Day 5: God Begins to Transform His People Through Freedom and His WordPart 1: Exodus (Moses)

Quick Review:

  • Genesis 1: We Are Introduced to God as the Creator of all things and humanity is his crowning achievement. The very pinnacle of creation!
  • Genesis 2: We discover from the very beginning we were destined to be his people with a personal relationship with him that was different from everything else he created. We were destined to rule and reign and have dominion over all things with him!
  • Genesis 3: Here we find that sin is introduced which brings about the fall of the entire human race.
  • Genesis 4-11: In this section we see the devastating effects of sin. Sin multiplies and explodes across the earth, leaving us with the question; how will this all end?
  • Genesis 12-50: Here we begin to see God's plan of redemption unfold. It begins by the Creator of all things coming to Abraham and making an unbreakable covenant based on the most dependable thing in the universe; God himself. This covenant is begun to be walked out by Isaac and then Jacob and then his 12 sons.
  • Of those 12 sons, we spend the last quarter of the book of Genesis zeroing in on the life of Joseph, who through some amazing circumstances and because of God's covenant to Abraham, was raised to the second most powerful position in Egypt! This enabled him to not only save his own family from starvation due to famine, but literally save millions of people's lives from around the known world.
  • Because Joseph was now in charge of distributing food during this severe famine, Jacob saw that it was wise to move his whole family to Egypt where they could grow and prosper as a people under the protective oversight of Joseph.
  • The book of Genesis then ends with the death of Jacob which now sets the scene for the book of Exodus.
  • The story of Exodus is major part of the controlling narrative in the Bible. Meaning, that this is really a continuation of the story from the Garden of Eden. Since that tragic event, humans have been born in the condition of slavery outside of the presence of God.
  • The central Biblical plot line is how to find a way out of slavery so that humanity could be in a relationship with God, in the way he originally meant it to be. In other words, having an intimate, two-way communication that leads to life changing interactions enabling humanity to fulfill their calling to multiply the image of God and fill the earth with that image and then rule and reign as God's co regents.
  • It should not surprise us, then, that the book of Exodus begins with the people of God in slavery.
  • It’s important to note that the book of Exodus is a fulfillment of a prophecy that God gave Abraham back in Genesis: Gen 15:13-15 Then the LORD said to him, "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.
  • The word “exodus” in the Greek translation of the Old Testament means "way out." In the Exodus narrative, God will create a way out of slavery that they have been in since the garden.
  • In this part of God’s story, he reveals yet another aspect of himself as he did in Genesis. First, he revealed himself as Creator and there is no other! Here he reveals himself as King and there is no other!
  • God's kingship is demonstrated through a sequence of three events that have typological correspondence in the New Testament.
  1. God’s kingship is seen in him saving his people from slavery in Egypt by issuing a just judgment over the Egyptians and their gods as seen in a series of plagues that revealed that Israel’s God was more powerful than any of the Egyptian gods. Furthermore, Israel was saved from this judgment not because of any inherent righteousness that made them better than the Egyptians, but because they trusted God's provision of a substitutionary sacrifice for them by rubbing the blood of sacrifice on the door posts of their houses
  2. God salvation led to the worship of God at Mount Sinai where God's people were shown how to have a restored relationship with himself (as seen in the building of God’s Temple and all its rituals) and a restored image (As revealed through the Torah).
  3. God then journeyed with his people in route to the promised land, a picture of Eden, a place of eternal rest. In one point of the story, Moses was again tested by God when God told him he would not lead them to the promise land, but would send one of his angels to lead them. But Moses said no, and then famously said… Then Moses said, "If you don't personally go with us, don't make us leave this place. (Ex 33:15-16) Needless to say, he passed the test

Setting the scene: The Exodus story begins...

