Summary: How God called the people of Israel out of Egypt
A few years ago I read a story in a National Geographic magazine. The story was set in a National Park in the USA. A fire had destroyed many acres of trees and when the rangers went to investigate they found a surprising survivor. They came across a little bird at the base of one of the charred trees. The little bird was dead but when the ranger poked it with a stick and it fell over out from underneath its wings fled three little chicks. In the midst of the raging fire all around that mother bird had gathered her chicks and spread her wings covering them, shielding them from the flames. She gave her life that they might survive. That story came to my mind when I read these verses from Deuteronomy 32. Let me set the context for these words.
They are spoken by Moses, who is near the end of his life. The people of Israel have been wandering for 40 years in the desert wilderness, as a result of their disobedience. A simple lesson there – disobedience leads to wilderness wandering. They now stand on the brink of entry into the Promised Land and Moses addresses them for the last time. Moses will die before they cross the Jordan. God forbade him entry into the Promised Land because of his disobedience at Meribah when he struck the rock for water, against the instructions of God. So in this his final address Moses retells the story of the Exodus, of all God’s provision and prophecies that the people of Israel will wander away again from God, but we will come to that in a moment. I want to concentrate this morning on verses 10-12 – because I think they have a lot to say to each of us here today.
Read with me verses 10-12.
Verse 10 Moses simply states where God found them. The land of Egypt to many, even the Israelites, seemed the perfect place to live. Rich, plenty, cultured and sophisticated. Yet look how Moses describes it – a barren land, a desert wasteland with howling winds. Not a pretty picture. Moses says to them – you can look back with fondness if you wish but the reality was that it was a dead place, a place of waste and desert. A place where the sand was blown into your eyes and face by the wind. A scorched land, parched, dry and one with no hope and no future. Friends can I suggest to you this morning – the same description is true of the world in which you live. Oh, you can look around you and say – it is no desert wasteland, it rains too much to be a desert. But let us look at what is going to last into eternity in your world. Your car, your house, your job, your pension, what? The world around us is a desert, a wasteland, a place of death. A place promising life brought leading only to death. A place promising all sorts of pleasure and no pain but the very opposite is true. But did you note how Moses started verse 10?
He says God found them. Listen to me – God found them – they did not find God, nor did they search for God. At one stage in the desert wanderings the people of Israel grumbled that life was better in the land of Egypt. You know to human eyes they were right. Egypt was a better place to live than the desert, but Egypt had no future. Egypt was, like all the kingdoms of this world, doomed to die, doomed to become an archaeological sight. Listen to me – this world may appear a better place to live. This world may appear more attractive than the kingdom of God but it has no future. It is doomed to destruction. ‘God found them’. If you turn back to the beginning of Exodus and the point at which God calls Moses you read that God heard the cries and the groans of his people. Listen to me, they groaned and cried and he heard. They were oppressed and depressed by the Egyptians, there seemed to be no hope of release from this slavery, from this pain of toil of making bricks. But God heard their cries and he answered. He found them. He searched them out and he brought them to the Promised Land. This morning can I say to you – God has heard your cry, he has found you, he has searched you out and he is here this morning to take you to the Promised Land. The world you now inhabit has no future, it has no hope but praise God he has found you in your desert and has come to bring you to a land of plenty.