As we enter the Passover season, we remember the Exodus. The Hebrews had been in Egypt 400 years when Moses approached the burning bush and received God's call to bring the people out of Egypt. When Moses asked what name he should use to refer to God, God answered, “I AM THAT I AM…Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you” (Ex. 3:14).
It's good to know that God is the great I AM, and not the great I USED TO BE. He is “a very present help in trouble” (Ps. 46:1). We need to know Him as the God who is presently active in our lives, and not just as the God who use to do stuff in past centuries and will someday do stuff again in the future. He is the God of the present as well as of the past and future. This knowledge that God is the ever-present I AM is comforting. But this knowledge can make life difficult when God's timing makes the great I AM seem more like the great I MIGHT BE.
Sometimes we find ourselves stuck in a difficult situation. We need the Lord to get us out of it. We need an Exodus, a way out. We pray, but the Lord does not move soon enough to meet our expectations. We wonder why God doesn't do something to get us out of the mess we are in. We pray and trust and wait and hope, but it seems like the Lord is in no hurry to move on our behalf.
Why does the Lord so often wait so long to deliver us from our suffering and misery? That's a very good question, and one for which I have no answer. The reason for God's timing is God's secret. I sometimes wonder why He waited about 400 years before He sent Moses to save the Hebrews from Egypt. I also wonder why He waited almost 4,000 years before He sent His Son to save us from our sins.
I have no answer to these “Why?” questions. I only know that the reasons for the delay have something to do with God's timing. Galatians 4:4 says that “when the fullness of the time was come, God sent forth His Son.” The Apostle Paul gave no information to help us understand how God determined when the fullness of time had arrived; he simply states that God's Son came when the fullness of time was come.
Waiting for God to bring about an Exodus from suffering can be very difficult, whether the suffering is physical, mental, or emotional. It can be very difficult to trust God and wait, but who else or what else can be trusted? We have to continue to trust not only in Him, but also in His timing. Moses had a vision of himself as Israel's deliverer. The vision was of God, but it came to pass forty years later than Moses expected it to. (See Acts 7:25). We may have a genuine vision of God, but we have to wait until God's appointed time for the vision to be fulfilled.
The Prophet Habakkuk speaks about God's appointed time for the fulfillment of a vision. “For the vision is yet for an appointed time, but at the end it shall speak, and not lie; though it tarry, wait for it; because it will surely come, it will not tarry” (Hab.2:3).
Another difficulty in life is getting our hopes up that things are finally going to improve, only to experience the bitter disappointment of seeing the situation go from bad to worse. The Lord builds up our hopes, and we expect things to get better. But instead of getting better, they actually get worse. It seems like the Lord lifts us up with hope, only to let us be thrown down with disappointment.
This choice does not seem fair, but it is exactly what the Hebrews experienced in Egypt. Moses returned to Egypt with the wonderful news that the Lord was finally going to rescue them from their slavery. Moses and Aaron performed the miraculous signs for the people so that they would know that the Lord had truly spoken to Moses and authorized him to lead the people out of Egypt. The people believed and rejoiced. But when Moses and Aaron told Pharaoh that Yahweh said to let the Hebrews go. Pharaoh refused to cooperate. He just said “Who is Yahweh, that I should obey his voice to let Israel go? I know not Yahweh, neither will I let Israel go.”
Then to make matters worse, Pharaoh decided that the Hebrew slaves would no longer be provided with the straw they needed for their brick-making. They would now have to go out and collect their own straw, but they would still be expected to meet the same daily quota of bricks as before. When they failed to meet the quota, they were beaten by the cruel taskmasters.
It is very disappointing when the Lord gives us hope, and then things get worse instead of better. When this happens, we need to remind ourselves that this may just be the Devil's one last desperate attempt to hold onto the ground which he is about to loose.
This “one last desperate attempt” principle is stated in Revelation 12:12 “the Devil is come down unto you, having great wrath, because he knoweth that he hath but a short time.” This principle can also be seen in the accounts of Yeshua casting out demons. The demons would sometimes cause their victims to excessively thrash about and foam at the mouth. Yeshua's presence initially seemed to make the situation worse instead of better. But the reason for the demon's rage was because they knew that their time was short.
