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God's Program for Learning Involves Everyone
Exodus 5-12

James R. Davis

The story of God is actually is a story of how he has revealed himself through sinful humanity. One of the great assets in studying the Bible is seeing God reveal himself through the personal lives of ordinary sinful people like you and me. It is amazing to behold God leading men through the feeble efforts of humanity as he seeks to intercede on behalf of humanity through common people like you and me. God has demonstrated his power again and again through the lives of ordinary people. His power can also work through you to the accomplishing of heaven's purposes. God can use you as his instrument to save the world. Moses was such an instrument in the hands of God.

The life of Moses is an example of God's interceding through a surrendered human life. God takes an ordinary man like Moses and accomplishes his powerful purpose.  Moses became God's powerful instrument to intercede in the affairs of the world because he had a heart that was willing to learn.

We must never forget that learning is a process. Learning is a life long process. Learning to deal with life's problems is sometimes a very slow process. You can't make a 13 year old kid think like someone who is 40. It will be 27 looooooooong years before you see the 13 year old think like a 40 year old. As humans, that always seems too long to wait. What makes it hard to help others learn is that we usually want it to happen too fast. Think about teaching a three-year-old the ABC's. We are elated to hear them sing the alphabet song. But it will be 15 more years before the child learns enough to graduate from high school. And the lessons of life take even loooooooooooooooooonger . . . it actually takes a lifetime to learn some lessons. We fail to realize that this is the way God planned it from the very beginning. Lasting significant change that comes through learning doesn't happen in the twinkle of the eye. This makes the process of teaching very tedious. But God is very patient.

Moses was born in Egypt divinely protected and divinely called from birth to do what he was endeavoring. He had spent eighty years of his life struggling with the call of God. At the present God had revealed his purpose to Moses. Moses didn't have any difficulty understanding what God wanted him to do. His difficulty was in how God chose to do it.

When we come to Exodus chapters 5 through 12 we see that God has a comprehensive plan that is not just focused on the outcome of the Hebrews freedom. God said to Moses, "I am the LORD. I appeared to Abraham, to Isaac and to Jacob as God Almighty, but by my name the LORD I did not make myself known to them." God wants to accomplish much more than their freedom. God wants them to experience him and learn about him in the process. Through this deliverance he has plans to reveal himself to the world as never before. He wants to produce a realistic faith on the part of those who will be following him. He also wants to give the Egyptians every chance possible to see and understand something about the God of the Israelites. Keep in mind that the eyes of the world are focused on Egyptian as the great world power, so the whole world will see. When the whole world sees, then and only then will he accomplish his ultimate purpose in leading the Hebrews to freedom.

Have you ever had a salesman telling you all the wonderful things that his product or machine will do? You have difficulty believing the sales pitch but the salesman sets up a demonstration for you demonstrating all the things you have just been told. After the demonstration you decide to buy the product. In Egypt God is going to give each person a living demonstration of who he is.

God Wants Leaders to Have A Deeper Knowledge of Him

God has appeared to Moses in the burning bush and listened to all of Moses' excuses for not going to Egypt. So God manifest his power to Moses by turning his staff into a serpent, making his hand leprous and then healing it and finally God directs Aaron to speak for him. All the while Moses is pleading "send someone else to do it!" God gives Moses no way out; he is trapped. Moses begins his journey to Egypt and God meets him at an inn and all but takes Moses' life for not circumcising his son. I am almost sure that initially Moses felt all but literally driven to obey God. I am sure that he felt like he was "between a rock and a hard place."

So Moses is "driven" into Egypt by the "threatening" hand of God. As Moses faces the Pharaoh asking him to let his people go, the Pharaoh basically says, "If you think your people are suffering now, you haven't seen anything yet." So the Israelites burdens were increased and they used Moses for a scapegoat. Now it seems that Moses is trapped between Pharaoh, the Israelites and the hand of God that had already threatened to kill him on his way to Egypt. (Exodus 4:24-26)

This is really Satan's ingenious trap. If you were Satan, what would you do to stop God's work? I think the first thing you would do is to try to stop the ears of those listening to God. How would you stop their ears? What better way to stop someone's ears than through intimidating difficulties? When they step out in fear to do God's bidding, then you make life extremely difficult. Use affliction to distract. It is through difficulties that Satan can make the Word of truth look like nonsense. We look at all this wonderful liberating hopeful truth in the Word of God and then we look at our impossible circumstances and start feeling intimidated. Gods Word begins to look like a lie.

