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What Defines a Person?

Exodus  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  40:31
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Introduction

Exodus, the second book of the Bible is part of a much bigger narrative called the Pentateuch. Which includes Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy. See each of these books as a chapter in the overall story.
Exodus is a book that involves movement. Firstly, movement of the Israelites from Egypt to Mount Sinai. Secondly, the movement of God, who takes up residence in the very midst of the Israelite camp.
As we are going to see in this series, the coming together of God and the Israelites at Mount Sinai is highly significant, but often overlooked.
So Why Exodus:
Exodus contributes in a very significant way to our understanding of God’s redemptive plan for all humanity.
We see several themes:
Redemption
Reconciliation
God’s Presence
God keeping His Promises.
Exodus is all about God making Himself known to others, it provides proof of God’s existence through supernatural events.

Last Week

Last Sunday we spent much of our time in Genesis:
Life was perfect in the garden, we lived in Gods presence.
Paradise was lost after the fall, we could no longer be in God presence.
But God made a promise to a man named Abraham, a promise that he would have a miracle child and his family would become a great nation.
We need to understand two main points in this narrative:
God is working on a good plan.
That plan, built on his promises rarely plays out like we think it’s going to.
The beginning of Exodus shows this great nation being oppressed under the Egyptians.
God’s plan of them being a great nation doesn’t seem to be working the way it would have been expected.
The Israelites keep growing and Pharaoh orders all the first born male children to be killed.
It is in the midst of this chaos that the story introduces us to a new character.

The Birth of Moses

Exodus 2:1–25 NLT
About this time, a man and woman from the tribe of Levi got married. The woman became pregnant and gave birth to a son. She saw that he was a special baby and kept him hidden for three months. But when she could no longer hide him, she got a basket made of papyrus reeds and waterproofed it with tar and pitch. She put the baby in the basket and laid it among the reeds along the bank of the Nile River. The baby’s sister then stood at a distance, watching to see what would happen to him. Soon Pharaoh’s daughter came down to bathe in the river, and her attendants walked along the riverbank. When the princess saw the basket among the reeds, she sent her maid to get it for her. When the princess opened it, she saw the baby. The little boy was crying, and she felt sorry for him. “This must be one of the Hebrew children,” she said. Then the baby’s sister approached the princess. “Should I go and find one of the Hebrew women to nurse the baby for you?” she asked. “Yes, do!” the princess replied. So the girl went and called the baby’s mother. “Take this baby and nurse him for me,” the princess told the baby’s mother. “I will pay you for your help.” So the woman took her baby home and nursed him. Later, when the boy was older, his mother brought him back to Pharaoh’s daughter, who adopted him as her own son. The princess named him Moses, for she explained, “I lifted him out of the water.” Many years later, when Moses had grown up, he went out to visit his own people, the Hebrews, and he saw how hard they were forced to work. During his visit, he saw an Egyptian beating one of his fellow Hebrews. After looking in all directions to make sure no one was watching, Moses killed the Egyptian and hid the body in the sand. The next day, when Moses went out to visit his people again, he saw two Hebrew men fighting. “Why are you beating up your friend?” Moses said to the one who had started the fight. The man replied, “Who appointed you to be our prince and judge? Are you going to kill me as you killed that Egyptian yesterday?” Then Moses was afraid, thinking, “Everyone knows what I did.” And sure enough, Pharaoh heard what had happened, and he tried to kill Moses. But Moses fled from Pharaoh and went to live in the land of Midian. When Moses arrived in Midian, he sat down beside a well. Now the priest of Midian had seven daughters who came as usual to draw water and fill the water troughs for their father’s flocks. But some other shepherds came and chased them away. So Moses jumped up and rescued the girls from the shepherds. Then he drew water for their flocks. When the girls returned to Reuel, their father, he asked, “Why are you back so soon today?” “An Egyptian rescued us from the shepherds,” they answered. “And then he drew water for us and watered our flocks.” “Then where is he?” their father asked. “Why did you leave him there? Invite him to come and eat with us.” Moses accepted the invitation, and he settled there with him. In time, Reuel gave Moses his daughter Zipporah to be his wife. Later she gave birth to a son, and Moses named him Gershom, for he explained, “I have been a foreigner in a foreign land.” Years passed, and the king of Egypt died. But the Israelites continued to groan under their burden of slavery. They cried out for help, and their cry rose up to God. God heard their groaning, and he remembered his covenant promise to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. He looked down on the people of Israel and knew it was time to act.

