I am the Lord, and I will bring you out from under the yoke of the Egyptians. I will free you from being slaves to them, and I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with mighty acts of judgment. I will take you as my own people, and I will be your God. Then you will know that I am the Lord your God, who brought you out from under the yoke of the Egyptians. And I will bring you to the land I swore with uplifted hand to give to Abraham, to Isaac and to Jacob. I will give it to you as a possession. I am the Lord.’
The Israelites knew their God, Jehovah, was capable of great things; he had appeared to Abraham, to Isaac and Jacob, they knew that he had promised them a land of their own. So when Moses told them that God was about to fulfil this promise, you’d have thought they would have been all for it. When Moses recounted the words “I will release you from your labours in Egypt. I will rescue you from slavery there”, and most wonderful of all “I will adopt you as my people” you would imagine they would have praised God and packed their bags there and then. But no. Instead they refused to listen, they turned their back on God, because they had become impatient because of their cruel slavery.
Because their situation was difficult, because their lives were hard, they did not believe God really cared. And who can blame them? If we’re really honest, how many of us are like them? When life is as it should be, we are more willing to praise God, but I know that when life’s hard, when there’s a week’s worth of lessons to prepare, the cats have all been sick at the same time, my back is killing me and the washing machine is leaking I’m afraid my mind doesn’t turn automatically to God. And really, to many people those are just minor troubles. Would I be able to praise God when my country was overrun by rebels, or when I had seen my family die of starvation, or when I faced death? Would I even believe in God?
I hope I would. I pray I would. I pray I could follow the example of Jesus, who in the Garden of Gethsemane did not list everything that was wrong, and spend time being self pitying. Yes, he went through agonies of prayer, and no doubt faced the dilemmas of belief and anguish, but all the while there were the words “Not my will, but thine” Throughout it all, even at the very worst times, he never doubted his God.
We have seen the glory of God’s love for us; we know that he loved us so much that he would die for us, we know that the most high Lord of all can be as a loving caring daddy, we know that there is the promise of glory awaiting us.
How then can we be as the Israelites? Yes, our slavery may be cruel and our lives may be hard, but we should never doubt that our God loves us, and that, as he said to Israel, and says to us “I will adopt you as my people”. Do not forget your God; he never forgets you.