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Preaching from the Pulpit of Ephraim Church of the Bible

Exodus 6:6-8; The ‘I Wills’ of YHWH

http://www.ephraimbible.org/Sermons/20100926_exodus06_6-8.mp3

9/26 Exodus 6:6-8 The ‘I Wills’ of YHWH

Introduction:

Moses and Aaron have gone to the Pharaoh with God’s demand to let his people go to serve him. The conflict between conflicting masters has begun. Although Moses and Aaron met a very favorable response from the people; they heard, they believed, and they worshiped God; they did not meet with such a favorable response from the Pharaoh. And when the situation heated up, the favor of the people turned to accusations and curses. When things got difficult, the people ran to their master Pharaoh for help. When the people turned on Moses, Moses turned to God. He asked some hard questions and made some heavy accusations. Moses accused God of doing evil to his people, implying that Moses had more compassion toward them than God did. He implied that God didn’t know what he was doing, asking why he had chosen the wrong man to be the hero of the story. And Moses claims to have done his part, although God has totally failed to come through at all. God’s response is merciful and patient, not answering each question one by one, but instead revealing himself to Moses, because Moses needed not answers but God. Now that God has re-oriented Moses’ focus, he again commissions Moses to speak to the people.

6:6 Say therefore to the people of Israel, ‘I am the LORD, and I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians, and I will deliver you from slavery to them, and I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with great acts of judgment. 7 I will take you to be my people, and I will be your God, and you shall know that I am the LORD your God, who has brought you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians. 8 I will bring you into the land that I swore to give to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob. I will give it to you for a possession. I am the LORD.”’

This declaration of God’s purpose is framed by the statement of his covenant name “I am the LORD”. This is essential to understand. Your problems loom large. But you need to know me. You need to know who I am. I AM! I am the self-existent one, the one who spoke everything that is into existence. I am the uncaused cause of all that is and all that happens. I am the only truly free and independent being. I am sovereign. I am supreme. Everything else is nothing compared to me. You need to know who I AM!

The Six I will statements of YHWH

YHWH makes six ‘I will’ statements. This is what God will do. Not what Moses or the people or the Pharaoh or the gods of Egypt will do, but what God alone will do. Each of these ‘I will’ statements of God are in the perfect tense, a tense that describes a completed action. Here they are used of future actions of God that are conceived so vividly and so realistically that they are regarded as having virtually taken place.

I will bring you out אצי yatsa’ yaw-tsaw’

I will deliver you לצנ natsal naw-tsal’

I will redeem you לאג ga’al gaw-al’

I will take you חקל laqach law-kakh’

(I will be your God …you shall know that I am YHWH)

I will bring you into אוב bow’ bo

I will give it to you ןתנ nathan naw-than’

Today we’ll look at each of these in turn.

1. I will bring 03318 אצי yatsa’ yaw-tsaw’ LXX: εξαξω from: 1806 εξαγω exago ex-ag’-o

6 …‘I am the LORD, and I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians,

Over 40 times in the Old Testament this form of this word is used to describe what the LORD did in the Exodus. Here in the beginning of Exodus it looks forward to what the LORD will do, and the rest of the Old Testament looks back on what God had done. Twice it is used of what God did with Abraham, bringing him out of Ur of the Chaldees (Gen.15:7; Nehemiah 9:7) It is a powerful word meaning ‘to cause to come out, to bring out, to lead out, or to deliver. It is often used of bringing captives out of prison. The LXX, the Greek translation of the Old Testament, translates this word as εξαγω which means ‘to lead out’. This word is found in the New Testament:

Mark 15:20 And when they had mocked him, they stripped him of the purple cloak and put his own clothes on him. And they led him out to crucify him.

Jesus said:

John 10:3 To him the gatekeeper opens. The sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. 4 When he has brought out all his own, he goes before them, and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice.

2. I will deliver 05337 לצנ natsal naw-tsal’ LXX: ρυσομαι ; 4506 ρυομαι rhuomai rhoo’-om-ahee

6 …and I will deliver you from slavery to them,

Deliver. This is what Moses accused God of not doing at all in 5:23.

This is often found in the phrase ‘deliver out of the hands of your enemies’; it can also be translated ‘recover’ or ‘rescue’

Exodus 2:19 They said, “An Egyptian delivered us out of the hand of the shepherds and even drew water for us and watered the flock.”

Exodus 3:8 and I have come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians…

The way David uses the word gives us a great picture of what it means:

1 Samuel 17:34 But David said to Saul, “Your servant used to keep sheep for his father. And when there came a lion, or a bear, and took a lamb from the flock, 35 I went after him and struck him and delivered it out of his mouth. And if he arose against me, I caught him by his beard and struck him and killed him. …37 And David said, “The LORD who delivered me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine.” And Saul said to David, “Go, and the LORD be with you!”

In the Exodus event, Israel was delivered from their Egyptian oppressors. In later Jewish history, God’s people were delivered out of the hands of the Philistines, or Sennacherib king of Assyria, or their other enemies. In the Psalms, God delivers from the enemy, from dangers, trouble, and distress, from guilt, death and hell. In Proverbs wisdom and discretion will deliver you from the immoral woman, and we are admonished to deliver ourselves from the bondage of debt.

In the Lord’s prayer, Jesus teaches us to ask God to deliver us from temptation and evil:

Matthew 6:13 And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.

Paul cries out for deliverance from his struggle with his own flesh.

Romans 7:24 Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?

‘The Deliverer’ is a name given to God in Isaiah 59:20-21, quoted by Paul in Romans 11:

Romans 11:26 And in this way all Israel will be saved, as it is written, “The Deliverer will come from Zion, he will banish ungodliness from Jacob”; 27 “and this will be my covenant with them when I take away their sins.”

Colossians 1:12 giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light. 13 He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, 14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.

In the New Testament, the enemy we are delivered from is more inward and spiritual; our sinful flesh, temptation, the domain of darkness. We often picture the enemy as the guy with the pitchfork tormenting people in hell. This is not a biblical picture. Jesus warned:

Matthew 10:28 And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell.

Jesus is warning us to fear God and God alone. It is God who says:

Deuteronomy 32:39 “ ‘See now that I, even I, am he, and there is no god beside me; I kill and I make alive; I wound and I heal; and there is none that can deliver out of my hand.

Who can deliver us if we fall into God’s hands? Our final and most fearful enemy is God himself. And he claims that no-one can deliver out of his hands. No one, that is, except himself.

1 Thessalonians 1:9 …and how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, 10 and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come.

God himself so loved the world that he sent his own Son to deliver us from his righteous wrath against sinners.

1 Peter 2:24 He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed.

3. I will redeem 01350 לאג ga’al gaw-al’ LXX: λυτρωσομαι 3084 λυτροω lutroo loo-tro’-o

6 …and I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with great acts of judgment.

