Exodus 4:29-6:29 - When Things Go From Bad to Worse
Thomas S. Myers
WHAT DO YOU DO WHEN THINGS GO FROM BAD TO WORSE?
An unsigned letter: "Dear Pastor: I do not understand what God is doing in my life. I have been a faithful wife and mother and yet everything keeps getting worse. My husband has just lost his job so we don't have an income. Our car needs fixed and we don't have money for it. We have no money to pay the rent, or to take the kids to the doctor. How can God do this to us? We pray faithfully and read the Bible. We take the kids to church each Sunday. We're faithful parents, but things have gone from bad to worse. Please tell me, what are we doing wrong!"
Such is the case of Moses. He is going to do exactly what God has told him to do, and it will backfire on him. He is going to be hated, he will question that he is in God's will. He will question God's call. He will lose credibility as a leader, and question his own inadequacy.
I want to share with you, what to do when things go from bad to worse. Let's look at the life of Moses. Moses has been commissioned by God to bring the children of Israel out of Egypt.
FIRST -- WHEN THINGS DON'T WORK RIGHT.
Moses, with total confidence that God was going to set His people free, enters Pharaoh's presence. But, watch what happens.
1 Afterward Moses and Aaron went to Pharaoh and said, "This is what the LORD,
1the God of Israel, says: `Let my people go, so that they may hold a festival to me in the desert.'" (NIV)
This is not a request by Moses. Moses is not saying, "Would you please let my people go?" It's a command. The Hebrew verbs are very intensive. Moses is saying, "Pharaoh, let God's people go!." Now remember, Moses is doing exactly what God has told him to do. Here is Moses, he is God's man, with God's message, in God's time, doing just exactly what God wants him to do. So what is Pharaoh going to do?
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."
Pharaoh says to Moses, "No way, Hosea. I'm not going to let the Israelites go. I don't even know who your God is." Now watch what Pharaoh does.
(Pharaoh is speaking) 7 "You are no longer to supply the people with straw for making bricks; let them go and gather their own straw. 8 But require them to make the same number of bricks as before; don't reduce the quota. They are lazy; that is why they are crying out, `Let us go and sacrifice to our God.' 9 Make the work harder for the men so that they keep working and pay no attention to lies." (NIV)
Instead of the Israelites being set free, they are forced to double their work as salves. Not only are they to make bricks, but they are to gather their own straw. Quite obviously, when they had to gather their own straw, they were not able to make the same number of bricks. So they request a meeting before Pharaoh to find out why they were so severely beaten.
Pharaoh tells them their problems are because of Moses commanding him to let the people go. They have now put it all together. They now believe it is all Moses' fault! Moses is going to go from hero to zero. He is going to go from the penthouse to the outhouse. Look at:
20 When they left Pharaoh, they found Moses and Aaron waiting to meet them, 21 and they said, "May the LORD look upon you and judge you! You have made us a stench to Pharaoh and his officials and have put a sword in their hand to kill us." (NIV)
Moses has done exactly what God has commanded him to do, and instead of things getting better, they have gotten worse. Can you identify with that?
In Texas, there is a young attorney who can identify with it. Each year during Thanksgiving the boss gives all the employees a turkey. This attorney is single, lives alone, and has absolutely no idea how to fix the turkey. He has no use for a huge turkey. One year his close friends in the law firm replaced his turkey with one made of papier-mache. They weighted it down with lead to make it feel genuine, placed it into a paper sack. After work, he takes his turkey, on the bus to go home. With the big turkey on his lap, he wonders what in the world he would do with it. A little further down the bus line, a rather run-down, discouraged-looking man got on the bus. The only vacant seat on the bus was the one next to the attorney with the turkey. He sat down and they began to talk about the holiday. The attorney learned that the stranger has been looking for work, and was wondering what he would do about Thanksgiving for his family. Then the attorney got an idea. I'll give him the turkey. No, he's no freeloader. I'll sell it to him. So he asked the stranger how much money he had. The man said, "All I have is one dollar and twenty-five cents." The attorney said, "I would like to sell you this turkey for one dollar and twenty-five cents." "Sold!" The attorney handed the turkey over to the stranger. He felt so good. He did the right thing. Can you picture the stranger as he gets home. He says, "Hey kids, I've got a large turkey for Thanksgiving!" Then he looks in the sack and pulls out a bogus turkey. The next Monday, the attorney went to work. His friends are dying to know about the turkey. You cannot imagine their chagrin when they heard the story of what happened. I understand that they all got on the bus every day that week, looking in vain for a man who, as far as I know, to this day still entertains a misunderstanding about guy who innocently sold him a fake turkey for a dollar and twenty-five cents.
Folks, it happens. You can be doing exactly what God would have you do, and nothing seems to work out right. I have seen it over and over again. An individual will have faith in God, but as soon as the crisis comes they say, "God where are you? God why are you doing this to me? And if there is someone else to blame they will blame their spouse, their employer, their neighbor, or even their pastor. Moses has done exactly what God has told him to do. And everything has gone wrong.
