God Will Take Care Of You
Selected Scriptures from Exodus
The book of Genesis closes with Joseph giving a farewell address to his brothers. And this is what he promises: "God will surely take care of you, and bring you up from this land to the land which He promised on oath to Abraham, to Isaac and to Jacob"(50:24).
God will surely take care of you. When bad things happen to Israel, they will need to trust in this promise. And when bad things happen to us, we too, should remember this promise, "God will surely take care of you".
As we turn to the book of Exodus today, we see some terrible things happening to the people of Israel. Beginning in verse 8 we read, "Now a new king arose over Egypt, who did not know Joseph." This was bad news for the Israelites.
The new Pharaoh was nervous about having so many foreigners living in Egypt and so he enslaved them (1:11). And as if enslaving the Hebrew people was not enough, Pharaoh decreed the unthinkable--he ordered the Hebrew midwives to kill all the male babies that were born to the Hebrew women (1:16). Thankfully, the Hebrew midwives disobeyed Pharaoh, but then we read in verse 22, "Then Pharaoh commanded all his people, saying, 'Every (Hebrew boy) who is born, you are to cast into the Nile, and every daughter you are to keep alive.'"
The book of Exodus does not tell us how many Hebrew babies were killed because of this decree, but we are told of an account where a Hebrew woman hid her son for 3 months in order to keep him from being killed. We are told, in chapter 2, that there came a point where she could not hide the baby any longer and so, in a desperate attempt to save her baby, we are told that she "got a wicker basket and covered it over with tar and pitch. Then she put the child into it, and set it among the reeds by the bank of the Nile. "(2:3,4). Apparently, the mother could not bear to watch what would happen, for we read that only the child's older sister stood at a distance to watch the outcome.
At this point, the number of things that COULD happen is myriad. What if the vessel was not watertight? It would then sink and the baby would drown. What if the water current moved unpredictably? (as most river currents do). Then the structure of the vessel could be compromised by rocks, floating branches, and even crocodiles. What if no one found the vessel? Then the baby would starve to death. Even if the baby in the vessel was found, Pharaoh's decree was that all male Hebrew babies were to be killed. If we do the math, the probability of this baby surviving is slim and none, and slim just left the building!
But thankfully, the providence of God is not limited by statistical probability. We read that someone did notice the floating craft, and not just anyone, but Pharaoh's daughter, who had come down to bathe in the river (2:5). "When she opened (the craft), she saw the child. He was crying, and she took pity on him. 'This must be one of the Hebrew's children,' she said. Then (the child's) sister said to Pharaoh's daughter, 'Shall I go and call a nurse for you from the Hebrew women to nurse the child for you?' Pharaoh's daughter said to her, 'Yes.' So the girl went and called the child's mother . . . So the woman took the child and nursed it. When the child grew up, she brought him to Pharaoh's daughter, and she took him as her son. She named him Moses, 'because', she said, 'I drew him out of water.'"(2:6-10).
Of all the people in Egypt to notice the floating vessel, "it just happened" to be Pharaoh's daughter. And wasn't it "fortunate" that she had pity on the child? We know better than to call this a fortuitous coincidence. This was no less than the providence of God answering the promise of Joseph, "God will surely take care of you."
The Reformer, John Calvin, commenting on this account writes, "there can be no question that (God's) secret providence brought the king's daughter to the river . . . that (God) influenced her mind to the kind act of saving its life-(and), in a word, (it was) God who controlled the whole matter."
It is important to remember, whether we are considering Joseph's life, Moses' life, or our own life, God controls the whole matter. This does not mean we sit passively by, for God works through human means. Moses' mother made provision for the baby's survival by building a watertight sea vessel, and God made provision for the baby's rescue by sending Pharaoh's daughter.
And of course, Moses' survival is of particular interest because it is Moses that God appoints to lead the Israelites out of Egypt. The well-known commissioning of Moses is recorded in chapter 3 of Exodus. Speaking through a burning bush (3:4), God says to Moses, "I have come down to deliver (My people) from the Egyptians . . . Therefore, come now, and I will send you to Pharaoh, so that you may bring My people, the sons of Israel, out of Egypt"(3:8,10).
