|Series Theme: Meditations in Lessons from Israel|
Meditation No. 8
Meditation Title: God of Strategy
Ex 3:18 -20 "The elders of Israel will listen to you. Then you and the elders are to go to the king of Egypt and say to him, `The LORD , the God of the Hebrews, has met with us. Let us take a three-day journey into the desert to offer sacrifices to the LORD our God.' 19 But I know that the king of Egypt will not let you go unless a mighty hand compels him. 20 So I will stretch out my hand and strike the Egyptians with all the wonders that I will perform among them. After that, he will let you go.
Let's sum up the lesson here and then work through it in detail: God has plans and God knows what He's doing! Some silly people like to portray God as an old man, with the inference of senility, but that is not the God revealed through the Bible. Our God is Creator of all things (whether He took hundreds of millions or years or thousands of years is, frankly, irrelevant!). He designed this world, He knows all about it, and He has the power to change it when He wants to. He is all-knowing and all-wise. He knows everything there is to know about every person – who they are, what they are like, how they will respond and so on. That is what the Bible reveals to us about God, and so we shouldn't be surprised about anything we find in our passage above.
The Lord has just instructed Moses to go back to Egypt and meet with the Israelite elders: “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, … - a land flowing with milk and honey.” (3:16,17) Those are his ‘marching orders'. Go and tell the Israelite leaders that you've met me and that I've said I'll deliver them. But the Lord didn't stop there because He knew what the response would be because, as we've just said, the Lord knows all about us and He knows how we'll react. Thus we come to our verses today.
“The elders of Israel will listen to you.” That's a good starting place. There's going to come more as Moses worries out the questions on his mind, but for the time being that is a good start: the leaders will listen to you! But next comes what he and the elders are to do: “Then you and the elders are to go to the king of Egypt and say to him, `The LORD , the God of the Hebrews, has met with us. Let us take a three-day journey into the desert to offer sacrifices to the LORD our God.” That is to be the point of confrontation with Pharaoh. It wasn't a demand to totally let the Israelites go, just to let them go out into the desert to worship their God.
But now God shows that He is a God who knows people: “But I know that the king of Egypt will not let you go unless a mighty hand compels him.” God knows what Pharaoh is like. It isn't like God is sending Moses into a situation where he is blind to the facts of the case. Oh no, the facts are quite simple: Pharaoh is a proud and powerful man and his nation is seriously into the occult with all their worship of different ‘gods' (as will become clear further along in the story) and such people don't take kindly to being told what to do. Oh no, Pharaoh is going to dig his heels in because he thinks he is boss and he has yet to learn that he's not!
So is God going to give up at that point? No He's not! God is a planner and a strategist. God, as we've now said a couple of times, knows people and knows exactly how they will act, so nothing in the following chapters is going to come as a surprise to Him. We're going to see that it comes as a surprise to Moses but that is just because Moses isn't very good at listening! Now don't be upset at that; just ask yourself how good at listening to God you are. How many times do we have to hear something preached or something prophesied before we take it in?
No, at the moment Moses is more concerned about why it shouldn't be him doing this, and because of that perhaps, he doesn't fully take in all that the Lord is telling him – but the Lord can live with that, because He knows Moses as well! Yet God has a simple strategy to deal with Pharaoh's intransigence: “So I will stretch out my hand and strike the Egyptians with all the wonders that I will perform among them. After that, he will let you go.” There it is! Simple! Pharaoh will refuse, I'll do some stuff, and he'll let you go! From God's perspective it IS simple because He is Almighty God and Pharaoh is just a puny man. The outcome has been decided before it all starts. See that,; it is crucial! If only Moses could have understood that from the start it would have saved him a lot of heartache. But then the same applies to us.
When we enter a course of action at the Lord's command, the outcome is decided before we start – if God has said it. Yes, there may be a number of bumps along the road, but God knows about them and He's taken them into account. The reason He allows them is first, because He's given free will to silly people, and so there may be opposition along the way and, second, because He wants to teach us some things along the way. We are going to get changed along the road and become more like His children. It's all part of the learning process. What fun! Well not always! Learning is a bit hard sometimes when the Lord has to free us from our silly ways of thinking. But then He knows us, and He still loves us. Rejoice in that when you don't cope with the bumpy road along the way! He's got a strategy and it does take all of that into account. Don't worry; you're going to get there! God isn't committed to failure!