God promises to redeem his people with all his might and with powerful acts of judgment. This word ‘redeem’ or ‘redeemer’; ‘Goel’ is the term for a kinsman, a close relative that defends the honor of the family. There were three main ways this was done. The redeemer, often translated ‘avenger of blood’ would vindicate a relative who was murdered.

Numbers 35:19 The avenger of blood shall himself put the murderer to death; when he meets him, he shall put him to death.

In Deuteronomy 25, a childless widow’s near relative had the responsibility of preserving the family name and marrying and caring for the widow. A refusal to care for family in this way was a sign of dishonor.

Leviticus 25 talks about someone who becomes so poor that they sell the family property or even hire themselves out to be someone’s slave in order to survive. His family has the right come to his rescue and buy him back.

Leviticus 25:47 “If a stranger or sojourner with you becomes rich, and your brother beside him becomes poor and sells himself to the stranger or sojourner with you or to a member of the stranger’s clan, 48 then after he is sold he may be redeemed. One of his brothers may redeem him, 49 or his uncle or his cousin may redeem him, or a close relative from his clan may redeem him. Or if he grows rich he may redeem himself.

This is the situation of Ruth. She and her mother-in-law were poor widows, and she was forced to rely on the welfare system of picking up the leftovers the local farmers left behind. Boaz, who was a kinsman redeemer, took her and married her and kept the family name alive, a name which came to include King David, and ultimately Jesus Christ.

Ruth 4:14 Then the women said to Naomi, “Blessed be the LORD, who has not left you this day without a redeemer, and may his name be renowned in Israel!

God claimed to have purchased Israel from Egypt, not by paying a price to the Egyptians, but by an exertion of his awesome power and defending the honor of his name.

Isaiah 43:1 But now thus says the LORD, he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine.

Isaiah 52:3 For thus says the LORD: “You were sold for nothing, and you shall be redeemed without money.”

God is declaring that he has double right to ownership of Israel. He has the rights of Creator, and rights of Redeemer. He made them and he bought them. In Isaiah we see the intimacy of close family relationship that God is declaring to have with us.

Isaiah 54:5 For your Maker is your husband, the LORD of hosts is his name; and the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer, the God of the whole earth he is called.

Jesus is that redeemer. He said:

Mark 10:45 For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

Titus 2:13 waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, 14 who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.

1 Peter 1:18 knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot.

At the Exodus, God redeemed Israel with an outstretched arm and great acts of judgment. At the cross, Jesus redeemed us with his arms outstretched receiving in himself the greatest outpouring of God’s just judgment toward sinful man.

4. I will take you 03947 חקל laqach law-kakh’ LXX: λημψομαι

7 I will take you to be my people, and I will be your God, and you shall know that I am the LORD your God, who has brought you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians.

Deuteronomy 4:20 But the LORD has taken you and brought you out of the iron furnace, out of Egypt, to be a people of his own inheritance, as you are this day.

This taking is an intimate taking – a taking of deep covenant commitment. This word is used of a man taking a wife in marriage. I take you to be my wife, to love, honor, and cherish.

Deuteronomy 25:5 “If brothers dwell together, and one of them dies and has no son, the wife of the dead man shall not be married outside the family to a stranger. Her husband’s brother shall go in to her and take her as his wife and perform the duty of a husband’s brother to her.

God takes us into relationship with himself, that we would know him. This is what the Pharaoh denied when he said “who is the LORD, that I should obey his voice…? I do not know the LORD… (5:2).

God promises in chapter 7

Exodus 7:5 The Egyptians shall know that I am the LORD, when I stretch out my hand against Egypt and bring out the people of Israel from among them.”

Exodus 10:1 Then the LORD said to Moses, “Go in to Pharaoh, for I have hardened his heart and the heart of his servants, that I may show these signs of mine among them, 2 and that you may tell in the hearing of your son and of your grandson how I have dealt harshly with the Egyptians and what signs I have done among them, that you may know that I am the LORD.”

Exodus 14:4 And I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and he will pursue them, and I will get glory over Pharaoh and all his host, and the Egyptians shall know that I am the LORD.” And they did so.

Exodus 14:17 And I will harden the hearts of the Egyptians so that they shall go in after them, and I will get glory over Pharaoh and all his host, his chariots, and his horsemen. 18 And the Egyptians shall know that I am the LORD, when I have gotten glory over Pharaoh, his chariots, and his horsemen.”

God’s purpose in the Exodus was to declare to the world, to the Egyptians and his own people that he alone is God. He would prove to the Egyptians that he alone is God by triumphing over them. But he would be God to his own people in an intimate personal way, yes by displaying his power and might over Egypt, but also by dwelling among them and being in relationship with them. That was the point of the tabernacle that will play a huge part in the book of Exodus; God pitched his tent among his people.

Exodus 29:45 I will dwell among the people of Israel and will be their God. 46 And they shall know that I am the LORD their God, who brought them out of the land of Egypt that I might dwell among them. I am the LORD their God.

Knowing God is part of the new covenant promise:

Jeremiah 24:7 And I will give them an heart to know me, that I am the LORD: and they shall be my people, and I will be their God: for they shall return unto me with their whole heart.

Ezekiel 37:23 … but I will save them out of all their dwellingplaces, wherein they have sinned, and will cleanse them: so shall they be my people, and I will be their God.

Hebrews 8:10 For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people:

5. I will bring you to the land 0935 אוב bow’ bo LXX: 1521 εισαξω

8 I will bring you into the land that I swore to give to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob.

God had made promises and he will keep them. This bringing also has overtones of intimacy.

Numbers 14:8 If the LORD delights in us, he will bring us into this land and give it to us, a land that flows with milk and honey.

Song of Solomon 2:4 He brought me to the banqueting house, and his banner over me was love.

God had all along intended to bring more than just national Israel into relationship with him.

Isaiah 56:6 “And the foreigners who join themselves to the LORD, to minister to him, to love the name of the LORD, and to be his servants, everyone who keeps the Sabbath and does not profane it, and holds fast my covenant– 7 these I will bring to my holy mountain, and make them joyful in my house of prayer; their burnt offerings and their sacrifices will be accepted on my altar; for my house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples.” 8 The Lord GOD, who gathers the outcasts of Israel, declares, “I will gather yet others to him besides those already gathered.”

This finds its fulfillment in the cross of Jesus. Jesus said:

John 12:32 And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.”

Ephesians 2:13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.

James 1:18 Of his own will he brought us forth by the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures.

Jesus prayed:

John 17:24 Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory that you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world.

6. I will give it to you 05414 ןתנ nathan naw-than’ LXX: δωσω

8 …I will give it to you for a possession. I am the LORD.”’

