God Hears Your Cry For Help
The Hebrew people, the family of Jacob, left Canaan during a terrible famine to live in Egypt with Jacob's son, Joseph. Joseph had become endeared to the Pharaoh for his godly counsel which saved Egypt (not to mention the civilized world in this area) from the devastating famine. The Hebrew people prospered greatly both in material wealth and in numbers. But after Joseph's immediate family died, along with the Pharaoh who knew him, another Pharaoh arose who did not know Joseph and cared little for the Hebrew people. They became slaves to the Egyptians. Yet it took 350 years in bondage (ref. Exodus 12:40-41; 2:1; Acts 7:23,30; Exodus 2:23) before they began to cry out to God. But God was watching, listening, and working the whole time.
Scripture: Exodus chapters 1-3
Main Thought: God hears our cries for help and responds quickly -- even though it may seem like a long time to us. He works out His best for us according to His sovereign plan and timetable. And His work is accomplished even when we do not see anything happening.
1. Blinded by prosperity and paganism, the Hebrew people are enslaved by a new ruler.
6 And Joseph died, all his brothers, and all that generation. 7 But the children of Israel were fruitful and increased abundantly, multiplied and grew exceedingly mighty; and the land was filled with them. 8 Now there arose a new king over Egypt, who did not know Joseph. 9 And he said to his people, "Look, the people of the children of Israel are more and mightier than we; 10 "come, let us deal shrewdly with them, lest they multiply, and it happen, in the event of war, that they also join our enemies and fight against us, and so go up out of the land." 11 Therefore they set taskmasters over them to afflict them with their burdens. And they built for Pharaoh supply cities, Pithom and Raamses. 12 But the more they afflicted them, the more they multiplied and grew. And they were in dread of the children of Israel. 13 So the Egyptians made the children of Israel serve with rigor. 14 And they made their lives bitter with hard bondage-- in mortar, in brick, and in all manner of service in the field. All their service in which they made them serve was with rigor. (Exo. 1:6-14, NKJV)The book of Exodus is part of what is called "Torah" or the Law of Moses consisting of the first five books of the Bible -- Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy. Observant Jews today read a passage of the Torah each week to complete its reading in one year -- then they start over. It begins with a connective word translated "Now" in NKJV (Exo. 1:1). So this is a continuation of the story started in Genesis about God choosing the descendents of Abraham through Isaac through Jacob to form a great nation called Israel -- God's chosen people.
In the Nile delta region, the Hebrew people had grown prosperous and multiplied. In verse 7, this phrase suggests an incredible multiplication of Hebrew people: "fruitful, increased abundantly, multiplied and grew exceedingly mighty". As is often the case, their spiritual maturity suffered in the process. Not only did the material prosperity affect their dependence upon God but the pagan culture impacted their understanding of God. Egypt was a pagan nation -- one that worshipped many false gods -- Osiris, god of crops and fertility; Ra (Re), the sun god; Heqet, the frog goddess; Hathor, the cow goddess; and many others.*1 Also, at this point all the original members of Jacob's family have died leaving descendents living in a foreign land with only the promise of a future home in the land of Canaan. This left them quite vulnerable.
Their prosperity and population growth brought fear to the heart of Pharaoh. "Pharaoh" (v.11) means "great house" and referred to the great palace in which the King of Egypt lived. As we often refer to the U.S. Government as the "White House" today, the people of Egypt referred to the Egyptian rule as "Pharaoh" and it eventually became associated with the man himself.
What a pity to fear the very people God had chosen to bless! Egypt had enjoyed years of prosperity due to the work of Joseph. And Joseph made it clear who was responsible for the blessings bestowed on Egypt -- it was God who had called him to this task. Instead of caring for God's people, Pharaoh instead enslaved them. Consider:
Satan is the one who incited Pharaoh to try and destroy the Hebrew people. He knew of God's promise of a Deliverer through this people who would destroy Satan and conquer sin. He wanted to end the line of people who were to give birth to this Deliverer, the Messiah or Christ -- the Savior of all people. Enslaving this people through Pharaoh was a perfect way to control and eliminate them.
The Hebrew people who once were well-to-do were now common slaves. In fact, they were relegated to hard labor, building cities for Pharaoh. It is suggested by some that they also built the pyramids for Pharaoh. There is no evidence to suggest this from the Bible, but nothing to rule it out either. The point, though, is that they had fallen from a prosperous, pleasant life to a life of misery and want. Astoundingly, they did not turn to God for 350 years! Maybe they were living in denial, thinking it would be over soon. But after a few generations, it is most likely that many people had forgotten the promises of God to their forefathers: Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
It is imperative that we do not let prosperity or a pagan culture draw us away from trusting in the LORD God. In Him we can gain wisdom, comfort, healing, and hope for every moment of every day. One of the purposes in gathering together at church is to study God's word that we will not forget Him or His promises. Our generation faces the same temptation as the Hebrew people nearly 4,000 years ago...
