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Moses and Pharaoh - Exodus 5:1-6:12

Exodus - Out of Bondage  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  23:52
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 Exodus 5.1-6.12 Bible Readings: Exodus 5.1-6.12 Big Idea – Knowledge of God comes as a result of experiencing his grace and establishes a relationship with him as God. As Christians, we know God as we experience the gospel of Christ Jesus. 1. Knowing God i) Do you know God? ii) It is the most important question in life: Do you know God? iii) Some would answer that by saying – “No, I don’t know God and you can’t know him.” That’s the response of the atheist, isn’t it? Some would even go as far as to say that thinking that you know God, is some kind of mental illness. It’s like saying that you know the Tooth Fairy or the Easter Bunny. iv) Others would hesitate and want to ask you what you mean by the question. Don’t you mean ‘know about God’? What does it even look like to ‘know God’? Do you think you know God? v) Knowledge of God is the most important thing in life. It is more important than your heart beating or the air that you breath. vi) John Calvin, at the start of his great work on Christian doctrine, the Institutes of the Christian Religion, starts that work with the words: vii) Our wisdom, in so far as it ought to be deemed true and solid wisdom consists almost entirely of two parts: the knowledge of God and of ourselves. viii) And Calvin argues that as you properly understand yourself you will be driven to God. “Every person, therefore, on coming to the knowledge of himself, is not only urged to seek God, but is also led as by the hand to find him.” And that when you know God you will see yourself more clearly. The whole of the Institutes are dedicated to the knowledge of God as he has revealed himself, and what it means for our knowledge of ourselves. ix) Do you know God? x) If you do, you will understand yourself properly and the world around you. You will no longer stumble through life with no purpose or direction. You won’t waste your life and lose your soul. xi) Do you know God? xii) That question is the burning question in our text from Exodus – knowledge of God. xiii) So let’s open our Bibles. 2. Exodus a) A promising start – chapter 4 i) We are looking at chapter 5 today, but a quick recap. The Israelites are in Egypt……Joseph is dead…. A new Pharaoh who doesn’t know Joseph …. People are numerous …. Pharaoh wants them around but not as powerful…. Kill baby boys ….. Moses is born…. Mother puts him in the Nile…. Raised by Pharaoh’s daughter …. Flees to Midian as a result of his murder being discovered…. God speaks to him at Sinai… he is to go to Pharaoh and ask for the Israelites to be released. He sets off for Egypt. ii) And things are looking good. Have a look at chapter 4:29. Moses has come to the people and they get on board pretty quickly and easily. iii) Ex. 4:29 Moses and Aaron brought together all the elders of the Israelites, 30 and Aaron told them everything the Lord had said to Moses. He also performed the signs before the people, 31 and they believed. And when they heard that the Lord was concerned about them and had seen their misery, they bowed down and worshiped. iv) The people respond well. They are excited that God is concerned about them. They worship God and believed the word that God has spoken to Moses. v) Things are looking good. And so, off Moses goes to Pharaoh. b) Pharaoh and Moses – the first negotiation (5:1-5) i) Moses and Aaron state the request in verse 1 ii) Ex. 5:1 ¶ Afterward Moses and Aaron went to Pharaoh and said, “This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: ‘Let my people go, so that they may hold a festival to me in the wilderness.’ ”  iii) The request comes with all the authority of the LORD. It is not a request based on religious freedom, or the need for a break from work, but a command. Let my people go. But Pharaoh doesn’t recognise this authority. Verse 2. iv) Ex. 5:2 Pharaoh said, “Who is the Lord, that I should obey him and let Israel go? I do not know the Lord and I will not let Israel go.” v) Pharaoh doesn’t know the LORD and doesn’t want to know the LORD. Even when told that the LORD might come with plagues and swords against the Hebrews in verse 3, the Pharaoh sees no reason to let the people go for this festival. He has this people captive, and while a threat because of their numbers, they are also the labour force for his nation. Why would the leader of Egypt, who himself would be regarded as divine, give up the economic engine of his nation for the sake of a god he didn’t care about or know? vi) Pause for a minute. I posed that rhetorical question because from his point of view you would think - there is no good reason to let them go. But the reality is that every human being on this planet has been given enough knowledge of God in creation that they ought to have sought God and worshipped him. And so, when Moses and Aaron start speaking about God, the right response would be to listen. <> To gain knowledge of God. <> How often have you wished that the people you speak to about God would be willing just to listen? Of course