God Remembered

Did God Forget?

So God heard their groaning; and God remembered His covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Exodus 2:24

Had God forgotten His people and His promises to them? It may have felt that way to them as they suffered as slaves to the Egyptians, but know that though God remembered, He had never forgotten them.

The Story

The Israelites had prospered in the land of Goshen after Joseph brought them there to receive provision from Egypt during the years of famine. During that time, they had grown to be such a great nation that the Egyptians felt threatened by them and the ruling Pharaoh then enslaved them. Israel continued to grow as a nation despite the affliction; but the Egyptians feared them to the point of dread and sought to control them through more hard labor and trying to entice the midwives to kill the newborn baby boys. (Because the midwives were God-fearing women, they protected the babies and, in turn, God blessed them for their efforts.)

The Egyptians compelled the sons of Israel to labor rigorously;and they made their lives bitter with hard labor in mortar and bricks and at all kinds of labor in the field, all their labors which they rigorously imposed on them. Exodus 1:13-14

This was the environment into which Moses was born. However, having survived birth and becoming a strong baby, his mother took extraordinary steps to save his life and he was soon adopted by Pharaoh’s own daughter. Moses understood his heritage and tried, in his own power, to make a small difference in the lives of his own countrymen when he reached adulthood. This backfired and left him a fugitive, dispelled to a foreign land where he settled.

Meanwhile, after many years, the reigning Pharoah died and the Israelites continued to suffer in their bondage. They cried out, not only as individuals, but as a collective group. They were in anguish, under a dark cloud of oppression, feeling helpless, and in dire need of a savior. Who knows to whom they were crying – perhaps some to God, and others just calling out in desperation to whomever might hear?

But God heard. He knew.

They cried out; and their cry for help because of their bondage rose up to God. Exodus 2:23

God Remembered

He remembered His promise.

So God heard their groaning; and God remembered His covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Exodus 2:24

Had God forgotten His promise from centuries earlier? Of course not! When He remembered, He was bringing His promise to the forefront. Not only His promise to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob of a future of blessings, but also the prophecy to Abram that this very thing would happen.

God said to Abram, “Know for certain that your descendants will be strangers in a land that is not theirs, where they will be enslaved and oppressed four hundred years.  But I will also judge the nation whom they will serve, and afterward they will come out with many possessions. Genesis 15:13-14

God had compassion and a plan.

The Lord said, “I have surely seen the affliction of My people who are in Egypt, and have given heed to their cry because of their taskmasters, for I am aware of their sufferings.  So I have come down to deliver them from the power of the Egyptians… Now, behold, the cry of the sons of Israel has come to Me; furthermore, I have seen the oppression with which the Egyptians are oppressing them. Genesis 3:7-9

God took dramatic measures to show Himself to His chosen messenger, Moses, and gave him this message to give to His people,

“I am indeed concerned about you and what has been done to you in Egypt….” Exodus 3:16

The Promise

He also remembered His promise to Abraham that His people would not leave empty-handed, so He made provision for them to plunder a people who would gladly give them whatever they asked.

I will grant this people favor in the sight of the Egyptians; and it shall be that when you go, you will not go empty-handed.  But every woman shall ask of her neighbor and the woman who lives in her house, articles of silver and articles of gold, and clothing; and you will put them on your sons and daughters. Thus you will plunder the Egyptians.” Exodus 3:21-22

God sent Moses’ brother Aaron to help him talk to the nation of Israel, demonstrating His power through miraculous signs, and the people believed.

Then Moses and Aaron went and assembled all the elders of the sons of Israel;  and Aaron spoke all the words which the Lord had spoken to Moses. He then performed the signs in the sight of the people.  So the people believed; and when they heard that the Lord was concerned about the sons of Israel and that He had seen their affliction, then they bowed low and worshiped. Exodus 4:29-31

The Israelites were so grateful to know that God had heard their plight and had compassion on them, they bowed to worship Him. It wasn’t long until they probably felt forgotten again when their circumstances became even more difficult.

None of this took God by surprise. Not only had He remembered His promise, but he allowed the situation to become desperate so that He could show His mighty strong arm. In fact, when Moses returned to God, accusing Him of not fulfilling His promises, God began to show Himself in a new way to Moses.

God Reveals Himself

God spoke further to Moses and said to him, “I am the Lord;  and I appeared to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, as God Almighty (El Shaddai), but by My name, Lord (Jehovah), I did not make Myself known to them. Exodus 6:2-3

We have a little understanding of God now, but He continues to reveal Himself to us little by little. He gives glimpses of who He is throughout the Bible, but we won’t truly see Him in His fullness until we reach heaven. He showed Himself to Moses in a different way than He had appeared to Moses’ ancestors.

Soon after the Israelites had repeatedly promised to serve God, at a time of uncertainty, they asked Aaron for an idol to serve instead. God knew. He told Moses what had happened and told of His intention to destroy them and begin afresh with Moses’ descendants. Moses reasoned with God and asked Him to remember His centuries-old promises and relent.

“Turn from Your burning anger and change Your mind about doing harm to Your people. Remember Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, Your servants to whom You swore by Yourself, and said to them, ‘I will multiply your descendants as the stars of the heavens, and all this land of which I have spoken I will give to your descendants, and they shall inherit it forever.’” So the Lord changed His mind about the harm which He said He would do to His people. Exodus 32:12-14

Did God Forget?

Back to the question: Does God forget?

There are other instances of prayers to God, asking this very question.

How long, O Lord? Will You forget me forever? How long will You hide Your face from me? Psalm 13:1

Why do You hide Your face and forget our affliction and our oppression? Psalm 44:24

Why do You forget us forever? Why do You forsake us so long? Lamentations 5:20

God addresses this question with another promise.

But Zion said, “The Lord has forsaken me, and the Lord has forgotten me.”  “Can a woman forget her nursing child and have no compassion on the son of her womb? Even these may forget, but I will not forget you.  “Behold, I have inscribed you on the palms of My hands; Your walls are continually before Me. Isaiah 49:14-16

God understands the feelings of abandonment that humans may have during their dark hours, and gives a powerful promise of inscribing us on His hands. Could this inscription be the scars from the nails in Jesus’ hands? Scars of immeasurable love?

Psalm 9:12 …He does not forget the cry of the afflicted.

What a comfort that is! When we cry out to Him in the midst of our affliction, He hears us and remembers.

God Forgets This

Oh, but God DOES forget! But only this:

“I, even I, am the one who wipes out your transgressions for My own sake, and I will not remember your sins.” Isaiah 43:25

“For I will be merciful to their iniquities, And I will remember their sins no more.” Hebrews 8:12

“And their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more.” Hebrews 10:17

What a blessed hope!
God will forget our transgression, our sins, our lawless deeds,
when we receive His forgiveness;
but, He will NEVER forget us as we cry out to Him in our difficulties.
He will always remember His promises and will fulfill them in His perfect time.

Scripture quotations taken from the (NASB®) New American Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1960, 1971, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. All rights reserved. www.lockman.org