Exodus and Change

...and Pharoahs and Blue Heelers

By Kersley Fitzgerald

A friend of ours was talking about a life change he might make soon. He has a very good job, and got it a few years ago after several months of unemployment, so he's thankful. It's exactly in his field. The results are pretty awe-inspiring. It pays very well. He's appreciated and has advanced in the company.

It's also about 50 miles away from his home with a commute that gets hairy in the winter. The company works on a bid basis, which means they need to be cost effective, and their complicated products need to be perfect and completed in a timely manner. It's resulted in very long hours and not a few nights spent sleeping on the office floor. His wife is now making money as a writer, and his kids miss their dad. What's more, there's a possibility for a job in his field closer to home in an industry he absolutely loves.

But he hates change. He hates change so much that when he's frustrated with his situation, he'll often pray that God will give him contentment, not that he can move on to something better.

Is it worth it to stay? The money's good, but he and his wife are exhausted. One evening, he hit black ice and flipped his car — and then got a ticket for going too fast for conditions. If he had more time, he could help his wife with her budding career, help more with his sons's homework — even take his dog for walks.

Many years ago, my mom went through something similar. When she took the job doing marketing for a landscape architect, things were good. But as the field became more competitive, working conditions got worse. Her health was affected, and depression started to set in. But it was work. But it was miserable. She finally found another job; her former co-workers were angry that she left, but her friend put everything into perspective: "Don't worry. They're just rats mad that you had the smarts to leave the sinking ship.

We face these issues all the time. My sister's neighborhood that's no longer appropriate for her young family. Or a church where heresy is starting to creep in. A relationship that doesn't seem to be working — but maybe, with a little more time...?

My friend's situation sounds very much like Exodus. Specifically, chapters 5-14. The Israelites had been in slavery for about 400 years and it was getting worse. They'd been forced to kill their own children. Working conditions were unreasonable. Punishment for the slightest offense was beating.

So God sent very clear signs. He sent Moses, who dragged Aaron along with him, to confront Pharaoh. He sent ten plagues ranging from water turning to blood all the way through every first born killed. He very obviously separated the Israelites from the Egyptians, making the delineation very clear. In the end, when the Israelites were finally allowed to leave, He allowed Pharaoh's army to chase them out.

We are told that Moses and the plagues were God's way of forcing Pharaoh to let the Israelites escape. The Israelites, despite their experience in slavery, were God's chosen people, descended from Abraham, commissioned by God to bring salvation to the world. They had a very important mission to fill, and it was time they got going.

I think there was another reason, though. One that popped up about two months after the Israelites crossed the Red Sea:
And the whole congregation of the people of Israel grumbled against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness, and the people of Israel said to them, "Would that we had died by the hand of the LORD in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the meat pots and ate bread to the full, for you have brought us out into this wilderness to kill this whole assembly with hunger." Exodus 16:2-3
So God provided manna — Old Testament lembas bread. And the people were grateful. For a while:
Now the rabble that was among them had a strong craving. And the people of Israel also wept again and said, "Oh that we had meat to eat? We remember the fish we ate in Egypt that cost nothing, the cucumbers, the melons, the leeks, the onions, and the garlic. But now our strength is dried up, and there is nothing at all but this manna to look at." Numbers 11:4-6
Yes. God's chosen people complained about being freed from slavery because they missed onions. This doesn't sound like a people who were chomping at the bit for freedom.

I don't think the plagues were for Pharaoh's benefit alone. I don't think the only reason God used the plagues to separate the Israelites from the Egyptians was because He wanted Pharaoh to understand the Israelites were His people. And I don't think God released Pharaoh to chase the Israelites to the Red Sea solely to show His glory by drowning his army.

I think the plagues were to give the Israelites a budding sense of national identity. And that He used the army as blue heelers to make sure the newly consolidated sheep got moving.

God sent Peter a sheet (Acts 10). He sent Paul a bright light (Acts 9). He gave Gideon a fleece (Judges 6:36-40). He sent the world the tale of Jonah. Sometimes God only has to give us subtle clues as to what His will is, but very often we are slow to hear.

God does speak to some people near-audibly. But not very often, and it's not something we should rely on. Mostly He speaks through His Word and our circumstances. Sometimes it's our job to follow Him despite circumstances, like Paul and his periodic imprisonments. But sometimes He uses what is going on around us to guide us in a different direction.

My mom loved her new job, and her former company closed down a few months later. My sister and her husband moved farther from her husband's job, but found a cute house closer to my mom — and they're able to use it to bless a friend going through a rough time. I don't know what our friend is going to choose, or even what God is leading him to choose. I know that if he lets "contentment" get in the way of God's leading, he's going to miss out on the blessings God has for him.

Strangely enough, his dog's a blue heeler. Maybe God will use her to herd him across the river.

Image Credit: bermudi; "bbaaaa!"; Creative Commons

TagsBiblical-Truth  | Christian-Life  | God-Father  | Hardships

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Published 4-25-16