if you want others to listen to you, you must be prepared to listen to them with an open mind. However, it is this a priori commitment to ‘self’ that often means people don’t know God and don’t want that to change. They don’t want to know God. So too for Pharaoh. c) Pharaoh’s committed response (5:6-19) i) In verses 6 to 19 we hear of the response of Pharaoh to the request. It’s not just that he won’t let them go, he works them harder. They will no longer be given straw for making the bricks but have to find it themselves and keep the quota, being beaten when they don’t. ii) The Israelite overseers understand the desperate situation they are in – forced to make these bricks, but the Pharaoh just thinks they are lazy. They are not to change their quota; they are not to revise it down. And so, their situation is even worse – forced labour and no understanding of the difficulties of this labour. iii) Ex. 5:19 The Israelite overseers realized they were in trouble when they were told, “You are not to reduce the number of bricks required of you for each day.” iv) God’s people look in real trouble and there is no success from Moses. 3. Moses caught in the middle (5:20-6:12) i) In verses 5:20 to 6:9 we have the movement from the people to Moses and then Moses to God and then back again – God to Moses and then Moses to the people. And finally, a statement from God to Moses in light of the response of the people. b) The people to Moses i) The people come to Moses with their difficulty. ii) Ex. 5:20 When they left Pharaoh, they found Moses and Aaron waiting to meet them, 21 and they said, “May the Lord look on you and judge you! You have made us obnoxious to Pharaoh and his officials and have put a sword in their hand to kill us.” iii) Their assessment is exactly correct: Moses has given the Pharaoh reason for making their life worse. And so they call on God to judge Moses. But they aren’t seeing the big picture. When the bully- in this case Pharaoh – is confronted, often things get worse before they get better. The right course of action isn’t determined by what makes life easiest, but you do the right thing and suffer the consequences. c) Moses to God i) Moses feels this pressure and the failure of the mission and speaks to the LORD. ii) Ex. 5:22 Moses returned to the Lord and said, “Why, Lord, why have you brought trouble on this people? Is this why you sent me? 23 Ever since I went to Pharaoh to speak in your name, he has brought trouble on this people, and you have not rescued your people at all.” iii) Moses hasn’t experienced the success that was promised and Pharaoh’s response has just made things worse for the people, not better. d) God to Moses i) God’s reply to Moses starts in verse one of chapter 6 and is really nothing new, but a restatement of the promise he has already made to Moses: ii) Ex. 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.” iii) Don’t worry Moses – I will rescue the people. I will do it. 2 God also said to Moses, “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 fully known to them. 4 I also established my covenant with them to give them the land of Canaan, where they resided as foreigners. 5 Moreover, I have heard the groaning of the Israelites, whom the Egyptians are enslaving, and I have remembered my covenant. 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. 7 I will take you as my own people, and I will be your God. iv) What is the repeated word here? That God will do it. I, I, I… (see underline) v) And every time he says, “I am the LORD”. It is a reminder of that special experience at the bush that didn’t burn. While the promise was made to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the personal name for God has been made known to Moses. vi) Remember that is a very ordinary name coming from the verb to be – I will be who I will be. I am who I am. But it is profound. It is a statement of being and statement of promise. vii) It’s not just a name, but means something. <> viii) What is the most famous line by Arnold Swechnegger? <> “I’ll be back.” ix) God’s name is like saying “I’ll be back” “I am who I am, and I will be who I will be.” I am present and you will see me act to save. x) Now look at the rest of verse 7: Then you will know that I am the LORD your God, who brought you out from under the yoke of the Egyptians. 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.’ ” xi) The goal of the Exodus is not merely to rescue the people of Israel from the slavery they experience. It is for them to know God. It is for them to know that the LORD was the one who rescued them and experience what it means to be one of his rescued people. Knowledge of God comes as a result of experiencing his grace in rescue and establishes a relationship with him as God. xii) Knowledge of God is fundamentally relational. xiii) Knowledge of God is never merely knowledge about God, but knowing the benefits of his salvation because you have experienced that salvation and are in relationship with him because of that salvation. xiv) Knowing God will mean trusting him through the Passover experience. xv) Knowing God will mean seeing his powerful acts of judgement on Egypt in the plagues xvi) Knowing God will