2. Burdened beyond hope, the Hebrew people cry out to the One True God who hears our prayers.
23 Now it happened in the process of time that the king of Egypt died. Then the children of Israel groaned because of the bondage, and they cried out; and their cry came up to God because of the bondage. 24 So God heard their groaning, and God remembered His covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob. 25 And God looked upon the children of Israel, and God acknowledged them. (Exo. 2:23-25, NKJV)After so many years of toil and hard labor, the people have had enough. They need relief. They remember the God of their fathers and cry out to Him for help. The Bible says that God:
Just as the Hebrew people of this time were born into slavery, each of us is born a slave to sin and in bondage because of it. It is our fallen nature. But God is merciful and so ...
1 Once you were dead, doomed forever because of your many sins. 2 You used to live just like the rest of the world, full of sin, obeying Satan, the mighty prince of the power of the air. He is the spirit at work in the hearts of those who refuse to obey God. 3 All of us used to live that way, following the passions and desires of our evil nature. We were born with an evil nature, and we were under God's anger just like everyone else. 4 But God is so rich in mercy, and he loved us so very much, 5 that even while we were dead because of our sins, he gave us life when he raised Christ from the dead. (It is only by God's special favor that you have been saved!) ( Eph 2:1-5, NLT)Now from which vantage point did the Hebrew people begin to cry out to the LORD for help and deliverance? Only after years of bondage did they lift their hearts toward heaven. Matthew Henry notes that suffering such as this cannot atone for sin, nor can it make us more moral than before.*2 Yet God frequently permits such events in the life of His children so they will realize their dependence upon Him. Such a difficult problem or time of suffering comes along to cleanse you, to purify your thoughts and center your very being on the only One who can save you -- the LORD Jesus Christ!
So don't wait for the problems or suffering to begin your prayer life -- start now. Get to know today the One who loves you so very much...
3. In the midst of their suffering, God reveals His personal plans to deliver His people.
6 Moreover He said, "I am the God of your father-- the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob." And Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look upon God. 7 And the LORD said: "I have surely seen the oppression of My people who are in Egypt, and have heard their cry because of their taskmasters, for I know their sorrows. 8 "So I have come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians, and to bring them up from that land to a good and large land, to a land flowing with milk and honey, to the place of the Canaanites and the Hittites and the Amorites and the Perizzites and the Hivites and the Jebusites. 9 "Now therefore, behold, the cry of the children of Israel has come to Me, and I have also seen the oppression with which the Egyptians oppress them. 10 "Come now, therefore, and I will send you to Pharaoh that you may bring My people, the children of Israel, out of Egypt." (Exo. 3:6-10, NKJV)God called a man named Moses to lead the Hebrew people out of bondage in Egypt. Next week, we will explore how God prepared Moses for the task of leadership. Speaking to Moses from a burning bush, God acknolwedged the plight of the Hebrews and His plan to deliver them. He also reaffirmed His promise to give them the land of Canaan -- what we refer to as the "Promised Land".
The thing that is most striking in this passage is the the personal nature of God's response to this situation. Look at the repeated "I" statements by the LORD God:
God Himself said that He would "come down" to deliver the people. Since God is spirit in nature and everywhere-present, it is clear this is a figure of speech. It refers to God's personal involvement in the lives of His children. God "comes down" to us in the sense of being actively involved in our own problems and trials. God will not leave you alone but will come to you and help out personally.
One must ask, then why did God wait four hundred years to get involved? Gen. 15:16 reveals God's plan to judge the Canaanites for their sin. But He withheld His judgment for four hundred years, giving them ample time to repent. But they did not. So God gave the land to the Israelites to fulfill His promise and as a judgment of the Canaanites. He accomplished both at the same time in His infinite wisdom and sovereign plan.
Consider this when you are going through a trial that seems like it will never end:
Remember, He was at work behind the scenes the entire time the Hebrew people were in Egypt, even before they cried for help. God had His plan worked out all along. So keep this eternal perspective at the forefront of your thinking -- your trial and hardship may be paving the way for someone else's salvation. God may SEEM that He doesn't care about you, but He is quite busy at work to bring out the best for ALL of His children in the process. God sees, God hears, and God works!
Reflect on YOUR life: All those times in your life that God seemed distant and unconcerned are, in reality, an earthly perspective of a heavenly plan. If we look at things from the perspective of "ME" we will lose sight of all that God is accomplishing. On the other hand, if we try to see the big picture, we can take some comfort in the fact that God does see what is going on in our lives and that He is at work in it. I say we can take SOME comfort because it will not always be clear during the trial what God is trying to accomplish. This is where faith clashes with reality. While the trial or suffering may be bigger than anything we can handle, by faith we trust that it is not bigger than God can handle. As the Apostle Paul stated, "For we walk by faith, not by sight." (2 Cor 5:7, NKJV) Are you living by faith in your trial?
Put you faith and trust at all times in the living LORD Jesus Christ who cares for you and gave Himself up for you. His death on the cross for your sins was not just to bring you forgiveness but also to make you a child of God. In Christ you belong to the LORD God. And just as a parent is concerned about all that his child experiences, you can rest assured that God is all the more concerned about you!
*1 Walvoord, John F. and Zuck, Roy B., "The Bible Knowledge Commentary",
USA: Victor Books, c 1985, p. 120.
Copyright 1999, Randy Lariscy.