A Voice in the
As we see things in Israel flairing up again in synchronicity with Bush's recently thwarted plans to deliver a speech related to giving away God's covenant land to God's enemies, we become aware, some more, of the 'dispair' of many living in Israel. Bus drivers afraid to drive their routes for fear of the next bomb, people afraid to go shopping for fear of the next bomb. People afraid to drive the roads and highways for fear of attack from God's enemies.
But we can -KNOW- with 'certainty' that God's plans -are- underway. While there may be differences in time and technology, the Israeli despair today is not all that different than when they were under the Egyptian taskmasters. Back then "they cried out". (Ex2:23) It doesn't say that they cried out "to God". Most of them did not know God, other than, by heritage of their fathers; and most of them ended up dying in the wilderness due to their unbelief. (1Cor10:5, Heb3:19)
But even though they did not yet know God, it says, "..their cry came up to God.." (Ex2:23) Even while they were in despair, He "remembered" His covenant with "Abraham, Isaac and Jacob". (vs24)
He did not abandon them. God "gave attention" to Israel. (vs24) He did not merely "look" at them, and 'ho-hum...who cares?' But He gave His "undivided attention" to them and not only merely 'knew' -of- them, but "acknowledged them" (vs25b) Anybody who is ready to "do battle" (Zec14:3) does not go into it with nonchalance. He pays close attention to the enemy, does reconnaissance, makes plans. He investigates where the enemy has kept the hostages, and comes up with a strategy to rescue them. If possible, he smuggles a message to the hostages to let them know that help is on-the-way. But not too conspicuously, lest the rescue plans be foiled. Thus, quite often, hostages may not even know that deliverance is around-the-corner, until the troops actually storm in, yelling something like, "US Special Forces! You're free!"
When is God "going to" rescue Israel out of their present distress? Well, He is 'already' on-the-job! He's already taken it in hand. He already has a plan with a sure outcome. How can we know this? From the past. When did God begin to deliver Israel out of Egypt? 'When' the first plague turned water into blood? No.
God calls to Moses out of the burning bush, "I have given attention to see the affliction of My people..." (Ex3:7a) As those slaves were being beaten by the taskmasters, God was not oblivious to it. He said, "..for I have acknowledged their pain." (vs7b)
We are well-aware of the argument between God and Moses, while Moses is balking at his new assignment. But what assurance does Moses have that this is really God-Jehovah speaking with him? Well, he is going to have to act on "faith" first, and after all the great signs and wonders have been done, only 'then' will he have final assurance. Notice God says to him, "this shall be a sign to you that I have sent you: When you have brought the people out of Egypt, you shall serve God on this mountain." (Ex3:12) Somewhat like a comment we observed not long ago about the leading of the Holy Spirit in one's life, in things like witnessing: When a Believer is in God's will, they will 'automatically' do what the Holy Spirit leads, and often, only 'afterward', while reviewing the events, will one realize how it was, indeed, the 'Holy Spirit' who led in the situation.
So, God prepares His servant, Moses. He explains the mission to him. He says, "And I have [taken into] consideration that the king of Egypt will not let you go, no, not except by a mighty hand." (Ex3:19) God did not send Moses to Pharaoh, only merely 'knowing' what Pharaoh's reactions would be, and thus, merely hoping to 'wing it' along-the-way and bring along the plagues 'reactively'. But God's plan, before Moses ever returned to Egypt was 'PRO-active'. God was not wringing His hands in Heaven, when Pharaoh hardened his heart with the first few lesser plagues, and saying, "Oh, dear! He is still rebelling. What-ever shall we do now?" No. He had it all planned, even while appointing Moses to the task. God's plan from the very outset was to bring upon Egypt all the plagues; knowing it would take 'all' of them, to gain Israel's release. (vs20)
Furthermore, God was setting the stage to reveal Himself to both Egypt and Israel. Not only would Pharaoh rebel, God would further-harden his heart. Why? So-that Moses would "..see that you do all those wonders before Pharaoh which I have put in your hand.." (Ex4:21)
So, when Pharaoh increased the oppression (giving them no straw for the brick, but requiring the same daily quota) after Moses' first visits (Ex5:8), that was all part of God's plan, too. For what purpose? For Israel to "know" Him. (Ex6:7) How would this happen? Through God's "..outstretched arm and great judgments.." (vs6) Grace is greater, when the sin from which one is delivered was greater. (Rom5:20) Thus, also, if the bondage is greater, the deliverance is also greater.
