These opening Chapters of Exodus present us with such a wide sweep of events covering some 400 years. 400 years have elapsed since the end of Genesis and the situation we read of in Exodus Chapter 2.
Why does God allow this? Why does God permit such suffering? We spent some weeks looking at what has been called the mystery of suffering.
Why did God permit this to happen - and part of that answer must be JUSTICE.
God permitted these Hebrew people to go down to Egypt for food during the time of Joseph, but they should not have remained there.
You can get food in Egypt but you will be blessed in Canaan.
It is JUSTICE when the prodigal son goes from the Father's House and finds it tough - but that is when you can also receive mercy.
There was plenty of food in Egypt - and many Golden Calves - many idols - many attractions to sidetrack and divert.
God had to say to Ezekiel - Has Israel still not got rid of the habits of Egypt?
God was so angry with Israel that He almost left the people there to die - but He showed pity and mercy.
When you step out of the Will of God - He permits you to get into trouble - but He is able to bring you back. This happens when we wander away from Jesus and His Word.
Exodus 2 verses 1 and 2, is the answer to the prayers and cries of the People of God. He has seen their plight and listened to their cries.
Levi - the priestly family - a couple from the priestly family marry. Like marrying like - now we see that all the way through the Bible, and a baby is born.
For the first three months this baby son would have been kept in the woman's part of the house or tent - what a domestic scene. No Egyptian soldier was allowed to enter that area - men were forbidden to enter.
No Egyptian soldier knew what was happening. But can you imagine the anxiety when they heard the soldiers marching up and down - and what drama if the baby cried? From the outside - it looked as if nothing unusual or significant were happening.
But there came that day when she could keep the baby safe no longer - and she placed the baby in the waters of the Nile - and trusted GOD with her baby. Jochabed was bold and courageous and trusting.
She left her child in the place of danger - were she to do this today and be found out she would be arrested! There were many crocodiles. But sister is left watching the scene - what would happen? The princess comes along to bathe - finds the baby crying - feels sorry for him - realises who it is - but she has no idea what she is doing!
Then the sister asks if she should go and get someone to nurse the baby - and mother is brought - and she is told to nurse the child - and she is also told that she would receive wages - for nursing her own son!
Later, we read that the child is named Moses.
Notice the ministry here of FIVE WOMEN - two midwives who are named - Jochabed - Miriam - and the princess.
Even in the House of Pharaoh concern and compassion were still alive - and the princess - like the midwives - was prepared to risk going against the command of Pharaoh.
GOD can organise circumstances - and he can still call upon the most unlikely people to come to our aid. Moses was brought up as a prince in the house of Pharaoh.
Moses knew who he was - a Hebrew - one of the chosen people of God.
One day he went out to where his kith and kin were struggling - and he saw an Egyptian beat a Hebrew - and seeking revenge he looked to see that no-one was watching and he killed the Egyptian - and hid him in the sand.
Next day he saw two Hebrews fighting - and he intervened - only to be met with - “Who do you think you are?" Someone had seen him. You live in a palace - and speak their language - and wear their clothes - you are NOT one of us. Someone had seen him.
We never know who sees us. We never know who is watching us.
It had been the wrong time - the wrong moment - to try to help the Hebrews. It was certainly the wrong manner, and very much the wrong method.
There is a warning here about being rash and impetuous. We must resist trying to take things into our own hands.
The time was not yet ripe. You can know that God is with you - and is going to use you - but the time is not yet ripe - and timing can be vital in any work of God.
In Christ Jesus, we have to learn this. We can learn from errors or mistakes which we or others may make.
Now Pharaoh was after him, and Moses fled. He was zealous, and had to learn patience and meekness. He had to learn humility - these fiery elements in his character which could so easily mould him for the remainder of his life had to be burned out - and where better than the desert.
Moses marries. He married outside the people of God and that caused him trouble in later years. He becomes a shepherd - a man working away on his own in the wilderness - for some 40 years.
Moses was 40 years in Egypt where he was a somebody - living in luxury. Then he spent 40 years in the wilderness where he was a nobody - and then 40 years experiencing what God can do with a nobody.
See the Hand of God in all of this. God can order a man's life before he comes to God. Moses would be familiar with the ways of the palace - he would know Egyptian - and so later could have the ear of Pharaoh.
God prepares and humbles and exalts. God trains his man in the finer things of life and then in the School of the Wilderness for the mighty work lying ahead of him.
There came that day when GOD called him. The next weeks and months are so significant for the entire nation - for the entire future of the work of God.
Moses is to lead this people out of slavery. Jesus Christ comes to lead people out of a different type of slavery.
We remember too that what is important is not just what we are saved from, but what we are saved for! It is not just getting out of - but what He is leading us into.
The people of God cried, and people of God are crying in prayer today.
Sandy Shaw is Pastor of Nairn Christian Fellowship, Chaplain at Inverness Prison, and Nairn Academy, and serves on The Children's Panel in Scotland, and has travelled extensively over these past years teaching, speaking, in America, Canada, South Africa, Australia, making 12 visits to Israel conducting Tours and Pilgrimages, and most recently in Uganda and Kenya, ministering at Pastors and Leaders Seminars, in the poor areas surrounding Kampala, Nairobi, Mombasa and Kisumu.
He broadcasts regularly on WSHO radio out of New Orleans, and writes a weekly commentary at http://www.studylight.org entitled “Word from Scotland" on various biblical themes, as well as a weekly newspaper column.
His M. A. and B. D.degrees are from The University of Edinburgh, and he continues to run and exercise regularly to maintain a level of physical fitness.