Exodus 5_22-6_13 I will free and take you as my own
I will free you and take you as My own
I have remembered My covenant
Call to worship
Blessed are those you choose and bring near to live in your courts! We are filled with the good things of your house, of your holy temple. (Psalm 65:4)
Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, who gave himself for our sins to rescue us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen. (Galatians 1:3-5)
Doxology Hymn No 153: “Yesterday, today, forever”
(repeat with “AMEN”)
Invocation, Prayer of Adoration, and Thanksgiving Lord’s Prayer
Almighty God, who fill all things with Your infinite presence, give us grace to enter you courts with reverence, and so to call upon You in our prayers, that we may always obtain Your help and ever depart with your blessing.
Almighty God, in whom we live and move and have our being, who created us for Yourself, so that we can find rest only in You, hear our prayer of adoration. Glory to You, O Christ Jesus, our ascended and ever present Lord, through whom we draw near to the Father! Glory to You who are always with us, even to the end of the world! We praise You the Author and Finisher of our faith. Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit!
O God, who through your only begotten Son Jesus Christ have overcome death and opened to us the gate of everlasting life, grant that, as He was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, so we also may walk in the newness of life and see those things which are above, where with You, O Father, and the Holy Spirit, He lives and reigns for ever and ever.
Father, we thank You for the grace whereby You enable us yo bear the ills of this present world, that our souls are enriched by a fuller experience of Your love, a more childlike dependence on your will, and a deeper sympathy with the suffering and the sad.
We thank You with grateful hearts for our daily bread and our daily portion of happiness and hope, for health and strength and for opportunities of service. We thank You for our homes and those who dwell with us. We thank You for the glorious assurance of that heavenly home where we shall serve You with unclouded vision and undivided love. O Lord, accept our thanksgiving and by your Spirit seal us as your own, through Jesus Christ, our Lord. AMEN.
Hymn No 166: “Come O long-expected Jesus”
Prayer of Confession of sin
O Lord Jesus Christ who suffered and die for our salvation, hear us now as we make confession of our sins; and hearing Father, please forgive us. For our failure to respond to your Divine mercy; for our failure to obey You in loving one another; for our failure to be true to our own better selves; for our blindness in spiritual matters; for the timidity of our response to your Divine leading; for our failure to apply to ourselves the standards of conduct we demand from others; for our hardness of heart towards our neighbours’ faults and for the complacency in making allowance for our own faults; for our unfaithfulness in keeping the vows we made as members of your church; for our unwillingness to serve You in ways that seem commonplace; for our lack of kindness of heart toward others.
Merciful Father, quicken our faith, deepen our understanding, open our eyes, save us from all sin and weakness. Teach us to Christlike by being considerate and sympathetic; grant us sincerity of speech and diligence in our work for You; help us to be meek in our bearing yet bold in our defence for the good; strengthen our will that in our decisions for right there may be no uncertain note; help us to be loyal, true and brave in your service. We pray this thought Jesus Christ our Lord. AMEN.
When we were overwhelmed by sins, you forgave our transgressions. (Psalm 65:3)
Hymn No 168: “Tell out my soul”
Scripture Reading John 1:1-14
Tithes, offering and dedication
While the stewards wait upon the offering, all remain seated and sing:
Hymn no 187: “As with gladness men of old” (verse 1,2,3,5 only)
All things come from you and of your own do we give you. Accept and bless, O God our Father, these our tithes and offering and pour out upon us the spirit of your own abundant giving; that as we have freely received, so we may freely give, to the glory of your name, through Jesus Christ our Lord. AMEN.
Prayer for others
O Lord Jesus Christ, who said “Ask and you shall receive, seek and you shall find, knock and it shall be opened unto you”, hear now our prayer as we pray. Grant that as we plead for others we may be ever mindful of our own failures. Fill our hearts with penitence and love and a new desire to love You.
