So Moses returned to the Lord and said, “Lord, why have You brought trouble on this people? Why is it You have sent me? For since I came to Pharaoh to speak in Your name, he has done evil to this people; neither have You delivered Your people at all.” (Exodus 5:22-23)
As was mentioned in the previous devotion, Moses knew beforehand that Pharaoh would be stubborn and reluctant to release the children of Israel, but still felt that things had taken a wrong turn. We should remember, though, that having predetermined the exact day and moment that Israel would be freed from their bonds, God included in that time period an opportunity for Pharaoh to concede. Throughout the ages, God has always given the wicked time and space to repent. So when it seems that He is moving much too slow to suit us, it might be that He is being long-suffering with those who are in need of His mercy.
On the other hand, when Pharaoh refused to relent, His deliverance of Israel and the judgment of Egypt was initiated. You might say that Pharaoh’s decree that Israel should fetch their own straw was the “straw” that broke the camel’s back. God had already warned him three times but, of his own free will, he refused to repent. In those times when he agreed to let the people go, he did so only because he couldn’t bear the suffering associated with the plagues. Once relieved of the pain, he freely made the decision to resist God yet again. Now compare his response to that of Nineveh — a great city upon which judgment had been determined. Rather than resisting God, the people, including the king, repented in sackcloth and ashes. Furthermore, the king issued a proclamation saying, “Let everyone turn from his evil way and from the violence that is in his hands. Who knows? God may turn and relent and turn from his fierce anger, so that we may not perish” (Jonah 3:8-9).
As we know, God observed their actions and relented of the disaster He was going to allow to fall upon them. The point is, even the wicked are given opportunity to repent because our Father is merciful and long-suffering, “not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.” (2 Peter 3:9).
Observing the pervasive wickedness in this day and time, most of us probably wonder why God hasn’t put a stop to it already. According to His Word, we know that He will but He may not do it when we think He should; He might be giving the wicked the space and time to relent. Perhaps He is waiting to see if the nations are going to be Egypt or Nineveh. As individuals, may we always be quick to acknowledge our sins, turn from them and live in the way that pleases our Creator. And let us pray that God will continue to have mercy on our country.
Blessings and Shalom,