Saturday, January 9, 2010

He hears the cry... and SO SENDS!

Exodus 2:23-3:10

"During that long period the king of Egypt died. The Israelites groaned in their slavery and cried out, and their cry for help because of their slavery went up to God. God heard their groaning and He remembered His covenant with Abraham, with Isaac and with Jacob. So God looked on the Israelites and was concerned about them.

Now Moses was tending the flock of Jethro his father-in-law, the priest of Midian, and he led the flock to the far side of the desert and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. There the angel of the Lord appeared to him in flames of fire from within a bush. Moses saw that though the bush was on fire it did not burn up. So Moses thought, "I will go over and see this strange sight - why the bush does not burn up." When the Lord saw that he had gone over to look, God called to him from within the bush, "Moses! Moses!" And Moses said, "Here I am." "Do not come any closer, " God said. "Take off your sandals, for the place you are standing is holy ground." Then He said, "I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob." At this Moses hid his face, because he was afraid to look at God. The Lord said, "I have indeed seen the misery of My people in Egypt. I have heard them crying out because of their slave drivers, and I am concerned with their suffering. So I have come down to rescue them from the hand of the Egyptians and to bring them up out of that land into a good and spacious land.... the cry of the Israelites has reached Me, and I have seen the way the Egyptians are oppressing them. So now, go, I am sending you to Pharaoh to bring My people.. out of Egypt."

If we could zoom in and out on the scene at will, and if we could get an aerial view of the picture to see as God saw and what He did, we would see:

First... we would zoom in on God's people in Egypt. We'd see their misery and see them crying. And then we would zoom our focus off of them and into Heaven to see what God hears and sees. After that we would zoom out and in (again) onto God's focus on His people in bondage.

God saw the harsh oppression and the misery that His people were under at the hand of their slave drivers, He heard their cries for help, and He was "concerned about them."

I love the way the KJV version in verse 2:23 words it: "The children of Israel sighed by reason of the bondage, and they cried, and their cry came up unto God...."

They "sighed." They "groaned (in pain or grief)." They "gasped." They "moaned."

Haven't you heard it? Perhaps you've done it yourself? That constant heavy sighing from a heart so heavy and a soul so weary without you even being conscious of your doing it - you sigh, you groan, you gasp, you moan?

I've found myself doing it in my seasons of weary and hurt and pain. And I've heard it in others. It's an exasperated breath that expels from the burden laid so heavy upon a hurting heart that it pushes the breath out with a force in a loud blow; and with the lungs collapsed it is forced to pull air back in again in an exaggerated effort to replenish its fill, then it blows out its heaviness again... into a sighing cycle of breathing. The Israelites "sighed" because of their "bondage." They were tired of their labor. They were worn-out and weary of serving the taskmasters that embittered and enslaved them. And they cried! And their cry for help went up to God. And God heard them. And He looked... He saw.. He perceived… He observed with scrutiny… He gave attention to… He looked intently at them in their misery and at their suffering at the hand of their slave drivers. And He was concerned for and about them. The Hebrew word for concerned actually means: to know. God looked... and He knew! So then He............

Secondly... we would then zoom out from the misery of God's people in Egypt and immediately go to a place in Midian and zoom in on a tiny spot in a field to a bush and Moses at Mt. Horeb:

God has great concern for His people that are crying out in Egypt. So God looks to find Moses. He's tending his father-in-law's sheep at Mt. Horeb. Moses is minding his own business as he tends his flock (he's been doing it for 40 years), when God meets and talks to him there out of a bush that's on fire yet one that's not burning. God tells Moses about the suffering and the cries and the misery that He's heard and seen from His people enslaved by the masters they serve. He tells Moses that He is concerned about them, so He has come down to rescue them. He tells Moses that He's made plans to bring them up out of that place (that land of slavery), and has plans to move them to a spacious place (a land flowing with milk and honey). And then God tells Moses to "Go"... "for I am sending you to bring My people out."

