Moses Meets Pharaoh - Exodus 5-6 (Part 3 in a Series of 11)
September 7, 2008
Prayer: Father, it is my desire to please you through preaching the Word of God tonight. I believe that my brothers and sisters in Christ desire to please you by being hearers and doers of what you reveal. The prayer of Paul in Colossians 1 indicates that Christians (and that would include many of us here this evening) are to bear fruit in every good work.
We are grateful that you gave us the free gift of eternal life and that we responded believing by faith it could be and now is ours. You also make clear that you have a purpose for each of us. We are your workmanship, a poem created in Christ to do good works which You have prepared in advance for us to do. Lord, that is very compelling and hopeful. You have good works for us to do. Our question this evening is, “What hinders them from being accomplished?” We know it’s not You. We know the trouble is with us.
Lord Jesus, you taught in the Gospels that the percentage among the productive soils would vary as we sow the seed of the Gospel. But, it seems to me, that there must be some fruit in order to please You. How can we say we are pleasing to You without fruitfulness or good works - without people being saved in growing under our watchful care… without helping those who struggle hard with sin …without being understanding and compassionate with the people close to us, people we often taken advantage of!
As a church we ask that you would fill us with the knowledge of your will for our lives, so that we may live a life worthy of you and utterly pleasing to you - abounding in good, truly good works. Lord, we pray simply this evening …we pray that we would just bear fruit for you - to whatever capacity you’ve prepared for us in advance. We pray this in Your Name. Amen.
5.1-9 The Insensitivity of the Sinner
Remember that when we last left Israel, they were a believing people (4.31). They had bowed their heads and worshiped. Moses and Aaron confidently and courageously confront Pharaoh in the exact manner God had prescribed.
But it doesn’t turn out like the people thought it would. It doesn’t turn out like Moses and Aaron thought it would.
· Who is the LORD?
· Why should I obey Him?
· I don’t know the LORD.
· I will not let Israel go.
Don’t import what you already know on the story. Here is the most powerful man in the world, the Pharaoh of Egypt. Two slaves come to him and demand that he release all the other slaves. The whole idea is absurd. “Who is the LORD, that I should obey His voice to let Israel go? I do not know the LORD, nor will I let Israel go.”
People who do not know the LORD will not obey Him; however, no one can say they are completely ignorant of who the LORD is. Romans 1 teaches us that God has written the reality of His existence upon the heart of every man. So, why do Pharaoh and others we know so wantonly cast off the LORD and refuse to obey him? Why won’t they learn more about Him?
The answer to that question is that unsaved people believe ignorance is bliss. That is, they want to remain in darkness so that they can continue to enjoy it! Sin and their desire for it becomes wedge between them and God. Disobedience always darkens spiritual realities.
That Pharaoh is a child of Satan is immediately evident. He hates God’s people and they will suffer under his authority. Don’t expect the world and its leaders to solve our problems in the church. Jesus said that the world would hate us because of Him (Matt 10.22). I always think that if the world loves me, I must be going wrong somehow. We may not suffer like an Iranian Christian, but we should feel it:
· Don’t ever expect public education to take hold of our virtues and principles.
· Expect to be misrepresented in the newspaper and on television.
· Expect to be mocked, derided, or at least marginalized at work.
Unsaved people don’t want to be around us - but it is Christ that makes them uncomfortable. That’s a good thing.
5.10-21 The Bondage of Sin
Not only would Pharaoh refuse the Hebrews straw, he also would not reduce the quota of bricks that needed to be turned out. The people were scattered and gathering stubble in order to keep us. It was an impossible task, of course. The Egyptian taskmasters drove them and forced them to hurry. The Hebrew officers that supervised the work were beaten because the quotas were not reached.
The officers sent a contingent to Pharaoh. So much for these men serving God - v. 15 indicates that they thought themselves servants of Pharaoh still. Pharaoh welcomed the criticism as a way to drive a wedge between God’s man, Moses, and the people.
Pharaoh cries out defiantly to the officers, “You are idle! Idle!” He tells them to get back to work and as they do, they meet Pharaoh and Moses. No bowed heads …no worship …no belief. Only accusations and bitterness for Moses and Aaron. The wedge is firmly placed.
