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Shemot/Exodus 33:12 Moshe said to HaShem, "Look, You say to me, 'Take this people onward' ..." (Artscroll)
Both here and at the start of the story of our people leaving Egypt we appear to have a contradiction, at least in our understanding of G-d. There we read, "G-d heard their groaning, and G-d remembered His covenant with Avraham, Yitz'chak and Ya'akov. G-d saw the people of Israel, and G-d acknowledged them" (Shemot 2:24-25, CJB). Ignoring, for the moment, whether the anthropomorphisms of 'seeing' and 'hearing' are equivalent or appropriate to apply to G-d, both of these passages beg the question: Why is it necessary to draw G-d's attention to the situation, and why does the text give the impression that G-d only appeared to notice what was going on when He was forced to make a response ? After all, the Scriptures tell us that "He who keeps Israel will neither slumber nor sleep" (Psalm 121:4, NASB) and, "He who touches Israel touches the apple of G-d's eye" (Zechariah 2:8).
These passages teach us an important aspect of G-d's character and our relationship with Him. Certainly G-d said, " before they call, I will answer" (Isaiah 65:24, NASB), but that pre-supposes that there is a call - the verse goes on, "while they are still speaking, I will hear". In other words, G-d's answer before we speak or ask depends on His foreknowledge that we are about to call on Him. If we are in relationship with G-d, then that relationship needs to be working and in functional order. Many people quote Rav Sha'ul's famous words to say, "G-d causes all things to work together for good" (Romans 8:28, NASB) forgetting the next phrase: "to those who love G-d ...". In other words, we have to have a working relationship with G-d and invite Him to be involved in our lives before those promises apply to us. Once we know G-d, it is also up to us to keep the channels of communication open, asking Him about things, involving Him in all the decisions we take in just the same way as we would our spouse.
So Moshe's "Look here" is part of an ongoing conversation and expresses as much his desire to talk about a particular subject as it does to focus G-d's attention on what Moshe wants to say. In the case of the Exodus narrative, our peoples' suffering in Egypt had reached the point where they wholeheartedly turned to G-d and stopped relying on their own strength and stamina - thus opening the way for G-d to act. This Pesach might be a good time to consider whether your channels of communication with G-d are open, and if not, see what you can do to re-open them by talking to Him. He's just waiting for you !
Further Study: Romans 8:28-30; Isaiah 42:8-9
Application: G-d is always ready to answer us when we call out to Him. He's not too keen on shopping lists, but He will always respond to a true cry from the heart. Why not give Him a call today ?
© Jonathan Allen, 2004
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