  • Ex 1:6-14 Now Joseph and all his brothers and all that generation died, but the Israelites were fruitful and multiplied greatly and became exceedingly numerous, so that the land was filled with them.
  • Notice that they were fulfilling the Genesis 2 commission of being fruitful, multiply and filling. Scholars estimate that by the time Moses came Israel had grown to the size of 2 to 2 and half million people strong. What is interesting to note here, is that as soon as God's people began to do what they were created to do, the world around them begins to react!
  • Then a new king, who did not know about Joseph, came to power in Egypt. "Look," he said to his people, "the Israelites have become much too numerous for us. Come, we must deal shrewdly with them or they will become even more numerous and, if war breaks out, will join our enemies, fight against us and leave the country." So they put slave masters over them to oppress them with forced labor, and they built Pithom and Rameses as store cities for Pharaoh.
  • What a great picture of the enemy heart towards God's people; fear and dread! This caused the enemy to try and do whatever they could to stop, hinder and completely squash God's plans for his people. But the Scripture is clear, no matter how much the enemy tries to stop what God is doing, he can't!
  • 12 But  the more they were oppressed, the more they multiplied and spread;
  • This has always been the way God works. Whether we are talking about the persecution against the early church which was the major force that caused the church to explode in the first century! Or the persecution against the church like we have seen in China over the last 50 years that caused the church there to grow from 6 million to 80 million. The more they try to stop God’s purpose, the more his purpose expands.
  •  …so the Egyptians came to dread the Israelites and worked them ruthlessly. They made their lives bitter with hard labor in brick and mortar and with all kinds of work in the fields; in all their hard labor the Egyptians used them ruthlessly.
  • Intimidated by God’s people and the possible force they represent, the Egyptians became crueler and more ruthless towards God’s people. But their subjecting Israel to harsh enslavement was not enough either!
  • Ex 1:15-17 The king of Egypt said to the Hebrew midwives, whose names were Shiphrah and Puah, "When you help the Hebrew women in childbirth and observe them on the delivery stool, if it is a boy, kill him; but if it is a girl, let her live." The midwives, however, feared God and did not do what the king of Egypt had told them to do; they let the boys live.
  • Are you getting the picture here? Because of the enemy’s fears, they became more and more brutal towards God’s people, creatively looking for ways to stop God from blessing them! But they did not work!
  • Ex 1:22 Then Pharaoh gave this order to all his people: "Every boy that is born you must throw into the Nile, but let every girl live."
  • Now that is drastic! But that did not stop God either! Why? Because God’s purpose is unstoppable!
  • But that is not to say that God’s people didn’t have to go through painfully excruciating times. They did! Scripture says Israel’s time in slavery was bitter with hard labor. 
  • But fortunately, God remembered his covenant with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.
  • Ex 2:23-25 During that long period, the king of Egypt died. The Israelites groaned in their slavery and cried out, and their cry for help because of their slavery went up to God. God heard their groaning and he remembered his covenant with Abraham, with Isaac and with Jacob. So God looked on the Israelites and was concerned about them.
  • As God’s story of Exodus continues, one can’t help but be impressed with God’s commitment towards his people and their success! He is absolutely determined to see his people flourish and prosper! 
  • And so God does three separate but powerful things for his people. First God rises up and gives them the prophet Moses! Secondly, he delivers them their slavery in Egypt! Thirdly, he brings them to Mount Sinai to give them the law!
1)     Moses
  • First, right in the midst of a seemingly hopeless situation for Israel, God raises up a deliver who he sends to them, to show them the way out of slavery and how to get back on track to becoming his representatives for the sake of the world.
  • It is here we are introduced to the most influential man of the Old Testament: Moses! God supernaturally delivers him and then strategically places him in the Pharaoh’s family where he would not only be protected from further persecution but equipped with the best education the world at that time could offer him!
  •        It was to this son of Abraham that God gave a revelation of who he was, his name and then commissioned him to set his people free. The rest of the book of Exodus reveals to us how this happens! To make this easy for us, I am going to break down Moses life down into three parts, each 40 years in length. A. Forty years in Egypt B. 40 years in the wilderness C. 40 years of leading God’s people   