We pray for the church that she may be courageous to bear witness to her Lord and to do His will. We pray for our nation, for our Queen and those appointed as leaders over us in this country, that they may remember they are servants of a greater Kingdom. We pray for citizens of this city, and we do it, knowing that we are part of it. In our hearts we carry a burden for the godlessness of its people, especially in this season of Christmas. Decadence and depravity abounds, drunkenness is rampant, unfaithfulness in marriage unbridled, children live in fear of the next domestic eruption of violence between parents, and parents have to put up with unrestrained disobedience and rebellion of children. Pleasure is the only virtue to be pursued, and alcohol and immorality have become the highest pursuit for self-realisation. Tomorrow in our state 50 unborn babies will be killed through abortion. There is no sign of obedience to You. And we wonder why we experience such a severe drought. Have mercy on us, O God.
We pray for the people of this congregation, that in their fellowship and service they may show forth the Spirit of the Master. We pray for those who are sick. We remember Mrs Jean Snewin, Mr Jim Benson, Marlene Hood, Ena Newman …………………… and others before You. We remember Simone Laceroni, the wife of our manager at Meals on Wheels before you. Put your hand of healing upon her, protect her and return her to her family in your own good time.
We pray for those who are lonely, and for those who for reasons known to themselves stopped worshipping with us. Help us to search ourselves to see if we might be the reason as we are not friendly, not showing the love of Christ, or interested in what befalls our neighbour.
We pray for all missionaries that they may be strengthened in times of danger and encouraged in time of difficulty. We pray for all social workers, doctors and nurses who faithfully attend the sick. We pray for those in uniform: the police, the defence personnel who serve on home front as well as in others parts of the world. Give them safety and bless their families.
Hear as we pray these things in the Name of our Saviour and Redeemer Jesus Christ. AMEN.
Scripture Reading Exodus 5:22-6:13
Prayer for illumination
Merciful Father, we thank You for this service of worship. Speak to us through your holy Word which lives and remains forever. Pour the continual dew of your blessing on us as we now hear your Word expounded. Give us submissive hearts to understand your teaching. In the Name of Jesus Christ our Lord, AMEN.
Sermon “I will free you and take you as My own”
Dear brothers and Sisters in our Lord Jesus Christ,
How does a person become a Christian? It is crucial that we get the right answer to this question. How does a person become a Christian? Many would say one becomes a Christian the day one makes a decision to follow Christ. In a sense this is true, but the glorious truth about our relationship with the Lord is that it begins with Him. By nature we are not inclined to love the Lord or to see his mercies. He has to open our eyes to his redemption first before we can make that decision to follow Him.
Both the history of Israel in Egypt and the history of the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ as recorded in the Gospels help us to understand the magnitude and magnificence of the grace of God providing salvation, and calling us into that relationship of redemption to be called Christians.
This truth is illustrated to us in the life of Israel, which is nothing but the church of God’s elect before the incarnation of the Son of God and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit.
Right in the beginning God called Abraham, Isaac ad Jacob and made a covenant with them to be their God and to give them a land of promise. Circumstances in the time of Jacob and Joseph lead to the entire clan of Jacob to be transplanted into Egypt. Our reading from Exodus 5-6 picks up the history of the Israelites in Egypt almost 430 years later. They had forgotten about God and, sold into bondage, they experienced oppression and slavery every day. They had forgotten about the Land of Promise, and if they remembered it, there was absolutely nothing they could do about going back and reclaiming the land. One generation after the other was born and died, whilst to the state of their slavery they could not do anything but to increase the yoke upon them.
; The Redeemer
At God’s appointed time He took action to redeem his people. He took the first step and in what followed no king or ruler, how powerful they were, could stand in His way. He showed Himself as the One in control over natural forces, over the minds of people, even over the powers of darkness, using them to his glory.