God had warned Moses that when he spoke to Pharaoh that he wouldn't listen. But when you have spent the first 80 years of your life in failure you are ready for something positive to happen. So when God tells Satan, "That person has been serving you long enough let him/her go that they may serve me" Satan says, "No I want let them go and further more if you try to deliver them I will make their lives miserable." It is Satan's intention to destroy any sign of new life.

Initially when Moses came to the Israelites declaring God's concern for them they were happy. They embraced the word of deliverance. Life was looking up. The God of Abraham was concerned about them. But life gets worse . . . a lot worse. It gets so bad that Moses throws up his hands and says, " . . . Lord, wherefore hast thou so evil entreated this people? why is it that thou hast sent me? 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." (Exodus 5:22-23) So Moses ask God some very important questions. Moses asks, "O Lord, why have you brought trouble upon this people? Is this why you sent me? Ever since I went to Pharaoh to speak in your name, he has brought trouble upon this people, and you have not rescued your people at all." But now Moses is seeking understanding and Moses' return gave God the opportunity to further instruct Moses.

God wants Moses to personally understand who God is. The Lord answers Moses saying, "Now you will see what I will do to Pharaoh: [Emphasis mine] Because of my mighty hand he will let them go; because of my mighty hand he will drive them out of his country." (Exodus 6:1) God is not only in the process of having himself revealed to the world but he is also in the process of revealing himself more clearly to those who are following him . . . to the obedient. After the seventh plague God says to Moses, "Go to Pharaoh, for I have hardened his heart and the hearts of his officials so that I may perform these miraculous signs of mine among them that you may tell your children and grandchildren how I dealt harshly with the Egyptians and how I performed my signs among them, and that you may know that I am the LORD." [Emphasis mine] (Exodus 10:1-2) You think by this time that Moses would have already known the Lord. But God wants him to know him more fully.

Exodus 7:1-7
Then the LORD said to Moses, "See, I have made you like God to Pharaoh, and your brother Aaron will be your prophet. You are to say everything I command you, and your brother Aaron is to tell Pharaoh to let the Israelites go out of his country. But I will harden Pharaoh's heart, and though I multiply my miraculous signs and wonders in Egypt, he will not listen to you. Then I will lay my hand on Egypt and with mighty acts of judgment I will bring out my divisions, my people the Israelites. And the Egyptians will know that I am the LORD when I stretch out my hand against Egypt and bring the Israelites out of it." Moses and Aaron did just as the LORD commanded them. Moses was eighty years old and Aaron eighty-three when they spoke to Pharaoh.

God is leading Moses his leader one step at a time. In the Egyptian system of worship, Pharaoh is a God. He thinks he is god, in total control. His power is proved by the powerful tricks of the magicians. Pharaoh is God and his magicians are his prophets who support his words with magic tricks. But God has made Moses God who performs his miracles and Aaron is his prophet. But the pharaoh is stubborn and won't listen to the true God. But God has revealed himself to Moses in very clear terms.

God Wants the World to Have A Deeper Knowledge of Him

Exodus 6:30-7:5
But Moses said to the LORD, "Since I speak with faltering lips, why would Pharaoh listen to me?" Then the LORD said to Moses, "See, I have made you like God to Pharaoh, and your brother Aaron will be your prophet. You are to say everything I command you, and your brother Aaron is to tell Pharaoh to let the Israelites go out of his country. But I will harden Pharaoh's heart, and though I multiply my miraculous signs and wonders in Egypt, he will not listen to you. Then I will lay my hand on Egypt and with mighty acts of judgment I will bring out my divisions, my people the Israelites. And the Egyptians will know that I am the LORD when I stretch out my hand against Egypt and bring the Israelites out of it." [Emphasis mine]

Moses goes to Pharaoh and by God's hand brings the first plague on Egypt. The Nile River was turned to blood and all the fish died. It was much worse than the red tide we have on the gulf coast where fish wash up on the shore and stink. The curious thing was that the Egyptian magicians were able to duplicate the turning of water to blood. Moses says that the Pharaoh didn't take the first plague to heart. (Exodus 7:24) The water itself was turned to blood. Pharaoh refused to listen and the second plague of being inundated frogs followed. Then the Pharaoh tells Moses to "Pray to the Lord to take the frogs away from me and my people, and I will let your people go to offer sacrifices to the Lord." By the second miracle Pharaoh was a believer for he already believed that the Lord had sent the frogs because he ask Moses to pray that the Lord might remove the frogs. (Exodus 8:8) We see here that after the second miracle Pharaoh believed. Yet he reneged on his word and refused to let the Hebrews go. Egypt then is inundated with gnats and the magicians said to the Pharaoh, "This is the finger of God." The magicians had been able to duplicate the first two plagues but not the third plague consisting of gnats, even they recognized the hand of God. But Pharaoh refused to let the Hebrews go.

