Meditations in Exodus: 24. Understanding God’s Words
Ex 6:1 Then the LORD said to Moses, “Now you will see what I will do to Pharaoh: Because of my mighty hand he will let them go; because of my mighty hand he will drive them out of his country.”
What the Lord now says to Moses is true – but it is not for the immediate moment. In a church where prophetic words are spoken we need to understand the way the Lord often communicates. So often He speaks about the end result which makes the unwise forget that there is an intermediate period during which many other things are going to happen, some of which may even make you question the end outcome.
Moses has complained to God, “Ever since I went to Pharaoh to speak in your name, he has brought trouble upon this people, and you have not rescued your people at all.” (5:23) Well, actually Moses you have only been to him once but, yes, you are right, it seemed to bring only trouble upon your people. In His reply the Lord implies, “Look, don’t look on the bad response of Pharaoh because when I lay my mighty hand on him he will (end up) driving your people out of the land. Now I’ve inserted the two key words in brackets. This is the end product of what will happen but it will happen in stages.
For ourselves, responding to a prophetic word speaking about the future is not easy. First of all was it genuinely from God? Let’s assume for the moment it was. Second, when it speaks about something the Lord will do for us – e.g. “lead you into a new area of service” – are we to take any action that prepares the way or are we to wait passively for the Lord to bring it about. I know of one significant leader who received a word that he would have a significant ministry in a particular South American country. In faith (or in what turned out to be presumption) he and his wife sold up in the USA and travelled to that country where nothing opened up for them. They gave up on the word but it was only ten years later they happened to be in that country that they realised it was now all opening up for them as the word had said. I know of another leader who received a word about the Lord taking he and his wife on to new things so they stepped back in their leadership role in hopeful preparation but it only created uncertainty in the rest of the leadership and the leadership as a whole went pear-shaped. It is a difficult area.
For Moses it is difficult because despite God’s earlier words to him he is clearly disappointed that it now seems to be going badly. He has not realised there are going to be many stages to this deliverance. If you receive a prophetic word about a big change you are going to be involved in, the wise person enquires what this will involve and asks for the grace to change how the Lord wants, to accommodate that change. Grace may involve patience and it may involver perseverance. The preparation or intermediate time may, like Moses, involve a number of stages and very often those changes also involve changes taking place in you.
But then we come across something very encouraging; the Lord reiterates what He has said before about Himself: “God also said to Moses, “I am the LORD. I appeared to Abraham, to Isaac and to Jacob as God Almighty, but by my name the LORD I did not make myself known to them. I also established my covenant with them to give them the land of Canaan, where they lived as aliens. Moreover, I have heard the groaning of the Israelites, whom the Egyptians are enslaving, and I have remembered my covenant.” (v.2-5) i.e. I appeared to the Patriarchs but I did not reveal myself to them as I have to you. Yes, I am ‘the I AM’, the unchanging one, and I made a covenant with them to give them Canaan and that has not changed. I have heard the groanings of my people and they are the people of my covenant.
That tells us three helpful things. First, He reminds him that He is the God of the Patriarchs with all that that meant. Second, He is unchanging and that also means in respect of His long-term plans and purposes. Third, He is motivated by the agreement He has made with the Patriarchs and so Moses can be comforted with those three things – Patriarchal experience of God, God’s unchanging nature and God’s promises that will not be broken.
These things have consequences: “Therefore, say to the Israelites: `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.’” (v.6-8)
We have changed the format to make clear the list of things the Lord has said He will do: He will set them free from Egypt to be His special people in the land He promised to the Patriarchs, and He will do it by acts of power.
Now very simply I suggest that when the Lord leads you into something big and new, it can almost be guaranteed that He will say it to you more than once, because He knows we have a tendency to forget, or if not forget, get confused and worry and doubt. How His words of encouragement are received is varied and that we’ll consider in the next meditation. In the meantime ….. you have had a word from Him about the future? Wait on Him, ask for understanding but remember essentially He wants you to walk by faith and not by sight. You can trust Him.
It may take some time but don’t be put off by that, it was just that it took time for circumstances to be brought in line for you! As with the first of the examples I gave above, I have known times when I have brought someone a word and I ran across them ten years later and they said, “Thank you for that word you brought me ten years ago, it gave me hope and the Lord has now just done it.” (I have also had words that were fulfilled within days, I should add!). When God speaks like this He is out to encourage us and sometimes that is simply to help us wait expectantly for something that may yet only come after a number of changes take place first. Trust, be patient and give thanks.