Scripture reading for the lesson: Exodus 5:1-2 & 7:1-5
Let me first say that our Sunday evening auditorium group had all kept up with the reading schedule last week. We had 100%! Let’s all be encouraged to keep up the good effort! If you do get behind, don’t drop out! Just start where we are on the schedule and read along as best you can. This adventure is worthy of your time. If you prefer, you can get online and listen to the reading too. For some of us, that works best. And, whether you read or listen to the Bible, be sure to talk about what you’ve read with someone else (this will make your reading mean a lot more to you, plus your sharing will encourage someone else with God’s word, and it will be good practice for outreach and evangelism). Don’t wait till the Sunday evening group meetings to do that, do it daily with someone, and take notes as you read along so you can remember what God’s word has revealed to you. These simple things will help you get much more out of the Bible.
Ok, now for today’s lesson:
How do we know that the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob is, indeed the Lord who created all things? How did Pharaoh and the Egyptians find out? How did Israel come to know Him? How did you come to faith in Him?
I’m sure you are here because you DO believe in God. You ARE looking for His will and blessing in your life. That’s why people come to church! Not many people choose to come to church for the show. Not this church anyway.
This week’s journey from Genesis 44 into Exodus 14 takes us across over four centuries. We began where God used Joseph to bring the children of Israel INTO Egypt, delivering them from famine, then, 430 years later, God used Moses to lead the children of Israel OUT of Egypt, delivering them from slavery. Joseph and Moses were God’s men of deliverance. They were also men of amazing faith in the Lord who endured great trials and served God’s purposes for His people. God had previously told Abraham this would happen, back in Genesis 15:12-14. God revealed this to Abraham about 600 years before He delivered Abraham’s descendants from Egypt through Moses. This reminds us again: God is the Lord, and He knows the future and the past.
One of the regularly occurring statements in Exodus is this: Then they will know that I am the Lord. In the Old Testament, 162 times, God says: “I am the Lord.” The creator gets the attention of the created and says, “I am God, you are not.” Getting those two things through our heads is hard. Some people don’t like that. Getting it there is one thing, keeping it there through the generations is even harder. We easily forget. Some people actively resist faith. God has given us great power and ability, great dignity and potential. God also maintains our freedom to follow Him, or chose to depart from Him, and even deny Him. Forgetfulness of God, is a huge issue for humanity. Just look at Israel in Egypt. Where is their faith? Abraham walked with God, but just watch as his grandchildren drift away from him. What will it take to pass on the faith? What does it take for us to know God? How do we pass on that to the next generation?
First of all, God desires for us to know Him and know who He is. Nothing is more clear throughout Exodus 1-14 than this concept: God is revealing who He is to Israel and to Egypt. This deliverance from slavery took the shape of a mighty revelation of God’s power and judgments. God even said to Pharaoh that He could have wiped Egypt off the map, but God wanted more than just the deliverance of Israel from Egypt, God wanted to reveal who He is, so that not just Israel, but Egypt also would know that He is the Lord. Look at Ex. 9:13-16.
God’s plagues brought judgments not only on Pharaoh and the Egyptians, but as He did so He also judged the god’s of Egypt, and proved them incapable of protecting or defending Egypt. Egypt, the most powerful nation in the world at that time, was full of false gods. Exodus 12:12 tells us that when God struck down their first born, He brought judgment on all the gods of Egypt demonstrating that they were worthless.
What did God want? More than recognition, more that mere verbal confession, biblical knowledge of God, biblical faith in Him means RELIANCE upon God, full reliance. That’s what God desires from us. Seeking His kingdom and righteousness first. Loving the Lord our God with all of our heart, soul, mind and strength, building our lives upon His word and His will. God doesn’t want you singing His praise on Sunday and then dancing with the devil on Monday. That’s not knowing the Lord. That’s mockery of God. Instead of self reliance, God wants us to practice self denial. That’s not fun nor is it popular, but when you know God is the Lord, and you rely on Him, you realize that this is not about you and your personal preferences. It’s not about your comforts and personal happiness either. What Exodus shows us is this: God takes Israel out of Egypt and into the desert so they will go through Wilderness University and get a degree in reliance on God. It took about 40 years, but God has lots and lots of time. In fact, He’s eternal. God believed that the training was necessary and worth it. And yes, there were tests and examinations. Bringing Israel OUT of Egypt was the easy part, bringing Israel under the Lord’s authority and will was the hard part. Also, it was not their choice. It was His. They did get to choose whether or not they would cooperate. Many, many times they resisted and rebelled. When they did, they discovered who the Lord is, often in a very painful way. God didn’t let them drop out of school. In fact, the only way out was to die. And many did. There were possibly 2 million who left Egypt and entered Wilderness University, but only 2 of the original adult Israelites that left Egypt walked across the stage and got their promised land diplomas.
When God took Israel out of Egypt and into the Wilderness, how much did they have to rely on God? When they were hungry, where did they turn? When they were thirsty? Where did they go for water? Think of it! They literally HAD to depend on the Lord for everything. Jesus taught us in the Lord’s prayer to say: give us this day our daily bread. That’s how much we are to rely on God. That’s what Israel has to learn and that’s what we have to learn if we would know Him as the Lord our God.
One of the great dangers we face is relying on ourselves or something else besides God. If you were to ask you closest friends or family, “What do you think I rely on most?” What would be an honest answer? We have to work hard at relying on God when we live in affluence. We must not let ourselves forget the source of all things. To do so is to forget who God is, and then we forget who we are. Exodus is an entire book on what it took for Israel to know the meaning of God’s words, “I am the Lord.” And it was not easy.
In the 1956 Cecil DeMills movie, The Ten Commandments, after Pharaoh returns from the devastating defeat at the Red Sea, he sits on his throne and his wife says, “So you couldn’t even kill him” (speaking of Moses). At this, Pharaoh replies, “His God IS God!”
In order to help Israel remember and pass on what God had done for them, God established ceremonies and feast days that Israel still keeps to this day, particularly the Passover. In Ex. 12:24-27 God commanded them: (read).
Our communion reminds us of Jesus, our Lord. We see what He went through to reach us, so that we would let go of this world and reach out for Him. Jesus came to our wilderness. He calls us to walk with Him in reliance and faith and pass this on to others.
How does this fit into our seeking first God’s kingdom and righteousness? We must put seeking God’s kingdom and righteousness as our first priority so we will not forget Him, and so we will not fail to pass the torch of faith on to our children. We must avoid finding other things to rely on besides the Lord. Proverbs 3:5-6 says it well: Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not upon your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will direct your paths.