“Now the Lord had caused the Egyptians to look favorably on the people of Israel, and Moses was considered a very great man in the land of Egypt. He was respected by Pharaoh’s officials and the Egyptian people alike.” – Exodus 11:3
Whatever you think of Fidel Castro, the communist leader of Cuba, you have to admit that he has had staying power. Despite all the efforts of the United States to overthrow him, including the ill-fated Bay of Pigs episode and more than forty years of economic sanctions he has remained in control.
Meanwhile, Presidents Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, Ford, Carter, Bush, and Clinton have moved on from the presidency. Even though communist ideology no longer holds sway in former strongholds, this fact has not deterred Castro. Nothing has appeared to move him or change him! No doubt his enemies—and there is no shortage of them—wonder what it will take to remove him and bring freedom to the Cuban people.
The Israelites must have wondered how anything could change the heart of Pharaoh, the cruel tyrant who dominated their lives during their captivity in Egypt. Even a series of divinely inspired disasters had served only to strengthen Pharaoh’s resolve to oppress them and had stoked his hostility to the Lord and to His people.
The Lord said, “Pharaoh is very stubborn, and he continues to refuse to let the people go” (Exodus 7:14). With each succeeding disaster, Pharaoh’s pattern of stubbornness and heart-hardening made further confrontation necessary. But through it all, the Lord was at work, determined to turn things around so completely that eventually Pharaoh would beg the children of Israel to leave.
The Lord was already turning things around for Moses. Despised even by his own people at one point (Exodus 6:9-12), Moses was now “considered a great man in the land of Egypt. He was respected by Pharaoh’s officials and the Egyptian people alike” (11:3). The Egyptian’s attitude toward the rest of the Israelites had gone through a remarkable transformation, as well: “The Lord had caused the Egyptians to look favorably on the people of Israel.”
That God is fully capable of intervening in human affairs is without question, and that He does so is amply documented. The methods that God employs are sometimes hard for us to take or even understand, but His objectives are always right, and His means of achieving them are just.
That the prisoners should be freed from Pharaoh’s control was right, and that Pharaoh should be punished for his intransigence was equally correct. But Pharaoh’s ongoing obstinacies made it necessary for the increasing discomfort of the disasters until he finally yielded.
God is committed to turning things around and making them the way they ought to be, and He will. Even Castro’s regime will fall one day. Pharaoh’s did! These being the case, we who live neither under Pharaoh’s tyranny nor Castro’s regime, yet find our situations crumbling or our social climate challenging, should take heart. God is at work, and ultimately, He will see that right is rewarded and wrong is punished. But He works at His speed, not ours, and He is not limited by time—He has eternity at His disposal!