Week of Jan. 24

God Provides the "Way Out"

Read: Exodus 3-5; Luke 22

“Then the Lord said, ‘I have surely seen the affliction of my people who are in Egypt and have heard their cry because of their taskmasters.’”
Exodus 3:7a, ESV


The power of all false gods is illusory, while the strength of the Lord our God is real and eternal. Ahh! Of course, knowing this fact with our minds does not integrate immediately into life practice. We will see this truth played out in the exodus of Israel from Egypt where they had spent four centuries exposed to polytheism. It continued to influence their faith practices through the centuries.

So, the Book of Exodus communicates the account of two covenant partners—God and Israel. It is a beautiful record of God’s redemptive reach toward humanity in need. The covenant was not only one-sided. Israel learned that it bore responsibility in its relationship with the Heavenly Father and that they were to live as God’s people (Exodus 19:5-6; 24:3). It was well worth their while to do so based upon who God is. There are important lessons for our lives today as we seek to honor the new covenant that Christ initiated (Luke 22:14-20; esp. v. 20).

Let's See What the Bible Says

We learn in Exodus about the character of God as faithful, mighty, saving, and holy (HCBC). We also learn about God through his name, “Yahweh,” which describes him as “I AM.” This name mans that God is present and acts in behalf of his people. Thirdly, we learn about God through his fidelity to the promises that he makes to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. God certainly shows us that he is not distant from his people or uncaring, but that he acts in their behalf. This loving concern holds implications for us today which we will consider in a bit.

These are two important themes in the book. He protected Israel from famine by sending Joseph to Egypt (1:1-7). Even though many Pharaohs ascended to rule and eventually died, God remained the same (1:8). He enabled them to withstand their oppressive slavery (1:8-2:10). Yahweh rescues and saves his people (6:6; 14:3), guides and provides for them (15:13, 25; 16:4, 8), and disciplines and forgives (32:1-34:35) [HCBC]. All of this background gives us a critical awareness of what is packed into our focal verse (see above).

Exodus 3-4 is written in the style known as “Theophany,” or appearance of God, which means that it follows a specific pattern. We do not have enough space today to go into full detail; however, I will point out that God calls the name of the human he addresses (3:4), the person responds (3:4b), God calms human fear and expresses his gracious intent (3:6), speaks his holy word, which raises questions or protest (3:11), then repeats his word (3:12ff.). God visited Moses, his soon-to-be mouthpiece and agent, to announce his intent to save (deliver) his people from slavery and plant them in Canaan (3:8)!

So, what is the point in our feature verse? God did not snap his divine fingers and make the hardship disappear; instead, he builds a road through it while he forged his people into a faith community that was prepared to inhabit the land that he would give to them. Humankind has always sought to find a shortcut to a desired goal. “Exodus” demonstrates God’s caring Lordship through the various trials of his people. All things work together for good when God is in control (Romans 8:28). Douglas Stuart writes of the challenge that is shared by all believers: “to trust that God has always and continues to be concerned about their suffering since in the present fallen world, God allows suffering” (NAC).

Let's Deepen Our Walk

I enjoy watching action moves on occasion, and one of my favorites has been the long-running James Bond series. There is a scene in a recent Bond movie named “Skyfall” where Bond and his friends make a hasty escape via a hidden passageway to find their “way out” of danger. A group of people were trying to kill them. That escape route had been built by James Bond’s father many years prior for just such a need. Bond’s father could not prevent evil from coming their way, but he did provide an ultimate means of escape.

Sometimes we do not see that God has prepared us a “way out,” meaning exodus, until we have “lived out” and “grown up” in respect to our relationship with the Father! Isn’t this moral development at the heart of the faith experience between the giving of a promise (Genesis 12) and the blessing of the Promised Land (Joshua 24:14-18)? Spiritual formation requires more than a final destination. It includes necessary spiritual preparation to inherit that which God has promised.

Let's Think and Discuss

1. We all face hardships in the Christian life (James 1:2-4). They are a necessary part of our growth in Christ. Write down two or three personal trials that you may reflect upon in light of Exodus 3-4. How may God have been preparing you for the future through your past and present trials?

2. For families: Begin a family "God is Faithful" journal. Think about and remember together when you experienced hardships as individuals or as a family together. Briefly jot down each story, with its date, on a different page. Then write what happened when God proved to be faithful to bring about his good plan for you through it. As you add your hardships to this notebook faithfully, and review it every few years, you will have a record of how God has blessed your family. Place this spiritual journal with your will to pass down to your children and their children as a way of honoring God's covenant with your family.

May all your paths be straight,
Larry C. Ashlock