The Hebrew Slaves Believed He Was Enough

Monday, July 25, 2011 Posted by Katie

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Know for certain that your descendants will be strangers in a country not their own, and they will be enslaved and mistreated four hundred years. – Genesis 15:13

So they put slave masters over them to oppress them with forced labor…They made their lives bitter with hard labor in brick and mortar and with all kinds of work in the fields, in all their hard labor the Egyptians used them ruthlessly. – Exodus 1:11,14

I have a soft place in my heart for those in the Bible whose stories were recorded while their names were not. There are many such people whose lives have something to teach us, but it is the Hebrew slaves in Egypt who have long caught my attention. We know almost nothing about their existence "pre-Moses" except the description above from Exodus and the fact that they were enslaved for 400 years. We also know that they cried out to the Lord in their misery and trusted that Yahweh would eventually provide them the freedom they so deeply desired (Exodus 2:23-25).

What we don’t know is how, in a time span that could have yielded as many as twelve generations*, these oppressed people kept the faith. When their parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents many times over did not see the Lord grant them freedom from slavery, why did they continue to cry out to Him? Why did they continue to believe that they were a chosen people when the suffering of generations of Hebrew slaves seemed to clearly indicate that they had been forgotten? How did they trust when there were overwhelming reasons to doubt?

Under the circumstances, holding onto trust for 400 years seems fruitless and not a little crazy. That is, unless, we consider that these nameless many saw a deeper truth of God despite their difficult days. Perhaps they knew then what has since been written for us to know now: That even the worst of hardships, persecutions, famine and violence cannot separate us from the love of God (Romans 8:35, 38,39).

I pray that all of us may begin to more fully understand a Presence of Love so powerful that it overcomes all obstacles and sustains hope for generation upon generation.

*”How Long is a Generation?” By Donn Devine, CG, CGI; Ancestry Magazine; September/October 2005; Vol. 23, No. 5

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