Our God is a giving God.

Romans 11:35 “Or who has given a gift to him that he might be repaid?” 36 For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen.

John 4:10 Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water.”

Romans 3:24 and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus,

Romans 4:4 Now to the one who works, his wages are not counted as a gift but as his due. 5 And to the one who does not work but trusts him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness,

Romans 6:23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Ephesians 2:8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

6:6 Say therefore to the people of Israel, ‘I am the LORD, and I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians, and I will deliver you from slavery to them, and I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with great acts of judgment. 7 I will take you to be my people, and I will be your God, and you shall know that I am the LORD your God, who has brought you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians. 8 I will bring you into the land that I swore to give to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob. I will give it to you for a possession. I am the LORD.”’

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September 26, 2010 Posted by | Exodus, podcast | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Exodus 5:20-6:5; Accusations Fly – Avoiding the Cross

http://www.ephraimbible.org/Sermons/20100919_exodus05_20-06_5.mp3

9/19 Exodus 5:20-6:5 Accusations Fly; Avoiding the Cross

Introduction:

Moses is God’s chosen instrument to deliver his people out of Egypt and into the glad service of their true King. Moses has reluctantly gone to his people. They responded by hearing, believing, and worshiping God. After this positive reception, Moses and Aaron went to the Pharaoh and demanded release. They were met with a less than favorable response. Rather than belief and worship, the king of Egypt disrespected God by discounting his power and authority.

2 But Pharaoh said, “Who is the LORD, that I should obey his voice and let Israel go? I do not know the LORD, and moreover, I will not let Israel go.”

‘Your so-called God has no right to tell me what to do with my slaves.’

Then this shrewd pharaoh institutes a plan that will discredit Moses and Aaron and dishearten his Hebrew slaves. And his plan works. He demands the impossible: gather stubble wherever you can find it in place of the previously provided cut straw, but still meet the same quota of finished product each day.

The Hebrew foremen are beaten because their work crews have failed to meet the impossible demands. In desperation the foremen cry out to the Pharaoh, acknowledging repeatedly that they are his servants, and appeal for relief. But the Pharaoh is a cruel taskmaster and will not listen to their cry for help. He accuses them of laziness and demands them to accomplish the impossible.

5:15 Then the foremen of the people of Israel came and cried to Pharaoh, “Why do you treat your servants like this? 16 No straw is given to your servants, yet they say to us, ‘Make bricks!’ And behold, your servants are beaten; but the fault is in your own people.” 17 But he said, “You are idle, you are idle; that is why you say, ‘Let us go and sacrifice to the LORD.’ 18 Go now and work. No straw will be given you, but you must still deliver the same number of bricks.” 19 The foremen of the people of Israel saw that they were in trouble when they said, “You shall by no means reduce your number of bricks, your daily task each day.”

After their appeal to the Pharaoh fails miserably, they turn on Moses and Aaron.

The Accusation of Moses and Aaron by the Foremen

20 They met Moses and Aaron, who were waiting for them, as they came out from Pharaoh; 21 and they said to them, “The LORD look on you and judge, because you have made us stink in the sight of Pharaoh and his servants, and have put a sword in their hand to kill us.”

This is a stinging rebuke. Their wording is the typical wording used in the Psalms as a prayer to God for justice. Someone who is being unjustly treated by a superior would cry out ‘The LORD look on you and judge’. ‘I am not in a position to defend my own rights, but may God bring down on your head everything you deserve for treating us so badly’. They assume that Moses and Aaron are guilty because the outcome was not what they had hoped it would be. Their false assumption is that a good God would never allow bad things to happen to his people. They use graphic colorful language – ‘you have made us stink in the sight of Pharaoh and his servants, and have put a sword in their hand to kill us’. They are in a hopeless situation and they only see it escalating to the point where their very lives are at stake.

The irony of this is that in chapter 7, God will make the revered river Nile stink in the sight of the Egyptians, and ultimately, the hands of the Egyptians holding the swords will be washed up on the shores of the Red Sea. But for now, the people who were believing and worshiping have now lost hope and faith and are slandering the leader God has sent to help them.

So what is a leader to do when the people he is called to lead attack him for doing what is right? Things got hard for the people and they turned to Pharaoh for help. Moses steps out in obedience to God and now the people hate him. Look where Moses turns when things get hard.

The Accusation of God by Moses

22 Then Moses turned to the LORD and said, “O LORD, why have you done evil to this people? Why did you ever send me? 23 For since I came to Pharaoh to speak in your name, he has done evil to this people, and you have not delivered your people at all.”

Moses says some hard things here. He accuses God of doing evil. He accuses God of not knowing what he is doing. He basically says ‘I told you so – I knew this was a bad idea’. And he accuses God of laziness – doing nothing when something must be done. These are serious accusations. But take note, in spite of all these accusations that he brings to God, he does bring them to God. He doesn’t run, like the Hebrew foremen ran, back to their old taskmaster. He turns to the Lord and brings his complaint before the Lord. Moses turns to the right place. He has some very hard things to say, but he goes to the right place. And notice, God doesn’t strike him dead for asking hard questions. God is not threatened by hard questions. In fact, God honors him by responding to his questions. God could have gotten his feelings hurt and given Moses the silent treatment. He could have gotten angry and started throwing thunderbolts. Instead he responds. But before we look at God’s response to his questions, let’s look at the questions.

Moses asks ‘why have you done evil to this people?’ Before we get down on Moses for asking such a question, let’s try to get into his sandals. Moses has done what God asked him to do. The result is that the foremen have been beaten. That’s evil. The Pharaoh has responded ruthlessly to reasonable requests. That’s evil. The people are now required to do the impossible. They’re sent chasing after stubble blown by the wind in a fruitless effort that is bound to result in failure. That’s evil. The foremen quite possibly might resort to beating their fellow Israelites in an effort to meet the quota and avoid a beating themselves. That’s evil. The people’s spirit has been crushed and they are losing faith and without hope. That’s evil. They are driven to the point of cursing their God given leader. That’s evil. So Moses is looking at the situation, feeling the pain of the situation, and he knows that all this is a direct result of God’s command. So he says – ‘why have you done evil to this people?’ Moses feels that he is more compassionate toward the Hebrew people than God is. He is saying ‘if I were God, I would do things differently’. God, I know how to handle this whole exodus thing. This is amazing in light of the fact that just a few chapters earlier, Moses is coming up with every excuse imaginable to weasel his way out of the call that God is giving him. Now he suddenly feels that he cares about the people more than God does.

