Living By Faith
Moses was called, commissioned, and sent forth by God to free Israel from bondage in Egypt. In spite of that, God met him by the way in the inn and sought to kill him (Exodus 4:24-26). That is not a very good start. Worse yet, the problems continue to mount in chapters 4-6.
Did you ever have one of those days when nothing seems to go right? We may map out our plans and fill our schedule with good intentions for God. Nevertheless, everything goes haywire. Doesn’t God know that our plans are being thwarted? Yes, He does! (Proverbs 16:9)
We have been so influenced by the “health, wealth, and prosperity” gospel that we have come to expect all will be pleasant if we live for Jesus. We expect everything to go well—meaning that it will meet our expectations. That sounds nice, but God does not operate that way. We are not the sovereign. He is. We have a difficult time comprehending God’s plan (Isaiah 55:7-8)
If we do not get a handle on this, we will be very frustrated in life. We see this clearly in Moses. He got off to a bad start and things go downhill from there. He next goes from negative thinking (“I can’t do this.") to positive ("I really can do this.") That will set him up for a big let-down, because he will be positive for the wrong reasons. So let’s trace the journey and see what happened.
Scripture: Exodus 4:29-31
And Moses and Aaron went and gathered together all the elders of the children of Israel: 30 And Aaron spake all the words which the LORD had spoken unto Moses, and did the signs in the sight of the people. 31 And the people believed: and when they heard that the LORD had visited the children of Israel, and that he had looked upon their affliction, then they bowed their heads and worshipped.
Moses arrived in Egypt with Aaron and immediately met with the elders of Israel. He took the rod of authority and performed the three signs given to him at the burning bush (Exodus 4:3,6,9). Verse 31 concludes with, “And the people believed….” So far, so good. That brings us to the first of two problems.
I.) Pharoah Rejected the Message:
Moses started to feel pretty confident. At first, he did not think he could do the job. But then the signs worked and the people believed. It was so easy that Moses became over-confident.
Scripture: Exodus 5:1-2
And afterward Moses and Aaron went in, and told Pharaoh, Thus saith the LORD God of Israel, Let my people go, that they may hold a feast unto me in the wilderness. 2 And Pharaoh said, Who is the LORD, that I should obey his voice to let Israel go? I know not the LORD, neither will I let Israel go.
Moses bravely stated God’s demand to Pharoah. He responded, “Who is God? I do not know Him. Moses was completely taken aback. He did not expect this response, because he did not listen carefully to God.
Scripture: Exodus 3:19-20
And I am sure that the king of Egypt will not let you go, no, not by a mighty hand. 20 And I will stretch out my hand, and smite Egypt with all my wonders which I will do in the midst thereof: and after that he will let you go.
Moses was told, but did not pay attention. Too often we do the same. Christ said, “ If ye were of the world, the world would love its own; but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you (John 15:19). We are told that the world will hate us, but we want the world to love us. So we compromise our stand on faith and adopt worldly ways and means to please men. In the process, we water down the message of Christianity to a weak and powerless 'churchianity'. We act just like Moses.
Scripture: Exodus 5:3
And they said, The God of the Hebrews hath met with us: let us go, we pray thee, three days' journey into the desert, and sacrifice unto the LORD our God; lest he fall upon us with pestilence, or with the sword.
Observe the personal pronoun “us”. It is only two letters, but has ten miles of importance. The text says, “Lest he fall upon us,” not, “you.” This was not the message. God was not going to fall upon Israel. In fact, He was going to stretch out His hand and smite Egypt with all His wonders (Exodus 3:20).
Moses did not get what he expected. So he watered down the message and gave this weak-kneed explanation to this powerful potentate who could care less whether God fell upon his slaves.
We who know Christ as Savior carry the treasure of the gospel in our earthly bodies. If we water down the message by adopting the lifestyle, method and means of the world, we will go away defeated in our efforts to win the lost. They will see only themselves and we will lose the power of the message.
Moses watered down the message, lost the power of God, and went away defeated. Pharaoh was not impressed and merely said, “Get back to work, slaves (vs.4).” He then introduced the second problem.
II.) The Burden Was Increased:
Scripture: Exodus 5:6-8
And Pharaoh commanded the same day the taskmasters of the people, and their officers, saying, 7 Ye shall no more give the people straw to make brick, as heretofore: let them go and gather straw for themselves. 8 And the tale of the bricks, which they did make heretofore, ye shall lay upon them; ye shall not diminish ought thereof: for they be idle; therefore they cry, saying, Let us go and sacrifice to our God.
Israel was already serving at hard labor, but Pharoah increased the burden. They would no longer be supplied with straw for making bricks. They would have to forage for their own and their quotas would not be diminished. When they could not meet them, the officers of Israel were beaten.