He called Moses and gave him a message. This message was about the sovereignty of the omnipotent God who would have nothing stand in the way of his plan of redemption. His redemption was the result of his covenant faithfulness, his mercy and his unlimited power to redeem. He said to Moses:
I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob. I have indeed seen the misery of my people in Egypt. I have heard them crying out because of their slave drivers, and I am concerned about their suffering. So now, go. I am sending you to Pharaoh to bring my people the Israelites out of Egypt.” (Exodus 3:6-10)
; He is God Almighty – El Shaddai. The shaddai most probably comes from the word meaning to destroy. God is a warrior God who has no one and nothing stand in his way to frustrate his plans. He appeared to all the patriarchs with this name. When Abraham thought it was impossible to see the promise of God to have a son, El Shaddai appeared to Him saying: “I am God Almighty”. When Isaac, blind and close to his earthly sojourn, blessed his son Jacob, he said: “May God Almighty bless you.” Later God confirmed this blessing to Jacob declaring: “I am God Almighty, be fruitful. Nations will come from you and rulers will come from you.” Later in his distress, when the brothers of Joseph reported to Jacob after their journey to Egypt that he wanted to see the youngest brother, Benjamin, he once again found comfort in the name of El Shaddai: “May God Almighty show you mercy.” And on his death bed Jacob remembered El Shaddai: “God Almighty appeared to me.” And he then told Joseph of the Promised Land.
In all these cases the name El Shaddai is connected to God Promise – his everlasting covenant. Now, when Moses stood before God with the complaint that the people would not listen and that the Pharaoh has hardened his heart, God once again said: “I am El Shaddai.” God prepared Moses to see a wonder:
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.” (Exodus 6:1)
; But He is also I AM – Yahweh, the same God who revealed Himself in another name to Moses in the desert. This name tells about the living God who is: He has no history, because He is not from this world. He is not bound by time and space. HE IS! He is present, powerful, almighty and above all God’s.
; He is God of the Promise
He is God of the covenant. This takes Moses back to the Promise which God made with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob to be their God. To Abraham God revealed that his with his people:
Know for certain that your descendants will be strangers in a country not their own, and they will be enslaved and mistreated four hundred years. But I will punish the nation they serve as slaves, and afterward they will come out with great possessions. (Genesis 15:13-14)
Moses needed to know that God’s time to rescue his people has come. He remembered his promise made to Abraham and He will not forget his people. Now is the time for Him to reveal Himself as El Shaddai and Yahweh: the warrior God who IS. When God says to Moses “I have established My covenant” He uses a word often used in the Old Testament to denote an agreement or contract bound by law. God made a promise with Himself as witness and He called Abraham and his descendants as lawful parties to this contract. To this He would remain faithful; and this He would ultimately fulfil in Jesus Christ. The coming of Christ, his birth, his redemption, his death, his resurrection, ascension and intercession were all based on the covenant promises of God.
Moses, if ever you had doubts about the power of God, the faithfulness of God and the mercies of God, put it out of your mind. My dear brother and sister, the same applies to us today. If ever there was a hint of doubt in you mind about the power of God and his mercies, go back to the Covenant of God and his faithfulness as shown in the life, death and resurrection of our Lord. His redemption is proof of his faithfulness. And nothing will or can stand in the way of Him doing what He purposed.
; His mercies
The message of Moses to the people was a message of grace and mercy. He had to go to the people and tell them this:
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. I will take you as my own people, and I will be your God. (Exodus 6:6-7)
This is the best news anyone could hear. There is good news at last! The days of being slaves are over. No more back-breaking brick-making and the lashing of Egyptian whips on the shoulders of an Israelite. God has spoken, and his words are words of mercy. God said “I will free you, I will redeem you with mighty acts of judgement and I will take you as my own people.”
; To be free in this verse means to be snatched from, to be separated from. There is another context of this word. If I would act out this verb to you I would give you a gift. Mercy is after all a gift. Freedom in God is a gift. Freedom from the bondage of slavery is an act of God to snatch me from the claws of sin and to freely give the gift of freedom.