Then he says ‘Why did you ever send me?’ His same old argument is still in his mind. I’m not qualified. I’m not the right man for the job. I told you so. Remember, I said ‘who am I that I should go to Pharaoh’ (Ex.3:11). Remember, I told you they wouldn’t believe me or listen to my voice (Ex.4:1). Remember, I told you I am not eloquent, but slow of speech and of tongue (Ex.4:10) Remember, I said ‘please send someone else’ (Ex.4:13). God, your plan isn’t working because you chose the wrong guy. Now I’m taking the heat from the disgruntled people. Why me?!

Then he says ‘since I came to Pharaoh to speak in your name, he has done evil to this people, and you have not delivered your people at all’. God, I’m being obedient. I’m doing my part of the deal. I spoke in your name to Pharaoh. But he’s done evil to the people and you have not delivered your people at all. God, you’re not holding up your end of the bargain. You promised deliverance for your people but instead they are experiencing evil at the had of the Pharaoh. It would have been better for them if we had just kept quiet. God, you’re making me look bad. You have not delivered your people at all. Not even a little bit of deliverance. God, I’ve done my part, but you have done nothing at all.

Moses has vented. He’s laid it all on the table and told God how he feels. Now the Lord responds.

The Apology of God

6:1 But the LORD said to Moses, “Now you shall see what I will do to Pharaoh; for with a strong hand he will send them out, and with a strong hand he will drive them out of his land.” 2 God spoke to Moses and said to him, “I am the LORD. 3 I appeared to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, as God Almighty, but by my name the LORD I did not make myself known to them. 4 I also established my covenant with them to give them the land of Canaan, the land in which they lived as sojourners. 5 Moreover, I have heard the groaning of the people of Israel whom the Egyptians hold as slaves, and I have remembered my covenant.

God responds to Moses’ accusations. He says ‘Now you shall see what I will do.’ Now is the time. Now, because now nobody is on my side. The Pharaoh is decisively and publicly against setting his slaves free. The people responded with initial excitement and worship, but when adversity came, they gave up hope. They want things back the way they were – a more comfortable slavery. And Moses, my chosen instrument, you are accusing me of evil and laziness and a lack of compassion. Now that nobody is on board with my program, now I can act in such a way that no one will try to steal my glory. God is the hero of this story. Not Moses, not the people, not the Pharaoh. Pharaoh didn’t believe God was capable of setting the people free. The people had given up hope and cursed the man God had sent to help them. Moses accused God of evil and questioned his motivation, wisdom and compassion. Now that no one is on my side, I can act alone. He says ‘Now you shall see what I will do to Pharaoh.’ I will act. After I am done with Pharaoh, he will use all his power to drive you out, to be rid of you, to expel you from his land.

God does not take Moses’ list of questions and answer them one by one. In fact, he doesn’t directly answer them at all. God doesn’t defend himself against Moses’ accusation that he has brought evil on the people. He doesn’t defend himself against the charge that he picked the wrong man for the job. He doesn’t defend himself against the charge that he has done nothing to deliver his people at all. Instead, he communicates to Moses who he is. Moses’ main problem is that he needs to know God better. So God responds to Moses’ challenges by revealing who he is and what he is going to do. “God spoke to Moses and said to him, ‘I am YHWH’”. Moses, you need to know who I am. I am the I AM. The self-existent one. The independent one. The uncaused cause of all that is. I am the active one. The one who is being and doing. I am the God who makes promises and keeps them.

God connects himself with history. This is not a new god on the scene. This is the God who has been active in history. This is the same God who appeared to Abraham and Isaac and Jacob as El Shaddai – God All-Powerful. He is the God who made covenant with his people. He made promises to them. But Abraham and Isaac and Jacob had not experienced the fulfillment of those promises. The author of Hebrews tells us:

Hebrews 11:13 These all died in faith, not having received the things promised, but having seen them and greeted them from afar, and having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth.

The people of the exodus generation would experience God in a new way. They would get to see how God keeps his promises. God made staggering promises to Abraham and Isaac and Jacob. Now God is going to display himself in power and fulfill these promises to this generation. God reiterates that he hears – even the accusations of the people toward Moses, he knows, he remembers, and he cares.

Application

We will all face hard things in life. Our tendency is to run back to our old taskmaster. Our false assumption is that because I am a King’s kid, I should be exempt from suffering. We tend to shrink from the cross. The good news of redemption and rescue sounds good until we hear Jesus say:

Luke 9:23 And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.

We want to enjoy the crown without enduring the cross. The cross is strong medicine. We would rather die a slow death under the anesthetizing effects of sin than feel the piercing pain of God’s remedy for our desperate and sick condition.

Romans 6:5 For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. 6 We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. 7 For one who has died has been set free from sin.

Galatians 5:24 And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.

What we need to be told, again and again and again, is who the hero of the story is. I am YHWH. I will do it. It will be painful. It will cost you your life.

Luke 9:23 And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. 24 For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it.

(cf. Matt.10:39; Matt.16:25; Mk.8:35; Lk.9:24; 17:33)

Things may get worse before they get better. It may feel like I have abandoned you. You may feel that I have wronged you. You can come to me with any questions. I may not answer all your questions, but I want you to bring them to me. I am good. You can trust me. I will keep my word to you. I will carry you safely through to the other side. What you need to know is me. You need to know who I am. I am the hero of your story. You need to know me.

Pastor Rodney Zedicher ~ Ephraim Church of the Bible ~ www.ephraimbible.org

September 19, 2010 Posted by | Exodus, podcast | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Exodus 5:1-19; Whose Word Will Stand?

http://www.ephraimbible.org/Sermons/20100912_exodus05_1-19.mp3

9/12 Exodus 5:1-19 Whose Word Will Stand?

Introduction:

God has declared over and over that he cares about his people.

-Exodus 2:23 During those many days the king of Egypt died, and the people of Israel groaned because of their slavery and cried out for help. Their cry for rescue from slavery came up to God. 24 And God heard their groaning, and God remembered his covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob.

-Exodus 3:7 Then the LORD said, “I have surely seen the affliction of my people who are in Egypt and have heard their cry because of their taskmasters. I know their sufferings, 8 and I have come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians and to bring them up out of that land to a good and broad land, a land flowing with milk and honey, to the place of the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Amorites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites.

-Exodus 3:16 Go and gather the elders of Israel together and say to them, ‘The LORD, the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob, has appeared to me, saying, “I have observed you and what has been done to you in Egypt, 17 and I promise that I will bring you up out of the affliction of Egypt to the land of the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Amorites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites, a land flowing with milk and honey.”’

God has sent Moses and his brother Aaron to declare the good news that God cares and has begun to take decisive action to deliver them from their oppression in Egypt so they can serve him. Moses is afraid that the people won’t listen to him or believe him, but they do listen and they do believe, just as God had promised, and they respond in worship. With the encouragement of this initial success, Moses and Aaron are now emboldened to bring God’s word to the Pharaoh.

