Fellowship @ Cross Creek
Life of Moses
Lesson 12: A Divine Purpose, Resistance and Deliverance…
(Orig. 2.12.03; Ed. 10.26.14)
Introduction…How do you handle obstacles? Had one recently? Experienced a seemingly hard heart about something? What about your own heart? Can obstacles have a purpose? If so, what could that be? What’s the natural Spiritual solution to overcoming obstacles? Can or does the God of the Universe want to help you overcome the obstacles you might be facing in your life at this very moment. Of course, one needs to ponder the purpose one is trying to achieve in the first place? Is it or could it be of God? Or is it, your own? Secondly, even if it is of God, do you expect not only resistance or obstacles in accomplishing that purpose, but God’s deliverance as well? So if God calls you to a purpose, allows obstacles to seemingly block your way in accomplishing that good purpose and then finally, seeks to give you the deliverance over that obstacle, what might God be trying to teach you or all of us?
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)…
28 Now when the LORD spoke to Moses in Egypt,
29 he said to him, “I am the LORD. Tell Pharaoh king of Egypt everything I tell you.”
LORD—(Hebrew…Yahweh…I AM); So literally, it reads, “I am the I AM.” Why does he introduce himself this way? Because it follows a special section in which all the tribes and clans of Israel are listed and it needs to reintroduce the LORD?
30 But Moses said to the LORD, “Since I speak with faltering lips, why would Pharaoh listen to me?”
This again all sounds repetitive.
Exod. 7:1 Then the LORD said to Moses, “See, I have made you like God to Pharaoh, and your brother Aaron will be your prophet.
We haven’t heard this before: “like a God, and Aaron will be your prophet”—wow!
2 You are to say everything I command you, and your brother Aaron is to tell Pharaoh to let the Israelites go out of his country.
So is Aaron doing all the talking when Moses comes before Pharaoh? How does Pharaoh feel about Moses? Is it the same Pharaoh from 40 years before when Moses fled Egypt after killing the Egyptian slave driver? If so, does he hate Moses? Is this what God uses to harden Pharaoh’s heart?
3 But I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and though I multiply my miraculous signs and wonders in Egypt,
Who else would have the courage to do something like this? If any man would have the courage or the insanity to try this, it would be considered foolish arrogance. You would have to know it was a for sure thing, otherwise, you would try to leave at your first chance, not after ten miracles. But because it is God, then I suppose that is why, it makes no difference if it is after one or ten miracles. God is sovereign and he will release his people when and if he wills to do it.
4 he will not listen to you. Then I will lay my hand on Egypt and with mighty acts of judgment I will bring out my divisions, my people the Israelites.
So don’t be intimidated if he says no or things don’t go smoothly. It is not supposed to appear that way. It is to appear rocky, but all along I AM is in control. I am the one hardening Pharaoh’s heart for a greater purpose. Notice he calls them his divisions—a military term?
5 And the Egyptians will know that I am the LORD when I stretch out my hand against Egypt and bring the Israelites out of it.”
How will they know this? Because Pharaoh changed his mind so many times?
6 Moses and Aaron did just as the LORD commanded them.
7 Moses was eighty years old and Aaron eighty-three when they spoke to Pharaoh.
So forty years had passed since he had left Egypt. These guys were old, seemingly. They will live another 40 plus years before they die. Although few live pass the age of 110 today, 120 plus years is not unreasonable back in that day when the Bible says many lived many more years than this. So why does it tell us Moses and Aaron’s ages?
8 The LORD said to Moses and Aaron,
9 “When Pharaoh says to you, `Perform a miracle,’ then say to Aaron, `Take your staff and throw it down before Pharaoh,’ and it will become a snake.”
Just like back at the bush.
Aaron’s Rod Changed to a Serpent, illustration from the 1890 Holman Bible
10 So Moses and Aaron went to Pharaoh and did just as the LORD commanded. Aaron threw his staff down in front of Pharaoh and his officials, and it became a snake.
Why didn’t Moses do this? Is Moses completely silent here? Interesting scenario, with just Moses looking on, almost like a king or god when you make the comparison to Pharaoh. So this is like two god-mans and their priests battling each other. Obviously Pharaoh had not heard of I AM so it is like God is using Moses to say to Pharaoh, Moses’ God or religion is more powerful than the great Egypt’s. Or the people you have had enslaved and who have no land, actually have a greater religion, god and priest than you.
Do you get what I am trying to say? Moses is a substitute god, as the Pharaoh was considered a god because that is what Pharaoh could relate to. But all along it is the real God, I AM, who does exist, pulling the strings all along.
11 Pharaoh then summoned wise men and sorcerers, and the Egyptian magicians also did the same things by their secret arts:
These would compare to Aaron. How were they able to do this? Illusion or demonic witchcraft?
