CH 02 THE ONLY HOPE

Exodus 2:23-25

            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.

 When the king Israel loved died, they remembered another king. When they remembered God, God remembered them. He acknowledged them. Other versions say God had respect unto them, was concerned about them, took notice of them. The Hebrew word for acknowledged is yada, which means to know by observing and reflecting or thinking. When God heard their groaning he took notice of them and began to think. When God began to think about the people who were groaning the covenant he made with their ancestors Abraham, Isaac and Jacob came to mind.

Our groaning does not move God to deliver. God delivers because he remembers what he promised himself he would do. Israel deserved to groan. He sent Moses to deliver them forty years earlier and they pushed him away. They rejected God’s will for their life and now they are miserable.[2] Take heart! God does not change his mind. When you are ready to do it his way, the door of deliverance will open again. When God heard them cry out for his help, he remembered what he started 40 years ago and said OK let’s try this again. You are not waiting on God. God is waiting for us to accept his ways because his way is love and our way is selfish.

You may not like this next statement but here it is! You are not a poor innocent thing that does not deserve your suffering.  You will like this statement. At the same time, you are a poor innocent thing that does not deserve your suffering. Both statements are true. One of many paradoxes you will find in the word of God. If you cannot understand an enigma you will never understand God nor will you ever find the straight and narrow road that leads to life. I am not referring to the place heaven or hell. I am talking about the difference between living in hell during your short time and space on this earth and having a life worth living. Jesus talked about the same thing when he spoke of the straight and narrow road.

First, let’s address that you don’t deserve your suffering using Job as an example. Job’s constantly affirmed he did nothing wrong. His three friends keep saying you sinned and that is why you are suffering. When we get to the end of the book of Job, God is not angry with Job. He is angry with the three friends who said you are suffering because you sinned.

Job 42:7-8

7 And so it was, after the Lord had spoken these words to Job, that the Lord said, to Eliphaz the Temanite, “My wrath is aroused against you and your two friends, for you have not spoken of Me what is right, as My servant Job has. 8 Now therefore, take for yourselves seven bulls and seven rams, go to My servant Job, and offer up for yourselves a burnt offering; and My servant Job shall pray for you. For I will accept him, lest I deal with you according to your folly; because you have not spoken of Me what is right, as My servant Job has.

 God said Job spoke what is right! Job kept saying I don’t deserve this. God agreed! Job did not deserve the misery that befell him, and in the end God returned double everything Job lost. Even though God agreed with Job, God still rebuked Job. If Job did not deserve his suffering why did God rebuke him? What was his error?

God revealed Job’s error with two questions.

 Job 40:8 

     Would you indeed annul My judgment? Would you condemn Me that you may be justified?

 Do you condemn God to justify yourself? Do you condemn God to prove you did not deserve to suffer? If you do, your words without knowledge are darkening your understanding. One of the biggest hindrances to deliverance is our inclination to blame God for the trouble in our life because it is also true that you are not a poor innocent thing that does not deserve to suffer.

Before you did the wrong that brought suffering into your life, your conscience told you it was wrong and you did it anyhow. Then you lied to yourself to justify the wrong you did.

 Romans 2:14-15

            For when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do the things in the law, these, although not having the law, are a law to themselves, who show the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and between themselves their thoughts accusing or else excusing them…

 When your thoughts excuse the wrong you do. God will give you up to the lie you choose. Now you are in a mess and can’t understand why because you have believed your own lies.

The Bible promises something to every soul of man who does evil.

 Romans 2:9

            Tribulation and anguish, on every soul of man who does evil,..

 Evil is a strong word in the English language. The meaning in Greek leans more towards “bad”. To us being bad is not as bad as being evil. All of us have been bad. We have not all been evil. Evil in the English language brings up images of murder and rape. Evil in the Greek language indicates the lack in a person of those qualities that should be possessed. It means bad in character, a bad way of thinking, feeling or acting[3].

Abraham, the Father of our faith, was not evil, but he was bad. He lied to protect himself at Sarah’s expense. Lying with the intent of bringing harm upon others is evil. Abraham lied because he was afraid to die, which is bad but not evil. Abraham lacked qualities that should be possessed. He had a bad way of thinking, feeling and acting. His character was flawed.

Everyone suffers tribulation and anguish because we lacks qualities that should be possessed. Our lack produces bad thoughts and feeling, which result in bad behavior but not necessarily evil behavior.  

