Fellowship @ Cross Creek
Life of Moses
Now You Shall See!
(Orig. 2.9.3; ed. 10.19.14)
Introduction…Have you ever tried helping someone and when things didn’t go right just at first, the person you were trying to help turned on you and questioned your help in the first place? How does it make you feel? You want to quit, don’t you? If you don’t want my help, then forget it. But wait! Don’t things take some time to turn back around. You just can’t enter into a situation and think things are going to go well, day one. Sometimes they do, but you are taking your approach and trying to integrate it with a broken approach. It’s going to be a mess until you get the situation cleaned up a bit. So don’t be discouraged if your help is initially frowned upon, and don’t be so sensitive to criticism. Stick with the bigger picture. Be patient, and if you need God’s help, then ask him. That’s exactly what Moses must do in his divinely-inspired stewardship to intervene on behalf of God’s people. He will have to endure some initial setbacks, but God has his purposes. And he has his purposes in your efforts to help others as well. Be patient. Seek God.
Series Introduction: You make a mistake; you think your life has changed forever; that there is no going back. In exile, you take your flock of sheep, which you have been pasturing for the past forty years, to an out-of-the-way desert valley that seems to symbolize your life. You see a fire in the distance that refuses to die down. You decide to take a closer look. As you draw closer to the inextinguishable flame, suddenly your life does change forever…
The God of the universe has plucked YOU, out of all people, a wandering shepherd, to lead your entire nation numbering over two million people out of the country they are currently enslaved within, across a barren wasteland with little water or food resource to a land which only a few of their forefathers briefly occupied over four hundred years before and is currently occupied by inhabitants who have no intention of giving it up.
Impossible you say? Ridiculous? Sounds like it to me, unless the God of creation is the one doing the calling and doing the work. Do you have the guts to be obedient no matter what…no matter the price?
Read the Passage three times…
Ask Questions (no answers)…
22 Moses returned to the LORD and said, “O Lord, why have you brought trouble upon this people? Is this why you sent me?
Notice the change from LORD (all caps) to Lord (lower case). Here Moses is calling Yahweh (I AM in Hebrew; remember NIV substitutes LORD for I AM), his lord or master (Lord).
The eternal question: if we are your people, and you have promised to deliver us, then why is not everything smooth sailing here? Why are there some serious bumps in the road in accomplishing your plan? Aren’t you in control? Why would you allow these problems?
Then Moses seems to be suggesting that God takes delight in torturing his people—that he is some mean, vindictive God puppet master playing games in the universe—a charge that is often leveled at God for allowing evil in the universe or “Why does God allow little children to suffer?”
23 Ever since I went to Pharaoh to speak in your name, he has brought trouble upon this people, and you have not rescued your people at all.”
What in the heck are you doing? I thought everything was real and on the up and up at the burning bush? What has gone wrong? Why the change? Why aren’t you doing something yet?
Exod. 6:1 Then the LORD said to Moses, “Now you will see what I will do to Pharaoh: Because of my mighty hand he will let them go; because of my mighty hand he will drive them out of his country.”
After Moses’ prayer, the almighty “Now” arrives on the scene: “Now you will see what I will do…” almost as if he was waiting for the right moment to make his grand appearance, like a woman leaving her suitor waiting downstairs in the parlor. Taking her time, she does not rush down stairs. Instead she keeps him waiting, just long enough to be almost frustrating, but not too long to send him away. Finally, at just the right moment when he is about to walk out the door, having felt stood up, she makes her grand appearance. Then he sees her and thinks to himself, “Wow, this was worth the wait.”
I have kind of got the same feeling about the return of Christ (either the rapture, which we don’t know when will take place or his second coming, at the end of the Great Tribulation, which we do know when will take place.
But as Matthew 24:21-22 tells us, it will seem like forever: “For then there will be great distress, unequaled from the beginning of the world until now –and never to be equaled again. If those days had not been cut short, no one would survive, but for the sake of the elect those days will be shortened.”