The Text in Context

In order to understand the significance of this text we have to understand it set against the background of Pharaoh’s desire to kill all the newborn Hebrew baby boys.
The first 3 verses give us a picture of the environment.
Exodus 2:1–3 NLT
About this time, a man and woman from the tribe of Levi got married. The woman became pregnant and gave birth to a son. She saw that he was a special baby and kept him hidden for three months. But when she could no longer hide him, she got a basket made of papyrus reeds and waterproofed it with tar and pitch. She put the baby in the basket and laid it among the reeds along the bank of the Nile River.
Lets step away from the text for a moment.
I have a hard time believing that the Hebrew women are actually following Pharaoh’s order, by throwing there newborn male babies into the nile.
The text shows us that Moses’ mother didn’t.
This would mean that the Hebrews are living in fear, when their children are born they would have experienced the Egyptian army going house to house looking for male babies.
It is in this environment that we are introduced to one of the most significant characters in the Old Testament.
Exodus 2 can be broken up into three specific episodes:
we learn of the birth of Moses and his amazing rescue from death.
we encounter Moses as an adult, deeply concerned for the well-being of his fellow Israelites.
We see Moses as a fugitive, living in a foreign land.
Each of these episodes help us to gain a glimpse of the identity of the one who will soon be commissioned to lead the Israelites out of Egypt.

Unpacking the Text

Exodus 2:1–2 NLT
About this time, a man and woman from the tribe of Levi got married. The woman became pregnant and gave birth to a son. She saw that he was a special baby and kept him hidden for three months.
An unusual feature of verses 1-10 is the absence of personal names, as the narrative continues we will eventually find out who Moses birth parents are, and the fact that he has a sister named Miriam and a brother name Aaron. But the author takes the focus away from family and wants us to focus on the birth of this specific child.
Exodus 2:3–4 NLT
But when she could no longer hide him, she got a basket made of papyrus reeds and waterproofed it with tar and pitch. She put the baby in the basket and laid it among the reeds along the bank of the Nile River. The baby’s sister then stood at a distance, watching to see what would happen to him.
The papyrus “basket” in which Moses is placed is called a “tebah” in Hebrew. The only other place this word is used in the Old Testament is to describe the ark in the story of Noah. So there is imagery of this basket and the ark playing a similar role of safety and deliverance.
Exodus 2:5–8 NLT
Soon Pharaoh’s daughter came down to bathe in the river, and her attendants walked along the riverbank. When the princess saw the basket among the reeds, she sent her maid to get it for her. When the princess opened it, she saw the baby. The little boy was crying, and she felt sorry for him. “This must be one of the Hebrew children,” she said. Then the baby’s sister approached the princess. “Should I go and find one of the Hebrew women to nurse the baby for you?” she asked. “Yes, do!” the princess replied. So the girl went and called the baby’s mother.
It is interesting that Pharaoh’s daughter is the one used by God to rescue the Hebrew child. She shows a compassion that her father lacks.
We literally see in this text God inserting a Hebrew into the house of Pharaoh, the one who wants all Hebrew boys dead.
Then we see God’s providence where the child is actually taken care of by the actual mother. Then later raised as an Egyptian.
Exodus 2:11–14 NLT
Many years later, when Moses had grown up, he went out to visit his own people, the Hebrews, and he saw how hard they were forced to work. During his visit, he saw an Egyptian beating one of his fellow Hebrews. After looking in all directions to make sure no one was watching, Moses killed the Egyptian and hid the body in the sand. The next day, when Moses went out to visit his people again, he saw two Hebrew men fighting. “Why are you beating up your friend?” Moses said to the one who had started the fight. The man replied, “Who appointed you to be our prince and judge? Are you going to kill me as you killed that Egyptian yesterday?” Then Moses was afraid, thinking, “Everyone knows what I did.”
The story jumps to the next scene and we are introduced to Moses as an adult.
He is confused about his identity, the text says “he went out to visit his own people” Moses knows he is a Hebrew living in an Egyptian home.
The man who God is going to choose to deliver His people from oppression is a murderer.
Exodus 2:16–23 NLT
Now the priest of Midian had seven daughters who came as usual to draw water and fill the water troughs for their father’s flocks. But some other shepherds came and chased them away. So Moses jumped up and rescued the girls from the shepherds. Then he drew water for their flocks. When the girls returned to Reuel, their father, he asked, “Why are you back so soon today?” “An Egyptian rescued us from the shepherds,” they answered. “And then he drew water for us and watered our flocks.” “Then where is he?” their father asked. “Why did you leave him there? Invite him to come and eat with us.” Moses accepted the invitation, and he settled there with him. In time, Reuel gave Moses his daughter Zipporah to be his wife. Later she gave birth to a son, and Moses named him Gershom, for he explained, “I have been a foreigner in a foreign land.” Years passed, and the king of Egypt died. But the Israelites continued to groan under their burden of slavery. They cried out for help, and their cry rose up to God.
The third scene show us a fugitive on the run making a new life for himself in Midian.
The entire time this story is unfolding God remains in the background.