A.    His first 40 years in Egypt… before he was born the enemy was out to destroy him!

  • Ex 2:1-9 Now a man of the house of Levi married a Levite woman, and she became pregnant and gave birth to a son. When she saw that he was a fine child, she hid him for three months. But when she could hide him no longer, she got a papyrus basket for him and coated it with tar and pitch.
  • Then she placed the child in it and put it among the reeds along the bank of the Nile. His sister stood a distance to see what would happen to him. Then Pharaoh's daughter went down to the Nile to bathe, and her attendants were walking along the riverbank. She saw the basket among the reeds and sent her slave girl to get it.
  • She opened it and saw the baby. He was crying, and she felt sorry for him. "This is one of the Hebrew babies," she said. Then his sister asked Pharaoh's daughter, "Shall I go and get one of the Hebrew women to nurse the baby for you?" "Yes, go," she answered. And the girl went and got the baby's mother. Pharaoh's daughter said to her, "Take this baby and nurse him for me, and I will pay you." So the woman took the baby and nursed him.
  • How's that for the provision of God! Here he is a sought out fugitive even before he is born and God protects him and finds someone who will bring him up safely while at the same time paying Moses mother to take care of him. God's hand is all over this!
  • God's divine hand saves him because God had a plan for him. I think it’s interesting, that the same word that God gave the prophet Jeremiah, it could be said of Moses! Jer 1:55 "Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations."
  • So, make no mistake about it, he was part of God's divine plan, just like you and I are. We all need to realize that we are who we are not by chance, but my God’s choice!
  • We see this even in the name Moses was given. It’s not by chance that his name means to" draw out." His name was prophetic sign in the sense that Moses would draw God's people out of Egypt.
  • But not only was his name divinely orchestrated, but so was his educational experience. Consider how Luke described Moses education in the book of acts!
  • Acts 7:22 So Moses was educated in all the wisdom and culture of the Egyptians, and he was mighty (powerful) in his speech and deeds. I like how the message puts it... Moses was educated in the best schools in Egypt. He was equally impressive as a thinker and an athlete.
  • He had the best that the world had to offer and in many ways he was the man's man! He was athletic, brilliant, well educated. He was recognized as a Prince, part of the royal court, therefore he had no need to worry about money. As far as the world was concerned, he had a bright future ahead of him!
  • But let us not forget that while Moses was given the very best that the world had to offer him, we must remember he was also brought up by his mother in his early years which meant she would have instructed him in the true faith.
  • I say this because according to the book of Hebrews, when Moses got older, it becomes clear that even though he was exposed to all the religious beliefs of that time, all the different idols and their religious ceremonies and rituals which were many, he chose to put his faith in the one true God!
  • Heb 11:24-27 By faith, Moses, when grown, refused the privileges of the Egyptian royal house. He chose a hard life with God's people rather than an opportunistic soft life of sin with the oppressors. He valued suffering in the Messiah's camp far greater than Egyptian wealth because he was looking ahead, anticipating the payoff.
  • Moses had obviously come to a point where he refused to be identified or live as part of Egyptian royal house, but rather he chose to identify himself with God's people and live a hard life.
  • As he identified with his people, he began to take on their concerns as his own! He began to care for them and what would happen to them. Maybe he even felt responsible for them, and maybe he even felt God's call on his life, to deliver God's people from their misery. This indeed would explain the next part of the story:
  • Ex 2:11-15 One day, after Moses had grown up, he went out to where his own people were and watched them at their hard labor. He saw an Egyptian beating a Hebrew, one of his own people. Glancing this way and that and seeing no one, he killed the Egyptian and hid him in the sand.
  • The next day he went out and saw two Hebrews fighting. He asked the one in the wrong, "Why are you hitting your fellow Hebrew?" The man said, "Who made you ruler and judge over us? Are you thinking of killing me as you killed the Egyptian?" Then Moses was afraid and thought, "What I did must have become known." When Pharaoh heard of this, he tried to kill Moses, but Moses fled...
  • Clearly at this point Moses did not understand what it meant to be in covenant with God. Remember, to walk in covenant with God meant that you would be totally depend on God's strength and grace in every situation. You would know that trying to accomplish God's purposes on your own strength would never succeed.
  • What we have here is a perfect example of how much of God's purpose we can accomplish through our own strength, the killing of one lousy Egyptian! And then to make matters worse, his own people ratted him out, causing him to have to flee for his own life.
  • When Egyptian king found out what Moses had done, he interpreted Moses act as one of sedition, causing the king to go into a rage and no doubt feeling betrayed because of all he had done for Moses. After all he had adopted him into his own family and treated him as a son.
  • This would be hard to deal with no matter who you are. At this point, Moses had a choice! Does he go back and try to mend the fence with his adopted father which of course meant going back and completely complying with all of Pharaoh’s wishes. Or does he put his trust in God and choose to walk away from all that he knew growing up?
  • Once again, according to Heb 11:27-28 It was by faith that Moses left the land of Egypt, not fearing the king's anger. He kept right on going because he kept his eyes on the one who is invisible.
  • So, while Moses did not understand what it was to walk in covenant, he clearly had a faith in the one true God. But just having a faith in the one true God is not enough to be able to serve his purposes.
  • Moses had some growing up to do, which meant God had to strip him of all those things he took pride in himself. God had to break him of his self-sufficiency, his self-reliance and independence.
  • And there is no better place to do that than taking Moses out into the back side of the desert!

