Saturday, January 05, 2013

God Keeps Wanting to Get His Message Across to Us -- Exodus 7:1-7

Then the Lord said to Moses, “See, I make you as God to Pharaoh, and your brother Aaron shall be your prophet. You shall speak all that I command you, and your brother Aaron shall speak to Pharaoh that he let the sons of Israel go out of his land.  But I will harden Pharaoh’s heart that I may multiply My signs and My wonders in the land of Egypt.  When Pharaoh will not listen to you, then I will lay My hand on Egypt, and bring out My hosts, My people the sons of Israel, from the land of Egypt by great judgments.  And the Egyptians shall know that I am the Lord, when I stretch out My hand on Egypt and bring out the sons of Israel from their midst.”  So Moses and Aaron did it; as the Lord commanded them, thus they did.  And Moses was eighty years old and Aaron eighty-three, when they spoke to Pharaoh.
In this passage that starts the seventh chapter of Exodus, we have again some repetition of what God has already told Moses.  The basic message to Moses is that whatever he is being asked to do, he is doing it “for God” and thus “God will be there with him”.  And furthermore, God tells Moses “I have given you a partner to help you, your brother, Aaron”.  But that is not all – Moses is told he would not succeed at first for God will harden Pharaoh’s heart.
Here is the whole package for whatever God is asking us to do:
1.     Whatever we are asked to do, is essentially for God, and on his behalf – it is His Plan, not ours.  And we have to keep remembering that and checking our attitude as we work.
2.     God is there, coaching us and keeping us as we work.  He will not abandon us.
3.     He provides helpmates where necessary.
4.     It will not be easy and we may fail big time at first, but there is a reason for that.
I also notice in the text that God said Moses was to ask Pharaoh to let the people go out from “his land”.   When we are in bondage, we often forget that we are not where we are supposed to be.  We are in someone else’s “land”.  When we are struggling, we are in someone else’s land.  We may belong to God and God is definitely with us, but we are traveling in someone else’s land and we need to get out.  In fact, all of our current life here on earth is a life being lived on someone else’s land.  And that ‘someone’ is:
“Satan, Lucifer, the bearer of light, (who) will come to you, handsome and alluring, innocent and with the appearance of light.  He will obscure God’s law and call it in doubt.  He will want to rob you of the joy you have in God’s path.  And once the evil one has caused us to waver, he will tear our entire faith out of our hearts, will trample it under foot and cast it away.  Those will be difficult hours in your life, when you tend to become weary of God’s word, when all is in revolt, when no prayer passes your lips anymore, when the heart refuses to listen any longer.”
-- Dietrich Bonhoeffer, sermon entitled, “The Gift of Faith” preached on April 9, 1938 at a confirmation event.
And it is at that precise moment that you and I need to say, “Lord, help me overcome my unbelief.  Help me have full faith in You, Your Word, and Your record.  Amen.”  I believe Moses and Aaron did just that.
And then God says, “Look, I’m going to harden Pharaoh’s heart but I am doing it for a purpose.”  He is saying to us, “You will struggle in your efforts to serve Me, but there’s a purpose for it – and it is all for good.”  In the case of Moses, it was so that God would perform many signs and wonders in the land of Egypt, in the land of the ‘enemy’.  For us, it may be that, or it may be to further hone or train us for greater service.  But whatever the reason, it is for ‘good’.
And the end result of both what Moses was asked to do, and what we are asked to do, is simply this, God says, “I will accomplish My purpose.”  That is the ultimate end result; there is never a different ending or outcome when it comes to God’s work with us and among us.
We stop for a moment and notice that God sometimes works to accomplish His purpose with “great judgments”.  Those who know the story of the children of Israel’s exodus out of Egypt, know that God did in fact inflict great judgments on Pharaoh and Egypt.  Those of us who have seen God work in very difficult situations in our own lives have seen God do likewise, sometimes surprising even us to the point where we are tempted to ask, “Oh God, did you have to go that far?  Did you have to do that to them?”  When one works with God, one cannot challenge the way God takes care of things.  One can only say, “Yes God.  Thank you, God.  I trust you God.”
And God reminds us again, that He does what He does so that others “shall know that I am the Lord” when He acts to save and to free people from bondage, and takes them out of the land of the enemy.  What God is doing through you and me, and with you and me, He is doing for His purpose that “others shall know He is the Lord”.  What a privilege to be part of that.  No matter what our age – whether a child, a teenager, middle-aged, a new senior like me, or have lived the eighty years that Moses had and the eighty-three years that Aaron had at the time.  There is an exciting part for all of us to carry out, with God.

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