In Exodus chapter 4 we read about the story of the Israelites in bondage in the Land of Egypt. When God sent Moses and Aaron to tell the children of Israel that He had seen their affliction and was about to deliver them from the bondage of the Egyptians, "the people believed; and when they heard that the LORD had visited the children of Israel and that He had looked on their affliction, then they bowed their heads and worshiped." (Exodus 4:31 NKJV)
How did the children of Israel arrive at a faith that resulted in true worship? How were they able to overcome four centuries of slavery and yet they did believe?
1) GOD'S REMEMBERED HIS COVENANT
"Now it happened in the process of time that the king of Egypt died. Then the children of Israel groaned because of the bondage, and they cried out; and their cry came up to God because of the bondage. So God heard their groaning, and God remembered His covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob. And God looked upon the children of Israel, and God acknowledged them." (Exodus 2:23-25 NKJV)
The Egyptian Pharaoh was cruel and forced the Hebrews to be in a bondage so painful that it caused them to groan. The cruelties they suffered:
- the king set taskmasters to afflict them with their burdens (Exodus 1:10)
- they went through hard labor to build for Pharaoh supplies cities, Pithom and Rameses (Exodus 1:11)
- their male infants were almost wiped out by Pharaoh's (Exodus 1: 1:16-17, 22)
But God was FAITHFUL, He heard their groaning and remembered His covenant with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.
2) GOD"S ASSURANCE THROUGH HIS SERVANTS MOSES AND AARON
"Then Moses and Aaron went and gathered together all the elders of the children of Israel. And Aaron spoke all the words which the LORD had spoken to Moses. Then he did the signs in the sight of the people. So the people believed; and when they heard that the LORD had visited the children of Israel and that He had looked on their affliction, then they bowed their heads and worshiped." (Exodus 4:29-31 NKJV)
Moses and Aaron showed up among the Hebrews bearing a message from God. Aaron spoke all the words which the Lord had spoken to Moses. Then, in the sight of the people, Aaron performed signs that manifested God's power. Because of the people's condition, God's signs of power were necessary in order to arrest their attention. But it was the message that God has visited them that caused them to worship. What does it mean that God had "visited" them? God's visitation, then and now, is His literal coming alongside a person in spiritual need. The children of Israel recognized their great need. In an elementary way they understood God's presence and appreciated it.
Interestingly, the text records that God had already visited the people. They became aware of His visitation by His Words, in this case His Words to Moses as relayed by Aaron through the elders. The people heard the message, observed the signs confirming it, and believed what the heard.
The account in Exodus states that God's visitation occurred because He "remembered" His covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Does the word "remembered" indicate the God had forgotten His promise, and that it suddenly occurred to Him that He had not been taking care of His part of that promise? Of course not! The word "remember" is a human term. God cannot forget, so He does not need to remember. Sometimes the Bible says that God chooses not to "remember" our forgiven sins, meaning that He chooses not to bring up those past offenses. In the case of the Exodus, the Lord "remembered" His covenant in the sense that He saw it was time to enact this part of His will. The end result was that the people believed and worshiped!
Do you see the people of God worshiping Him for His FAITHFULNESS? But the situation recorded here is very different from the story of Eliezer in our last post. No change had actually taken place in the condition of God's people when they bowed their heads in worship. They had only been assured that God had seen their affliction and was going to deliver them. They were told by Moses and Aaron that God had not forgotten them those four hundred thirty years and it was this assurance that provoked worship.
We are often unable to worship God because in our trials we think He has forgotten us. We are cast down because of prolonged domestic difficulties; but whose domestic difficulties have lasted four hundred thirty years? We have been sick and have long hoped for healing; we have been out of employment for months and still cannot find a job; the same old harrassing circumstances remain. So we come to the conclusion that God has not taken note of all our trials and has left us to our own resources. How can we worship Him? Our lips are silenced.
God is still seeking for worshipers who dare to worship Him in all His ways upon their lives. We must come to a point where all our entire future hinges on the matter of our worshipful acceptance of all His dealings with us. We must come to a stage where we worship Him for everthing it pleases Him to give and for everything it pleases Him to take away.
The Essence of True Worship, then, flows from a trusting heart, a heart that understands God's faithfulness to His promise.