“Moses reported this to the Israelites, but they did not listen to him because of their discouragement and cruel bondage. Then the Lord said to Moses, ‘Go, tell Pharaoh king of Egypt to let the Israelites go out of his country.’” –Exodus 6:9-11
The Israelites had been in bondage for years. You would think they’d throw a party to celebrate and run to pack their bags on hearing Moses’ report that God was preparing to set them free. They didn’t, though. They were so discouraged and beaten down by bondage that they completely ignored the messenger and refused to believe the good news.
At this point, God could have said, “Well, fine. If you aren’t interested in being rescued, I’ll just leave you there.” But He didn’t. He loved his people too much for that; He wanted the best for them. So He went to work doing just what He’d said He would, showing His power and putting Pharaoh in his place. It was the beginning of the second greatest rescue of all time!
Second greatest? Yes! The Israelites were in bondage to Pharaoh and the Egyptians. But all of humankind is in bondage to Satan and this world. Some people are so discouraged and beaten down by this bondage that, like the Israelites, they can’t hear or understand the good news. God has opened the Door to their freedom anyway! Captives discouraged by sin don’t stop Him from putting His plans into action.
The plan? God sent His only Son, Jesus, to die for our sins and rise again that all people can be free. We’ve just celebrated that coming, and now, as a church, we’re contemplating Jesus’ growing up years and His ministry in anticipation of Easter’s celebration: God’s rescue plan fulfilled in Christ. As I consider Exodus 6:9-11, I’m so thankful God sets His plans in motion, even for people who can’t see the path out through their pain.
But it still comes down to personal choice. It always has. The Israelites didn’t have to leave Egypt. They could have said, “Thanks, but no thanks. You’ve opened the door, but we’re not walking through it. We’ll stay here and suffer rather than follow You to that so-called Promised Land.” They didn’t say that, though—well, they did, but that was later when they were on their way and discovered that the path to the Promised Land wasn’t a cakewalk. But that’s another story about another spiritual issue. What matters today is that the Israelites chose to follow God out of bondage, to begin their journey to the Promised Land. That choice is now available to all humankind: to follow Jesus out of bondage to sin and to begin the Christian’s journey to our eternal Promised Land.
Remembering the story of the Israelite response to Moses’ good news, let’s pray for today’s discouraged, burden-laden captives. Whenever we encounter people who can’t hear the good news over the screams of the captor bent on their abuse and destruction, let’s pray that God will speak a little louder and that He’ll make the door frame a little brighter and that He’ll show His power in miraculous ways so that the captives will see and believe and let Him set them free! Our all-powerful God is more than capable—people just have to follow Him out of sin’s prison door.