God is about to break Pharaoh so that no one will be mistaken. It is the Lord and his mighty right hand that has accomplished this phenomenal feat–not Pharaoh’s good-heartedness. And 34 centuries later, no one still doubts this. Only God performed the impossible!
2 God also said to Moses, “I am the LORD.
I love this line. It says it all; “I am I AM”… “I am Yahweh.” I can do anything. Nothing is too difficult for me. I created it all. I can do anything I wish at any moment to alter that moment.
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.
What does this mean? That he did not tell who he was to their forefathers? That he did not tell them his name Yahweh or I AM? Is this true? (Go back and look at some of these discussions between God and Abraham. God and Isaac and God and Jacob…and see if he did not reveal his name to them? If not, I would assume, while the text says YHWH, this was supplied by Moses as he was inspired to write the text many years later. Thus, while YHWH spoke to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, I would assume this statement to mean that God never revealed his personal name to each of them…that he just spoke to them and they knew that this was God. So what’s the significance to God’s statement here—though I spoke intimately with them at times, I never revealed my name, but I did to you, Moses? That’s a big deal. I have not brought you to this point to abandon you. If I blessed them and did not reveal my name, how much more will I bless you and what I have called you to do, having revealed my name?)
4 I also established my covenant with them to give them the land of Canaan, where they lived as aliens.
Covenant…contract…deal…treaty…agreement. He did He do this with each of the three. He cut it with Abraham and renewed it with each of them. Even though 400 –800 years previous they were as aliens or foreigners in this land.
Remember according to Gen. 15, “the sins of the Amorites (the people groups living in the Promise Land) have not reached their full measure”: “12 As the sun was setting, Abram fell into a deep sleep, and a thick and dreadful darkness came over him. 13 Then the LORD said to him, ‘Know for certain that your descendants will be strangers in a country not their own, and they will be enslaved and mistreated four hundred years. 14 But I will punish the nation they serve as slaves, and afterward they will come out with great possessions. 15 You, however, will go to your fathers in peace and be buried at a good old age. 16 In the fourth generation your descendants will come back here, for the sin of the Amorites has not yet reached its full measure.’”
I can’t imagine the time line here. The United States is just over two centuries old. The Pilgrims came here less than four centuries ago. Columbus to the Americas just over five centuries ago. We are talking even several more centuries than all of these (to the days of the Crusades and the mythical “Robin Hood”) from the time Abraham first heard these words from God until the Children of Israel will leave Egypt. Phenomenal!
5 Moreover, I have heard the groaning of the Israelites, whom the Egyptians are enslaving, and I have remembered my covenant.
He is true to his agreement. God just doesn’t necessarily work in days and months, but centuries and millenniums. Ps. 90:4… For a thousand years in your sight are like a day that has just gone by, or like a watch in the night. 2Pet. 3:8 … But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day.
6 “Therefore, say to the Israelites:
`I am the LORD,
and I will bring you out from under the yoke of the Egyptians.
I will free you from being slaves to them,
and I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with mighty acts of judgment.
Oh boy, they are really going to like this. So far they haven’t seen much. Can I show them something first, Lord? Do I really have to tell them? Do we have to do that faith thing again?
7 I will take you as my own people, and I will be your God. Then you will know that I am the LORD your God, who brought you out from under the yoke of the Egyptians.
He is wound up now.
8 And I will bring you to the land I swore with uplifted hand to give to Abraham, to Isaac and to Jacob.
I will give it to you as a possession. I am the LORD.'”
9 Moses reported this to the Israelites, but they did not listen to him because of their discouragement and cruel bondage.
I can understand this. Is this a test for Moses and his leadership: do I trust God, even when the people don’t trust me? “When is that lady gonna come down the stairs?”
10 Then the LORD said to Moses,
Why such a short verse? Why break it here and not after the next command?
11 “Go, tell Pharaoh king of Egypt to let the Israelites go out of his country.”
OH GREAT! I am sure he is going to listen. We have been down this route, LORD. Can we do something a little different, like just leave?
12 But Moses said to the LORD, “If the Israelites will not listen to me, why would Pharaoh listen to me, since I speak with faltering lips?”
