By Joseph Ametepe
"Then the LORD said to Moses, 'Go to Pharaoh and speak to him, 'Thus says the LORD, the God of the Hebrews, 'Let My people go that, that they may serve Me. For if you refuse to let them go, and continue to hold them, behold, the hand of the LORD will come with a very severe pestilence on your livestock which are in the field, on the horses, on the donkeys, on the camels, on the herds, and on the flocks. But the LORD will make a distinction between the livestock of Israel and the livestock of Egypt, so that nothing will die of all that belongs to the sons of Israel.' And the LORD set a definite time, saying , "Tomorrow the LORD will do this thing in the land. " So the LORD did this thing on the morrow, and all the livestock of Egypt died; but of the livestock of the sons of Israel, not one died" (Exodus:9:1-6).
While God was displaying His wonders in the land of Egypt, Pharaoh, his officials, and magicians, were learning that they were no match for God. Prior to the display of God's miraculous powers in the land of Egypt, Pharaoh and his officers boasted that they were something great. In fact, Pharaoh was regarded as a god. But now the one true God of the universe is teaching Pharaoh that his "god-status" is false and phony. Among the many lessons God was teaching Pharaoh's officials is that their power is so puny compared to His. In other words, God was teaching them the lesson of humiliation at His hands. Since they refused to humble themselves before God, they must be humiliated. This was no doubt a painful and hard lesson to learn. But it was perfectly okay with God. He does all things well.
However, God was not only teaching Pharaoh and his officials lessons of humiliation during this time of executing His righteous judgment on Egypt. He also had lessons to teach Moses and Aaron, as well as all Israel. God's people were being taught lessons of obedience, trust and confidence in Him, waiting on Him, listening to His voice, looking to Him for guidance and direction, and His perfect timing. One other lesson God intended to teach Moses and Aaron and the children of Israel is that of doing what He says at His appointed time. This spiritual lesson is vividly presented to us in the passage above. God always does what He says in His own time.
During the plague on the livestock, which is the fifth plague on Egypt, God made a distinction between the livestock of Israel and the livestock of Egypt. He would only target Egypt's livestock. He warned Pharaoh that if he continued to hold His people back, His hand would bring a terrible plague on Egypt's livestock. Egypt's horses and donkeys and camels and cattle and sheep and goats would die. But not even one of the animals belonging to Israel would die. This was God's sovereign decision. God also chose a specific time to execute His sovereign decision. Brimming with great confidence in the presence of Pharaoh, Moses declared to him: "And the LORD set a definite time, saying, 'Tomorrow the LORD will do this thing in the land'" (Exodus 9:5). Please notice very carefully that, it was Yahweh who set a definite time. The Hebrew word translated "definite time," (Hebrew: mo'ed) also means "appointment," or "signal." It often designates a determined time or place without any regard for the purpose. In our passage, the focus is on God's determination of a particular time to carry out His word. He had given Pharaoh a warning that if he refused to let His people, a terrible plague would come upon all of Egypt's livestock. Knowing very well that Pharaoh would continue in his stubborn ways, God set a definite time to carry out His word. That set time was "tomorrow." God was telling Pharaoh: "I am God, and I am free to choose the time to do whatever My heart desires or determines to do. You will learn that lesson too. I am the Lord of time. You will find out tomorrow that My word to you is not a bluff. I mean it. And I will bring it to pass at the time of My choice, whether you like it or not."
Please notice very carefully that the Lord not only determined the time, but the Lord is the One who also promises to take a decisive action. "Tomorrow the LORD will do this thing in the land." The lesson is clear: God always does what He says in His own time. Notice the Bible further says, "So the LORD did this thing on the morrow, and all the livestock of Egypt died; but of the livestock of the sons of Israel, not one died" (Exodus 9:6). He did it exactly at the time He appointed or signaled. He was right on time. He was not an hour early or an hour late.
I tell you friends, God does what He says at His appointed time. This lesson is timeless. As such, God has preserved it in His word for His people in all ages. Moses and Aaron and the sons of Israel learned it and saw its practical outworking in their lives. The prophets of Israel learned it and practiced it. The kings of Israel learned it and lived it out in their lives. The apostles and the disciples of Christ also learned it and looked to its fulfillment in their lives. It is now our time to learn it and live it out in our lives.
We live in an age of "hurry" and "haste." We have the "microwave" mentality. Pop it in any time you want, and pop it out at the time you choose. People in our society want things done on their schedule. For example, if a coach is not producing good results in his first year on the job, calls for his resignation inundate him, on twitter, on facebook, in the newspaper, on the radio, and on TV sports channels. When a politician is not delivering on the promise he made during his campaign, we quickly vote him out of office in the next election, if not sooner. If an athlete is not performing according to his or her abilities, he or she is benched or traded as soon as the next trading season opens. Why? We want things done on our own timetable. Unfortunately, believers have also bought into this mentality. We forget we have a God who does what He says in His own time. We forget He is sovereign and free to do as He pleases in the heavens and on the earth. We forget He is not going to be coerced to change His timetable for us. Why? He is God. He is in control. He is in charge. He is all-wise. He knows what He is doing in our lives. He must therefore be respected and given the freedom to do what He says in His appointed time. He must be resolutely trusted that His timing is best in every situation. He must not be rushed by us to do things on our timetable.
To live out the principle that God always does what He says in His own time, in this age of "hurry" and "haste," we must do the following. First, we must rely on the Spirit to impress this truth deep into our hearts. Second, we must remember that God is in control. Third, we must rest assured that God's timing is perfect in every situation in our lives. Fourth, we must resolutely trust that He knows what He is doing in our lives, even if we are impatient with His timing. Fifth, we must not rush Him to follow our timetable, because we cannot force Him to change His timetable. How are you doing in living out this spiritual lesson? Please, think about that!