Scripture: Exodus 5:14
And the officers of the children of Israel, which Pharaoh's taskmasters had set over them, were beaten, and demanded, Wherefore have ye not fulfilled your task in making brick both yesterday and to day, as heretofore?
They complained to Pharoah but his response was, “Ye are idle. That’s why you talk of sacrifice.” This put Israel in a very difficult situation, all because Moses tried to deliver them. How would you respond to this?
Scripture: Exodus 5:20-21
And they met Moses and Aaron, who stood in the way, as they came forth from Pharaoh: 21 And they said unto them, The LORD look upon you, and judge; because ye have made our savour to be abhorred in the eyes of Pharaoh, and in the eyes of his servants, to put a sword in their hand to slay us.
Moses went from hero to ogre! The life of faith is not easy. It may even become more difficult for a time. But living by faith is the true path to real freedom.
Now put yourself in Moses' shoes. Nothing seems to be going right. You have your own plan. You have not paid attention to God’s plan. What do you think is going to happen?
Scripture: Exodus 5:22-23
And Moses returned unto the LORD, and said, LORD, wherefore hast thou so evil entreated this people? why is it that thou hast sent me? 23 For since I came to Pharaoh to speak in thy name, he hath done evil to this people; neither hast thou delivered thy people at all.Moses was very discouraged and frustrated. Many Christians are like him. They have their own plans and do not want to listen to God’s. As a consequence, nothing goes their way, and they get irritated at God. They want to blame Him, when the real problem is with them.
God has given us His Word. It is everything we need for both life (secular) and godliness (spiritual) (II Peter 1:3). If we heed the Book, we will find that God’s way is best. If we do not, we will be very frustrated. God has a perfect plan for our lives. He had a perfect plan for Israel, too.
God’s Two-Fold Plan:
I.) Pharaoh to Drive Israel Out:
Scripture: Exodus 6:1
This seems totally impossible! Pharaoh is probably the most powerful ruler on earth at this time. He has denied knowledge of God and has absolutely no desire to give up his slaves. Yet God said that he would drive them out. “With God all things are possible.”
Illustration: Many years ago the Lord called my wife and I into missions. At first, we vainly sought support in the acceptable fashion. After a year of failure, we came back to the verse God gave us at the outset (I Thessalonians 5:24). From that point on, we decided to merely trust God and do the work He gave us to do without seeking any funds or support. From our decision in December to April of the following year, we prepared a faith approach to missions which we shared with our home church. We would not tell anyone of our need or seek anything for ourselves. We would only minister and serve. People thought we were crazy. Two months later we were commissioned and on the field. God provided wondrously and we were by far the best supported missionaries. We had God’s support.
Our philosophy was summarized by J. Hudson Taylor who said that his life and work rested on three positive facts: First, there is a living God. Second, He has spoken in the Bible. Third, He means what He says and will do all He has promised.
Moses did not have success, because he did not live like God is for real.
II.) Israel to Learn about Jehovah God:
Scripture: Exodus 6:2-7
And God spake unto Moses, and said unto him, I am the LORD: 3 And I appeared unto Abraham, unto Isaac, and unto Jacob, by the name of God Almighty, but by my name JEHOVAH was I not known to them. 4 And I have also established my covenant with them, to give them the land of Canaan, the land of their pilgrimage, wherein they were strangers. 5 And I have also heard the groaning of the children of Israel, whom the Egyptians keep in bondage; and I have remembered my covenant. 6 Wherefore say unto the children of Israel, I am the LORD, and I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians, and I will rid you out of their bondage, and I will redeem you with a stretched out arm, and with great judgments: 7 And I will take you to me for a people, and I will be to you a God: and ye shall know that I am the LORD your God, which bringeth you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians.
In these seven verses the phrase “I am the Lord” is used three times. In connection with the ten plagues that follow, it appears 5 more times. Each time the word Lord is in all capital letters indicating this is a translation of the Hebrew Jehovah [YHWH]. The name is an acronym made up of the first letters of the conjugation of the Hebrew verb “I am”. The meaning is “The Eternal, or Self-existent One”.
Verse three says, “By my name Jehovah was I not known.” The idea here is not a new name but a new understanding of that name summed by two concepts:
1.) The Self-Existent One
The Egyptians worshiped idols - bowing down to the creature rather than the Creator (Romans 1:20-23). God would show the futility of this false worship by demonstrating that He is the only self-existent one.
2.) The Savior
In the Bible, Jehovah is the name associated with salvation. The name Jesus means Jehovah saves. God would demonstrate that He is the only one capable of saving us. He would do so through the plagues and the lamb.
God shared all of this with Moses and
That is what evangelism is all about. It is about freed slaves sharing the message to other slaves that Jesus Christ died to set us free from the power of sin and the hold that it has on us. We can have eternal life and forgiveness if we just repent of our sin and turn to Him. He will set us free.
Next: The Judgment of Egypt