Thus Says the LORD

God had given them the words he wanted them to say to the Pharaoh.

-Exodus 4:21 And the Lord said to Moses, “When you go back to Egypt, see that you do before Pharaoh all the miracles that I have put in your power. But I will harden his heart, so that he will not let the people go. 22 Then you shall say to Pharaoh, ‘Thus says the Lord, Israel is my firstborn son, 23 and I say to you, “Let my son go that he may serve me.” If you refuse to let him go, behold, I will kill your firstborn son.’”

-Exodus 3:18 … you and the elders of Israel shall go to the king of Egypt and say to him, ‘The LORD, the God of the Hebrews, has met with us; and now, please let us go a three days’ journey into the wilderness, that we may sacrifice to the LORD our God.’

This is the first of over 400 times the phrase ‘Thus says the Lord’ is used in the bible. When God gave his prophet a message to deliver – usually a message of confrontation rebuking someone who is hostile to God – he was to introduce the message this way: ‘thus says the Lord’. But there are severe warnings about claiming to speak God’s words when God had not spoken

-Jeremiah 14:14 And the LORD said to me: “The prophets are prophesying lies in my name. I did not send them, nor did I command them or speak to them. They are prophesying to you a lying vision, worthless divination, and the deceit of their own minds. 15 Therefore thus says the LORD concerning the prophets who prophesy in my name although I did not send them, and who say, ‘Sword and famine shall not come upon this land’: By sword and famine those prophets shall be consumed.

-Ezekiel 22:28 And her prophets have smeared whitewash for them, seeing false visions and divining lies for them, saying, ‘Thus says the Lord GOD,’ when the LORD has not spoken. …31 Therefore I have poured out my indignation upon them. I have consumed them with the fire of my wrath. I have returned their way upon their heads, declares the Lord GOD.”

God takes his word very seriously. When he speaks, he demands that we listen, and if we will not listen, he says he will require it of us. Those who lie about speaking in his name when he had not spoken, he required the death penalty.

Deuteronomy 18:18 I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their brothers. And I will put my words in his mouth, and he shall speak to them all that I command him. 19 And whoever will not listen to my words that he shall speak in my name, I myself will require it of him. 20 But the prophet who presumes to speak a word in my name that I have not commanded him to speak, or who speaks in the name of other gods, that same prophet shall die.’ 21 And if you say in your heart, ‘How may we know the word that the LORD has not spoken?’– 22 when a prophet speaks in the name of the LORD, if the word does not come to pass or come true, that is a word that the LORD has not spoken; the prophet has spoken it presumptuously. You need not be afraid of him.

This is a prophecy of the promised Messiah, “I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their brothers”. This is the one who would fulfill perfectly the roles of prophet, priest and king. The crowning pinnacle of God’s self-revelation was his own Son, the word become flesh.

Hebrews 1:1 Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, 2 but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world.

So Moses is foreshadowing Jesus when he comes to set the captives free. Jesus read God’s words about himself:

Luke 4:18 “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, 19 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” (Isaiah 61:1-2)

God’s Demands

Moses declares the word of God boldly to the Pharaoh:

5:1 Afterward Moses and Aaron went and said to Pharaoh, “Thus says the LORD, the God of Israel, ‘Let my people go, that they may hold a feast to me in the wilderness.”’

YHWH, the God of Israel claims ownership on this people that you are oppressing. You are forcing them to serve you. YHWH says ‘they are mine. They are mine, and you must let them go. They are to hold a feast to me’. God is claiming the right of possession on his people.

This is worded differently than what God had said to Moses. God had said in 4:23 ‘let my son go that he may serve me’ or in 3:18 ‘that we may sacrifice to the LORD our God’. Here Moses says ‘let my people go that they may hold a feast to me’. The word here translated ‘hold a feast’ is a word that describes a feast, festival or pilgrimage. Worshiping or serving God, even sacrificing, is indeed a feast or festival – a celebration. If we picture the Old Testament sacrificial system as a heavy financial burden where animal after animal simply went up in smoke, I think we are mistaken. Certainly there were sin offerings and whole burnt offerings, and what was offered to the Lord was to be the best of the best – they were not to offer to the Lord that which cost them nothing (2 Samuel 24:24). But this was not all. Listen to how God describes the sacrifices he demands of his people:

Deuteronomy 12:6 and there you shall bring your burnt offerings and your sacrifices, your tithes and the contribution that you present, your vow offerings, your freewill offerings, and the firstborn of your herd and of your flock. 7 And there you shall eat before the LORD your God, and you shall rejoice, you and your households, in all that you undertake, in which the LORD your God has blessed you.

… 11 then to the place that the LORD your God will choose, to make his name dwell there, there you shall bring all that I command you: your burnt offerings and your sacrifices, your tithes and the contribution that you present, and all your finest vow offerings that you vow to the LORD. 12 And you shall rejoice before the LORD your God, you and your sons and your daughters, your male servants and your female servants, and the Levite that is within your towns, since he has no portion or inheritance with you.

… 17 You may not eat within your towns the tithe of your grain or of your wine or of your oil, or the firstborn of your herd or of your flock, or any of your vow offerings that you vow, or your freewill offerings or the contribution that you present, 18 but you shall eat them before the LORD your God in the place that the LORD your God will choose, you and your son and your daughter, your male servant and your female servant, and the Levite who is within your towns. And you shall rejoice before the LORD your God in all that you undertake.

… 26 But the holy things that are due from you, and your vow offerings, you shall take, and you shall go to the place that the LORD will choose, 27 and offer your burnt offerings, the flesh and the blood, on the altar of the LORD your God. The blood of your sacrifices shall be poured out on the altar of the LORD your God, but the flesh you may eat.

This would be more of a worship celebration, a family bar-b-cue in the presence of the Lord. Moses was accurate in describing what God demanded of them as a ‘feast’. This contrasts starkly to the service required by the Pharaoh. In this chapter the Pharaoh acknowledges that it is ‘hard service’ and in this chapter he makes it even harder, even to the point of being impossible. But listen to what Jesus says:

Matthew 11:28 Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.

God is planning rest for his people.

5:1 Afterward Moses and Aaron went and said to Pharaoh, “Thus says the LORD, the God of Israel, ‘Let my people go, that they may hold a feast to me in the wilderness.”’

Pharaoh would understand this language. Other people groups would claim to speak on behalf of their deity, and there is evidence that other groups would go on pilgrimage from Egypt to serve their gods.

All is well up to this point. Moses and Aaron have obeyed the Lord and gone to the elders of Israel, and they received the words of the Lord and responded with belief and worship. And now they have gone to Pharaoh and declared God’s words. But here comes the crushing blow.