12 Each one threw down his staff and it became a snake. But Aaron’s staff swallowed up their staffs.
Aaron’s was more powerful than theirs. God was sending a message to Pharaoh.
13 Yet Pharaoh’s heart became hard and he would not listen to them, just as the LORD had said.
Who’s? LORD, Moses, Pharaoh, like God, Aaron, your brother, a prophet, the Israelites, my divisions, my people the Israelites, the Egyptians, and his officials, wise men and sorcerers, Egyptian magicians, each one
Where’s? In Egypt, out of his country, on Egypt, throw it down, went to Pharaoh, in front of Pharaoh
When’s? Now when the LORD spoke, then the LORD said, will harden (future), when I stretch out my hand, eighty years old, eighty-three when they spoke to Pharaoh, When Pharaoh says to you, then say, then summoned wise men
• At the end of chapter 6, we have a review: “Tell Pharaoh everything I tell you.” But Moses counters with his speech problem again.
• I AM gives him his brother. Moses will be like a god to Pharaoh, just as Pharaoh claimed to be a god to his people. Aaron would be his prophet as Pharaoh’s wisemen served Pharaoh (So we have two competing kings, one who claimed to be a god, and one who acted like god on behalf of God. So who is the real God here?)
• I AM also tells Moses that Pharaoh will resist because God is hardening his heart so that God can multiply his miracles in Egypt. (There will be no mistaking what happened here before all is said and done.) With mighty acts of judgment God will bring his army of people out of Egypt.
• Moses and Aaron were not young when they stood before Pharaoh…ages 80 and 83 respectively.
• Moses and Aaron go before Pharaoh, and Aaron throws down the staff and it becomes a snake. After this Pharaoh bring his magicians out and they repeat the miracle. But Moses’ staff/snake swallows theirs. Still Pharaoh’s heart is hard, as I AM said it would be because he would harden it so that I AM could do even greater miracles.
Summary…Moses and Aaron are obedient to I AM and go before Pharaoh, throwing their staff down and turning it into a snake. Pharaoh’s magicians repeat the miracle. But then Moses’ snake eats theirs. Still Pharaoh’s heart is hard, as God said it would, and he does not listen.
Bottom line…It all begins…The Beginning of the End (for Pharaoh and Egypt).
Why’s? Why did God include this passage in his timeless word? Or What do I learn about God? Life? People? Myself?
• God uses people…servants…mouthpieces to speak his words and accomplish his might and purposes. Why? I am not sure. Is there something here about the divine interacting with the human? God works through humans. It is a human drama, at least as far as we are concerned. It’s as if God, the Creator, has chosen to work behind the scenes…I am here, but you can’t see me as you would see another man. And yet, at this point in the story, the incarnation of God…God becoming man…in order to serve as a sacrificial atonement for man’s sins still awaits. But for now, until that moment, and then again after that moment, and primarily through his Holy Spirit, God chooses to intervene, move and work within this human drama invisibly. I will move through people. I will use people as utensils of my will as humans use eating utensils to consume their food. I will be there. I am on the scene…I am present. I just choose for the most part to move and act through people. It is an amazing thing to be used by God for the work of God…to be empowered by the Divine to do the divine. Bottom line, whether we fully understand it or not, the Divine is there and chooses human servants through which to manifest his existence. Amazing.
• God is not intimidated by the greatest king on the face of the planet. He is not afraid to harden his heart in order to do ten miracles instead of one. At the same time, God is not a partial or imperfect god or a god that lacks or has limitations. He is beyond human limitation, and therefore, we need not worship him in a partial heathen manner as well, as a god that has limitations…that can perform some miracles, but not others. Our God is God, and nothing is too great for him. Thus our worship, our allegiance, our trust, our obedience in some form or fashion ought to attempt to reflect that we do not love, nor worship, a partial man-made god or evil spirit.
• Graciously, God can and does use the more elderly to accomplish his will, as he is doing with Moses and Aaron who are in their eighties, or at least two-thirds of their life spans at the time, in order to carry out God’s purposes.
For many of us this calling of God would correlate to our being in our 50’s and 60’s. I mean think about that—that if you are within that age range, God can and may indeed have something special planned for you. And if you are younger and have not felt God’s call upon your life, look what you have ahead of you. God is still getting you ready.
Ronald Reagan was sixty-nine when he became President of the United States, and in his mid-seventies, one could very much make the case that he was used by God to win the Nuclear Cold War because he refused to compromise with the Soviet Union concerning America’s long range Strategic Defense Initiative (or Star Wars). Whether he was bluffing or not, the Soviet Union could not compete. The Cold War was over, and our economy prospered. Why? Because an older person had faith and refused to buckle. Bottom line: it is never too late to be used by God, be it in a small or great way.