We already know the story of their deliverance from Egypt. But what about the future? What does prophecy tell us? The "sons of Levi" are to be "purified". (Mal3:3) What is involved in purifying precious metals? The fire is made hot to melt the mixture. The refiner stirs the pot up and skims off the dross. For what purpose? In order that their service to God might be "in righteousness". God requires/demands "purity" in service to Himself. No pollutions of the world and unbelievers.
Today most of Israel does not know God. They do not know Mashiyach ben David. They are not yet to the place where they are ready to "..mourn for Him, as one mourns for an only son" (Zec12:10) How will they come to know Him? Through deliverance. And how will they be delivered? Out of Great Distress and Affliction. As Jesus said, "For then there will be great affliction, such as has not been since the beginning of the world until this time, no, nor ever shall be." (Mt24:21) It will be for two purposes, just as the 10 plagues in Egypt were: 1) to judge the world and satan, and 2) to redeem Israel. It will be so great that God has also prophetically called it the "time of Jacob's trouble" (Jer30:7) It is go great that God pronounces of it, "Alas!" But also, in the end as a result, "but he shall be saved out of it". As Paul re-asserts, "..so all Israel will be saved.." (Rom11:26)
But, is not God awfully 'harsh' in using distress to deliver? Does not God need to adjust His "PR campaign"? Does He not want to be known as a God of "love"? This seems just much too cruel!
Well, after millenia of being God's people, Israel still does not know Him. Pharaoh retorted, "Who is Jehovah, that I should obey His voice to let Israel go? I do not know Jehovah, nor will I let Israel go." (Ex5:2) Well, by the time God was finished with Egypt, notice what God says of His campaign against Pharaoh: "that you may come to understand that there is no one like Jehovah our God." (Ex8:10) "..in order that you may know that I am Jehovah in the midst of the earth." (vs22) "..that you may come to understand that there is no one like Me in all the earth." (9:14) "..to declare My name in all the earth.." (vs16) "..that you may know that the earth is Jehovah's." (vs29) God was making Himself known to the world, even though He knew, "But as for you and your servants, I know that you do not yet fear before Jehovah God." (vs30) It's one thing to know who God is, and yet another to "Know Him" in saving Faith. Satan believes, and trembles. (Jac2:19) But to get sinful man's attention, God often must act "ruthlessly". (Ex10:2) Like the proverbial donkey that must be thwacked between the ears with a 2x4 to get its attention.
And for Israel, seeing how God worked, as Israel would recount the matter to their descendants, they would also know, "that you have come to know that I am Jehovah." (Ex10:2) By the time God was done in Egypt, Israel also "came to know" who God is. They didn't know Him at first. But as He revealed Himself through His power, they came to know Him. This is why, often, it is not enough to simply stop somebody on the street and tell them about the "love of God", and expect them to right there, on-the-spot, pray a "sinner's prayer" and fill out a card. Perhaps they yet need to learn who God is, as God reveals Himself to themselves, now that they know 'who' He is. Israel knew who the "God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob" was, by the recounting of their generations. But Jehovah was not 'personal' -TO- 'them'. Now that they had seen God work, they came to know Him.
So, as we watch the evening news and hear of more bombings, we weep for God's "elect" whom He called and "entitled" to that position as His Elect, even though they "have not known" Him (Is45:4); we can understand that the end is not yet. From other prophecy we -KNOW- it will get yet worse. But based upon how God has worked in the past, we know that for every bombing, and every Israeli body that gets blown to bits, we can know that God has not abandoned His elect. As things get worse and worse, it only means that the stage is becoming more securely set for God to again reveal Himself to the world, and Israel. The worse it gets, the greater will be God's revealing of Himself!