There Are Three Main Lessons Show in This Text.

These lesson help us to reflect on the influences and choices that shape us as people. They give us a glimpse into Moses, but they also challenge our character and thinking. We can learn something of how God expects us to live our lives.
These same character traits are later seen in Jesus. Who is considered the second Moses.

Rejecting Power, Prestige, and Wealth

It would have been so easy for Moses to just fall into the life he was given. A life of power, prestige, and wealth.
This is a significant point in the narrative to pay attention to, so significant that the author of Hebrews in the NT references it.
Hebrews 11:25 NLT
He chose to share the oppression of God’s people instead of enjoying the fleeting pleasures of sin.
The fleeting pleasures of sin.....Moses choose oppression over sin.
Loving power, prestige and wealth are sin. These things mess up our priorities.
Jesus warns us of this by teaching that we must prioritize our commitment to him before other commitments. We see this in the story of the rich young ruler. (Matt. 19:21; Mark 10:21; Luke 18:22)
Mark 10:20–21 NLT
“Teacher,” the man replied, “I’ve obeyed all these commandments since I was young.” Looking at the man, Jesus felt genuine love for him. “There is still one thing you haven’t done,” he told him. “Go and sell all your possessions and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”
Change your priorities, making Jesus your main priority. That’s what it takes to follow Him.
When our priorities are confused we are weak in our faith.
Illustration:
Using Play-doh demonstrate how play-doh can be easily molded by a cookie cutter. But a rock can’t be changed by the cookie cutter.
What are the essential elements of your faith?
Are they soft convictions like the Play-Doh that can be shaped by the world?
Or are your convictions rooted in the unshakable rock of God’s Word?

Identifying with the Underdog

Living for Jesus requires a willingness to stand up for the oppressed.
In doing this we have to be cautious that our actions do not in turn oppress others.
Moses made this mistake early on when he killed the Egyptian. The reaction of the oppressed was that Moses wanted to be their ruler and Judge.
We have to follow God lead in helping the oppressed, God wants us to lead by example, showing love and compassion.

Living as Exiles

Moses is very conscious that he lives as a foreign resident in Midian.
The book of Hebrews highlights how Abraham placed himself in the city whose architect and builder is God. He viewed himself as a resident alien in a world that had no place for God.
Hebrews 11:8–10 NLT
It was by faith that Abraham obeyed when God called him to leave home and go to another land that God would give him as his inheritance. He went without knowing where he was going. And even when he reached the land God promised him, he lived there by faith—for he was like a foreigner, living in tents. And so did Isaac and Jacob, who inherited the same promise. Abraham was confidently looking forward to a city with eternal foundations, a city designed and built by God.
We as Christians need to appreciate that we are exiles in this world, a world that doesn’t favour God, but favours sin.
Our inheritance is a city that has yet to come, the new Jerusalem.
We must remember to not let the world stain us and control us. We have to keep our priorities straight. We have to be patient living a life of delayed gratification.
In the 1960’s, psychologist Walter Mischel at Stanford University conducted a series of experiments on the power of delayed gratification. Children were given one marshmallow, which they could choose to eat immediately or refrain from eating for several minutes. Those who delayed would be given another marshmallow. Mischel followed up with these children in adolescence and learned that those who had exercised self-control scored higher in aptitude tests and were generally noted as superior students.
As believers, we are called to willingly lay aside the immediate pleasures of this fading world for the great treasures of the eternal kingdom.

Closing

Big Idea: It is our obedience to God that should shape our life goals, not our sinful nature of serving the world. We don’t seek to be powerful and wealthy the way the world defines these things. We seek God’s will, and obedience to his calling of being like Jesus. We stand up for the oppressed and live out our lives knowing that this is not where we come from.
The second chapter of Exodus gives us a glimpse into who Jesus is, and how we are to live in a world that isn’t friendly to God.
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