Bible Focus: Exodus 1-4
After a long time, the king of Egypt died. The Israelites groaned because of their difficult labor, they cried out, and their cry for help because of the difficult labor ascended to God. God heard their groaning, and God remembered his covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob. God saw the Israelites, and God knew.Exodus 2:23-25 CSB
One of the paradoxes of our hyper-connected modern life is our tendency to feel alone. These days, we have more options to personally interact with more people in more ways than at any previous time in history. However, these options have not automatically helped us develop deeper, more meaningful relationships. Instead, the opposite is true: by having so many superficial relationships available to us, it’s even more possible to live our life without being deeply known by anyone.
Some might claim to like it that way. After all, deep relationships are messy. They consume our time, pull on our emotions, and require constant work in this current fallen world. Deep relationships are costly.
But deep relationships are also what make life worth living. We all long to be understood, appreciated, and loved. And whether we admit it or not, we want someone to miss us when we are not around, and notice us when we’re having trouble.
Our relational nature didn’t come to us by accident. God designed us to be deeply relational because he is deeply relational. And even though walking closely with God may seem intimidating (and even a bit scary), the most meaningful experience we can have is to truly know the God who wants to have a deep relationship with us.
The people of Israel came from the line of Abram, who was later renamed Abraham. God promised Abraham that he would bring from him a great nation that would bless the whole world (Genesis 12:1-3). God passed those promises to Abraham’s son Isaac, then to Isaac’s son Jacob, who was later renamed Israel.
Israel had twelve sons, and one of these sons, Joseph, became the supreme ruler under Pharaoh in Egypt. Then the entire Israelite clan came to live in Egypt, where they prospered and multiplied. But Joseph eventually died and the Egyptian rulers eventually forgot about him, and they eventually started using Israelites as slave laborers. But when the Israelites continued to multiply, the Pharaoh of that time tried to control the Israelite expansion by making it illegal to let a male Hebrew infant live.
Moses was born into this intensely oppressive environment. He could have easily been killed shortly after he was born. Instead, Moses was adopted by a daughter of Pharaoh and grew up in the royal household. But he was still aware of his Hebrew heritage, and when he was a young man, he deliberately killed an Egyptian who was beating a fellow Hebrew. When Moses’ crime became known, Moses had to flee Egypt and live in Midian, where he married and had a son.
And then one day, as Moses was tending the flock of his father-in-law, he noticed a bush that appeared to be burning continually. As he turned to examine it, God spoke to Moses out of the bush.
When the LORD saw that he had gone over to look, God called out to him from the bush, “Moses, Moses!”
“Here I am,” he answered.
“Do not come closer,” he said. “Remove the sandals from your feet, for the place where you are standing is holy ground.” Then he continued, “I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” Moses hid his face because he was afraid to look at God.
Then the LORD said, “I have observed the misery of my people in Egypt, and have heard them crying out because of their oppressors. I know about their sufferings, and I have come down to rescue them from the power of the Egyptians and to bring them from that land to a good and spacious land, a land flowing with milk and honey—the territory of the Canaanites, Hethites, Amorites, Perizzites, Hivites, and Jebusites. So because the Israelites’ cry for help has come to me, and I have also seen the way the Egyptians are oppressing them, therefore, go. I am sending you to Pharaoh so that you may lead my people, the Israelites, out of Egypt.”Exodus 3:4-10 CSB
If we believe that God exists, then at some point we will probably wrestle with whether God really sees what’s going on in our life and whether he really cares about our trouble and pain. We might even wonder if he really wants to be involved in our life and whether he wants to guide us forward into our best possible future. We might want to believe that the answer to all those questions is “yes,” but how can we really know?
There’s really only one way we can know. God must first reveal himself and invite us to know him, and then we must turn to God and trust him. When Moses first met God, he literally heard God speaking to him out of a burning bush. But we probably won’t experience God that way, because he has given us something much more accessible: the Bible. The Bible is God’s written Word, and his Spirit speaks through it. The Bible teaches us how to truly know God, and it tells us what we truly need from God–the good news of Jesus Christ.
But sometimes we might feel afraid to look too closely at the Bible. It’s a large and complicated book, and let’s be honest, there’s a lot of strange stuff in there. We might fear that we won’t be able to understand what we are reading. Or we might fear that we would understand too much, and then we’d be on the hook for something God wants us to do.
But if we have such fears, then we’d be in fair company. Moses dealt with those fears too. He didn’t always understand what God was telling him, and he definitely wrestled with obeying God at times. But he did not ignore God, and God kept inviting Moses to know him, trust him, and obey him. In the same way, if we want to genuinely know God, then we won’t ignore the Bible. We’ll find a way to read it, meditate on it, and get to know the God that it talks about.
Featured image by Cristofer Maximilian on Unsplash.