One of the things that I have been thinking through a lot lately is the interaction of God’s will/plan with human will/choices. God has a plan for His people who are suffering and crying out to Him – why has He waited so long? (We are told later part of the reason is the sins of the Canaanites had not yet reached its “measure.”) Why didn’t He act sooner? Why did Jacob even have to go down to Egypt in the first place – why didn’t God just “fix” the famine? These are the questions we can always ask, but in the Bible the people in the stories don’t ask them much – and there is insight there.
Part of me wants God to just fix everything wrong with this world (famine, suffering), and I sometimes want Him to save everyone from all of their bad choices (going to Egypt and not returning to the promised land, even when the famine was over). That is just not real life, and it has given me peace to know how the world works, and how God works in the world. He allows me to make choices – even the wrong choices – and live with the consequences. He gives me His wisdom, but I can reject His wisdom.
In this story, God never blames the Israelites for not going back to the promised land. They lost control of that fertile land He had given them because they were comfortable in Egypt. That comfort turned to slavery, and perhaps in the early generations they could have risen up in courage, but they did not. Now there is no way out, and God must move in a mighty way to set His people free – He does not want them oppressed in slavery. And so He acts – His will triumphs, even though the will of Pharaoh should fight against Him. God is active in this world, and His will shall be done in the end, but He does not change every evil action – He calls me to line up with His will and join in the fight.