“During those many days the king of Egypt died, and the people of Israel groaned because of their slavery and cried out for help.” (Exodus 2:23)
by Bryce Harrison
Day after day and morning after morning, the men, women, and children of Israel dragged themselves out of bed and into the work fields of Egypt. Under the desert sun, they toiled and labored until their backs were broken beneath the yoke of Pharaoh. And night after night, they slowly made their way back to their homes and gathered around their tables with one looming question reverberating through their minds: Had God forgotten? Had God forgotten the promise to Abraham to make them a people and give them a land? Had God forgotten the birthright of Jacob? Had God saved them from famine and brought them to Egypt simply to leave them here to die? And as their hearts cried out into the darkness, the only response was a deafening silence.
“Their cry for rescue from slavery came up to God. And God heard their groaning, and God remembered his covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob. God saw the people of Israel—and God knew.” (Exodus 2:23-25)
God heard his people. God saw his people. And he knew. In an obscure, unsuspected village in the land of Midian, God was preparing a deliverer. One day on a hilltop in the wilderness God broke the silence. The God of Israel arrested Moses by a flame of fire in a bush that burned yet was not consumed. And the Lord answered the question burning in Israel’s hearts.
“Here I am…I have surely seen the affliction of my people…and I have come down to deliver them.” (Exodus 3:4-8)
God would indeed rescue his people. He would deliver them from bondage and bring them to the land he promised their fathers. He would renew his promise once again that he would be their God and they would be his people. He would rule them with justice and equity. And yet again — just as they had done in the garden from the beginning — God’s people would rebel against his perfect rule. And for 400 years, the world would wait in silence.
Until one day, in the fullness of time, God would speak once more. And this time, the Word would shatter the silence once and for all. In the small, insignificant town of Bethlehem, God’s light would burn again as he declared, “Here I am. I have surely seen the affliction of my people. And I have come down to deliver them.”