 Romans 3:10-12

            As it is written: There is none righteous, no, not one; There is none who understands; There is none who seeks after God. They have all turned aside; they have together become unprofitable; there is none who does good, no, not one.

 Your misery does not move God because your misery is justice. Is it right to do evil or to be bad and get away with it? It might be all right to the one who acted badly but it is never all right to the one who suffered because you acted badly. Grace does not exempt you from what you owe. Grace removes the sting. The wages of sin is the death of our flesh. God has appointed that every man will die once. We can escape justice in the courts men establish. We can’t escape justice in God’s court because he keeps a record of every thing you say. Our words set the course of our life and we can’t remember what we said ten minutes ago.

Matthew 12:35-37

A good man out of the good treasure of the heart bringeth forth good things: and an evil man out of the evil treasure bringeth forth evil things. But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment. For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned.

 By your words you shall be condemned! Not your deeds! Your words not your deeds. Israel said to the man God chose to be their deliverer, “Who made you my prince and judge?” They did not believe Moses words. Therefore, they never knew him as a prince and judge. Their idle words condemned them to die in Egypt as slaves. By your words you shall be justified and by your words you shall be condemned. How can you blame God for dying in salvery when you are the one who said, “Go away? You are not my prince.” There is not anything you have done that is so bad Jesus blood cannot erase it from God’s memory. And there is not anything God can do for you if you push the man he sent to deliver you and refuse to obey him. If you don’t want God you shall be rendered proper respect. You won’t have him. He will not force himself on you.

Israel is miserable and groaning because they did evil. They acted badly. They rejected the man God chose to deliver them. When God heard their groaning forty years later. The only hope they had of being acknowledged was a covenant. Not the covenant God made with the people groaning. The covenant God made with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

Our goodness does not move God to deliver us. Our badness does not stop God from delivering us. Our pain does not move God to deliver. God delivers us because HE is good. He faithful to perform every word he has spoken. A covenant is our only hope.

Ephesians 2:11-12

            Therefore remember that you, once Gentiles in the flesh – who are called Uncircumcision by what is called the Circumcision made in the flesh by hands (A reference to the circumcision performed when Jews were eight days old.)– that at that time you were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world.

 If you are a stranger from the covenants of promise, you have no hope. You can cry to God all you want to and it will fall on deaf ears.  Unless, someone who understand the covenants intercedes for you. Without faith it is impossible to please God and faith can only be built on the things God has given us to hope for. If you do not understand the covenants that govern God’s behavior, you are without God in this wicked world. You can’t understand why God does what he does because you don’t understand his covenants. He is a mystery to you because He acts according to his own will.

Paul told the Ephesians to remember that even though there were some Jews who called the Gentiles uncircumcised God no longer considered them as alien’s and stranger’s. When a Jew called someone uncircumcised it was a racial slur that meant he was inferior. In sum it meant you don’t have a covenant but I do. If you don’t have a covenant, you don’t have God. You are a slave not a son. God doesn’t know you neither will he acknowledge you unless one of his sons asked him to. When a Jew called someone uncircumcised he was saying. God knows me but he doesn’t know you. I am somebody! You are nobody! God hates this holier than thou attitude.

The Jews knowledge of God was accurate but immature. They thought like a child, understood like a child and spoke like a child. Humanity is constantly growing in the knowledge of God. Don’t plop your self down on a doctrine and think it cannot be added to or adjusted to become more accurate. The Jews thought when they cut a piece of skin off their body it made everything OK between them and God. Paul said No! Mutilating your flesh never removed the sin that separated them from God. Circumcision never brought God’s blessing upon the nation because circumcision was only a sign of the covenant God would make with Jesus that included the Gentiles. That is why circumcised Jews who did not obey God were scattered to the wind. They circumcised their flesh but not their heart. Paul was not the first to talk about circumcision of the heart. Moses was. This gospel has never changed. Their uncircumcised heart made them no better than the Gentiles who were not circumcised in the flesh.

Romans 2:28-29

For he is not a Jew who is one outwardly, nor is circumcision that which is outward in the flesh; But he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the Spirit, not in the letter; whose praise is not from men but from God.