Is he a stumbler?
Who’s? Moses, LORD, Lord, this people, Pharaoh, God, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, God Almighty, aliens, Israelites, Egyptians, slaves, my own people, LORD your God, king of Egypt
Where’s? returned to the LORD, upon this people, to Pharaoh, out of his country, the land of Canaan, where they lived, out from under the yoke of the Egyptians, to the land, out of his country
When’s? ever since, then the Lord said to Moses, Now you will see, (lots of “wills” future tense), then the Lord said…
• Because of Pharaoh’s order that the Israelites not be given any more straw to help make their bricks, Moses goes to the LORD and asks why is he not rescuing his people?
• I AM (for the next 8 verses) launches into a discourse in which he does promise to do just that.
• Now you will see.
• Because of my might, he (Pharaoh) will drive them out himself
• I made this deal with your forefathers to give their descendants this land they were living in as aliens
• I have heard the Israelites’ (their children’s) groanings; and I will be true to my agreement.
• Tell the people I will accomplish all this.
• You will be my people.
• I will place you in the land that I promise to give your forefathers
(In other words, don’t give up hope; the lady will come down the stairs, eventually)
• Moses goes and tells this to the people
• They refuse to listen because of their increased persecution…
• I AM then tells Moses to go to Pharaoh again and ask that he let God’s people go.
• Logically, Moses challenges this wisdom, “If my own people won’t listen, then why will Pharaoh. I don’t speak well.”
Moses goes back to the LORD twice: “God they aren’t buying it. Are you sure I am the man for the job? I don’t have the voice or speaking ability to persuade them otherwise.”
God just keeps shoving Moses out onto the historical stage, setting him up for what will be the greatest national liberation of people in the history of the world.
Why’s? Why did God include this passage in his timeless word? Or What do I learn about God? Life? People? Myself?
• God has his own timetable. Sometimes he works in centuries and millenniums because a thousand years are like a day to him.
• And because he does not work on my timetable or that of a very limited human nature, it does not mean that he does not exist or does not care. Time exposes his faithful. Who really believes, no matter what? And who are fair-weather God-trusters? When times are good, we believe; when they get difficult, we doubt.
• God keeps his word…i.e. his contracts…covenants… with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Again these were 400-800 year old promises. But he kept his word. He is true to his word.
• Sometimes God calls us to a mission in which even those we are trying to help will oppose us. Interesting! With respect to God, this means nothing. We are still supposed to be obedient.
• When I need encouragement to persevere, despite opposition, I need to prayerfully go to the Father of the Universe. Moses does this twice here.
• The bigger they are, the harder they fall and the greater the victory party. God is setting up Pharaoh and the story of Israel’s exodus out of Egypt to be one of the all time great stories of history through Pharaoh’s continued resistance.
• The biggest lesson seems to me to be that things are not always what they seem. Physically, things appeared bleak. Spiritually, it was all a matter of timing. The lesson to me: persevere…stay faithful. In time, God will justify his righteous, but not without his righteous being tested or tried.
So What’s? How does this truth personally apply to one of my life’s struggles?
Struggle? I had hoped to have more motivation after taking the weekend off. But as far as studying as gone, it has been just the opposite.
Principle? Sometimes things get worse before they get better. This does not mean that we should give up on our objective. Stay focused. See the long term. Be prepared to pay the price of increase resistance to change and attempting something good or what God has called us to do. Expect the resistance.
Application? I plan to take a weekend off every month from teaching and delegate this out, primarily to my associate pastor. Maybe I won’t get my bounce back as soon as I would like to, but this is a start in the right direction. For now, persevere, do the best I can and let it rest. Trust in God. Seek to be obedient to him. Expect the resistance. Forge ahead.
Update: …I got my bounce back on Thursday, but ran back out of gas mid-day Saturday. Got another shot of energy last Saturday night, which carried me through the night until I had finished my 82-slide, 7-page-handout presentation summarizing Rev. 2-3 into one theological sentence: Christ holds the agents of his message…his church… accountable—any time…any place.
