the promise is fulfilled in the indwelling Holy Spirit, who is ‘not a Spirit of fear but of power, and of love and of a sound mind’ ((2 Timothy 1:7). Apostle Peter saw the Lord coming to them walking on water and prayed, ‘Lord, if it is You bid me to come to You on the waters’ and then he also walked on water (Matthew 14:28). The difficult part was not walking on water, for that was Lord Jesus’ power operating, but the difficulty is in shedding the security of the boat, our present position, and stepping out.
Are you really fed up enough of the storms hitting your boat, to cry out to God and step out into a new way of His power? God loves us not to make us glorious but to reveal His Divine glory through us who reflect ‘His image and likeness’. After this realization dawns on us, my prayer also changes, to seek Him every day to send me out to let me be what He wants me to be.
What should then be our prayer? ‘God created man in His image’ and the image cannot but do all that the original does (Genesis 1:27). Lord Jesus told that He only does what He sees His father in heaven doing and the Father in His love shows the Son ‘all He does’ (John 5:19-20). This is not only about obedience but living a life fully committed to do the Father’s will. Lord Jesus prayed to God the Father, ‘Glorify Your Son, that Your Son may glorify You’ (John 17:1). The promise of the Lord to all believers’, is, ‘whatever you ask in My name, I will do it, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son’ (John 14:13).
The indwelling Holy Spirit helps us in our weaknesses for we do not know what to pray for, but since He knows the will of God for His people, His Spirit intercedes for us through groaning (Romans 8:26-27). The free will given to man prohibits God from intervening in our lives without our seeking and till we are desperate, we rarely turn to God in true earnestness. God never makes a mistake nor are His ways like ours, but He never ignores our deepest prayers and longings. However we fail to understand His timings and His ways and give up.
Hannah faced taunts of her husband’s second wife for ‘the LORD had closed her womb’ and she was a regular visitor to Jerusalem with her family to present offerings. On one such visit , in bitterness of soul Hannah wept much and prayed to the LORD’ (1 Samuel 1:5,6 &10-11). Hannah’s prayer teaches us five things for our lives:
· First, God’s plan and timing are perfect, for He wanted Hannah to be at the right place, time and attitude to pray for a child who was then to be raised as a priest by Eli in the Temple.
· Second, In her pain Hannah trusted God’s power and ability – She prayed for a son and promised to ‘give him to the LORD all the days of his life’ and that he will be a Nazarite (1 Samuel 1:11). She was oblivious to anyone else’s presence and with deep emotions of grief and anguish, ‘she poured out her soul to the LORD’. She was humble, broken and her focus was only on God who alone could change her circumstances.
· Three, Hannah believed in the truth of God’s Word and His willingness to answer – She prayed, ‘and her face was no longer downcast’ and she named the child ‘Samuel, saying, I asked the LORD for him’ (1 Samuel 1:18, 20). She worshipped God before leaving for home, did not doubt nor worry.
· Four, she was faithful in fulfillment of her vow – She took the child and as promised, gave ‘him to the LORD’ for whole life, overcoming her emotions to let go in obedience and faithfulness (1 Samuel 1:24-28). She brought clothes for Samuel every year and was blessed with five more children.
· Five, Hannah praised God for His deliverance – She prayed and said, ‘My heart rejoices in the LORD; in the LORD my horn is lifted high. My mouth boasts over my enemies, for I delight in your deliverance. There is no one holy like the LORD; there is no one besides you, there is no rock like our God’ (1 Samuel 2:1-2).
Hannah’s song resembles Mary’s Magnificat for the birth of their sons would tremendously impact people and nations of that time and even of today. Every person has been given certain talents and these are hidden like blaze in a coal or glitter in an uncut diamond. Outside the coal is black but its heat is hidden within but the fire within gets ignited only when one gets into the fire. God permits such situations in our life to strengthen our faith and reveal His glory. Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-Nego, the Hebrew men were thrown bound into the fiery furnace and Nebuchadnezzar saw four men walking in the furnace and exclaimed, ‘and the form of the fourth is like the Son of God’ (Daniel 3:24-25). God hears our prayers always, but the desperate cry of His children when it is beyond their tolerance receives immediate answer. Just as Hannah praised God for being a ‘rock’ we too can bring our heart-cries, our pain, our brokenness and struggles to Him and be assured of an answer. Joseph suffered slavery, false allegation, imprisonment and abandonment, to emerge as a glowing diamond that put everyone else in Pharaoh’s court to shame. It is better not to wait for being thrown into the furnace but get into a close relationship with God now!
A loving father, even when busy with his work, keeps a watch over his toddler child playing near him and jumps up immediately to help the child when he cries out to him in pain. Our Father in heaven is ever keen to bestow His love and blessings on us but waits for us to turn to Him. Most people come to the Redeemer Lord when there is no ray of light in deep darkness all around with no hope. But should one wait for such a situation to develop.