 God’s covenants and those who bear the sign of the covenant, a  circumcised heart, can move God to action. If pain and misery moved God, there would be no pain and misery in the earth today. Neither would there be justice. We don’t dictate to justice the way things should be. Justice dictates to us. If God reacted to our pain, he would not be in control. We would.

Sometimes children behave badly because that is the only time they get their parent’s attention. Their parents don’t act, they react and guess who control’s them. It doesn’t work that way with God. You will not gain God’s attention by being bad. You will get some tribulation and anguish in your life. We gain God’s attention when we are ready to obey him. When we submit to his ways, his face will shine upon us and he will acknowledge us.

In the parable of the prodigal son, the Father did not run after his son and beg him to come home. Anymore than God ran after Israel and begged them to accept Moses. Don’t take this to an extreme. God cares about us. He is aware of our  misery and grieves. In the parable the Father cared enough to leave the door open. The prodigal son was free to be as bad as he wanted to be. While sitting in a pigpen wishing he could eat the pig’s food the son finally came to his senses. He returned home expecting to be no more than a servant in his father’s house and found out he had never lost his place as a son. He returned home to a party not a rebuke. The only one who rebuked anyone was the “good” son. But he did not rebuke his brother. He rebuked his Father. That is the problem with trying so hard to be good. It makes you so arrogant, you think you are wiser than your Father.

When God hears us groaning he searches his memory for the door he left open for us. The one he can run out of to meet us because we will not find deliverance unless we come to the right door. Jesus said, 

 John 10:9

“I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture.

 Jesus is the door because Jesus is the one seed the covenant promises were made to. The covenant God made with Abraham was to give everything to one of Abraham’s children and Abraham would in time inherit the promises from his own son. The covenants God makes are God’s will. God acts according to his will not your will.

 Ephesians 1:11 NKJ

In Him also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestined according to the purpose of Him who works all things according to the counsel of His will,…

 Ephesians 1:11 NIV

In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will, …

 God works out your deliverance in conformity with the purpose of his will. That is exactly what he did when he heard Israel groaning. He remembered His covenant and acted according to the things he had already promised to do. God delivered  Israel for one reason. The covenant he made with Abraham.

That covenant is the same reason God delivers us. God feels bad that you are miserable, but that is not a justifiable reason to deliver you. Quit trying to make him feel sorry for you. He does! Our misery grieves him but it is not a just reason for him to act on our behalf, so he created a just reason and acts according to the justice he created. He acts according to his covenants because his covenants are his will.

This brings us to a crucial question, “What did God remember or reflect on when he heard Israel groaning and crying out to him? What did he promise Abraham, Isaac and Jacob he would do? What is God’s will? I will not go into detail about it because I’ve already done so in another series. We will only look at what God remembered because this is what motivated God to act on Israel’s behalf.

THE COVENANT

While Abram was living in the land of Ur God appeared to him with the proposition that if Abram would separate himself from his father’s house, and if Abram would travel to a land of God’s choice and live on some real estate God selected. God would

1                    Make him a great nation.

2                    Bless him 

3                    Make him a blessing.

4                    Make his name great.

5                    Bless them that bless him and curse them that curse him

6                    In Abram all families of the earth would be blessed.

Fifteen or so years later when Abram was 75 years old he decided to take God up on this offer. When Abram entered God’s will by coming to live on the real estate God wanted to show him, God appeared to him again and said,

“To your seed I will give this land.”

 God said nothing about giving the land to Abram at that time. He only promised to give the land to “a seed”, a child that did not exist. About a year later, God spoke to Abram again. This time God including Abram in the promise. In this appearance, God promised two things,

 1                    I will give the land to you and your seed forever  

2                    I will make your seed as the dust of the earth

According to Paul’s writings in the New Testament, the promises were made to two men. Abraham and Jesus, or we could say it this way, the flesh and the Spirit. God kept his promise to Abraham and his flesh children through a covenant of law, which produced a curse.  God’s mind is now set on keeping his promise to Jesus and Abraham’s spiritual children, which included the Gentiles. Abraham’s spiritual children are all those who have the same kind of faith Abraham did.

Abram heard nothing more from God for 9 years. When he is 85 years old God came to him in a vision and said,

1                    Your seed will be as numerous as the stars in the heavens.

2                    Your seed will inherit the land

3                    I have given you the land from the river of Egypt to the river Euphrates

4                    Your seed will be a stranger in a land that is not theirs for 400 years. (The 400 years began with Abraham’s arrival in Canaan, not their move to Egypt.)

