The Hebrew mothers knew what suffering was: feeling alone and unseen, standing in helpless horror as the Egyptians tossed their precious baby boys into the Nile river. I wonder if they went to bed at night in shock, believing God didn’t care. When life beats us down, and discouragement and depression wiggle their way in, it is hard to imagine what God could possibly do to bring redemption to the things that have gone terribly wrong. In this state, we are like the Israelites who “did not listen to Moses because of their broken spirit and harsh slavery.” (1)
The truth was that God saw each individual hurt as well as the national injustices against Israel. God’s response to all of it was to give Moses three signs that would communicate to the Israelites that their redemption was at hand.
The three signs God gave Moses at the burning bush seem a little weird (#1 Moses’ staff turning into a snake, #2 Moses’ hand turning leprous and #3 water turning into blood). How are those things redemptive, we might ask? How do they compensate for the loss and harm the Israelites suffered? Without some serious Bible study, they don’t even make sense to us. Perhaps that is the point. The signs were meant for the children of Israel, not for us. But, we can still learn important principles about how God does redemption and what to look for in our own lives.
The reason God gave them the signs was to inspire belief in each individual heart and in the heart of a nation. Not a belief that God exists, but a belief that God would do something about their suffering. A belief that God could and would redeem some pretty bad stuff.
God gave signs back then, and God gives His people signs today. The signs God chooses are very personal and unique to each individual and each situation. As we look a little more closely at the nature of the the burning bush signs, pick out some of the following ideas that are meaningful to you personally.
• The three signs were not intended to bring about the belief that God exists. Pharaoh’s magicians could replicate the same signs, so that would only prove that other gods existed too.
• The three signs were not meant to be miraculous either. Since the magicians could copy the signs, the signs were not meant to show off God’s power or what He could accomplish.But, the signs were meant to:
• Be an acknowledgment of Israel’s suffering.
• Inspire the Israelites to understand why they ought to be loyal to God.
• Reveal God’s character: Who He is and how He works.
• Give them a proof that God sought to connect with them in a deep, personal way.
• Bring healing and justice for the wrongs committed against them.
• Convey that their suffering meant something; that it was seen, not hidden.
• Illustrate that justice would be done.
• Reveal suffering and oppression of the past and at the same time give hope for the future.The three signs acted as the vehicle of how God communicated His deep understanding of Israel’s suffering. As soon as the signs were performed, the Israelites knew what they meant, and just seeing them communicated to their hearts the love that God had for them. And, it worked! Read their response, “Aaron… did all the signs in the sight of the people. And the people believed; and when they heard that the LORD had visited the people of Israel and that he had seen their affliction, they bowed their heads and worshiped.” (2)
God is the mastermind of redemption. His redemption is creative, original and personal because He has unprecedented insight into our hearts. God is desperate to bring redemption to His people because He cares, because He sees, because He knows… especially when it just doesn’t feel like it.Maybe you’ve had God speak to your heart by giving you a redemptive sign, or maybe you are hoping for one. In some earlier blogs, I shared three unique signs of redemption that God provided for me in a dark time in my life. I recognized God’s message to me immediately. The signs let me know God was paying attention to what had happened to me and gave me hope for the future. If God chooses to give you a sign, you won’t have to go looking for it, you’ll know it’s from Him.Join this journey with me as we study the three signs God gave Israel. We’ll discover how the three signs directly correspond to Egypt’s three crimes against Israel, the three lies that Israel believed about herself and why all of that matters to us today. We’ll uncover some reasons why we can trust God with our own suffering, peek into God’s character, and learn about how God brings redemption.
• Do you remember a time that God gave you a personal sign of redemption or do you recall a story of a personal sign God gave someone else?
• Do you believe that God will do something about your suffering?
• What phrase about the nature of the signs resonated with you the most?
• What do you need God to bring redemption to in your own life? Ask Him to begin the process!
Scriptures for Meditation:
And God heard their groaning, and God remembered his covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob. God saw the people of Israel-and God knew. Exodus 2:24-25
Go and gather the elders of Israel together and say to them, ‘The LORD, the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob, has appeared to me , saying, ‘I have observed you and what has been done to you in Egypt, and I promise that I will bring you up out of the affliction of Egypt to the land of the Canaanites… Exodus 3:16-17
Aaron spoke all the words that the LORD had spoken to Moses and did all the signs in the sight of the people. And the people believed; and when they heard that the LORD had visited the people of Israel and that he had seen their affliction, they bowed their heads and worshiped. Exodus 4:30-31
1. See Exodus 6:9.