You may remember that Moses was not exactly comfortable with this commissioning. In fact, Moses does his best to convince God to find someone else for the job. Moses continually cites his "unskilled speech" as reason to find someone else (4:10, 5:12, 6:30).
The Lord gives Moses an assurance of His providence in chapter 4, verses 11 and 12, "(Moses), who has made man's mouth? . . . Is it not I, the Lord? Now then go, and I, even I, will be with your mouth, and teach you what you are to say."
Surely there is a lesson here for us. Our Lord has commissioned us to do many things. He calls us, for example, to "love (our) enemies"(Mt. 5:44). He calls us to "seek first the kingdom of God"(Mt. 6:33). He calls us to "make disciples of all the nations"(Mt. 28:19). Admittedly, the Lord calls us to do things which are difficult, just as He called Moses to do that which was difficult for him. But what do we learn from God's commission to Moses? We learn that Moses' abilities are not the point. We learn that when God calls us to do something, by His providence, He equips us to do it.
You may find it difficult to love your enemies, you may find it difficult to love God more than your family and career, and you may find it difficult to boldly share your faith with others. But we learn from God's commissioning to Moses that your shortcomings are not relevant. Trusting in the providence of God means trusting that God will do in you what you cannot do for yourself.
This is what God promises Moses in chapter 7. In addition to providing Aaron to speak for the reluctant Moses, the Lord promises to, "harden Pharaoh's heart"(7:3) and to bring "the sons of Israel, from the land of Egypt"(7:4).
Now some may read how the Lord "hardened Pharaoh's heart" and ask, 'How can God punish if he only did what the Lord ordained?' To you who might ask this, I remind you: Pharaoh killed babies. Pharaoh was evil all on his own. To harden Pharaoh's heart does not mean that God made him do evil, it means that God simply prevented Pharaoh from prematurely releasing the Israelites.
'Now why would the Lord want to delay the release of His people?', you ask. The Lord's answer is found in 7:3, "that I may multiply My signs and wonders in the land of Egypt . . . And the Egyptians shall know that I am the Lord".
In chapter 9, verse 15, the message the Lord has for Pharaoh is that He could have wiped the Egyptians off the face of the earth by now. Instead, the Lord says that He sent plague after plague, "in order to show you My power, and in order to proclaim My name through all the earth"(9:16).
Here is the other great truth about providence. There is more to providence than the truth that everything is working together for our good. Providence also means that everything is working for God's glory. The two go hand in hand. God, because He cares supremely about His name, He works to exalt those who are called by His name.
Knowing this should give us tremendous confidence in the providence of God. The providence of God is not conditional upon what we do, but upon who we are. God is working good in our life in order that others may know that He is the Lord.
This is precisely what God tells Moses in chapter 14, verse 15 and following, "Tell the sons of Israel to go forward. And, as for you, lift up your staff and stretch out your hand over the sea and divide it, and the sons of Israel shall go through the midst of the sea on dry land. And as for Me, I will harden the hearts of the Egyptians so that they will go in after then; and I will be honoured through Pharaoh and his army, through his chariots and his horsemen. Then the Egyptians will know that I am the Lord"(14:15-18).
Here we have a twofold lesson. Looking at the Egyptians, we are reminded of the terror and judgement that awaits those who do not love the Lord. But looking also to the Israelites, we are reminded that God is indeed working all things for good for those who love Him and are called according to His purpose (Rom. 8:28). We see this in the providential preservation of a baby in a wicker basket who was destined to lead his people out of slavery and across the parted Red Sea.
Consider your present situation. Perhaps you know what it is like to be anxious about the future. Perhaps you know what it is like to be oppressed by another person. Perhaps you know what it is like to be paralyzed by fear.
Friends, take comfort in the promise of Joseph: God will surely take care of you. Trust in this promise. Trust in God. Trust that God is working everything in your life for your good and His glory. Amen.