5                    God will judge the nation that makes you serve them and afflicts you.

6                    Afterward your seed will come out with great substance

7                    In the fourth generation your seed shall return to the promised land because the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet full

8                    God gave Abraham’s seed the land from the river of Egypt to the river Euphrates.

At this time God also told Abram he would die in peace at a good old age. Abram did not hear from God again for fourteen years. When he is 99 years old and still without a child from Sarah, God appeared to him again saying,

I will make my covenant between me and you and will multiply you exceedingly.

 Then God clarified the responsibility of each party. What God will do, what Abraham will do and what Sarah will do.

As far as God is concerned, his covenant is with Abraham and Abraham would become a father of many nations. Anyone who possess the faith of Abraham, no matter what nationality they are, can become a son or seed of Abraham through Jesus. As far as God is concerned, he will

1                    make Abraham exceeding fruitful

2                    make nations of Abraham and kings will come from him

3                    God will establish his covenant to be a God to Abraham and to his seed after him

4                    God will give to Abraham and his seed the land wherein they are a stranger for an everlasting possession

 Circumcising his children as a sign of the covenant was the only requirement laid upon Abraham. As for Sarah, she would be blessed, give birth to a son and be a mother of nations.

Thirty-four years later, when Abraham is 133 years old, God spoke to him one last time commanding him to sacrifice his only son. Abraham proved he believed the promises by offering Isaac up as a sacrifice. God intervened before he plunged the knife into his son and established the promises with an oath. Nothing was certain until God swore the oath. God spent 133 years sharing his dreams with Abraham before he tested his faith. When God’s hopes and dreams became Abraham’s hopes and dreams God added to the promises, Your seed shall possess the gate of his enemies. To possess the gate of your enemies is to possess their government. After God swore an oath, Abraham never heard from God again that we know of.

When Isaac is 85 years old God told him not to go to Egypt and he would perform the oath he swore to Abraham his father. When Jacob was 70 years old God appeared to him in a dream as he fled from his brother Esau and told him,

 1          Your seed will be as the dust of the earth and spread abroad to the west east, north and south.

2          I am with you and will keep you wherever you go and bring you again to the Promised Land.

3          I will not leave you until I have done that which I have spoken

The last thing God said before he heard Israel groaning in Egypt was,

1                    A nation and company of nations shall be of you

2                    Kings shall come out of your loins

3                    The land I gave Abraham and Isaac I give to you and your seed after you.

 These are the things God reflected on when Israel was in slavery crying for deliverance. God looked on them and knew them because someone obeyed God and God established a covenant with an oath. In a nutshell God’s will is, an ETERNAL NATION with more citizens than can be counted that will always be blessed living on the land from the River of Egypt to the Euphrates whose citizens will be kings and priests. The king of this eternal nation is God himself in the person of Jesus and all other governments will submit to his government. Before this eternal nation comes into existence it is God’s will that his people live as strangers in a land not theirs. God will judge any nation that abuses his people living as strangers and foreigners among them and his people will be given the wealth of the nations who abused them.

We saw the fulfillment of this in the flesh children of Abraham who said God brought us out of Egypt to make us a nation. Israel established on a covenant of law with God failed. In the future, the spiritual children of Abraham will say “God gathered us from the north, south, east and west to make us a nation.” This nation established on grace will not fail but become the eternal nation God desires.

God delivers us so we can be a part of his eternal kingdom. If you don’t understand this it does God little good to deliver you. You will die in the desert as all but two men did when God delivered Israel from Egypt.

Many ministers stand behind pulpits and make us slaves to the church. God does not want you to be a slave to a temporary institution. His intent is to include us in the nation he is creating. The church and its ministers are gifts to help us make it through the night. The church is a place to gather and talk about going home. The church was instituted to be a place we are loved, cared for and encouraged, a nursery for infants to mature. A place for us to assemble and remember Jesus until the day dawns. When he brings a new day, we won’t need the church anymore. We will be a nation of royalty. We will be home.


[1] Galatians 1:3-4

[2] Acts 7:35

[3] Vines Expository Dictionary of Biblical Words

About Teena Myers

Teena is the Vice Chairman of the Southern Christian Writers Guild, author of three books and a freelance writer.
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