This is what will happen over and over again as Moses seeks to lead this people. They always want to go back to Egypt. Back to Pharaoh. Back to the leeks, garlic, and onions. Back to the only thing they ever knew …bondage. It is not unlike our own struggle with sin - a struggle that is utterly impossible to win without the liberating work of the cross, tomb, and resurrection.
“Sin always demands more and more from us - while giving less and less in return. The more the lustful man indulges his fantasies the less happy he becomes, and the more sex he craves. The more the selfish woman gets, the less content she grows, and still she wants more. Satan never loosens his grip; he is always busy tightening the chains of our captivity. It is always more bricks and less straw, for it is the very nature of sin to seek to control the sinner’s whole life” (Ryken, 155).
John 8:34 (NKJV)
34Jesus answered them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, whoever commits sin is a slave of sin.
Romans 6:16 (NKJV)
16Do you not know that to whom you present yourselves slaves to obey, you are that one’s slaves whom you obey, whether of sin leading to death, or of obedience leading to righteousness?
Romans 6:19 (NKJV)
19I speak in human terms because of the weakness of your flesh. For just as you presented your members as slaves of uncleanness, and of lawlessness leading to more lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves of righteousness for holiness.
Titus 3:3 (NKJV)
3For we ourselves were also once foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving various lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful and hating one another.
Acts 8:23 (NKJV)
23For I see that you are poisoned by bitterness and bound by iniquity.”
2 Peter 2:19 (NKJV)
19While they promise them liberty, they themselves are slaves of corruption; for by whom a person is overcome, by him also he is brought into bondage.
So, where do the children of Israel go for liberty and relief? They go to the source of all their bondage, Pharaoh. It is not unlike asking Satan to free you from sin. God alone delivers the sinner from sin. Christ redeems. The people should have looked to God and God’s man. Instead, they went to Pharaoh and then attacked God’s man.
We cannot and must not turn to sin for solace. Chris alone has the power to save and sanctify. We must hold onto the hem of His garment and refuse to let go. We must trust in His power to deliver us.
1 Corinthians 10:13 (NKJV)
13No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.
5.22 - 6.5 Handling Disappointment
When Moses regroups after meeting the officers, he returns to the LORD and pretty much complains. We can’t be too hard on him, because we’ve done the same. You ever make a commitment to shore up your prayer life and things get worse? Sometimes we do what God calls us to do, and things explode.
Moses did what God told him to do, but it all misfired from his perspective. God hadn’t said anything about this straw thing or about the obstinate hearts of the Israelites. Sometimes we do what God wants us to do, but it doesn’t go like we thought it would. It makes us wonder if we misinterpreted the will of God for our lives.
You can’t really justify Moses’ behavior. He was not content, his faith was weak, and he wanted things on his own timetable. That’s always a recipe for disaster. Moses even blamed God for the trouble in v. 22. But Moses did bring his questions to God. Is it right to question God? Let’s see:
Genesis 15:2 (NKJV)
2But Abram said, “Lord God, what will You give me, seeing I go childless, and the heir of my house is Eliezer of Damascus?”
Job 13:24 (NKJV)
24Why do You hide Your face, And regard me as Your enemy?
Psalm 10:1 (NKJV)
1Why do You stand afar off, O Lord?Why do You hide in times of trouble?
Jeremiah 20:18 (NKJV)
18Why did I come forth from the womb to see labor and sorrow, That my days should be consumed with shame?
Matthew 11:2-3 (NKJV)
2And when John had heard in prison about the works of Christ, he sent two of his disciples 3and said to Him, “Are You the Coming One, or do we look for another?”
Matthew 27:46 (NKJV)
46And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?” that is, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?”
We can ask God questions - as long as we are honest and faithful when we do it. The only right way to deal with frustration in life is to bring to God. What else are we going to do? Where else can we go? God may or may not answer, that’s His prerogative, but He will hear us. He will guide us. He will always love us.
Notice God’s response to Moses:
1. “Now you shall see what I will do to Pharaoh.” God is in complete control!
2. “I am the LORD!” (6.2, 6, 7, 8) Moses needed to remember that God is always faithful to His promises.
When we struggle and things don’t turn out the way we expect them, it may not be that we are out of God’s will. Something Jobesque might be going on behind the scenes. We just never know, but He always knows!
