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Grace Notes

Current Articles | Categories | Search | Syndication

IF THAT'S WHAT CIRCUMSTANCES SAID, THEY LIED
by Philip Owen

          Frequently when someone speaks of being a victim of circumstance, he is suggesting that some situation in life outside his control is governing his actions. A broken leg, for example, means that I can’t go skiing, or a company downsizing means that I lose my job. But in another regard, many Christians live their lives by willingly choosing to be “victims” of circumstance; that is, they allow circumstance to be the primary, if not the sole, determining factor when making decisions. They are not governed by the Word of God, the will of God, and the Spirit of God, but by the situation in which they find themselves. Consider Moses. Where would God’s people have been if Moses would have allowed circumstances to govern his life?

            Many of you reading these words may not yet have lived forty years. Forty years is a long time. And for forty years Moses’ circumstances strongly suggested that God was moving in a certain direction in order to deliver His people from Egyptian bondage. What was the likelihood that baby Moses would be spared the death that awaited all his infant brothers in Egypt? What were the odds that the daughter of Pharaoh would discover his little basket hidden in the bulrushes, or that in doing so she would be so smitten with him that she would adopt a foreign baby—one whose entire race was despised slaves in her father’s and her nation’s eyes? Scripture makes no such claim, but it would appear that Moses might well have been in line to become Pharaoh; or at the very least, as the adopted son of the princess, he would have wielded a powerful influence in the royal court.  Such an incredible array of improbable circumstances surely indicated that God was going to deliver His people through the political power or influence that He had provided for Moses in Pharaoh’s court. But no. If that’s what circumstances said, they lied.

            Some of you reading these lines may be eighty years old. Well, that’s how old Moses was when he had lived through another forty years of circumstances that demanded exactly the opposite conclusion from that of the first forty. Now he finds himself in the land of Midian and on “the backside of the desert” (KJV). It is not only that he has been stripped of the last vestige of influence over the throne in Egypt. He has fled Egypt having slain an Egyptian and so is persona non grata anywhere within its borders. For all practical purposes he has been so far removed from the capital that he might as well be on another planet. Furthermore, he has been reduced to the lowly state of shepherding sheep—not merely an occupation that affords him no influence with anyone, Egyptian or otherwise, but one that is particularly despised by the Egyptians. Forty long years of circumstance shout that God has no intention whatsoever of using Moses to deliver His people from Egyptian bondage. If that’s what circumstances said, they lied.

            Then comes a miraculous circumstance—the burning bush, and Moses receives the word of God, a commission to deliver God’s people. What says circumstance now? Pharaoh adamantly refuses to allow his profitable slaves to be released. As Moses and Aaron leave the royal palace, they are accosted by several of their own countrymen who are the foremen responsible for making bricks; they curse Moses: “May the Lord look upon you and judge you, for you have made us odious in Pharaoh’s sight and in the sight of his servants, to put a sword in their hand to kill us” (Ex. 5:21). The sole authority in Egypt has rejected Moses’ request; the very people he hopes to help are so angry with him that they have cursed him in the name of God. Circumstances are screaming that God has no intention of using Moses to free the Israelites. But if that’s what circumstances said, they lied.

            God can work through circumstances But if at any time, Moses had followed the path suggested by circumstances alone, he would have been heading in the opposite direction of God’s will. Believer, circumstances often run counter to God’s will and purpose in order to teach us to trust solely in Him. He alone is absolutely trustworthy and reliable. Are you following fickle circumstance or the God of all truth?

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