B.    40 years in the wilderness

  • Moses went from being a Prince to a shepherd, from hobnobbing with professors to keeping company with the sheep. Literally his life had been more characterized with what we would call living the jet set lifestyle! It was exciting, he was always on the go, had things to do, people and places to see. But now he had to learn to live and become accustomed to a quiet life tending sheep.
  • Not that shepherding did not have its own challenges. He had to learn to protect them, feed them, and learn how to lead them. It was also during this time he became a family man. His life could not have been more different than his growing up years in Egypt.
  • It was here that God was able to strip him of everything that Moses used to put his confidence in. This again reveals to us an important principle concerning being prepared by God for ministry.
  • Before anyone can be used by God, you have to go through this process of learning not to depend on your own strengths but his! And to do this, God brings us out into the wilderness or as Scripture says, the backside of the desert!
  • Every man and woman who is used of God goes through the wilderness experience. In fact, we go through many wilderness experiences! Those times where God feels so far away and all the dreams and desires that you felt were originally from God, seem to fade into the background.
  • Why do we go through experiences like this? Because these experiences are designed to sharpen our faith, harden our resolve, and forge our commitment to follow him.
  • Meaning, you don't have to worry if you find yourself in the season when things aren't rosy or easy for you, just pray that it doesn't last 40 years!

