Lord I Believe; Help My Unbelief
“And straightway the father of the child cried out, and said with tears, Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief.” —Mark 9:24
Israel had been in slavery in Egypt for several decades because of their idolatry when they cried out to God for help. God responded at the burning bush by telling Moses He had seen their affliction, heard their cry, knew their sorrows, was come down to deliver them (Ex. 3:7-8), and was going to use Moses to set them free (Ex. 3:10). In order to do that, God had to convince Moses, the Israelites, Pharaoh, and the Egyptians. After several complaints, Moses agreed to go, with the help of his brother, Aaron, and they were able to convince the Israelites that God had truly sent Moses to help them.
So Moses and Aaron went to Pharaoh and said God had demanded that he let the Israelites go to worship Him in the wilderness. Pharaoh responded by saying that he did not know their God, and since he was the greatest god, why should he submit to their God and give up hundreds of thousands of workers?
Because they were asking for time off from work, Pharaoh assumed they were being lazy and didn’t have enough work to do, so he increased their workload. The Israelites were making bricks out of clay for Pharaoh’s buildings. The Egyptians had been supplying them with the necessary straw for this task, but now the Israelites would have to gather their own straw and still make the same number of bricks.
Pharaoh not only refused their request to be let go, but he also increased their workload tremendously. When the Israelites were not able to make the same number of bricks, Pharaoh’s taskmasters beat the Israelite leaders. Pharaoh was demanding something that was impossible for them to do, and then beating them for not doing it. He didn’t care about them; he just wanted them to be under his control and do his work.
When the Israelites complained to Pharaoh, he basically said it was their own fault because they had asked to leave their work to sacrifice to their God. When going to Pharaoh didn’t provide a solution, they went to Moses and Aaron and blamed them. Moses and Aaron had come to them and raised their hopes of freedom, but instead of the situation getting better, it got worse.
Both Moses and the Israelites had taken giant steps of faith only to have their hopes dashed with great disappointment. The Israelites turned to men, but Moses turned to the Lord with honest questions:
Instead of focusing on the problems as the Israelites did, Moses turned to God who was the solution to their problems. Even though he had questions and doubts, he took them to the Lord.
- Why have You allowed the Israelites to be hurt and not helped?
- Why did You send me to encourage them to stick their necks out in faith and then it failed?
- Why has Pharaoh harmed the Israelites since I came to them in Your name?
- Why have You not delivered the Israelites like You said You would?
In response, God reminded Moses four times, “I am the Lord,” and He made the following promises to Moses (Ex. 6:2,6,7,8):
When Moses shared these promises with the Israelites, they did not receive them because of their impatience with their cruel bondage. But Moses and Aaron obeyed the Lord and went back to Pharaoh and demanded the release of the Israelites.
- I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians.
- I will take you out of their bondage.
- I will redeem you with a stretched out arm, and with great judgments.
- I will take you to Me for a people.
- I will be to you a God.
- I will bring you in unto the land concerning the which I did swear to give it to Abraham, Isaac, and to Jacob.
- I will give it you for an heritage.
Here are two different responses to unexpected circumstances: One was anger and doubt, and the other was based on not understanding but continued faith.
Next month, we’ll examine responses to a similar situation that will encourage faith in God.