2 But Pharaoh said, “Who is the LORD, that I should obey his voice and let Israel go? I do not know the LORD, and moreover, I will not let Israel go.”

Pharaoh is not saying that he’s never heard of YHWH or that he doesn’t know anything about Israel’s God. What he is saying is that he has no reason to respect this God or listen to what he says. He says ‘Who is the LORD, that I should obey his voice?’ Remember Moses’ question to God ‘Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the children of Israel out of Egypt? (Ex.3:11) Moses is not unsure of his own identity. He is unconvinced of his qualifications and his ability to accomplish the task. The Pharaoh was certainly aware of Israel’s God YHWH, as he was aware of the many gods of the Egyptians and the gods of the surrounding nations. Simply as a matter of diplomacy he should at least acknowledge the God of his slave people. But instead he demonstrates a total disregard and lack of respect for the God of the Hebrews. He snubs their God and spits in his face. Pharaoh is saying ‘I am in charge here. I am the final authority. This so called God of Israel has no right to tell me what to do with my slaves. I do not believe in your God and I will not let Israel go.’

As shocking as these words are, they should not come as a surprise. God had laid out clearly what would happen ahead of time. God had already told Moses:

-Exodus 3:19 But I know that the king of Egypt will not let you go unless compelled by a mighty hand. 20 So I will stretch out my hand and strike Egypt with all the wonders that I will do in it; after that he will let you go.

-Exodus 4:21 And the LORD said to Moses, “When you go back to Egypt, see that you do before Pharaoh all the miracles that I have put in your power. But I will harden his heart, so that he will not let the people go.

Pharaoh’s proud harsh response should be an indication to Moses that God is already at work, doing exactly what he promised, hardening the Pharaoh’s unbelieving heart in order to set the stage for his mighty acts of deliverance. But it seems that Moses and Aaron are a bit taken aback by his defiant response. Their response is less authoritative, more reasoned, more tactful.

3 Then they said, “The God of the Hebrews has met with us. Please let us go a three days’ journey into the wilderness that we may sacrifice to the LORD our God, lest he fall upon us with pestilence or with the sword.”

Their reasoning seems to be that if we are not allowed to go, the Lord may punish us for our disobedience and that would be a greater loss to Egypt’s labor force than the requested pilgrimage. The irony here is that the Lord is about to fall on Egypt with pestilence and sword because of their refusal to release his son Israel.

But their persuasive speech leaves the Pharaoh unmoved.

4 But the king of Egypt said to them, “Moses and Aaron, why do you take the people away from their work? Get back to your burdens.” 5 And Pharaoh said, “Behold, the people of the land are now many, and you make them rest from their burdens!”

The Pharaoh now accuses Moses and Aaron of distracting his slaves from their hard labor. Pharaoh is still on his throne and he is still calling the shots in Egypt. He refers back to the problem addressed by his predecessor – the disproportionate growth of the Hebrew people – God has made them to be fruitful and multiply and fill the land, to the point where they are a threat to the national security. They are many and they must be kept in subjection. This Pharaoh is shrewd. He institutes a plan to demoralize Israel and discredit Moses.

Pharaoh’s Demands

6 The same day Pharaoh commanded the taskmasters of the people and their foremen, 7 “You shall no longer give the people straw to make bricks, as in the past; let them go and gather straw for themselves. 8 But the number of bricks that they made in the past you shall impose on them, you shall by no means reduce it, for they are idle. Therefore they cry, ‘Let us go and offer sacrifice to our God.’ 9 Let heavier work be laid on the men that they may labor at it and pay no regard to lying words.”

Cut straw was an essential ingredient for sun-dried bricks to dry properly and hold together. This was apparently provided ready to use at the job site. The new demand was that the straw would be withheld and the slaves would have to scrounge for whatever substitute they could find and still meet the same quota of finished product. Pharaoh’s accusation is that they are idle. That is why they are asking to be released to offer sacrifice to their God. Moses and Aaron came to Pharaoh saying ‘thus says YHWH’. Pharaoh calls the words of YHWH spoken by Moses and Aaron ‘lying words’. Remember the serpent in the garden? He questioned Eve ‘Did God actually say…’ (Gen.3:1) and then flatly contradicted God’s words saying ‘you will not surely die’ (Gen.3:4). His tactics are the same today. He seeks to undermine the word of God and God’s messengers. This hope of rest and worship that Moses and Aaron are enticing the people with are false hopes. God has not really spoken to them. I will exercise my authority to demonstrate who is really in charge by exponentially increasing the workload and demanding the impossible.

10 So the taskmasters and the foremen of the people went out and said to the people, “Thus says Pharaoh, ‘I will not give you straw. 11 Go and get your straw yourselves wherever you can find it, but your work will not be reduced in the least.”’ 12 So the people were scattered throughout all the land of Egypt to gather stubble for straw. 13 The taskmasters were urgent, saying, “Complete your work, your daily task each day, as when there was straw.” 14 And the foremen of the people of Israel, whom Pharaoh’s taskmasters had set over them, were beaten and were asked, “Why have you not done all your task of making bricks today and yesterday, as in the past?”

Pharaoh here directly asserts himself against the God of the Hebrews. Moses and Aaron had come to him saying ‘Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel. ‘Let my people go that they may hold a feast to me in the wilderness.’ Pharaoh responds ‘Thus says Pharaoh’. Whose word will stand? Moses comes in the authority of YHWH saying ‘thus says the Lord’ and Pharaoh responds by a proclamation ‘Thus says Pharaoh’. God says that Israel is my people and they are to be released to serve me. Pharaoh says they are my slaves and I will intensify their service to me.

The Israelite foremen did their best to produce the same amount of bricks, but the demand imposed upon them was impossible. They were beaten publicly by the Egyptian taskmasters for not meeting the quota.

The Response of Israel

15 Then the foremen of the people of Israel came and cried to Pharaoh, “Why do you treat your servants like this? 16 No straw is given to your servants, yet they say to us, ‘Make bricks!’ And behold, your servants are beaten; but the fault is in your own people.” 17 But he said, “You are idle, you are idle; that is why you say, ‘Let us go and sacrifice to the LORD.’ 18 Go now and work. No straw will be given you, but you must still deliver the same number of bricks.” 19 The foremen of the people of Israel saw that they were in trouble when they said, “You shall by no means reduce your number of bricks, your daily task each day.”

