The Forest of Faith and the Trees of Want

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13 Then the LORD said to Abram, “Know for certain that your offspring will be sojourners in a land that is not theirs and will be servants there, and they will be afflicted for four hundred years. 14 But I will bring judgment on the nation that they serve, and afterward they shall come out with great possessions. 15 As for you, you shall go to your fathers in peace; you shall be buried in a good old age. 16 And they shall come back here in the fourth generation, for the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet complete.”

The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2001). (Ge 15:13–16). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

23 During those many days the king of Egypt died, and the people of Israel groaned because of their slavery and cried out for help. Their cry for rescue from slavery came up to God. 24 And God heard their groaning, and God remembered his covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob. 25 God saw the people of Israel—and God knew.

The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2001). (Ex 2:23–25). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

Here clearly we see two things. God has a plan and that plan is to his time table.

How cruel it might seem that God sent his people to Egypt where they toiled away for four hundred years. But follow this.

More than four hundred years before God rescued his people from Egypt, God told Abraham that his offspring would be servants in a foreign land for four hundred years. Why? “The iniquity of the Amorites is not yet complete.” The Amorites needed time to be totally corrupted. They needed generations of rot so that God could make his will known and manifest as his people returned and took the land he promised them.

Now look from the Amorites to the Israelites in Egypt. It took them four hundred years to really understand the terrible conditions under which they were placed. After four hundred years they began to groan and cry out. In other words, it took that long for the Israelites to finally begin to pray in earnest.

We often look at our life and we cannot see God working in it. Worse, we see the trees of our life and not the forest. Occasionally, we take the easy way out and just blame God for our circumstances, leaving it at that.

See here what God was doing. In the land he promised to his people he had handed the Amorites over to themselves. Their culture was self-destructing and filled with a corruption that made them weak and vulnerable and, just as importantly, fallen so low as to be shown no grace and no mercy.

At the very time that was happening, God was working in Egypt. The Israelites had gone from wandering in Egypt to settling in Egypt to being servants in Egypt to being slaves in Egypt. As God is letting the Amorites wind themselves down, he is letting the Israelites wind down their dependence on themselves and turn to their faith in him. They reach a point where they begin to groan and cry out and their prayers reach God.

When Exodus says “God remembered his covenant with Abraham,” it is like God remembering Noah. He did not forget the Israelites and suddenly remember them. No! God never forgot them. They were always present in his thoughts, but he needed time to affect his will and they needed time to realize they had to be dependent on him for their rescue and redemption.

“God saw the people of Israel—and God knew.” What did God know? He knew the Israelites were now ready to depend on him. He knew their cries and prayers were sincere in the plea for rescue, help, and redemption.

In our lives, God is always working. We may not see it. We may only see part of it. But God has a plan and we have a purpose. Sometimes we think we know what the plan is and what the purpose is. But often, we just think that and we do not really know.

God knows. God provides. And sometimes God is preparing things for us knowing that, when we get to a certain point, we will finally call out “Abba Father, help me.” God will see us and God will know. He will know we have reached the point where we are ready to hand ourselves over to him for rescue and redemption.

Importantly, he will know we are ready to glorify him and give him credit while casting aside our desire to think it is us.

When you are down, cry out to Jesus. And when you are restored, know it was Jesus, not you. And when you are settled, marvel at all the things in vast and different times and places that God was setting in place to prepare for the day you cast your worries on him and let him take over.

And when, as you will, find yourself in a dark place or on rough seas, remind yourself what God has done before. He laid in place all the blessings and then waited for you to pray and let him take over. And what glorious blessings he showed you, more than you hoped for and more than you deserved.

God is faithful to the end of days, he keeps his promises, and he wants a relationship with you. Be patient and trust in the Lord.

About the author

Erick Erickson
By Erick Erickson

Erick Erickson

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