The Message (MSG)
6 God said to Moses, “Now you’ll see what I’ll do to Pharaoh: With a strong hand he’ll send them out free; with a strong hand he’ll drive them out of his land.”
2-6 God continued speaking to Moses, reassuring him, “I am God. I appeared to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob as The Strong God, but by my name God (I-Am-Present) I was not known to them. I also established my covenant with them to give them the land of Canaan, the country in which they lived as sojourners. But now I’ve heard the groanings of the Israelites whom the Egyptians continue to enslave and I’ve remembered my covenant. Therefore tell the Israelites:
6-8 “I am God. I will bring you out from under the cruel hard labor of Egypt. I will rescue you from slavery. I will redeem you, intervening with great acts of judgment. I’ll take you as my own people and I’ll be God to you. You’ll know that I am God, your God who brings you out from under the cruel hard labor of Egypt. I’ll bring you into the land that I promised to give Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and give it to you as your own country. I AM God.”
9 But when Moses delivered this message to the Israelites, they didn’t even hear him—they were that beaten down in spirit by the harsh slave conditions.
10-11 Then God said to Moses, “Go and speak to Pharaoh king of Egypt so that he will release the Israelites from his land.”
12 Moses answered God, “Look—the Israelites won’t even listen to me. How do you expect Pharaoh to? And besides, I stutter.”
13 But God again laid out the facts to Moses and Aaron regarding the Israelites and Pharaoh king of Egypt, and he again commanded them to lead the Israelites out of the land of Egypt.
Sixteen Tons”, written by Merle Travis and recorded by Tennessee Ernie Ford, became one of America’s most popular songs in the mid-1950s. People seemed to identify with this coal miner’s lament about feeling trapped and unable to change his situation no matter how hard he worked. Coal miners often lived in company-owned houses and were paid in “scrip”-coupons valid only at the company-owned store. Even if summoned to heaven, the miner said, he couldn’t go because he owed his soul to the company store.
That sense of hopeless resignation may help us understand the feelings of the Hebrew people during their four hundred years of bondage in Egypt. When Moses told them of God’s promise to release them from slavery, they didn’t listen to him “because of anguish of spirit”. They were so far down they couldn’t look up.
But God did something for them that they could not do for themselves. And the Lord’s miraculous deliverance of His people foreshadowed His powerful intervention on our behalf through His Son, Jesus Christ. It was when “we were powerless to help ourselves that Christ died for sinful men” (Romans 5:6 Phillips). When life is at its lowest ebb, we are not without hope because of the wonderful grace of God.
When trouble seeks to rob your very breath,
When tragedy hits hard and steals your days,
Recall that Christ endured the sting of death;
He gives us hope, and merits all our praise.
No one is hopeless whose hope is in God…