At the end of chapter 2, it says that the people ‘groaned because of their slavery and cried out for help. Their cry for rescue from slavery came up to God. And God heard… and God remembered… God saw… and God knew. Here the people of Israel cry out again, but this time to the Pharaoh. Three times in these verses the Israelite foremen refer to themselves as ‘your servants’. The question in this passage is whom will the people serve? Will they serve the Lord? Or is their allegiance to Pharaoh? But the Pharaoh will not hear. He does not care. He has no sympathy, no compassion. In contrast to God’s heart toward the people, his heart is hard. The foremen think there must be some miscommunication. The quota has remained the same but he necessary materials to meet that quota have been withheld. ‘The fault is in your own people’ the foremen say to the Pharaoh. But the Pharaoh affirms their worst fears. You heard correctly. You must produce the same quantity without the necessary materials. And the reason – your request to go sacrifice to the Lord indicates that you are lazy and have too much time on your hands.

Whose Word Will Stand?

Here we begin to see the irrationality of a man who has determined to fight against God. Withholding the necessary materials will inevitably lead to reduced quality in bricks – the building materials he is using to build his kingdom. Anything built with this sub-standard product will not last as long. So he is ultimately hurting himself by his irrational and impossible demands.

Psalm 14:1 The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.” (cf. Psalm 53:1)

The Pharaoh has set himself against God.

Psalm 2:2 The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the LORD and against his anointed, …2:4 He who sits in the heavens laughs; the Lord holds them in derision. 2:5 Then he will speak to them in his wrath, and terrify them in his fury, saying, 2:6 “As for me, I have set my King on Zion, my holy hill.”

It is God’s word that will stand in the end.

1 Peter 1:24 for “All flesh is like grass and all its glory like the flower of grass. The grass withers, and the flower falls, 25 but the word of the Lord remains forever.” And this word is the good news that was preached to you.

God’s word is good news. Good news of freedom – freedom from oppressive bondage – freedom to joyfully serve the one true God. Feasting. Celebration. Worship. Relationship. Knowing God. Life and life abundantly. The good news of reconciliation for sinners to a holy God through the once-for-all perfect sacrifice of his own Son Jesus.

Pastor Rodney Zedicher ~ Ephraim Church of the Bible ~ www.ephraimbible.org

September 12, 2010 Posted by | Exodus, podcast | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Exodus 4:27-31; Providence, Belief, Worship

http://www.ephraimbible.org/Sermons/20100905_exodus04_27-31.mp3
9/5 Exodus 4:27-31 Providence, Belief and Worship

Introduction:

Exodus is about God. God is at work among his people. He is blessing his people and preserving them in the midst of hardship. God is stirring his people to disregard the evil commands of a wicked ruler and do what is right. God is thwarting the plans of the most powerful dictator on the planet by means of things we would consider weak and helpless. He is hearing the cries for help from his people, and he is taking note of their desperate circumstances. He knows their pain and has come down to take action. He is making good on promises he had made many centuries earlier. He invades the solitude of his chosen instrument, introduces himself in his holiness, and defeats his excuses one by one. He is preparing his deliverer and unveils his plan to win the hearts of his people and execute judgment on his enemies. Now we are at the point of action. It’s go time!

4:19 And the Lord said to Moses in Midian, “Go back to Egypt, for all the men who were seeking your life are dead.” 20 So Moses took his wife and his sons and had them ride on a donkey, and went back to the land of Egypt. And Moses took the staff of God in his hand. 21 And the Lord said to Moses, “When you go back to Egypt, see that you do before Pharaoh all the miracles that I have put in your power. But I will harden his heart, so that he will not let the people go. 22 Then you shall say to Pharaoh, ‘Thus says the Lord, Israel is my firstborn son, 23 and I say to you, “Let my son go that he may serve me.” If you refuse to let him go, behold, I will kill your firstborn son.’” 24 At a lodging place on the way the LORD met him and sought to put him to death. 25 Then Zipporah took a flint and cut off her son’s foreskin and touched Moses’ feet with it and said, “Surely you are a bridegroom of blood to me!” 26 So he let him alone. It was then that she said, “A bridegroom of blood,” because of the circumcision. 27 The LORD said to Aaron, “Go into the wilderness to meet Moses.” So he went and met him at the mountain of God and kissed him. 28 And Moses told Aaron all the words of the LORD with which he had sent him to speak, and all the signs that he had commanded him to do. 29 Then Moses and Aaron went and gathered together all the elders of the people of Israel. 30 Aaron spoke all the words that the LORD had spoken to Moses and did the signs in the sight of the people. 31 And the people believed; and when they heard that the LORD had visited the people of Israel and that he had seen their affliction, they bowed their heads and worshiped.

The Providence of God

What are the odds that Moses and his brother Aaron converge on the same spot on Mount Sinai at this particular time? Remember, Moses only spent his youngest years with his Hebrew family. He was raised by the Pharaoh’s daughter in the courts of Egypt. Moses has now been exiled from Egypt for 40 years because he stood up to defend his people. He is now an 80 year old man. He was tending sheep on the back side of the desert when God intruded into his quiet retirement. At Sinai God gave him his assignment – that he would be the instrument God would use to deliver his people from Egypt. So he took Jethro’s flocks back to Midian, sought his father-in-law’s permission to leave, packed up his family and set out. Then God confronted them at the lodging place as he demanded obedience and holiness from his servant.

Meanwhile, back in Egypt, the LORD says to Aaron “Go into the wilderness to meet Moses.” If you think about it for a moment, that sounds absolutely crazy. When Moses left Egypt, he sat down by a well. That was where people met. Everybody has to have water, so a well is a good spot to meet other people. If you’re going to connect with someone, you choose a commonly understood landmark. You don’t choose the wilderness. ‘Can you meet me in the wilderness tomorrow? I’ll be just past the twelfth bend in the road, over the hill, a little to the south; I’ll be standing by the sage brush.’ That would be almost as bad as trying to find your wife in Wal-Mart! Could you imagine a conversation between Moses and Aaron? – ‘service is kind of sketchy out here, but I’ll text you my GPS coordinates in a minute.’ The fact that they connected at all is amazing evidence of God’s providential hand at work in every detail of their lives.

I wonder when it was that God told Aaron to go to the wilderness to meet Moses. Do you think it was before or after Moses complained that he couldn’t speak well and didn’t want to go? Back in verse 14:

4:14 Then the anger of the LORD was kindled against Moses and he said, “Is there not Aaron, your brother, the Levite? I know that he can speak well. Behold, he is coming out to meet you, and when he sees you, he will be glad in his heart. 15 You shall speak to him and put the words in his mouth, and I will be with your mouth and with his mouth and will teach you both what to do. 16 He shall speak for you to the people, and he shall be your mouth, and you shall be as God to him. 17 And take in your hand this staff, with which you shall do the signs.”

