Thursday, January 14, 2016

"Questioning God's plan ... then and now ..."

Day #15

Scripture Reading:  Exodus 5 - 8 ...

As you and I go through life we have two options when it comes to God's plan and His promises:  we can question what He is doing and why things are happening as they are, or we can trust Him and believe His promises.  One choice brings frustration and despair; the other brings faith and hope.  The easier and more familiar choice for many is questioning God and getting frustrated as they ask what God is doing and why He is doing it.  The people of Israel, and even Moses, often questioned God as they lived in slavery in Egypt, and who could blame them?  They had been there for four hundred years and were being oppressed by the new Pharaoh.  Why wasn't God doing something?

During times of suffering and trials it can often look as though God is silent, as if He doesn’t hear our prayers, as if He is not at work; but of course, God WAS doing something!  He was at work in the life of Moses, preparing him for all that lay ahead, knowing that in the events that followed God would reveal more about Himself and about His plan to save His people from their slavery to sin through Jesus Christ.  And in the meantime, He was giving strength and hope to those who lived by faith, believing in the promised “Deliverer!”  So God sent Moses and Aaron to Pharaoh, telling him that the God of Israel says, "Let my people go, so that they may hold a festival to me in the desert" (5:1).  Pharaoh responded, "Who is the LORD, that I should obey him and let Israel go?  I do not know the LORD" (5:2).  The result was Pharaoh making their slavery harder by having to gather their own straw to make bricks.  Moses prayed and asked, "O Lord, why have you brought trouble upon this people?  Is this why you sent me?  ... you have not rescued your people at all!"  (5:23).

Questions usually come when we get impatient.  We not only want God to do something, but we want Him to do it on our timetable.  God's answer is important:  "I am the LORD.  I appeared to Abraham, to Isaac and to Jacob as God Almighty, but by my name, the LORD, I did not make myself known to them.  I also established my covenant with them to give them the land of Canaan, where they lived as aliens ..." (6:2-4).  God first reminds Moses of what He has already done, and then, in verses 6-8, God says six times, "I will ..."   He says, "I will free you ... I will redeem you ...  I will take you as my own people, and I will be your God ... And I will bring you to the land I swore with uplifted hand to give to Abraham, to Isaac and to Jacob.  I will give it to you as a possession."

These are the promises God had made to Abraham more than 700 years earlier!  He hadn't forgotten and He had not left His people.  The same is true today for those who believe in the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.  He will do what He says He will do!  God now explained to Moses that He was sending them to Pharaoh to tell him again to let God's people go, and God predicted that He would harden Pharaoh's heart so that He could multiply His miraculous signs and wonders, so that Israel and Egypt would know that HE and He alone was and is God!

Those who trust in the LORD receive all the promises of God through the "Seed" of Abraham, Jesus Christ.  We live in this world, where there is suffering and even death for those who trust in the Lord.  Questions come easily, but we need to rest in the promises God makes to those who are His.  As He did with Israel, so He promises to do for us:  to free us, to redeem us, to take us as His own people, to be our God, to bring us to the promised land and to give it to us as an eternal possession.  As the plagues unfolded, God said, "On that day I will deal differently with the land of Goshen, where my people live ... I will make a distinction between my people and your people" (8:22-23).

There will be another day ... a day when God will make a distinction between His people and those who do not know Him.  Peter writes, "You are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God ... once you were not a people, but now you are GOD’s people"  (I Peter 2:9-10).  Have you trusted in the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob?  Is He YOUR God?  Have you placed your faith in Jesus Christ, the promised "Seed of Abraham"?  God sent His Son to set you free, to redeem you and to bring you into the promised land, and God keeps His promises.

Whatever you are going through today, whatever you will go through in the future, God is and will be with you.  His timetable is always right because He knows how everything fits together.  Asking questions and doubting God will only bring despair.  As the old hymn says, "Trust and obey, for there's no other way to be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey!" 

"Why do you say, O Jacob, and complain, O Israel, 'My way is hidden from the LORD; my cause is disregarded by my God'?  Do you not know?  Have you not heard?  The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth.  He will not grow tired or weary, and His understanding no one can fathom.  He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak.  Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength.  They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint"  (Isaiah 40:27-31).

Trust in the LORD!  You will not be disappointed.  Remember that His ways and thoughts are not the same as ours ... that He is wiser than you and I are.  Commit your ways to the Lord, trust in Him and He will strengthen you for all that happens in your life and finally, take you to be with Him in the promised land - the new heavens and the new earth that lie ahead in the not-so-distant future.  It will happen just as God says!!

"Our Father in heaven, from the beginning You have revealed Your power and wisdom through Your reign over the nations of the world.  Give us faith to trust You as we live in Your presence and rest in Your grace.  You alone are God and we love You and worship You for the gift of salvation through Your Son Jesus Christ.  May my life serve in some way to glorify You.  In Jesus' name, Amen" 

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