“But I will not drive them out in a single year, because the land would become desolate and the wild animals too numerous for you. Little by little I will drive them out before you, until you have increased enough to take possession of the land.” — Exodus 23:29-30
Each week in synagogue, Jews read through the Torah from Genesis to Deuteronomy. The Torah portion for this week is Mishpatim, which means “laws,” from Exodus 21:1–24:18.
Some days, my work at The Fellowship has me up well before dawn, for example, when I meet a group of new immigrants, landing in Israel on one of The Fellowship’s Freedom Flights. On those early mornings, my tiredness gives way to enthusiasm as soon as I see the sun rising. I am inspired by the beauty of the sunrise and because it reminds me of an encouraging story from the Talmud.
The Talmud tells us about two 2nd-century rabbis, Rabbi Hiyya and Rabbi Shimon, who lived in Israel. One morning, they were taking a walk at daybreak when they saw the first rays of dawn. Rabbi Hiyya said to Rabbi Shimon, “So shall be the Redemption. It will come little by little, and as it progresses, its light will increase.”
There is so much truth in that story. Redemption, like the sunrise, doesn’t happen all at once; it is a process that takes time, little by little.
God Works ‘Little by Little’
Similarly, in this week’s Torah portion, we read that God told the Israelites that they would inhabit the Promised Land, but that it would happen “Little by little… until you have increased enough to take possession of the land.” God would make the process happen slowly so that full possession of the land would only come when the Israelites were ready for it.
When God brought the Israelites into Israel, and as God brings about the final redemption, they both occur “little by little.” The same principle applies to our personal salvation, as well. God doesn’t make it happen all at once, but rather slowly, over time. Through the process, we are prepared, until we are ready to fully possess all that is meant to be ours.
Can you imagine if God switched from night to day in one moment? It would be jarring and harsh. Our unadjusted eyes wouldn’t be able to behold the light. So, God brings the sun up slowly, giving us time to properly adjust.
Sometimes, it may seem as though we aren’t progressing in our lives and like nothing is getting better. However, we need to remember that God is working in our lives like the sun rises — slowly, steadily, and perfectly. Nothing can stop God’s plan for our lives, and as it progresses, our light will only increase until we shine as brightly as the sun.
Next time you feel impatient with your life, pray these words from Psalm 31:15 — “My times are in your hands” — and remember that God’s timing is always perfect timing.