“God saw the people of Israel—and God knew” (Exodus 2:25).
The people of Israel were in Egyptian slavery for several centuries before God finally delivered them through Moses. During that time, they faced horrible oppressions, losing their children to Pharaoh’s paranoia and being tormented simply because they were Israelites. In desperation, they cried out for help, pleading for deliverance. And when they cried, God heard them. He set in motion the plan He had been carefully creating for the past eighty years.
Exodus 2:23-25 details the Israelites’ cry and God’s response. It’s interesting that the passage never states the people cried out to God; it simply says they “groaned because of their slavery and cried for help” (v.23). Perhaps they didn’t know to whom they should call; perhaps they didn’t think God would hear them. But whatever the case, they were groaning in anguish. And even though they might not have cried directly to God, He still heard them. “Their cry for rescue from slavery came up to God” (v.23). This implies that God was listening. Though they hadn’t used His name in their pleas for help, He witnessed their trials and was ready to answer.
When God heard their cry, He “remembered his covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob” (v.24). The word “remember” doesn’t mean He forgot it; the Hebrew word carries the connotation of something being brought to mind. In other words, His covenant with their forefathers was at the front of His thoughts. The time had come for Him to act on the promises He had made generations before.
Verse 25 is the most powerful verse of the passage: “God saw the people of Israel—and God knew.” It’s one thing for Him to see the people and their struggles; it’s quite another for Him to know them. Anyone can stand far off and watch something happening. Actually knowing a situation involves being a participant in it. The Hebrew word can also be translated as “understood” or “acknowledged”. This means God wasn’t an indifferent observer; He understood what His people were going through, and He was preparing to do something about it. He knew, and He would act. The cries of His desperate people had reached Him, and it was time to deliver them.