mean experiencing his rescue as they walk on dry ground as they cross the Red Sea. xvii) Knowing God will mean seeing his powerful act of judgement as the Egyptian army is drown as the sea closes up again. xviii) Knowing God will mean listening to his voice and obeying what it means to be one of his people as they are given the law at Sinai. xix) Knowing God will mean knowing the benefits of his salvation and being brought into a relationship with him as God because of the grace he has shown. e) Moses to the people i) With these great promises ringing in our ears, Moses takes those same words and shares them with the people in verse 9: ii) Ex. 6:9 Moses reported this to the Israelites, but they did not listen to him because of their discouragement and harsh labour. iii) It’s understandable that their discouragement and harsh labour were having a massive effect on them, but the word of God was meant to give them hope in the face of discouragement and confidence that their harsh labour would soon end. But they didn’t see it. iv) And so, we begin a relationship that exists between Moses and the people where the people just find it too difficult to trust the promise of God and Moses says as much to God in the following verses: v) Ex. 6:10 ¶Then the Lord said to Moses, 11 “Go, tell Pharaoh king of Egypt to let the Israelites go out of his country.” 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?” vi) Have you ever heard the definition of insanity as “doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.” I don’t know where it originally came from, but it is certainly one of those management clichés that is out there. vii) God wants Moses to do exactly the same thing and expect different results: “Go tell the Pharaoh to let the Israelites go.” viii) Moses has been welled versed in that definition of insanity and can’t see how that will help produce a different result. If his message gained no traction with the Israelites, what hope is there for it gain traction with Pharaoh? ix) But God has his plans and purposes and will do things in his own timing. Instead of insanity, to go back to Pharaoh is to trust God’s plans and purposes that he has revealed to Moses. x) It can feel like that when you trust the Lord, can’t it. Doing the same thing – maybe as you speak to your friends and family about the LORD - and expecting a different result. But it just means trusting the LORD’s plans and purposes and seeing that he has a timing for all things. xi) And so, our text for today finished with the LORD asking Moses to do what seems insane – do the same thing and expect something different. 4. Knowledge of God a) Do you know God? i) Do you know God? Remember that knowledge of God is never merely knowledge about God, but knowing the benefits of his salvation because you have experienced that salvation and are in relationship with him because of that salvation. ii) The whole experience of the Exodus is used in the Bible as an imagery of the slavery we have to sin, and the need for redemption that we have. Of Christ, our Passover lamb, whose blood has been shed so we might be set free. iii) But the goal of our salvation in Christ is not merely so we would be free from the consequences of sin. The goal of salvation in Christ is knowledge of God – of having a relationship with God as God. Knowledge of God as we experience his grace. We know God as we experience forgiveness of our sins. We know God as we share the Spirit of the son who is poured out on us. We know God as we experience being adopted into his family. We know God as we listen to the voice of his Son. Knowledge of God brings us into relationship with God as our Lord and Saviour. iv) Have you experienced the grace of God so you are in a relationship with God? Do you know God? 5. Personal story i) When I was first leaving my atheism as a teenager, there was a book written by Jim Packer called ‘Knowing God’. The title of the book was massively intriguing to me. It was appealing. It held out a promise that I could know God. I didn’t know God but something had changed inside of me and I wanted to know him. ii) The book is a classic presentation of the message of Christ crucified and what it means to know God in the salvation that Christ brings. iii) To know God is not simply to know at the conceptual level - to know propositions about God - it is to know God personally in the living encounter of faith and to respond with praise and gratitude. iv) And that is what happened to me and millions of others. v) You see the goal of the Christian life is much like that of the Israelites the LORD rescued. It isn’t an easy life where every difficulty is removed, but one where you know the LORD. vi) Let me finish by reading from Colossians chapter 1 vii) Col. 1:9 For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you. We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives,  Col. 1:10 so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, Col. 1:11 being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, Col. 1:12 and giving joyful thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of his holy people in the kingdom of light. 12
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