By and large, the world isn’t sold on gentleness as a great quality to aspire to, although almost everyone appreciates being treated gently by others, especially by people who have power over us, including our parents in childhood and various governing authorities or bosses we may deal with in adult life. Even so, the world…
If someone said, “no sweat,” we would probably understand the meaning to be, “this won’t be hard.” If someone said, “don’t sweat it,” we would probably take the meaning as, “don’t be afraid or anxious.” Sweat correlates with difficulty, hard work, stress, and anxiety. The Bible specifically mentions sweat three times.
Lest we make the sort of mistake Moses himself made in Egypt, the messages in Exodus 2 includes that oppressed people shouldn’t be oppressed, they deserve deliverance and justice, but at the same time oppressed people are not inherently innocent or better than the people oppressing them. In the words of the Israelite antagonist oppressing his fellow slave, we hear an echo of Sodom. Victims and victimizers both alike are sinners and need the mercy and grace of God and divine instruction to order their lives. We’ve all been “straying like sheep” and all need to turn to “the Shepherd and Overseer” of our souls (1 Peter 2:25).
“The Song of Moses,” which was to be rehearsed and memorized by Israel, tells of the rebellion of the nations against God, and of his selection of Abraham to build a new nation, a people belonging to himself. That new nation was to be upright – Jeshurun – having the very character of God himself. Instead, when Israel prospered by the grace of God she rebelled in her prosperity, becoming the image of the fallen nations rather than the image of God. “Jeshurun grew fat and kicked.” How often does prosperity lead to (or at least contribute to) pride, stubbornness, selfishness, moral failure, and worship of gods that are not God? Unfortunately, prosperity and rebelliousness often go hand in hand. Israel is by no means a unique example of a people who were upright in their dependancy upon God in trials, but then “grew fat and kicked” while enjoying the blessings of prosperity. Selfishness and godlessness, envy and conflict, tend to grow and flourish when people are blessed with prosperity. Prosperity offers no assurance of peace and harmony and goodwill among humans and certainly no assurance of obedience to God.
Has the Lord ever disappointed you? Probably, because his timing and his plan aren’t always just what we want. “Lord, if you had been here…” Yet there is no doubt that he cares, he sympathizes, he shares the hurts and griefs, and he wants us to trust him no matter what happens, so that, as he did that day, he can show everyone who believes in him “the glory of God” (John 11:40).
Unlike the gods of Egypt where she was born, the Lord paid attention to ordinary people like Hagar, cared about her personally, and had plans and purposes for her and her progeny.
Hagar did as the Lord directed, went home and bore Abram a son, who was given the name “Ishmael” by Abram (Genesis 16:15).
So, Jesus prayed in a garden, was arrested and fettered in a garden, died and was buried in a garden. That means he also rose from the dead in a garden, since that’s where the tomb was located (John 20:1ff).
These six women who did what was right in Exodus 1-4 literally changed the world by what they chose to do. Four women who were slaves, one a princess, and one who was a shepherd’s wife saved the day and are the heroes of the story, making it possible for Moses and Aaron to have their day and learn to become heroes as well.
Not trusting his brothers on that occasion, after weeping privately, Joseph manipulated circumstances in order to force them to bring their youngest brother to him in Egypt, probably intending to protect Benjamin from the caprices of the men who had already betrayed one younger brother and their own father. Eventually, the brothers were compelled to do as Joseph directed and return to Egypt a second time to purchase food, bringing their youngest brother along. For the second time, Joseph dealt with them as though he were a stranger, speaking through an interpreter, but when he saw his younger brother once again, now a grown man, Joseph went aside and “he entered his chamber and wept there” (Genesis 43:29-30). Joseph wept.
In the years that the young man David spent fleeing from jealous King Saul, a story in 1 Samuel 23:1-14 tells of a time when David actively led his band of outcasts to rescue a town of Judah, named Keilah, from marauding Philistines. Before David set out on his rescue mission, he inquired of the Lord whether he should go or not and was assured that he should go. Some of David’s men were afraid, so David inquired a second time and was again assured by God he should go, and that God would give him victory over the Philistines. David did win a great victory, as promised, winning spoils of war and saving the inhabitants of Keilah.