As the book of Exodus opens, some 400 years have gone by from the day Joseph brought his family to Egypt to live in Goshen, the best of the land in an area. But as the years passed, Joseph died and a new Pharaoh arose who did not know Joseph, and the people of Israel soon began to be oppressed. At first it was merely because of their numbers as the Egyptians feared they would become too mighty for them; so they put taskmasters over them. But the more they were oppressed, the more they multiplied. Eventually a decree went out to kill all of the new-born males; they were to be thrown into the Nile. We do not know how many died, but one son, Moses, was providentially saved out of that river and reared by the daughter of Pharaoh.
When Moses was 40 years old, he killed an Egyptian while in the process of rescuing two Israelites, so he had to flee Egypt for his life. He fled to Midian where he married and became a shepherd of the flock of his father-in-law, Jethro. Another 40 years passed and the people of Israel groaned and cried out for help in their misery and slavery. Exodus 2:24 says “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.” God heard the groaning’s and cries of Israel; He remembered His covenant with Abraham, and God knew His people in an intimate way. This is an example of the mystery of how God’s providential decrees take into account His hearing the prayers of His people. God decreed that Abraham’s descendants would be enslaved in Gen 15:13, God said to Abram, “Know for certain that your descendants will be strangers in a land that is not theirs, where they will be enslaved and oppressed four hundred years.” Yet at the appointed time, the people’s cries for help became the means that God used to fulfill His plans.
God not only hears, but He also speaks! In chapter 3 verse 2, God speaks to Moses in the wilderness by way of a Theophany – a visible manifestation. “And the angel of the LORD appeared to him in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush. He looked, and behold, the bush was burning, yet it was not consumed.” This is clearly the Lord speaking as seen in what He says in verse 6, “I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” The Lord continued, “I have surely seen the affliction of my people who are in Egypt and have heard their cry because of their taskmasters. I know their sufferings, and I have come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians and to bring them up out of that land to a good and broad land, a land flowing with milk and honey, to the place of the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Amorites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites. And now, behold, the cry of the people of Israel has come to me, and I have also seen the oppression with which the Egyptians oppress them.” God told Moses that He was about, “to deliver them out of the hands of the Egyptians,” and He would do so through His servant Moses.
God not only hears, and speaks, but He also called Moses in verse 10, “Come, I will send you to Pharaoh that you may bring my people, the children of Israel, out of Egypt.”
God hears, God speaks, God calls. We will explore these three activities of our great God as we open up this wonderful text in Exodus about the work of God to redeem and deliver His people. This is the beginning of an epic work of God through Moses that will progress through the book of Exodus and end in the book of Joshua with the inheritance of an earthly promised land. Yet, as epic as it is, redemption finds its ultimate fulfilment and completion through the work of Jesus Christ as He redeems His people through salvation, and ultimately leads us to a heavenly promised land.