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(Exodus 4:1-9) Who is in charge? You, Your Suffering, or God?

Exodus   •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  28:17
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Restart - COVID-19
It has been about 7 weeks since we took a pause from Exodus
But this morning - I would like to return to the book of Exodus.
INTRODUCTION
Consider for a moment,
in honesty
If you had been Israel, would you have believed Moses?
Probably not.
A Sheep herder from Midian,
a person who was a fugitive from Egypt
tells you -
>>>>> God has heard your affliction and will bring you up out of Egypt.
[A God who the Israelites likely had forgotten about while in Egypt.]
Exodus 3:7–10 ESV
7 Then the Lord said, “I have surely seen the affliction of my people who are in Egypt and have heard their cry because of their taskmasters. I know their sufferings, 8 and I have come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians and to bring them up out of that land to a good and broad land, a land flowing with milk and honey, to the place of the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Amorites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites. 9 And now, behold, the cry of the people of Israel has come to me, and I have also seen the oppression with which the Egyptians oppress them. 10 Come, I will send you to Pharaoh that you may bring my people, the children of Israel, out of Egypt.”
But,

Moses Fear: Israel Will Not Believe Him.

We can understand why-
What would you say - If someone told you a burning bush spoke to me?
You are a little crazy.
Further, consider how difficult it would be to believe the Promise.
Given the harshness of Egypt’s oppression.
Given the power and might of Egypt at this time.
Moses claim that God had visited him,
and promised to rescue them seems pretty rediclious.
Given Moses was a backwaters shepherd from Median - you would have probably believed Moses was delusional.
And so Moses had a legitimate fear - Israel will not believe me.
Exodus 4:1 ESV
1 Then Moses answered, “But behold, they will not believe me or listen to my voice, for they will say, ‘The Lord did not appear to you.’ ”
We can understand why Israel might not believe.
We can understand why Moses would be afraid they would not believe him.
But now consider God’s answer.
God tells Moses to perform 3 sign miracles that will prove to Israel -
Moses is exactly who he says he is.
And God has indeed promised to deliver Israel from Egypt, and into the promised land.
Two of these miracles are preludes, to the signs and wonders that Moses will do before Pharoah.
They are miniature miracles of the might miracles Moses will do.
Exodus 4:1–9 ESV
1 Then Moses answered, “But behold, they will not believe me or listen to my voice, for they will say, ‘The Lord did not appear to you.’ ” 2 The Lord said to him, “What is that in your hand?” He said, “A staff.” 3 And he said, “Throw it on the ground.” So he threw it on the ground, and it became a serpent, and Moses ran from it. 4 But the Lord said to Moses, “Put out your hand and catch it by the tail”—so he put out his hand and caught it, and it became a staff in his hand— 5 “that they may believe that the Lord, the God of their fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has appeared to you.” 6 Again, the Lord said to him, “Put your hand inside your cloak.” And he put his hand inside his cloak, and when he took it out, behold, his hand was leprous like snow. 7 Then God said, “Put your hand back inside your cloak.” So he put his hand back inside his cloak, and when he took it out, behold, it was restored like the rest of his flesh. 8 “If they will not believe you,” God said, “or listen to the first sign, they may believe the latter sign. 9 If they will not believe even these two signs or listen to your voice, you shall take some water from the Nile and pour it on the dry ground, and the water that you shall take from the Nile will become blood on the dry ground.”
Let’s consider these miracles,
and what they teach us about God.
These sign miracles are not mere accidents,
just like the burning bush was not a mere accident.
God in his perfect wisdom had chosen these miracles to demonstrate his power to accomplish everything that he had promised.
They were miracles - that were to compel Israel to believe Moses.
Consider God’s response to Moses fear.
The First Miracle -

1) The Transformation of Moses’s Staff (Exodus 4:2-5) - God’s Authority and Power Over the Safety of Israel and Egypt.

CAVEAT:
Now let me begin here by admitting the difficulty in interpreting this section.
We know that God intended these miracles to compel Israel to believe.
And it is unanimously understood that God picked miracles that were meant to be meaningful to Israel.
The challenge is understanding what the significance is.
What I communicate to you this morning is what I think is the significance of these miracles.
But let me also be gracious in understanding many good Biblical scholars might have a slightly different understanding.
There is a limited amount of wiggle room for different interpretation here.
Consider the staff of Moses.
Exodus 4:2–5 ESV
2 The Lord said to him, “What is that in your hand?” He said, “A staff.” 3 And he said, “Throw it on the ground.” So he threw it on the ground, and it became a serpent, and Moses ran from it. 4 But the Lord said to Moses, “Put out your hand and catch it by the tail”—so he put out his hand and caught it, and it became a staff in his hand— 5 “that they may believe that the Lord, the God of their fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has appeared to you.”
You can picture it here.
Moses is been a shepherd for many years.
He uses his staff to protect his sheep from wild animals,
He guides his sheep with his staff.
Then God told Moses to throw the staff down. and it becomes a snake.
It so terrifies him that he runs from it.
But God tells him, to catch it … And when he does it becomes a staff again.
God showed his power to transform, create, and restore.
He demonstrated he is the creator and sustainer of the world.
But why the staff?
The staff was a symbol of authority and rule in Egypt.
And the staff was an important symbol of Pharaoh rule.
It was sign of his rights to lead Egypt and protect Egypt.
Consider -
> The Burial Casket of King Tut (https://kids.nationalgeographic.com/explore/history/king-tut/)
The miracle of the staff communicated God’s authority and power over Israel.
It communicates God’s right to lead and protect Israel.
But what about the snake?
The geography of the Nile causes certain creatures to be constant battle to live in the area.
Near the Nile you have to battle crocodiles and snakes.
They were a constant threat to daily life, and the Egyptians even feared they would get into their tombs.
The snake was an object they would have feared and despised.
And through God’s power,
Moses had just turned his staff into a snake and back into staff.
I was suggest that this miracle demonstrates God’s authority and power over Israel.
And especially his power and authority to protect them.
If Moses could control a snake, then Moses’ God could bring them up out of Egypt.
He communicates that God is the one who both guides Israel like a shepherd,
and protects Israel from its enemies.
In other words – the miracle demonstrated beyond a doubt that God controls the safety of Israel and Egypt.
Israel might be afraid that Pharaoh will strike them,
since he’s already trying to oppress them, if they try to escape.
But the miracle of Moses staff demonstrates God has their safety in his hand.
But in case Israel still did not believe Moses - God told Moses to perform a second miracle.