6.6-13 Believing God
Notice what God will do in this passage:
1. I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians
2. I will rescue you from their bondage
3. I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with great judgments
4. I will take you as My people
5. I will be your God
6. I will bring you into the land which I swore to give to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob
7. I will give it to you as a heritage.
Notice also what Israel won’t do in 6.9:
“They did not heed Moses because of anguish of spirit and cruel bondage.”
Notice what Jesus will do according to John 14:
1. I will come again and receive you (3)
2. Whatever you ask in my name, I will do it (13-14)
3. I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper (16)
4. I will not leave you orphans. I will come to you (18)
5. Jesus will love those who keep His commandments (21)
The problem is that we won’t believe the promises He has made. All the problems of life stem from a heart of unbelief. It is a refusal to trust in God’s power to deliver us and to continue to deliver us. It is a travesty. It is a betrayal. The vestiges of it are with us and we battle it every day. This is the normal Christian life.
6.14-27 What’s in a Name?
Why is the lineage of Levi placed here? As a matter of fact, why are there long lists of names in the Bible anyway?
Well, the lists might not mean much to you; however, they mean a lot to those listed! As a matter of fact, the lists indicate that God cares not only for a nation but the individuals and families of that nation. God keeps your name in the book of life. Aren’t you looking forward to reading it?
Notice the list centers on the house of Levi. Reuben and Simeon are mentioned just to get to Jacob’s third son, Levi. Levi had three sons: Gershon, Kohath, and Merari. Kohath’s line is focused upon in order to get to Aaron. Then, the sons of Aaron are mentioned: Nadab, Abihu, Eleazar, and Ithamar. Phinehas, the grandson of Aaron is mentioned last.
· The Gershonites were charge of the curtains in the Tabernacle.
· The Kohathites were in charge of furnishings and utensils in the Tabernacle.
· The Merarites were in charge of the heavy lifting when the Tabernacle was transported.
All had a part. Consider…
Psalm 84:10-11 (NKJV)
10For a day in Your courts is better than a thousand. I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God Than dwell in the tents of wickedness. 11For the Lord God is a sun and shield; The Lord will give grace and glory; No good thing will He withhold From those who walk uprightly.
The Levites understood that it was good to serve God in whatever capacity. They would show up on Saturday and clean the auditorium chairs and carpet. They would pass out bulletins. They would teach toddlers and enable the church to fulfill the high calling of bringing glory to God.
Phinehas, the grandson of Aaron was especially zealous for the Lord. Do you know his story? It’s found in Numbers 25, but let me just give you a few highlights:
· Moabite women enticed Israelite men to commit sexual immorality and spiritual adultery in Phinehas’ day.
· The Israelites also stumbled into worshiping Moabite gods.
· The punishment for this kind of adultery was death. Israel’s judges were debating the matter when a wicked man named Zimri brought his Midianite mistress named Cozbi to the tabernacle. He intended to be immoral with her in the house of God. Notice what the biblical record says about the actions of Phinehas:
Numbers 25:7-13 (NKJV)
7Now when Phinehas the son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron the priest, saw it, he rose from among the congregation and took a javelin in his hand; 8and he went after the man of Israel into the tent and thrust both of them through, the man of Israel, and the woman through her body. So the plague was stopped among the children of Israel. 9And those who died in the plague were twenty-four thousand. 10Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying: 11“Phinehas the son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron the priest, has turned back My wrath from the children of Israel, because he was zealous with My zeal among them, so that I did not consume the children of Israel in My zeal. 12Therefore say, ‘Behold, I give to him My covenant of peace; 13and it shall be to him and his descendants after him a covenant of an everlasting priesthood, because he was zealous for his God, and made atonement for the children of Israel.’ ”
We may be dismayed over the actions of Phinehas, but God was pleased.
Of course, there were skeletons in Aaron’s family closet as well. Nadab and Abihu decided to offer profane fire to God and Korah decided to rebel. All three paid the penalty for their actions.
The point of all this is that the genealogy is important. It is placed here to show us that Aaron was God’s man; he belonged with Moses. It also indicates that God not only cares for the nation and family. He cares for the individual.