After meeting God in the burning bush, Moses obeys his commands. He travels to Egypt, shows God’s miracles to Israel’s leaders, and commands Pharaoh to let the Israelites go.
Things Get Worse
What happens next comes as a surprise. Things don’t go as Moses or the Israelites expected. Not only does Pharaoh say no to Moses’ request, he even increases the persecution against the Israelites. Pharaoh places impossible tasks on his slaves and then punishes them for the tasks not being completed.
Understandably, Moses and the people are confused and angry. If they were God’s people and if Moses had obeyed, why were these bad things happening? Wasn’t God supposed to free them from slavery, not make their slavery worse?
This confusing situation leads Moses to ask God a very difficult question, “Why have you done evil to this people?” That question has a lot of gravity to it. Is Moses accusing God of doing evil? How will God respond to such an offensive accusation?
God is Still Faithful
Surprisingly, God answers Moses by repeating his promise. God doesn’t explain, justify, or defend himself. He simply reminds Moses that everything is still going according to his plan. Suffering has not thwarted God’s will. Persecution has not made his plans invalid. God would still use Moses. God would still save Israel. Nothing had changed.
In the midst of suffering, confusion, and doubt, God extends the one thing Moses needs - hope in his promises. The one thing that would restore Moses’ faith in God and give him the resilience to step back out into obedience, despite the hardship, is God’s steadfast faithfulness. God would not break his promise, so Moses kept going.
God Will Avenge
But God takes his promise a step further by adding to it. Not only will he save Israel, he will do so by punishing their enemies. God would not overlook Pharaoh’s cruelty. He would not let his people’s increased suffering be a willing casualty in his war for freedom. God will execute justice against their oppressors.
God will hold Pharaoh and the Egyptians accountable for their evil through what he calls, “Great acts of judgement.” These are the famous plagues that are about to occur. Through them, Egypt will be judged and Israel will be saved.
Where is Jesus?
There is, perhaps, few questions that get asked about God more often than, “Why do bad things happen to good people?” Even when we seem to be doing the right thing, we still suffer. Even when we know that God has made good promises to us about our future, our current circumstances seem to sharply contradict them.
When We Make Things Worse
The problem for us though is that we only want to identify with the suffering Israelites, wondering why things sometimes get worse even when we obey God.
But we need to see that we are are also like Pharaoh. We have disobeyed God. We have been cruel. We have made life tougher on others. Our own wicked actions are often the answer to the question, “Why do bad things happen?”
We are not just Israel in this story, being saved by God from evil and wickedness. We are also Egypt, creating that wickedness by our own actions. We like to think that we are only ever Moses, obeying God and wondering why things don’t always work out.
But we are quite regularly Pharaoh, ignoring God’s commands and inviting suffering into the lives of those around us. Therefore, God has every right to treat us like he would treat Egypt. He has every right to hold us accountable through great acts of judgement.
Jesus is Still Faithful to Us
But despite all the evil in the world that we perpetrated against others and others perpetrated against us, God’s promises still stand. No wicked event, no matter the size of the suffering it created, has turned back God’s plan to save the world. No amount of pain in the world can thwart God’s purposes or invalidate God’s promises.
This is most clearly seen on the cross. Jesus willfully put himself under the weight of all our evil, and suffered by it and for it. In that moment, Jesus could have easily repeated the question Moses had asked centuries ago, “Why have you done this evil against me?” But it was in that moment of suffering that God brought about the fulfillment of his greatest plan. It was through and even because of suffering that God won victory and freedom for the world.
Jesus Will Avenge
But the good news doesn’t stop there. Just as God promised to hold the evil of Egypt accountable, Jesus will also hold accountable all the evil that people have committed. This is very good news. No one has ever suffered who will not be avenged. No wrong will ever be done that will not be put right. No injustice has ever been committed that will not see its day in court. When Jesus returns he will hold the whole world to account.
This makes what Jesus does for those he saves all the more beautiful. We deserve to be held accountable for the suffering we have brought into the world. But instead, for those who will trust in him, Jesus takes the great acts of judgement they deserve. God will hold all evil accountable. For those he saves, Jesus on the cross is the one who pays the account.
See For Yourself
May the Holy Spirit give you eyes to see the God who is faithful through our suffering and holds evil accountable. And may you see Jesus as the one who is faithful to us by holding himself accountable for the evil we commit.