Then the LORD said, "I have surely seen the affliction of my people who are in Egypt and have heard their cry because of their taskmasters. I know their sufferings, and I have come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians and to bring them up out of that land to a good and broad land, a land flowing with milk and honey, to the place of the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Amorites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites.Okay, got it, Moses will go to the Pharaoh and the people will be set free and they'll be in the Promised Land by nightfall. Moses does return to Egypt and share with the people the words that the Lord has spoken, and they respond positively(Exodus 4:31):
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.
So far, so good, but then. . . Pharaoh's heart is hard. The conditions of the Israelites goes from bad to worse. Plague after plague after plague rain down on Egypt. Even after the final plague, when Pharaoh finally releases Israel, he changes his mind and sends the army after them. The people's response now (Exodus 14:11-12)?
They said to Moses, "Is it because there are no graves in Egypt that you have taken us away to die in the wilderness? What have you done to us in bringing us out of Egypt? Is not this what we said to you in Egypt: 'Leave us alone that we may serve the Egyptians'? For it would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the wilderness."
I can so identify with the Israelites. Hundreds of years of captivity, and finally, a deliverer. God has heard their cries, He has sent Moses, He SAYS He's going to rescue them. They are worshiping and rejoicing, ready to go. And then. . . it doesn't happen when they think it should. It doesn't happen how they think it should. It doesn't happen as easily as they think it should. They have been promised deliverance, and they want it NOW.
Looking back from the vantage point of thousands of years and having seen the end of the story, I can see some of what the Lord was doing. Moses couldn't see, at first (Exodus 5:22):
Then Moses turned to the LORD and said, "O Lord, why have you done evil to this people? Why did you ever send me? For since I came to Pharaoh to speak in your name, he has done evil to this people, and you have not delivered your people at all."The Lord's response (Exodus 6: 6-8):
Say therefore to the people of Israel, 'I am the LORD, and I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians, and I will deliver you from slavery to them, and I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with great acts of judgment. I will take you to be my people, and I will be your God, and you shall know that I am the LORD your God, who has brought you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians. I will bring you into the land that I swore to give to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob. I will give it to you for a possession. I am the LORD.'
Over and over again in Exodus the Lord proclaims that He will deliver the people in order to show both the people and Pharaoh and, indeed, the world, Who He is. He had a purpose in the waiting. He had a purpose in the process. The people had been enslaved for hundreds of years. Deliverance would not be instant. Even after they escaped Egypt, the Lord planned to lead them the long way around.
Why do things seem to take so long, even things that are promised? Noah built the boat for a long time with no rain in sight. Abraham and Sarah waited years for Isaac. The time between David was anointed king and proclaimed king was not short. I think that the Lord is showing me that the purpose now is the same as it was back then. He wants me to know Who He is. The only way that I will know God is by wrestling with Him (as did Moses) and by demonstrating my faith when I choose to believe the promises that haven't happened yet. I can look back at seasons in my life where I now see some of what the Lord was doing in the waiting. It always comes down to trusting God's character and walking in faith. The verse that I have been standing on during times of waiting is Psalm 25:3:
Indeed, none who wait for you shall be put to shame...
I must trust His timing and trust His heart.