• While the world and world empires attempt to imitate God’s might, in time, by comparison, ALL fail. The world’s many attempts to imitate their Creator’s divine power have all been, in the end, nothing more than cheap human imitations—imitations that have attempted to con mankind into believing that some one human is in control, but nothing could be further from the truth. Man is not God, and never will be. And though he makes runs at God, all attempts are destined to fail.
• Often times, beyond our initial human understanding, God can and does indeed harden people’s hearts, even rulers’ hearts and minds, for his greater purposes. Perhaps it is to ultimately humble them, as he will Pharaoh? Perhaps it is to do some pruning of evil within the world? Or to get his people to turn back to him? Nevertheless, as with Pharaoh, God does harden people’s hearts for his purposes. Therefore, we should not be discouraged when this occurs within the hearts and minds of world leaders or friends or family members. All we can do is to do the best we can do, and then move on. If it is God’s will to break them, he will, and he will do it in his time. We are not God. We are the mouthpieces of God. If God chooses to manifest his power through us to genuinely humble hearts, then so be it, but that is his call. We are just the vessel, not the Creator. God’s power does not originate in us. Rather it works through us for his purposes and glory, most of which we do not fully understand. In other words, choose to unilaterally serve God with no expectations as to the end result. If you get caught up in the result, you will go nuts. It’s not about results, at least not for the instrument. It is about function and obedience. Be a willing vessel for God’s purposes, not for your own flawed misunderstanding of God’s purposes.
So What’s? How does this truth personally apply to one of my life’s struggles?
2003 Application (edited)…
Struggle…Nothing out of the ordinary…just the same old same old…the struggle sometimes seems to be in the variety of life and ministry…which can also be good too…but bouncing back and forth between study/writing/preparing to teach to outdoor facility stuff to pastoral needs (checking on people, counseling, etc.) to administration stuff can keep you both hopping and humbled—a jack of all trades and master of none. While I slacked on Monday and Tuesday, the pedal is back to the metal. Just prayer that I can get most of it done or have the desire to get it done…and get it done sooner than later…an oh yeah, there is all the Valentine’s Day stuff I need to do in there as well, which I am not comfortable with at all.
Principle or Truth… God does not always make things easy, despite having called us to the task. He hardened Pharaoh’s heart to display his greater glory in the end.
Application…I am not sure what God is doing in my life these past seventeen plus years at Fellowship. He has certainly not made things easy. And yet, he still seems to be moving. So despite the obstacles, despite the struggles, I am still called to throw my staff down. I suppose I am called to tell you to throw your staff down too, and even if the world can seemingly imitate it, don’t be discouraged or disillusioned by it. God will act. God will triumph in the end.
Today, it is this lesson, starting on Sunday’s teaching, checking on Willie, Coach Perry, buying flowers, ordering wood, buying materials, getting ready for youth home church, then my own. Tomorrow, more of the same. Hoping that people are trying to put into practice what I am teaching, what I am believing—that worship is not just something you do on Sunday’s, but rather, a lifestyle which is reflected in our many choices and actions. Everyday, do I prayerfully seek to fall upon my knees and toss my tarnished human crown at his glorious feet and, in so doing, willfully forego any illusion, or flawed human understanding that I have any real or substantive control over my life to begin with or the foolish right to poorly rule it in exchange for the neverending sovereign providence and protection of the Creator of the Universe? It’s a no-brainer, my friends. I choose the God of the Universe over me any day.
God, help me to take on one battle at a time, go with the flow and do my best, always being sensitive to your leading and what you seem to be up to.
2o14 Thanksgiving…I have much to be thankful for. Order, or at least partial or more order on several fronts. I have a better idea where my finances stand, where my many computer files are, what I will be teaching and writing on and my mate with many upcoming concerns. I am blessed. Of course, I am fully aware that living in a chaotic world, chaos is just around the corner. But for the moment, I thank God for some brief order. Thanks, God.
Struggle…Critical time management of the next 60 hours…Has anything changed since 2003? Yes and no. Same time management issues and choices, just different ones, I suppose. Some things never change, it would seem.
Truth…God uses hardened human resistance to his divine will in order to bring greater glory to himself through obedient, trusting human vessels. Expect resistance. Expect rejection. Expect evil, even your own. Why? The greater the battle, the greater the God, the greater the deliverance, the greater the faith, the greater the glory. Amen.
Application…Be prepared for the resistance to accomplish what I think God might want me to accomplish because he is in charge, and in doing so, also be open to his deliverance through or over the resistance. Don’t be discouraged by resistance; thirstily hunger for his ensuing and promised deliverance…again and again and again…and in doing so, be thoroughly convinced of his presence, power and deliverance. Amen.
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.