Promises to Groaning People

Wall painting from Dura Europos synagogue
Wall painting from Dura Europos synagogue

In Exodus 6, God makes these amazing promises to Israel:

"And God spake unto Moses, and said unto him, I am the LORD: and I appeared unto Abraham, unto Isaac, and unto Jacob, by the name of God Almighty, but by my name JEHOVAH was I not known to them. And I have also established my covenant with them, to give them the land of Canaan, the land of their pilgrimage, wherein they were strangers. And I have also heard the groaning of the children of Israel, whom the Egyptians keep in bondage; and I have remembered my covenant. Wherefore say unto the children of Israel, I am the LORD, and I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians, and I will rid you out of their bondage, and I will redeem you with a stretched out arm, and with great judgments: and I will take you to me for a people, and I will be to you a God: and ye shall know that I am the LORD your God, which bringeth you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians. And I will bring you in unto the land, concerning the which I did swear to give it to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob; and I will give it to you for an heritage: I am the LORD" (2-8).

Wouldn’t a slave love to hear that? Wouldn’t someone in bondage rejoice at the promise of their deliverance? But then we read, “Moses spoke thus to the people of Israel, but they did not listen to Moses, because of their broken spirit and harsh slavery” (6:9). They couldn’t hear the promises because of their present bondage. The future of the believer ought to give him joy in the present. But sometimes the present is so overshadowed with clouds and mist that like the Israelites we don’t see the promises. But that doesn’t mean they aren’t true. The sun is behind the clouds even if we can’t see it. The promises of God did come to pass. They were true, even if the Israelites couldn’t believe them at the moment. We need to remind ourselves that the present is not interpreter of the future. Rather, we should let the future break through upon the present. We should live in presence of the future.

Job was someone who did live this way. In the midst of his horrible losses, he couldn’t find God. He couldn’t see or understand why things had turned out the way they did (Job 23:1-9). But Job didn’t stop there. His faith pierced the darkness: “But he knows the way that I take; when he has tried me, I shall come out as gold” (23:10). Be like Job!

Yes, we live in a crumbling world. It is hard to see the blindness and dullness toward the things of God that so many in our day exhibit. It is hard to see our nation that once gladly owned its Christian heritage now do everything it can to deny it. It is hard to see people look at the Bible and go away without seeing its truth. But we also need to remember that no matter what happens the believer is blessed. Our joy and our future is not a function of the joy and future of those around us or in our circumstances. Christ is our unshakable foundation. And we have therefore every reason to live out a faithful witness in these dark hours, for the darkness will one day give way to the glory and brightness of the kingdom of God.

By: Jeremiah Bass