Friday, January 9, 2009

The Beginning of the End of "Those Many Days"

23] During those many days the king of Egypt died, and the people of Israel groaned because of their slavery and cried out for help. Their cry for rescue from slavery came up to God. 24] And God heard their groaning, and God remembered his covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob. 25] God saw the people of Israel--and God knew. Exodus 2:23-25

In Genesis 12 God had given Abraham what has come to be known as the Abrahamic covenant. The covenant promises were then passed down through his son Isaac, Isaac's son Jacob, and then Jacob's twelve sons. Through a series of dramatic events involving a housewife trying to hook up with her pool boy, a dude's brothers tossing him into a well and then selling him into slavery, and one of Jacob's sons having sex and conceiving twins with his pretend-hooker daughter-in-law, the whole family ended up in Egypt. That is how Genesis ends.

Exodus begins years later with Abraham's descendants having multiplied like Bama fans when they finally get out of the cellar. There was hundreds of thousands of Israelites in the foreign country. The present king is freaked out and starts intensely persecuting and oppressing them in fear that they may outgrow the Egyptians and take them over.

Enter Moses....aaaaaand before you know it Moses exits. He kills a man (yep, Moses the murderer) and is forced into exile.

Verse 23 of chapter 2 refers to the time after Moses's exile as "those many days." And apparently they were not a many good days. Affliction and pain continued, and the man who was to lead them was pulling into 80 years old and about to retire from a forty year career of shepherding; and he was in exile. Yes, it was to be Moses.

However, (aha!) this is where we come to Ex. 2:23-25. These few short verses are the turning point of the whole narrative in which God will sovereignly liberate and redeem His people for His glory. Even in respect to the chapter these verses belong to they are short, but even more so in comparison to the whole book of Exodus. Still, they carry with them huge implications for how God works to save His people. His means (or one of His means) of how He will move in that age and our own is revealed to us in a powerful way.

"The people of Israel groaned...and cried out for help."

Wow...that's it. They "groaned"? They "cried"? What about fasting? What about just praying? Or just asking God for help? Groaning and crying seems so...unholy and weak spirited. It must have been the kind of thing King David would speak of years later when he said "The sacrifice of God is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite hear, O God, you will not despise."

And this is clearly what they did to communicate to God as vs. 24 says "God heard their groaning." So it was prayer, but is it much like my own? Or ours as the church? Do I "groan" to God longing for the liberation of His elect? Do I "cry out" to God for the salvation of the unbelieving? Or even my own sanctification, even my own battle to put to death the misdeeds of my body. Do I long to put those things away with this kind of angst?

I guess you can tell this text has impressed upon me the frailty, the superficiality, the futility, the thoughtlessness, the convictionlessness of much of what I consider prayer. Especially in praying for the freedom of those now dead in there sins that are all around me alive in the body.

Where is hope for this perverted sense of what prayer is? Where is hope for those not under the saving grace of God?

I think it is not merely that God answers prayer or that He hears prayer. For it is our prayers that are already demented. Even if I pray, "God help me pray in a pure God-honoring way," that prayer could be sinfully distorted in some way.

I think hope is to be found only in one phrase of this text.

"There cry for rescue from slavery came up to God."

"Up to God." I do not believe one can have any sort of Judeo-Christian view of God and think that this phrase does not have implications. God is above. God is over what is happening in Egypt with Israel. God is orchestrating all things. This situation does not outreach God's dominion. God is sovereign.

Was their pain real? Yes. Will Pharoh be held accountable? Yes. Does any human being have the capacity to say, "I have nailed down the reality of God's sovereignty?" No. As the strict defender of God's absolute sovereignty, A. W. Pink, said, "I often re-learn the sovereignty of God." And I do too not mean to boast in what I believe to have been revealed to me regarding what the Scriptures teach on the sovereignty of God, but rather to boast in the sheer, pure, glorious, free grace of God in the gospel of Christ.

And that is why I post this. That our eyes may be opened, that our hearts may be crushed before the God that "apart from [Him] we can do nothing"!!!

"I tell you the truth, if anyone is to see the kingdom of God (and be liberated from sin)he must be born from above(sovereignly)." Jesus Christ (parentheses mine)

Let's pray.