Now not everyone might have enjoyed it. It may not have been their thing. It certainly wasn’t a humorous talk. But I accomplished my mission: to show my congregation how basic theology should be done– and how if you keep boiling it down, you can come to a kernel of theological truth—in this case, what was Christs’ message to his seven early, prophetic churches?
Why did, 60 years after his ascension, Jesus decide to to speak his word again… through John?
Those that were there then now know that answer a bit better and now, so do we: our Lord will hold his bride, his body, both his strong and weak churches, accountable for the deposit and deliverance of his message…his truth. There are no free rides…free lunches…here. You have been given a great grace…a great stewardship…a divine stewardship, and for that you will be held accountable in what you do with it and how you handle it. Don’t sit on it. Don’t lose it. Stand firm in a swiftly-disintegrating immoral world. Be moral. Be faithful. Be constant. Be true. No matter what!
To those that have been faithful in small things, I will make you faithful in great things (Matt. 25).
This week’s application (2003)…
Struggle…I am staring at several problems in other’s lives, which I am dealing with that, humanly speaking, seem almost impossible. One involves pride. Several others involve marriages.
Principle or Truth…Things are not always as they seem; the bigger they are… the harder they fall. “Wait for the lady to come down the stairs”…wait for God’s perfect timing.
Application…One involves the past, or memories from the past. Like Israel, I have my doubts. I confess LORD that all things are possible. That in your own time, you will provide your own deliverance. My job is to remain faithful. Listen to your Holy Spirit and do my job, despite the obstacles. Despite the roadblocks. Oh, Lord, I pray you will bring your Death Angel to destroy the (metaphorical first born) our flesh that refuses to submit to you (perhaps our pride). Bring honor and glory to yourself. We await your entrance my Lord, and none to soon. Reveal yourself. Glorify yourself via your mighty hand against, humanly speaking, an impossible opponent (the Pharaoh of Egypt).
Thanks…Day 12 and my prodigal spiritual daughter is in a good position. Thank you; thank you; thank you, Lord. I also thank you for the wonderful help in the ministry these days. Also, thank you for Sunday. It was a good day. I feel like I executed my teaching, concluding John 12, and watched a little boy grin as his prayers were answered, having both his mother and uncle in church again for the second Sunday in a row, as well as, having his hair stroked by his mother. Special.
It’s also very beautiful these days. Early fall. Leaves are just starting to turn. Temp in the 70s. Sun is brilliant, and oh by the way, both the Cards and the Royals are in the post-season. And for the Royal fans out there, it appears that they are only six outs, which is really an eternity, from their first World Series appearance in 29 years. The Cards have a little more work to do, being down to the Giants 2-1 in the NLCS while out in San Fran.
Struggle…Financial trust; rewriting a difficult section in SLove—the many failures of human or non-Spiritual love; hoping and praying that there are more good days for my spiritual daughter.
Truth…Expect resistance, not only from the bad guys, but from those you are trying to help…which is so ironic, because you are trying to help them. But it is natural to doubt God…or to doubt the supernatural. Human nature is to trust the natural…the phyisical, but even that is so childish…because there is so much we really do not know…even more than we can imagine…without the Spiritual, not only are we naïve, we are dead in the water. We just don’t know it.
Application…It’s okay to pray…okay to go to God and speak our mind…our frustrations. It is how we connect with God. Iron sharpens iron. Where God rubs off our hard human flesh and doubt. Lord, I am perservering. I am doing your work…your mighty work. You have given me so much good help. Please sustain it. Build momentum. We are doing good things. There will always be problems. We live in a dark world. Sin is all around. Let us walk in the light and so become children of light…or light in a dark world…regardless of the outward circumstances…
Joseph M. Cross
What about you? Struggle? Truth? Application?
What about your students? Their struggles (list a few; think about several of your students)?
Scripture quotations, unless noted otherwise, are taken from the Holy Bible: New International Version‚ NIV‚ Copyright 1973, 1978, 1984, International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers. All rights reserved.