#306 – Long-term Good and Glory (Exodus 5:22–23)

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“Then Moses turned to the Lord and said, “Oh, Lord, why have you done evil to this people? Why did you ever send me? For since I came to Pharaoh to speak in your name, he has done evil to this people and you have not delivered your people at all.”
(Exodus 5:22-23)

This is a low point in Moses’s life and leadership, and I’m guessing it’s familiar to many if not all of us. Moses has obeyed God. He has done what God called him to do. He’s gone to Pharaoh, king of Egypt. He’s told him to let the Israelites go out of slavery, and as a result of Moses’s obedience things have gotten harder, like worse for the Israelites in Egypt. They’re experiencing greater suffering as a result of Moses’s obedience to God. Moses is feeling the effects of that personally. I mean he is at a low point, because everybody is pointing to him as the reason why all these people are experiencing suffering. Moses goes back and God and says, “God, I don’t understand. I’m doing what you told me to do. Why is this happening?”

Obedience to God may lead to worse circumstances in the short-term.

If you ever obeyed God only to find your circumstances in this world not getting better, actually getting harder, worse in some ways. I think about all kinds of people who trust in Christ for salvation and that actually leads to all kinds of difficulties and challenges in the world. Jesus promises this in the New Testament. This is where we need to step back and remember that we must never judge God’s ways in the short term. That is always unwise, because obedience to God may sometimes lead to worse circumstances in the short term. But the key is the short term, because we can always trust that in the long term, God knows exactly what he’s doing, that God is working together for the good of his people and the glory of his name.

As we read through the book of Exodus, we will see that God is working even in this in a way that will bring these Israelites out of slavery. That affects the way we view our circumstances today. We may not see what God is doing here or there in the short term, but we can trust that in the long term God absolutely knows what he is doing. He is all wise, and all good, and all loving, and always faithful to work his plan for the good of his people and the glory of his name.

I just want to lead us in prayer especially for people who are experiencing suffering right now as a result of obedience to God. I think even about our persecuted brothers and sisters around the world. Their obedience to God is leading to more suffering in their lives and their families. I think about people who are imprisoned right now because of obedience to God. I think about others who are experiencing different costs because of obedience to God.
I pray, Oh God, help us with our perspective. Help us to trust in you in the middle of circumstances in the short term and maybe even for a long time in the short term, for years, when we wonder why is this happening. I think about brothers and sisters around the world who have been in prison for years, much like Joseph was in the book of Genesis, and wondering, “God, where are you in this? Lord, I did this, and now this is happening in my life. This is happening to my family while I’m in prison.” I think about different circumstances people are walking through right now, and they’re wondering, “God, where are you in this? I’m trusting in you, but I just don’t see you working, and I want you to work in this way or that way today, like now.”

God, give us faith to trust in you in the short term and the long term. God, help us to trust in you today knowing that you see things we don’t see, that you’re doing things we can’t even imagine, and we trust that as we obey you, help us to keep obeying you. Please help us, just like you did Moses, to keep walking in obedience to you even when the circumstances cause us to question that. God, help us to stay walking steadfast in obedience to you. As we walk with you, we trust that you will show yourself good, and loving, and faithful in the long term. We are banking our lives for eternity on that.

We praise you for the cross, Jesus, for the way you show this to us. You died on the cross. In the short term, this looked like tragedy, yet three days later you rose from the dead in total triumph. You have risen from the dead and you are alive now and forever more. Absolutely, oh God, you can be trusted in the long term. Help us to live today with trust in you, knowing you will prove your faithful, and good, and loving for all of eternity. In Jesus’ name we pray, amen.’

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David Platt serves as pastor at McLean Bible Church in Washington, D.C. He is the founder and president of Radical. He is the author of several books, including Radical, Radical Together, Follow Me, and Counter Culture.
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