The faithfulness and love and concern and care and help and provision seen in our God, our Creator, and our Father completely amazes me. He cares when we hurt. He hears when we cry. And He really is concerned with our suffering. He heeds to our voices.... even when we have no idea in all of this world that He's listening. While we're still in our dark, still deep in our despair, still overwhelmed in our oppression, still doomed in distress... He is making plans for His rescue. He seeks the way to release. He looks for the man that He'll use for His plan to deliver. While we're hung over in our desolation, He's gathering and preparing the Calvary in which His help will come. While the Israelites are still slaved to their masters in misery, God was telling Moses about the situation and doing His dead-level best to convince Moses that 'yes, he really is' the man for the job! Of course, Moses was arguing about his inadequacies and telling God all the "whys" that he really was not, and God kept reminding him that He would be going with him. While the Israelite were still moaning in their misery and anguishing in their despair and crying out for some compassion; God (inflamed a bush with fire) seemed to be having a bit of a persuasion problem with Moses. Perhaps next time you think you've been waiting a long time for God about something, you might want to start wondering who it is that He's having such a problem with in sending?

Hear a little of how their conversation kind of went while Moses bowed shoeless with his face to the ground and God talked to him through the fire in a bush.
  • God: I've seen My people, Moses. They're miserable! I've heard them crying. I can't stand it, I've got to go rescue them! I'm going to deliver them from their oppression so they don't have to live that way any longer. I'm going to set them free. Moses, I want you to go. I'm sending you to bring my people out.
  • Moses: Oh my goodness, You've got to be kidding! Who in the world am I that I should go?
  • God: I'll go with you.
  • Moses: But suppose I go and they ask me who sent me?
  • God: Tell them I AM that I AM. Tell them I did, Moses! The elders will listen to you.
  • Moses: But what if they don't?
  • God: Will it make you feel better if I send you with some miracles? Throw that staff of yours down....................
  • Moses: Buuuuut I've never been good at speaking before. I have a hard time saying what I want to say.
  • God: I made your mouth, Moses. Now go. I'll help you speak, okay. I'll tell you what to say.
  • Moses: Oh Lord, please, send somebody else to do it.
We'll never know what all goes on in all kinds of places that God is doing for our benefit to help us while we're crying... as He readies for our rescue. Here, let me give you a few more examples:

"From the east, I summon a bird of prey; from a far-off land, a man to fulfill My purpose. What I have said, that will I bring about; what I have planned, that will I do." (Isaiah 46:11)

"I looked for a man among them who would build up the wall and stand before Me in the gap on behalf of the land so I would not have to destroy it...." (Ezekiel 22:30)

"So go. I am sending you to Pharaoh to bring My people...out..." (Exodus 3:10)

"...the Lord said to Moses, "Get up early in the morning and confront Pharaoh.. and say to him, "This is what the Lord says: Let My people go, so that they may worship Me. If you will not let My people go, behold, I will send swarms of flies on you and your officials, on your people and into your houses..." (Exodus 8:20-21)

"Let My people go, so that they may worship Me, or this time I will send the full force of my plagues against you...." (Exodus 9:13-14)

"You still set yourself against My people and will not let them go. Therefore, at this time tomorrow I will send the worst hailstorm that has ever fallen on Egypt..." (Exodus 9:17-18)

""See, I am sending an angel ahead of you to guard you along the way and to bring you to the place I have prepared."" (Exodus 23:20)

"I will send my fear before thee, and will destroy all the people to who thou shalt come, and I will make all thine enemies turn their backs unto thee." (Exodus 23:27)

"And I will send hornets before thee, which shall drive out the Hivite, the Canaanite, and the Hittite, from before thee." (Exodus 23:28)

"The Lord replied, "My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest..."" (Exodus 33:14-17)

"About this time tomorrow I will send you a man from the land of Benjamin. Anoint him leader over My people Israel; he will deliver My people from the hand of the Philistines. I have looked upon My people, for their cry has reached Me." (1 Samuel 9:16)

"The Lord said to Samuel, "How long will you mourn for Saul, since I have rejected him as king over Israel? Fill your horn with oil and be on your way; I am sending you to Jesse of Bethlehem. I have chosen one of his sons to be king." (1 Samuel 16:1)

""And now, do not be distressed and do not be angry with yourselves for selling me here, because it was to save lives that God sent me ahead of you... God sent me ahead of you to preserve for you a remnant of earth and to save your lives by a great deliverance. So then, it was not you who sent me here, but God." (Genesis 45:5-8)

"The Lord turned to him and said, "Go in the strength you have and save Israel out of the Midian's hand. Am I not sending you?" (Judges 6:14)

