DIG: What might have been the reason for their four hundred years of suffering?
REFLECT: When has God remembered you after a particularly difficult time in your life? Have you been able to serve Him afterward? When the LORD looks upon you, He is concerned about you. Sometimes we believe that by experience, and other times we have to believe that merely by faith. Where are you with that right now?
These verses summarize the next forty years in which Thutmose III was ruling Egypt after Hatshepsut died, the same forty years that Moses was a shepherd in the land of Midian. Being a shepherd was looked down upon by the Egyptians, but esteemed by Jews. So Moses was eventually content to be a shepherd since he identified himself as a Jew and not an Egyptian.
For a moment, the scene shifts back to Egypt where the writer reminds us of the big picture. After forty years of ruling and reigning, Thutmose III, the king of Egypt, had died. That paved the way for Moses to return to his homeland. The LORD would later tell His prophet: Go back to Egypt, for all the men who wanted to kill you are dead (4:19). But even though a new pharaoh, Amenhotep II, was ruling, the Hebrews remained under severe oppression. Amenhotep’s mummy has been found and shows him to be a man of powerful physique. One of the inscriptions on his burial coffin also praises him for his physical strength. He proved his cruelty when, after a victory over Syria, he carried seven Syrian leaders upside-down from the bow of his ship on the trip up the Nile, after which he personally sacrificed them.30 It was under this pharaoh that the Israelites groaned in their slavery and cried out, and their cry for rescue from slavery went up to the ears of God (2:23).
Only then did they turn to God with one accord. We should not forget that Israel served other gods while they were in Egypt (Joshua 24:14; Ezekiel 20:5-10, 23:2-3, 8, 19, 21 and 27). This might have been the reason for the delay. Being involved in deliberate, active sin separates us from Him and can delay His acting on our behalf.
The chapter concludes with reflections upon God’s deep concern for His people. Nearing the conclusion of over four hundred years of subjugation, humiliation and frustration, ADONAI now begins to initiate the plan of redemption and freedom for His covenant people.31 But although God was silent, He was not indifferent.
God heard their groaning and He remembered His covenant with Abraham, with Isaac and with Jacob (2:24). The word remembered is not merely a matter of recall. The Hebrew word carries with it the additional idea of acting upon the remembrance. Therefore, the point here is that God not only remembered His covenant promises to the patriarchs, but He was ready to act and fulfill those promises.32 God had promised their forefathers that the Israelites would become a great nation (Genesis 12:2), and He had formalized that promise by making a covenant with Abraham (Genesis 15:18, 17:17), with Isaac (Genesis 17:19) and with Jacob (Genesis 35:11-12). ADONAI was about to demonstrate that He never forgets His covenant promises.33
So God looked on the Israelites and was concerned about them (2:25). This is a turning point, because God is about to begin working on behalf of Israel and bring them out of Egypt. Suppression, slavery and death have been the dominant themes up to now. But from here on out, deliverance and triumph will be emphasized. God, in His sovereign power was ready to act in accordance with His promises to deliver and preserve His people.34
It is comforting for us to realize that God does not forget us, or the promises He has made to us. He remembers us because He is near to us. He maintains a close personal relationship with, and attachment to us. He truly knows us and has an intimacy with what we endure, whether it be trials, suffering or temptations.
The book of Hebrews tells us that this is the work of Christ: For this reason He had to be made like his brothers and sisters in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people. Because He Himself suffered when He was tempted, He is able to help those who are being tempted (Hebrews 2:17-18). And, again, the author to the Hebrews comments: For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have One who has been tempted in every way, just as we are – yet was without sin (Hebrews 4:15-16). The God of the Bible is not distant, or far removed, from the righteous who believe in Him. He is close to His people, running the universe for their good and for His glory.35 Therefore, the stage is set. The next act of the drama of Israel’s redemption is about to be made known. How, then, will ADONAI buy back His people?
The Teaching Ministry of Jay Mack 2006-2017