; To be redeemed in this verse is to receive a second chance to live. Slaves in the Old Testament were redeemed. Debts and lands were redeemed by kinsman-redeemer. We know the story of Ruth and Naomi. A redeemer would then have ownership and would provide protection to the redeemed. Such is the act of redemption of the Lord. Such is the act of redemption in Jesus Christ.
When God says, “I will take you as my own people”, He states something of his divine love and supreme sovereignty to make whatever and whomever He wants his possession. To be redeemed by God is to become the possession of God. He owns, because He paid the price of redemption. This was the message of Moses to the people.
; The redemption
Only a few words about this. The Lord also gave Moses these words to tell the people. “I will bring you to the land I swore with uplifted hand to give to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. I will give it to you as a possession.” ; For this land they would not pay a single cent. It was a land cultivated by others. They would inherit it as a gift of God. ; There they would never be slaves for as long as they kept their part of the covenant with God. And such is the land the Lord give to those who are redeemed by his Son, Jesus Christ. It is free, beautiful, without tears and pain, full of glory and everlasting.
; The birth of Christ, the Redeemer from eternal slavery
Before we continue with the story of the Israelites and Moses, let’s just jump to the New Testament to the portion we read from John this morning. There we read:
The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. (John 1:14)
; In Christ God fulfilled the promise made to the patriarchs in the fullest sense possible. Christ is God, yet He made his home with sinful people. His glory was seen by the people and his ministry, life and teaching were a reflection of who He was: full of grace and truth. ; He was sent to give us a gift of grace: redemption. He is the Redeemer of his people. That is why He came into this world. He would die on the cross to pay for the redemption, to with his blood purchase a people for God. He would be raised again to seal their eternal sonship. This was the glad tiding of the angels heard by the shepherds. And this is the Gospel we preach today. In essence Christ’s redeeming love is what Moses had to go and tell the people. This is what I proclaim to you today: The Saviour is born, God has heard your cry of slavery, and He has provided a way out of that slavery of the bondage of sin. Listen to this message and be saved.
Let’s just go back to the Israelites and Moses. Moses delivered this message to the people. What was their reaction? Let’s read:
Moses reported this to the Israelites, but they did not listen to him because of their discouragement and cruel bondage. (Exodus 6:9)
They rejected the message in the face of hope! They had become so used to be slaves that they could not accept the gift of God, freely offered. They were too afraid to make it there own, because if they did, the Pharaoh might treat them even more severe. How utterly sad! People blinded by sin, not able to see grace and accept mercy when they hear it; people who would rather die in sin than to by faith believe in God and trust Him who is El Shaddai and Yahweh.
; Let’s go back to John. “He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive Him.” And for centuries the story is just the same. For thousands of years people hear the message of the birth of the Saviour, but don’t believe it. Year after year millions sing the carols, and yet they don’t know the Saviour. They hear about the good news of grace that sins are forgiven by God’s act of redemption in and through Jesus Christ, but they reject the message as did the people in Egypt.
My dear friend, in the beginning of this sermon I asked “How does one become a Christian?” I referred to the fact that one can say “By deciding to follow Christ.” That, in one sense is true. But the Biblical answer to this question is to understand that God calls us to Himself on account of the redemption He provides. Thank Him for saying this morning: “I will free and take you as My own.” Therefore listen to the Word:
; Yet to all who received Him, to those who believed in his name, He gave the right to become children of God— (John 1:12)
It is therefore a legitimate question to ask you today if you are a child of God. The Israelites in Egypt didn’t believe, yet God was gracious. The Jews in the time of Jesus didn’t believe, yet God’s plan was not frustrated. But the question today is: ; do you believe and have you accepted Him? He calls you; and remember, the price is paid, you don’t have to do anything more apart from believing. You will be free and your eternal home, the Promised Land, is prepared for you by the Saviour. May God give you grace. AMEN.
Hymn No 176: “It came upon midnight clear”
May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ make us gracious; the love of God our Father make us loving; and the fellowship and power of the Holy Spirit fill and empower us until we show, in our lives, ore of the spirit and the marks of Jesus Christ.