C.    40 years of leading God's people

  • Now at the ripe age of 80, God thinks Moses is ready to do what he was called to do since his birth.
  • And this radical change becomes evident as we see Moses responded to the call of God on his life.
  • Ex 3:1-6 Now Moses was tending the flock of Jethro his father-in-law, the priest of Midian, and he led the flock to the far side of the desert and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. There the angel of the LORD appeared to him in flames of fire from within a bush. Moses saw that though the bush was on fire it did not burn up. So Moses thought, "I will go over and see this strange sight — why the bush does not burn up."
  • When the LORD saw that he had gone over to look, God called to him from within the bush, "Moses! Moses!" And Moses said, "Here I am." "Do not come any closer," God said. "Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy ground." Then he said, "I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob." At this, Moses hid his face, because he was afraid to look at God.
  • There are many lessons here, far too many than we can take time to address right now. But let me just point out a few: The mystery of the burning bush, the bush that was on fire and yet was not consumed. What a beautiful picture of how a person can be on fire for God in such a way that he or she will never burn out. We have all seen ministers who are busy doing all kinds of good things, but then get burnt out because while they were good things, they were not necessarily God things.
  • Just like what we saw happening to Moses. Remember, Moses tried to do God's will on his own strength by killing that one lousy Egyptian, which resulted in him having to flee for his life! But now, Moses would be able to fulfill his calling because he knew that he could accomplish nothing lasting on his own strength, but only by depending on God. And we are going to see this truth demonstrated time and time again over the next forty years.
  • Here are a few other lessons we can draw from the burning bush experience. It is significant that God called him by name just like he does you and me. Why? Because this shows us that God is intimately acquainted with us.
  • Furthermore, it is significant that Moses responded by saying: "Here I am." In other words, I am your servant, ready to do anything you ask of me. As we are going to see, this is the same response... the prophet Samuel makes to God when God calls him into ministry. This is also the same response that Isaiah had as God called him into ministry.
  • It is also significant to note that God calling you into ministry is holy ground! When God told Moses: "Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy ground." God was revealing that not only is God holy, but Moses being set apart to serve God is holy, sacred and not to be made light of!
  • God was commissioning Moses to dedicate or set apart his life for the purposes of God, and this act was a very holy and sacred thing! Something that God does to every single one of us!
  • Yet another lesson we find here is seen in how God reveals himself as the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. In other words, God is again intervening in the life of Israel in response to the covenant he had made to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. God was being true to his promise!
  • At this point, it should become clear to the readers that Moses is a completely different man than what he was when he first went into the wilderness. The old Moses would have jumped at the chance to be used of God, but now he has no confidence whatsoever in himself.
  • This is a good thing because now he is free to put his confidence in God. Unfortunately, it seems that Moses has gone to the extreme other side and believes that God could never use him!  
  • In other words, Moses response to God’s calling is basically; I can't do it,. look what happened before. But God's response was don't sweat it Moses! Because now that I am with you, nothing is going to stop you. Regrettably, Moses wasn’t ready to hear that and ended up playing 20 questions with God. But fortunately for us, he did ask at least one very significant question; Who shall I say sent me?
  • Ex 3:14 God said to Moses, "I AM WHO I AM or as one translation puts it; I will be what I will be. In other words, he is saying; I am the God of your future who will be dynamically and effectively present when you need me or when you call upon me! Which is just a fancy way to say God is promising to be responsible to them as their covenant partner.
  • You would think at this point this would be enough for Moses, but it wasn't. Moses goes on to work out all his other insecurities! What do I do if they don't they'll listen to me? God’s response: Don't worry about it, that's my job.  But I don't have the gifts or the abilities!
  • Ex 4:10-13 "O Lord, I have never been eloquent, neither in the past nor since you have spoken to your servant. I am slow of speech and tongue." The LORD said to him, "Who gave man his mouth? Who makes him deaf or mute? Who gives him sight or makes him blind? Is it not I, the LORD? Now go; I will help you speak and will teach you what to say."
  • It seems that God had so effectively stripped Moses of his confidence in himself, that he doesn't seem to remember a day when he had any abilities to brag about. Unfortunately, at this point Moses goes too far!
  • But Moses said, "O Lord, please send someone else to do it." And the very next verse says, and God's anger burned against Moses. Moses pride was still getting in the way! Yes, it’s true he was not trying to promote himself, but in his pride, he had now taken a false position of humility and was stubbornly holding onto that, in that he could never be used by God.
  • In other words, Moses’s Stubbornness was revealing again his pride, a pride that must give way to true humility, which will always say, not my will be done, but your will be done!
  • The point being, Moses now needed to learn what it means to walk in covenant with his God. If anything was going to be accomplished, it was going to be because God is doing it, and not Moses.
  • This is no different from what Jesus modeled for us in the New Testament… John 5:19 Jesus gave them this answer: "Very truly I tell you, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does.
  • Walking in covenant with God means allowing God to supply everything that is needed for the upcoming adventure. This is the lesson that Moses had to learn! If he wanted to God’s purposes fulfilled, Moses had to learn how to put his trust in God and be obedient to what God would ask of him!