5 Ways God Doesn’t Act Like We Think He Should

I have been slowly reading through Exodus for my devotions and it’s been delicious. One of the particular ways it is helping me is by exposing many of our time-honored assumptions as painfully false.

Here are five I’ve picked up on so far.

God Doesn’t Share Our Concept of Time

God promised Abraham his people would inherit the Promised Land (Gen 15:13). That didn’t happen until six to eight hundred years later. Their temporary stay Egypt lasted around four-hundred years (Gen 15:14; Acts 7:6). Once the Israelites were enslaved in Egypt and cried out to God, one would expect him to act right away, but he took eighty more years to finally send Moses. God doesn’t work along our timeline, but his own. In our waiting, we must always remember he’s never idle, he’s never late, and he doesn’t work from our iCals.

God Doesn’t Usually Explain What He’s Presently Doing

Living through the Exodus was a different experience than reading about the Exodus. As readers, we see what’s happening behind the scenes and we know the end. That completely changes the way we interact with the event. We read and marvel at God’s fatherly care, providential work, and gracious deliverance throughout the story because its right there in the text. We see what’s on stage and what’s happening behind the curtain. However, for those living the Exodus, they never got an explanation. Most of God’s saving work in Exodus – what he was doing during the four-hundred years of waiting in slavery, the eight-decades of Israel crying our in slavery, the two two forty day trips Moses took up Mount Sinai – was done with absolutely no explanation from God about what he was doing. No updates. No newsletters. No postcards or texts. Complete radio silence.

Sometimes we believe God will always make his present work plain to us, that he’ll explain or make clear what he’s currently up to, but that is just not his style. Instead, as Alec Motyer says:

“God offers no explanations, but grants people sufficient insight into his ways, his character, his intentions and his changeless faithfulness so that, however dark the day, they can live by faith and be sustained by hope.”

I don’t think God is in the habit for explaining himself because we aren’t qualified to judge his plans rightly in the moment and because explaining himself to us will only train us to trust the answer, not the One who has the answer. God has proven the trustworthiness of his word and work for millennia. Sheep don’t need explanations, only trust that their shepherd is on duty.

God Doesn’t Need Us to Be Strong Or Well-Resourced

What I find really amazing about God using Moses was not only that he used Moses, but also when he used Moses. For the first forty-years of his life Moses, as a son of Pharaoh’s court, had the prestige, the platform, the power, and the position to deliver the Israelites. From a human perspective, he had everything needed to free Israel. He was a man with loads of street cred. However, Moses’ initial attempts to help the Israelites failed miserably (2:12-14) and ended with him taking care of some sheep in the desert. However, after forty years in obscurity where Moses lost all his earthly platform, position, power, and prestige as a son in Pharaoh’s court, God used him. Psalm 20:7-8 offers the lesson well:

“Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the LORD our God. They collapse and fall, but we rise and stand upright.”

Maybe, God doesn’t need our skills, platforms, resources, or handy tools to do his work. Is it possible that trusting obedience to God’s Word is enough to accomplish God’s work because, “the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men” (1 Cor. 1:25). God loves using weak fools so we’re finally convinced his name alone is Strength and Wisdom.

God Doesn’t Demand a Impressive Resume

Moses told God he was not a good speaker, but instead he was, “slow of speech and of tongue” (Ex 4:10). In other words, he didn’t have a YouTube channel. He wasn’t an influencer. He wasn’t getting invited to churches or conferences for speaking gigs. Apart from his own self-description, he was also a murderer and stuff (Ex 2:12). Even more, though the first forty years of his life were no doubt impressive – filled with good connections, schooling, and references – all that was completely null after his forty years of shepherding in the desert. Being morally questionable, lacking experience as a leader, and being destitute of any recommendations other than his foreigner father-in-law, if any of us had the job of hiring Israel’s deliverer, Moses’ resume wouldn’t likely make the final round. However, God doesn’t need or – even better – demand an impressive resume. He needs only those who will trust his word and put their hand to the work he calls them to. Where God calls, God empowers.

God Doesn’t Work in the Ways We Expect Him.

When Pharaoh used his royal power to enslave the nation of Israel, commanded the Israelites to kill their babies, and, when they disobeyed his order, he told the entire nation to join in the work of baby-killing, it seemed like the Israelites would be doomed unless God did some flood-the-world kind of action. However, God didn’t flood the world. He didn’t send down fire. Yes, it’s true, about eighty years later God raised up Moses and did some wicked-cool salvation stuff. But, that’s not how he initially worked to protect and preserve his people. Do you remember how God counteracted the evil work of most powerful man of the most powerful nation of its day? He sent in the ladies. In the first two chapters of Exodus, God used faithful Israelite mid-wives (the leaders of which seem to be Shiphrah and Puah; Ex 1:15) to save the Israelite babies. He used Moses’ mother’s brave disobedience to Pharaoh’s decree to preserve Moses. He sent the tender-hearted daughter of Pharaoh to find, rescue, and adopt little floating Moses. To top it off, he positioned Miriam as Pharaoh’s daughters servant and emboldened her to suggest the new-found baby could be wet-nursed by a Hebrew gal she knew (i.e.Moses’ mom!). As Pharaoh commanded that each Israelite boy be murdered, God used women to reduce the murders and, even more miraculously, to have the one future delivered not only spared, but raised within Pharaoh’s own home. God used women to raise up Pharaoh’s greatest enemy within his own home. God is always working out his plan, but rarely in the way we expect.

Children don’t understand the ways and workings of their parents. How foolish would it be for a child who, when confused by their parents ways, concluded, “Because you are not working in the way I understand or expect you to, you are in the wrong.” How much more foolish would it be for us to say such a thing to our Infinite and Holy God?

Don’t demand God fit your assumptions, but seek for God to change them. As the Prince of Preachers said, “God is too good to be unkind and He is too wise to be mistaken. And when we cannot trace His hand, we must trust His heart.”

About Dana Dill

I am a happy slave to Jesus, thankful husband to Chawna, delighted daddy to Daisy Jane, Penny Lane, and Lottie Jo. I teach at Capo Valley Christian School & Biola University. I'm here on assignment (Acts 20:24).
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