What an encouragement this would be to our reluctant leader. This is a brother he had probably not seen in 40 years, now coming out to meet him in the wilderness. What confirmation that this really is God working. God, who controls all things, is able to orchestrate the reunion of these two brothers on the mountain where God had met with Moses. They have a joyful reunion and Moses downloads to his brother all the words God has spoken and shows him the signs God has given him. We don’t know how much Aaron knew about what was happening. God simply told him ‘Go into the wilderness to meet Moses’. Moses was the one to tell his brother that God was sending him to set the Israelites free to worship God on this mountain. Moses was the one to relay to Aaron that he had whined and complained so much to God about his own inadequacies that God granted him Aaron to be his mouthpiece. I wonder how Aaron took that news?

Faithful messengers

So Moses and Aaron went. They went to Egypt to gather the elders of Israel just as God had instructed them. It says ‘Aaron spoke all the words that the LORD had spoken to Moses’. They didn’t leave anything out. They didn’t add anything to the message. They were faithful messengers. That’s what a faithful messenger does. He speaks all the words the LORD puts in his mouth, and doesn’t go beyond the words the LORD gives him. Even Balaam, a corrupt prophet, understood what the role of a prophet was.

Numbers 24:13 ‘If Balak should give me his house full of silver and gold, I would not be able to go beyond the word of the LORD, to do either good or bad of my own will. What the LORD speaks, that will I speak’

Moses and Aaron were faithful to proclaim the message God had given them. God had spoken to Moses from the burning bush and said:

3:14 God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM.” And he said, “Say this to the people of Israel, ‘I AM has sent me to you.”’ 15 God also said to Moses, “Say this to the people of Israel, ‘The LORD, the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has sent me to you.’ This is my name forever, and thus I am to be remembered throughout all generations. 16 Go and gather the elders of Israel together and say to them, ‘The LORD, the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob, has appeared to me, saying, “I have observed you and what has been done to you in Egypt, 17 and I promise that I will bring you up out of the affliction of Egypt to the land of the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Amorites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites, a land flowing with milk and honey.”’ 18 And they will listen to your voice, and you and the elders of Israel shall go to the king of Egypt and say to him, ‘The LORD, the God of the Hebrews, has met with us; and now, please let us go a three days’ journey into the wilderness, that we may sacrifice to the LORD our God.’

Moses’ response to this was:

4:1 Then Moses answered, “But behold, they will not believe me or listen to my voice, for they will say, ‘The LORD did not appear to you.”’

Now he is finally in the situation faithfully proclaiming the word of the Lord to the people and look what happens.

31 And the people believed; and when they heard that the LORD had visited the people of Israel and that he had seen their affliction, they bowed their heads and worshiped.

Pay close attention to this! It says the people believed when they heard. God sent Moses to proclaim a message. His message. Moses and Aaron declared all the words of the Lord to the people and the people believed when they heard.

Romans 10: 13 For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” 14 But how are they to call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? 15 And how are they to preach unless they are sent? …17 So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.

Moses’ concern was ‘the people will not believe me or listen to my voice’. Moses was all worried that they would not accept the messenger. But it’s not about the messenger! It’s not about how eloquent or how animated or how plain or how polished or how trendy or how not-traditional and out-of-the-box the messenger is. It’s not about the messenger! Moses, they don’t have to believe you. They don’t have to listen to your voice. Moses, I want them to hear my voice. You faithfully proclaim what I tell you to say and the people will hear my voice. What the people heard was that the LORD had visited the people and the LORD had seen their affliction. The message was about the LORD and the messenger was simply the middle man bringing the word of the LORD to the people of God so that his people could be in the presence of their LORD.

The Goal – Worship

And that is the end goal. That is the end goal of the exodus. To reveal to the people the nearness of God and to lead them into worship, glad service of the Lord.

Exodus 3:12 He said, “But I will be with you, and this shall be the sign for you, that I have sent you: when you have brought the people out of Egypt, you shall serve God on this mountain.”

Exodus 4:23 and I say to you, “Let my son go that he may serve me.” If you refuse to let him go, behold, I will kill your firstborn son.”’

The first two of the ten commandments are commandments about worship.

Exodus 20:3 “You shall have no other gods before me. 4 “You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. 5 You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I the LORD your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and the fourth generation of those who hate me, 6 but showing steadfast love to thousands of those who love me and keep my commandments.

The majority of the book of Exodus details what worship will look like for the Israelites. Worship is what Exodus is about. Moses faithfully brings God’s word to God’s people, and they hear and believe and they respond with worship. They bowed their heads and worshiped.

Worship is the end goal of the gospel. That we, the blood-bought multitude, can feel and say and sing and live the surpassing worth and excellency of the King of kings. This is truly what it is all about! This is what our salvation is all about. Our salvation is not primarily a salvation from something. Yes, God rescues us from an eternity separated from him, where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth. But salvation is not a ‘get out of hell free card’ that we can stick in our back pocket and sit on as we go about the rest of our lives. We are saved to something and for someone. ‘We were ransomed’ Peter says (1Pet.1:18-19) ‘from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot’ so we should ‘conduct ourselves with fear (v.17)’ – awe over the depth of the price that was paid. We are ransomed – purchased – bought – out of futility and into a life with purpose – one purpose – to fear God. To live in awe of who he is and what he’s done. We are ransomed, redeemed, and under new ownership so that we can worship.

1 Corinthians 6:19 Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, 20 for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.

Your body is now a worship center for the living God. Our central purpose is worship – to glorify God with our bodies. To bring him honor. Jesus said:

John 5:22 The Father judges no one, but has given all judgment to the Son, 23 that all may honor the Son, just as they honor the Father. Whoever does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent him. 24 Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life. …40 yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life.

We must honor Jesus just as we honor the Father. Eternal life comes only to those who worship Jesus. This is what heaven is. Heaven is all about God. It is all about worship. Jesus said:

John 17:3 And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.

Here are some snapshots straight out of heaven, and they are snapshots of worship.

Revelation 5:9 And they sang a new song, saying, “Worthy are you to take the scroll and to open its seals, for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation, 10 and you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God, and they shall reign on the earth.” 11 Then I looked, and I heard around the throne and the living creatures and the elders the voice of many angels, numbering myriads of myriads and thousands of thousands, 12 saying with a loud voice, “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing!” 13 And I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea, and all that is in them, saying, “To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be blessing and honor and glory and might forever and ever!” 14 And the four living creatures said, “Amen!” and the elders fell down and worshiped.

Then, at the end of Revelation, in the new Jerusalem, in the new heavens and the new earth:

Revelation 22:3 No longer will there be anything accursed, but the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and his servants will worship him. 4 They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. 5 And night will be no more. They will need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they will reign forever and ever.

Hear God’s word faithfully proclaimed. Believe. Embrace him as king. Do what you were made to do – with your lips, with your thoughts, with your emotions, with you life – worship!

Pastor Rodney Zedicher ~ Ephraim Church of the Bible ~ www.ephraimbible.org

September 5, 2010 Posted by | Exodus, podcast | , , , , , | Leave a comment