Now what did Moses do? He blames God. Look at Exodus 5:22
22 Moses returned to the LORD and said, "O Lord, why have you brought trouble upon this people? Is this why you sent me?
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." (NIV)
Here is Moses, he believed God, he did just exactly what God wanted him to do, and he said everything that God wanted him to say. He said it in faith. And as a result everything has gone wrong. Can you identity with that? Does that sound familiar? Moses is saying, "Lord it's your fault. Lord, I told you I didn't want to be the deliverer! I kept telling you, I'm not qualified. And You kept saying, "I'm the man to deliver the Israelites out of Egypt," so I gave in. And now look at the mess I'm in. I did exactly what you told me to do, and now things have gone from bad to worse."
A couple came to church for the first time in years. That week their car broke down, the washing machine quit, and the husband lost his job. When I visited in their home, they said, "Pastor, we are not going back to church." I said, "Why, what's wrong?" They said, "Well, we did what we felt God wanted us to do, and the car broke down, the washing machine quit, and my husband lost his job. If that is what God does when you obey Him, then we do not want to have a thing to do with him."
SECOND -- WHAT TO DO WHEN THINGS GO FROM BAD TO WORSE.
1ST - RECOGNIZE THAT GOD IS STILL IN ______________.
Take a good look at:
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." (NIV)
What is the Lord telling Moses? God is saying, "Moses, when things go from bad to worse, you can still trust me. I'm sovereign. I'm the creator, I'm the substainer, I'm the one that's calling the shots. I'm the one that can put the pieces back together again. God is telling Moses that Pharaoh will not only let the Israelites go, he will drive them out of Egypt." God is the one who can put your world back together again. God is the master craftsman.
In a remote Swiss village stood a beautiful church. Not only was it beautiful to look at, it also had the most beautiful pipe organ. People would come from miles around to hear the lovely tones of the organ. But, then one day, the organ was silent. The organ had for some reason broken down. Experts from around the world had tried to repair it. But the organ would only produce sounds of discord. One day an old man appeared at the church door. He spoke to the sexton and after a time the sexton reluctantly agreed to let the old man try his hand at reaping the organ. For two days the old man worked in almost total silence. The sexton was, in fact, getting a bit nervous. Then on the 3rd day, at noon, the mountain valley was filled with the most glorious music you would ever want to hear. Farmers dropped their plows, merchants closed their stores, everyone in town stopped what they were doing and headed for the church. After the old man finished his playing, someone asked him how he could have fixed the organ, when the world's experts could not? The old man merely replied, "It was an inside job. It was I who built this organ 50 years ago. I created it, and now I have restored it." That is what God is like. When things are going from bad to worse, remember it is God who created the universe and it is He who can, and will, and is in the process of restoring you're broken world.
2ND - RECOGNIZE THAT GOD HAS NOT _________________ YOU.
2 God also said to Moses, "I am the LORD. 3 I appeared to Abraham, to Isaac and to Jacob as God Almighty...(NIV)
God is saying that just as He was with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, through all their
hardships, so will He be with you. God has not abandoned you.
The owner of a photographic studio tells the story of a college student who came in with a framed picture of his girlfriend. He wanted the picture duplicated. The owner removed the picture from the fame and he noticed an inscription on the back of the photograph. It was written by the girlfriend: "My dearest Bobby: I love you with all my heart. I love you more and more each day. I will love you forever and ever. P.S. If we should ever break up, I want this picture back."
With God there can be no "P.S." God says in His word:
6 being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. (NIV)
31 For the LORD your God is a merciful God; he will not abandon or destroy you... (NIV)
We belong to Jesus Christ. We are His forever.
3RD - RECOGNIZE THAT YOU NEED TO STAY ____________ UPON GOD.
Look at Exodus 6:3
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. (NIV)
What is God saying? God is saying His name means "all sufficient one." Because of who God is, He will always do what is best for you. If we would only remember that during those days that spiral downward, we would see a marked change in our ability to handle them.
That is why 5 different times God says to Moses, "I am the LORD."
EXODUS 6:2 - "I am the LORD."
EXODUS 6:6 - "I am the LORD."
EXODUS 6:7 - "I am the LORD."
EXODUS 6:8 - "I am the LORD."
EXODUS 6:29 - "I am the LORD."
The name "LORD" is the very special name for God. It is pronounced Yahweh. Is sums up everything that God is. God is saying, "Moses you will not endure those difficult days, unless you trust me."
Psalm 20:7 7 Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the LORD our God. (NIV)
Learn this about God. First of all, God is not so concerned about changing your circumstances as He is about changing your heart.
8 Trust in him at all times, O people; pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge. Selah (NIV)
The reason you can not trust God is that you have a spiritual disease called myopia. You have focused your vision on your circumstances. You need to focus your vision on the unchanging God.
The only question you need to settle is, are you willing to trust God? I would rather live by
trusting God, than by fretting about my circumstances. Life is far more refreshing trusting God who never changes, than worrying over the circumstances that constantly change. The choice is yours. Second, God is not so interested in changing your circumstances as much as He is in changing your perspective of Him. Lift up your eyes above your circumstances. That's where God is. He is above your circumstances. With God Moses could face Pharaoh. With God you can face the next hour and the next day.