During that long period, the king of Egypt died. The Israelites groaned in their slavery and cried out, and their cry for help because of their slavery went up to God. God heard their groaning and he remembered his covenant with Abraham, with Isaac and with Jacob. So God looked on the Israelites and was concerned about them.
Genesis ended with Jacob’s descendants in Egypt under Joseph’s protection. Exodus opened some 400 years later with the Israelites in slavery. Their condition had changed dramatically during that period. And not for the better.
Life had become bitter for the Israelites, and they had begun to cry out for help. Their cry for help went up to God, and he heard their groaning. And then he remembered his covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
Has God Forgotten?
Had God forgotten Israel and the covenant he had made with their ancestors? Was he unaware of their condition until their cries for help finally attracted his attention? It might seem that is what is being said here. But the New American Commentary says, “the term zākar, ‘remember,’ is idiomatic for covenant application rather than recollection.” In other words, rather than just remembering, God had picked this time to act and fulfill the covenant promises made to the patriarchs. And from here, we see God moving to deliver Israel and bring them into the promised land as a great nation.
As a disciple of the Lord Jesus, do you ever feel God has abandoned you? That your cries to him seem to bounce off the ceiling? If so, then this passage has something significant to say to you. God has not forgotten you. And he hears your cries and groaning. And he will act on your behalf when the time is right. But remember, God’s perspective is quite different than ours. He sees the big picture and knows what is best for our development and growth. And we can trust that is what he is doing. Even when it seems nothing is happening. Continue to be faithful to him, regardless of your challenges. Know that he loves you beyond measure (Eph. 3:19) and is working for your good (Rom. 8:28).