God Heard Their Groaning

“And God heard their groaning, and God remembered his covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob.” (Exodus 2:24)

The predicament of Moses as he fled from the wrath of Pharaoh can be easily overlooked by the rapid pace of events in the opening chapters of Exodus. Just a few short passages earlier, we were reading about Moses’ rescue from the Nile River; in just a few passages from here, our attention will be captured by God’s appearance to Moses in the Burning Bush, calling the reluctant deliverer into service. From our perspective, this journey into Midian seems little more than a momentary diversion, a brief interlude in the life of Moses until such time that God was ready to act on behalf of Israel. But consider what Moses was actually leaving behind as he escaped from Egypt:

The writer to the Hebrews tells us that it was the faith of Moses that compelled him to trust in God above the riches and pleasures of Egypt, along with the privileges and prerogatives that his station in Pharaoh’s household entitled him (Heb. 11:24-27). “Choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season” (Heb. 11:25). Yet Moses was not suffering with the people of God as he rested in the hot desert sun, weary from his flight from the armies of Pharaoh — a “warrant for his arrest” having been issued — and collecting his thoughts as he drank deeply from a foreign well in a foreign land. All of the waters of Egypt had so recently been at his disposal, and now he drank from a well of shepherds and nomads in a land that was not his own. Throughout so much of Moses’ life we see him alone, rejected by the very people whom he was sent to save. I wonder what Moses’ thoughts were as he sat exhausted upon that Midianite well? His offer to deliver the nation of Israel from their oppressors had been utterly repudiated and his gesture of protection had backfired. In the process, it cost him everything and he now dwelt in a foreign country among a people who were not his own.

One could easily imagine that, were they themselves in a similar situation, bitterness and anger could easily consume their thoughts and the desire to ever risk moving on behalf of the safety and well-being of others might indefinitely be extinguished. But not Moses. No sooner does he finish refreshing himself by the well than he is again moved with compassion by the plight of the helpless (this time it is seven daughters of a local priest, come to the well to get water for their livestock) who are oppressed by a different type of tyranny. Who could blame Moses had he decided that this matter was definitely none of his concern and remained seated as these young women were pushed aside by the very men among whom Moses would now be living? Yet he stood up and helped them (Ex. 2:17). What a picture of Moses’ character! His overwhelming desire to help the helpless and rescue the downtrodden, wherever they be found, surfaces even during this most dire occasion in his life. So many people say they are willing to stand against injustices on a grand scale; they decry the abuses and oppressions of governments and institutions, but what about the little offenses going on all around them every day? They are willing to march on Washington and write angry letters to their Congressional Representatives, yet they are unwilling to stand up for what is right and godly in their own homes, workplaces, and schools. For Moses, whether it was standing against the taskmasters of Egypt, brutalizing their Hebrew slaves; or standing against a group of chauvinistic nomadic shepherds, too impatient and intolerant to wait for a group of women to finish filling their father’s water troughs, he found that he was unable to sit idly by in either matter.

In the closing verses of this chapter, we are shown a very wonderful truth about what it is exactly that moves God to save us. Two reasons are given for God being moved to deliver the nation of Israel from their oppression: 1.) He heard their cry and groaning and, 2.) He remembered His covenant (Ex. 2:24). That’s it. It wasn’t how “good” the Hebrews were that moved God to save them, it wasn’t because of how devoted and loyal they were to Him, it wasn’t because of the promises they made to Him nor the deals they bargained with Him. God took pity upon them because they groaned and cried out against their oppression and because He had made a promise to save them. He does the same for all of us who come to Him and are delivered from our bondage to sin by our Deliverer, Jesus Christ. It’s not our “goodness” that moves Him with compassion, it’s not how “righteous” or “religious” we are, it isn’t because we promise that we will do great things for Him if He saves us. God offers us Salvation for the same reason that He offered it to the nation of Israel in Egypt: because our situation is just as hopeless and desperate as their’s was. God hears our own cries for deliverance and our acknowledgment that apart from a Savior, we cannot be saved. And like the Hebrews in Egypt, we, too, have a promise and a covenant from God: a New Covenant that if we will trust in the Lord Jesus Christ, we will be saved (John 3:15). God has never saved anyone on any other basis than these two principles, and He never will. None of us are worthy of being saved; God saves us because He loves us and has compassion on us.

10 thoughts on “God Heard Their Groaning”

  1. This blesses me so much, that we are like the children of Israel in Egypt, crying and groaning. And He hears us and remembers His promise to save us. That there aren’t any tough hoops to jump though. Just this. So thankful that He doesn’t mind when we cry out to Him! Thank you, Loren, for this hopeful message today!


    1. “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” (Romans 10:13)

      It is so awesome that there are no hoops to jump through! God has made it so simple for us to come to Him; all we must do to be saved is call upon His name in sincerity and believe on Him. I am so thankful it isn’t any more difficult than that because I know I would never make it otherwise 🙂 Praise God that He doesn’t mind whenever we cry out to Him!

      Thanks, Deb, for the great comments! God bless you.



  2. Loren,

    I can “hear” you preaching these truths…. 🙂 ….. There are many Bible verses that refer to these truths being the reason God saves us….. When He makes a promise, He keeps His word…. None of us will ever be worthy of the gift of salvation that is only received through faith in Jesus Christ.



    1. “For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God.” (Romans 10:3)

      Margaret, it is so sad how many people miss this and attempt to establish their own righteousness; attempting to come to God on their own terms and by their own means. You’re right, there are many passages of Scripture that demonstrate that this is the only acceptable Way to come to God — through faith in Christ alone. Lord willing, I hope to point these out at every opportunity as I come to them 🙂

      Thanks, Margaret, for the wonderful comments! God bless you.



  3. Thank you Loren

    I’ve been a little under the weather. Last night I tried to pray but all I could do was groan and groan… The words didn’t come but thanks for reminding me that God hears the groanings as well as He hears the words.

    I’m thankful that He does not go back on His words and that the answer is on the way even while I’m asking. It’s a very comforting thought when something else is staring you in the face. He will deliver on His promises. I’m hanging on to that!



    1. “Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.” (Romans 8:26 NKJV)

      I am thankful that we have an “Interpreter” when all we can do is groan! We might not be able to put it into words, but the Holy Spirit can 🙂 I sure hope you are feeling better and are over being ill.

      “He will deliver on His promises. I’m hanging on to that!”….so am I, Ann. Amen to that. Thanks for sharing these comments, God bless you.



  4. Loren, I love reading posts like this that show the connection between the Old Testament and the New Testament. God did not change from one to the other; He has always been the One to save His people; and His reason for saving the Israelites and us has always been because of His compassion. The Old Testament, as well as the new, show that we are incapable of earning our own salvation. As Paul wrote, anyone who seeks to be justified by keeping the law will be found guilty. But we who accept the gift of being justified by what God has done for us will be found innocent. He will have mercy on us, just as He has promised. Peace, Linda


    1. “It is of the LORD’s mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not.” (Lamentations 3:22)

      God definitely did not change between the Old and New Testaments. Passages such as Romans 4, Galatians 3, and Hebrews 11 show us that God has always saved by grace through faith (i.e, Eph. 2:8). It has always been God’s great love toward man that has motivated Him to do (e.g., John 3:16), never for any other reason. As you said, the keeping of the Law has never justified anyone (Gal. 2:16).

      Thanks for the great comments, Linda, God bless you 🙂



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