2) The Transformation of Moses’s Skin (Exodus 4:6-8) - God’s Authority and Power Over the Health of Israel.

The second miracle perhaps a little more personal for Moses.
We can understand why Moses prayed when his staff became serpent.
but this second miracle is a little more personal.
>>>> Because it involves Moses personally.
Exodus 4:6–8 ESV
6 Again, the Lord said to him, “Put your hand inside your cloak.” And he put his hand inside his cloak, and when he took it out, behold, his hand was leprous like snow. 7 Then God said, “Put your hand back inside your cloak.” So he put his hand back inside his cloak, and when he took it out, behold, it was restored like the rest of his flesh. 8 “If they will not believe you,” God said, “or listen to the first sign, they may believe the latter sign.
Again, you can picture this.
Moses puts his hand in his cloak and it comes out with a skin disease.
His own hand has a skin disease.
This is similar word used in Leviticus to describe leprosy,
but technically it is a general word for skin disease.
It has been translated leprosy going back to the Tyndale - the first English Bible.
Consideration of the Hebrew word doesn’t technically refer to leprosy,
though description here does appear to be leprosy.
His hand is white as snow.
You can almost imagine his face.
God tells him to put it back into his cloak,
and it returns back to normal.
Why does God give this sign?
Again, this sign points us to God as the creatorwho is able to create, transform, and sustain the world.
Like the last sign,
this sign shows that God has power and authority over the health of Moses.
If Moses came transform and the power of God,
then God has the power and authority over the health of Israel and Egypt.
God is fully able to protect and sustain Israel in the Exodus.
- But if they would not believe the first,
- And they will not believe the second,
>>>>God gives Moses a third miracle.

3) The Water Turned Into Blood (Exodus 4:9) - God’s Authority and Power Over the Life of Israel and Egypt.

Exodus 4:9 ESV
9 If they will not believe even these two signs or listen to your voice, you shall take some water from the Nile and pour it on the dry ground, and the water that you shall take from the Nile will become blood on the dry ground.”
In this final miracle,
picture this.
God tells Moses to go to the Nile,
pour it out on dry land,
and it would turn to blood.
> Consider the significance of the water that God tells Moses to get.
He is to gather water from the Nile.
Practically the Nile was the lifeline for Egypt.
Without the water from the Nile - the prosperity and life of Egypt would be gone.
Yet, this doesn’t simply have a practical meaning.
Because the Nile was the lifeline of Egypt, they literally worshipped the Nile.
The Nile river represented one of the most significant false God of Egypt.
God was making a statement - that he is more powerful than the false God’s of Egypt.
> Consider the significance of the blood.
Universally, we all understand life is in the blood.
To spill blood is to take the life out of something living.
To turn the water of the Nile into blood - was to communicate death to Egypt and it’s false Gods.
The third sign,
was to be a dramatic demonstration that the God that Moses represents holds the life of Israel and Egypt in his hands.
God has power and authority over the life of Israel.
APPLICATION:
These three signs were to be wonders and miracles that compelled Israel to believe the words of Moses,
and ultimately to bring Israel into a relationship with the one true God - the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
It was to duplicate the conversion experience of Moses at the burning bush.
How should we an NT believers respond as we read of these three miracles God gave Moses?
It should compel us to believe -

God has authority and power over your life.

This text teaches us why God has authority and power over your life.
After all, isn’t that what the author of Hebrews teaches us.
Hebrews 11:29 ESV
29 By faith the people crossed the Red Sea as on dry land, but the Egyptians, when they attempted to do the same, were drowned.
Hebrews 12:1–2 ESV
1 Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2 looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.
Just like the miracles were meant to compel Israel to believe God has authority and power over their lives.
The example and miracles of Moses, should compel us to believe that God has authority over our lives.
**** Slide for questions
I ask you -
Who controls your life?
Are my circumstances in charge of me?
Israel was tempted to think that the Egyptians were in charge of them.
That the false Gods of Egypt controlled their life.
And so Moses feared that they would not believe his Words.
But God demonstrated he was in charge and in control.
He controls the safety, health, and life of Israel and Egypt.
You could say - God is bigger than their circumstances.
And just like God is bigger than their circumstances,
He is bigger than our circumstances.
We might think that this or that is in control of our life,
but it is not true.
Those circumstances are only those circumstances
because God in his perfect wisdom allows those circumstances.
This passage doesn’t teach us the wisdom of God,
You need look to places like Romans 8:28-29 to understand why God allows trials and circumstances.
Instead this passage teaches us God is bigger than our circumstances.
2 Corinthians 4:17–18 ESV
17 For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, 18 as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.
I remind you,
God has authority and power over your life.
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