"Now the word of the Lord came unto Jonah.. saying, Arise, go to Ninevah, that great city, and cry against it; for their wickedness is come up before Me. But Jonah rose up to flee unto Tarshish from the presence of the Lord, and went down to Joppa; and went down to Joppa; and he found a ship going to Tarshish: so he paid the fare thereof, and went down into it, to go with them unto Tarshish from the presence of the Lord. But the Lord sent out a great wind into the sea.... They took Jonah, and cast him forth into the sea: and the sea ceased from her raging.... Now the Lord had prepared a great fish to swallow up Jonah. And Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights. Then Jonah prayed unto the Lord his God out of the fish's belly,....And the Lord spake unto the fish, and it vomited out Jonah upon the dry land. And the word of the Lord came unto Jonah a second time, saying, Arise, go unto Ninevah.. and preach unto it the preaching that I bid thee. (Jonah 1-3)

Acts 9 starts out with Saul breathing out murderous threats against the Lord's people, but on his journey to Damascus he's met and blinded by a great light with the Lord talking to him in it. "And as he journeyed, he came near Damascus: and suddenly there shined round about him a light from heaven: And he fell to the earth, and heard a voice saying unto him, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou Me? And he said, Who art Thou, Lord? And the Lord said, I am Jesus Whom thou persecutest… And he trembling and astonished said, Lord, what wilt Thou have me to do? And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the city, and it shall be told thee what thou must do. And the men which journeyed with him stood speechless, hearing a voice, but seeing no man. And Saul arose from the earth; and when his eyes were opened, by the hand, and brought him into Damascus. And he was three days without sight, and neither did eat nor drink. And there was a certain disciple at Damascus, named Ananias; and to him said the Lord in a vision, Ananias. And he said, Behold, I am here, Lord. And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the street which is called Straight, and enquire in the house of Judas for one called Saul, of Tarsus: for, behold he prayeth.... Then Ananias answered, Lord, [here we go again!] I have heard by many of this man, how much evil he hath done to thy saints at Jerusalem.... But the Lord said unto him, Go thy way: for he is a chosen vessel unto Me, to bear My name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel."

After reading such a sweet picture of God displayed first in Exodus and then all throughout other Scriptures can you see how He 'sends' to help in answers to the cries that come up before Him? I especially love the last batch of verses that tells of the Lord focusing on Saul as he focuses on going to Damascus where he plans to arrest and have Christians put to death... yet instead God has fitted him for another purpose. The Lord stops Saul in his tracks, blinds him in order to help him to see, and the minute he prays He calls out to Ananias to "Go! For behold he prayeth!"

Never ever underestimate the power of prayer. Never ever assume that they unnoticed and go unheard. Just because you can't see anything different or any help coming your way doesn't mean that God hasn't set in motion all kinds of things because (after all) "behold, you prayeth" and your cry has reached Him... so He looks for the man that He'll send in order to help you.

I cannot resist from giving you one more example so close to home and then I'll hush. As I tell it, note the hops and places along the way. About 10 years ago my dad was a very sick man lying in a hospital bed in Montgomery, Alabama with a heart too sick for surgery and colon cancer that was threatening to kill him. The doctor's gave my daddy an "8%" chance to live and basically sent him home to die. Meanwhile, as daddy was headed back home, a man was coming from Russia to visit my uncle just down the road from where my daddy lived. My uncle told this Russian man about my daddy after he'd gotten here, and the Russian told my uncle that he must go talk to him... "Take me to him. I MUST go talk to him NOW! No doubt," he said, "this is the very reason that I've come." And so this Russian man came to our house and told my daddy of his own experience with his battle with cancer. He told daddy about a place in San Diego, California, that could treat the disease that my daddy had been diagnosed to die with. So the "walking dead man" (as they called my daddy) got well enough to track the journey to California to the doctors that God used to heal him. You can't live with what he went through and not have Scriptures like this one radiate truth before your eyes: "From the east, I summon a bird of prey; from a far-off land, a man to fulfill My purpose.." (Isaiah 46:11)

I'll leave you with my prayer for each on of you that reads this (found penned in Psalm 20).

"May the Lord answer you when you are in distress;
may the name of the God of Jacob protect you.
May He send you help from the sanctuary
and grant you support from Zion.
May He remember all your sacrifices
and accept your burnt offerings.

May He give you the desire of your heart
and make all your plans succeed….
May the Lord grant all your requests…
Some trust in chariots and some in horses,
but we trust in the name of the Lord our God
....Oh Lord.. answer us when we call."

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