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An Easier Way?

The journey to the promised land was a long, hard road. I am not just talking about the forty years in the wilderness. Long before that trial when Abraham didn’t even have a son, God told him that his descendants would suffer many years in another country. “Know certainly that your descendants will be strangers in a land that is not theirs, and will serve them, and they will afflict them four hundred years” (Gen. 15:13). That land was Egypt.

The baby nation of Israel found a warm welcome in Egypt when Joseph was alive. But as years passed things changed. People forgot about what Joseph had done for the country. Then “there arose a new king over Egypt, who did not know Joseph” (Exod. 1:8). He felt threatened by the growing population of these Hebrews so he “set taskmasters over them to afflict them with their burdens” (Exod. 1:11). When that didn’t work, he tried to kill the newborn Hebrew males (Exod. 1:15-22).

Eventually that king of Egypt died. “Then the children of Israel groaned because of the bondage, and they cried out; and their cry came up to God because of the bondage. So God heard their groaning, and God remembered His covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob. And God looked upon the children of Israel, and God acknowledged them” (Exod. 2:23-25). The Lord sent Moses to deliver them out of Egypt with great signs and wonders the likes of which none of them had ever seen.

After forty years in the desert and many failures and deaths, the merciful God of heaven brought them to their home in the book of Joshua.

Why didn’t God do this earlier? He had the power to do that. Abraham was in the land of Canaan when God made the promise. Why didn’t he and his descendants just remain in Canaan? The Israelites would have been spared over four hundred years of suffering.

You have to read the verses after Genesis 15:13 and the rest of the Old Testament to begin to understand why. The Bible would be much different if God had bypassed the whole episode of Egyptian bondage. But that would have defeated His plan for all of mankind—to prepare the way to bring the Messiah into the world to die for our sins, to establish His kingdom the church, and to complete the revelation of Scripture by giving the New Testament.

If you had been an Israelite in Egypt, you would have thought the most important thing in the world was for God to relieve your pain. But there was a much bigger picture. That is true today. It’s not all about our troubles. God knows the future. He knows what He is doing for all who are involved and He knows the best way to do it. We need to be humble and trust that the God of all the earth will do right.

Kerry Duke

West End church of Christ, July 7, 2024

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