When Satan knows he is about to suffer a defeat, he turns up the heat. So if the lord has given you hope of deliverance, and the Devil is turning up the heat, this might be a sign that you deliverance is nearer than you think. Moses prayed to the Lord about Pharaoh’s actions, and the Lord said to Moses, “Now shalt thou see what I will do to Pharaoh” (Ex. 6:1). If we continue to pray and trust and wait, we will eventually see what God will do to Satan.
Another difficulty is learning to trust in God's tools rather than in the world's toys. As a prince of Egypt, Moses had worldly power, worldly wealth, and worldly wisdom. He was “learned in all the ways of Egyptians, and was mighty in words and in deeds” (Acts 7:22). Moses may have been an eloquent speaker when he was “full forty years old” in Egypt, but sometime between then and the time of his encounter with the burning bush, the Lord apparently took away Moses’ natural eloquence. At the burning bush Moses said, “I am not eloquent, neither heretofore, nor since Thou hast spoken unto thy servant: but I am slow of speech, and of a slow tounge (Ex. 4:10).
God stripped Moses of his natural eloquence and of all his worldly power and wealth. These were not the tools Moses would use to deliver the Hebrews. The Lord was going to choose something else, something that would seem foolish compared to the worldly glory and power of Egypt.
“What is that in thine hand?” the Lord asked Moses.
“A rod,” Moses replied.
A shepherd's staff, a stick of dead wood. That would be the tool Moses would use. Later, in Exodus 4:20, this same rod is called “the rod of God.” The rod of Moses was transformed into the rod of God. But before this could happen, Moses had to cast it down to the ground. When it hit the ground, it became a serpent. Moses naturally fled from it. The Lord told Moses to take it by the tail. Moses feared the snake, but he feared God even more, so he did as he was told. And behold, the serpent became a rod again.
A rod represents whatever it is that you lean on, whatever you hold onto for security. What do you lean on? What do you hold on to for security? In the case for Moses, the rod represented his profession. Some career people trust more in their jobs than they do in the Lord. Some rich folks depend on their big bank accounts for their security. Some survivalists trust in their survivalist skills and their stockpiles of food, guns, and ammunition. Naturally-gifted people sometimes lean on their natural abilities to solve problems. Some insecure people find their security by being control freaks. If you are leaning on anything other than the Lord, you need to cast that rod down. “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart, and lean not unto thine own understanding” (Prov. 3:5).
What is the significance of Moses’ rod becoming a serpent? Perhaps this is to teach us that anything we knowingly withhold from the Lord has within it the nature of the Serpent. If we knowingly refuse to surrender something to the Lord, our refusal provides the Serpent a place to set up headquarters in our life. If the Lord tells us to surrender something and we refuse to do so, we are in effect setting out the welcome mat for the Serpent.
Moses fled in horror when he saw the Serpent that had been “hidden” in his rod. We want to flee in horror when the sinful nature of our heart is exposed, when “the works of the flesh are manifest” (Gal. 5:19) by sinful words that come out of our mouths or by sinful deeds that are done by our hands. We want to run away from the situation rather than face up to it and turn it over and let Him deal with it.
The moral problem of fallen man's sinful heart is also pictured in Moses’ encounter at the burning bush. After Moses’ rod was de-snaked, the Lord told Moses “Put now thine hand into thy bosom.” Moses did so, and when he took his hand out, it was leprous.
“Put thine hand into thy bosom again,” God said. Moses did it again, and his hand came out with the leprosy gone.
This is a beautiful picture of God taking away the old sinful heart, which defiles even the hand that touches it, and giving a man a new heart. First God de-snaked Moses’ rod, then He de-snaked Moses’ heart.
“Thy rod and Thy staff they comfort me” (Ps. 23:4). If you are leaning on any rod other than the Lord's, if there is anything you are knowingly withholding from the Lord, if there is any area of your life that you knowingly refuse to surrender to the Lord's will, cast down that rod. Surrender it to the Lord. Let Him de-snake it and give you a new heart.
Read more about The Holiday Of Passover.
Written by Daniel Botkin for Gates of Eden newsletter. March-April 2006. Reposted with permission.
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Dr. Daniel Botkin
Gates of Eden Publication
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