“Go, assemble the elders of Israel and say to them, ‘The Lord, the God of your fathers — the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob — appeared to me and said: I have watched over you and have seen what has been done to you in Egypt. And I have promised to bring you up out of your misery in Egypt into the land of the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites — a land flowing with milk and honey.'” — Exodus 3:16-17 (NIV84)
For over 400 years, Jacob’s descendants had been enslaved in Egypt. God brought them (70 in all) to Egypt through miraculous workings through the life of Joseph. Jacob’s entire family survived a terrible famine because of Joseph’s care in Egypt. But 400 years later things had changed quite a bit. The new Pharaoh didn’t remember the works of Joseph that helped the Egyptian nation survive the famine as well. He became threatened by the people of Israel and began to put them under heavy persecution. These years, these decades, had to be miserable for the Israelites. I am certain they cried and wailed for God to do something about their suffering, but things just continued to get worse. The history of a personal God touching the lives of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob must have been reduced to stories and mythology to some.
Have you ever been through the wringer and God seemed to be strangely absent from your experience? Are you going through one of those times now? Listen to what God tells Moses about the condition of the Israelites, “I have watched over you and have seen what has been done to you in Egypt.” You see, all along God was fully aware of what the people were experiencing. We need to always remember that even when God is silent, He is NOT distant. Just as He was with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob throughout their lives, He will be with us throughout our lives. You want proof that God was with them even through their time of heavy persecution? Just take a look at how largely blessed they became while in Egypt. Exodus 12:37-38 tells us that when the Israelites left Egypt they left as a group counting over 600,000 men (not including the women and children and many herds and flocks). In 430 years, God provided for them so well that they became the size of a small nation. There had to be well over 1 million people who left Egypt after the 10th plague.
Listen, we may not always understand why it is we go through the things we do, but we can be certain that God is with us. He sees and hears us. At the right time, He will act with compassion to redeem and rescue us.