Belief produces one of two responses. We can respond by saying, "I don't care, I am going to continue to life on my terms." Or we can respond in obedience. Pharaoh chose disobedience. So the rest of the plagues are directed at Pharoah's hard heart but in the process the world will discover the powerful hand of God.

When the seventh plague of hail came, Pharaoh said, "This time I have sinned . . . The Lord is in the right, and I and my people are in the wrong. Pray to the Lord, for we have had enough thunder and hail. I will let you go; you don't have to stay any longer." (Exodus 9:27-28)

Most of our difficulties in life result from a heart that needs to be softened by the hand of God. Difficulties will crop up in our lives when it will be clear, despite our best efforts that we are not God and that we are not in control. If we could only learn that and keep that one fact in the forefront at all times how we might respond differently to life's difficulties.

It is one thing to believe in God, it is another thing to believe that you have sinned and it is quite another thing to truly repent of sin. Too many times we come to believe in all the right things but respond for all the wrong reasons. Pharaoh responds to the seventh plague by saying " . . . we have sinned . . . we have had enough thunder and hail. I will let you go." That isn't what repentance is all about. We haven't really believed until we respond with a motive to leave sin and turn to God in obedience.

Many times we are like Pharaoh, we have fits of "repentance" in the pain of the moment. We respond because we need relief in a crisis. But when life returns to normal and the urgency of the hour has passed, it becomes clear that what we wanted was relief.

We just want life to work. And when it begins working for us again we take control of our own lives. We want God but we want to retain control of our own lives. I remember a particular Christian that had ceased being faithful to the Lord. He had stopped going to church. His marriage was falling apart; his wife was in the process of leaving him. He came to church and wanted the prayers of the church. Of course everyone was elated that he wanted his or her prayers. But he only came a couple of times. His wife decided not leave him. But we never saw him again. He only wanted God in a crisis.

Despite the mounds and mounds of evidence that we are not in control, we tenaciously cling to the false belief that we are in control. Scott Grant said, "Wave upon wave of evidence and testimony beat against our hardened hearts, but they fail to give way. Sometimes we'll defend our dream worlds, in which we rule from within our safe and secure fortresses of control, to the last illusion." (Scott Grant, Scott Grant Library, Discovery Publishing, http://www.pbc.org)

Rahab hid the spies when they came to spy out Jericho the second time. She went to them and said, "I know that the LORD has given this land to you and that a great fear of you has fallen on us, so that all who live in this country are melting in fear because of you.  We have heard how the LORD dried up the water of the Red Sea for you when you came out of Egypt, and what you did to Sihon and Og, the two kings of the Amorites east of the Jordan, whom you completely destroyed. When we heard of it, our hearts melted and everyone's courage failed because of you, for the LORD your God is God in heaven above and on the earth below. (Joshus 2:8-11) The world had witnessed the hand of God through God's work in Egypt.

God Wants His Children to Know Him

God tells Moses to speak to the Israelites saying, "I appeared to Abraham, to Isaac and to Jacob as God Almighty, but by my name the LORD I did not make myself known to them. I also established my covenant with them to give them the land of Canaan, where they lived as aliens. Moreover, I have heard the groaning of the Israelites, whom the Egyptians are enslaving, and I have remembered my covenant. "Therefore, say to the Israelites: 'I am the LORD, and I will bring you out from under the yoke of the Egyptians. I will free you from being slaves to them, and I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with mighty acts of judgment. I will take you as my own people, and I will be your God. Then you will know that I am the LORD your God, who brought you out from under the yoke of the Egyptians. And I will bring you to the land I swore with uplifted hand to give to Abraham, to Isaac and to Jacob. I will give it to you as a possession. I am the LORD.'" [Emphasis mine.] (Exodus 6:3-8)

Each of the first three plagues affects all of Egypt, the Hebrews as well as the Egyptians. The Bible doesn't record the Hebrews reaction. I can only imagine that during the ordeal their reaction must have been similar to their reaction after Pharaoh imposed stricter working conditions on them, when they complained bitterly to Pharaoh and to Moses and Aaron. (Exodus 5:15-21)

The Hebrews have experienced nothing but the same bitter difficulties that all the Egyptians had suffered. They were actually suffering more because of their increased workload and cruel treatment. But when the fourth plague comes they are not affected by it. This is the first time that a message from Moses has not brought pain and difficulties. In the first three plagues the Hebrews learned about God the same way the rest of the Egyptians learned about God.

The Egyptians culture had influenced the Hebrews for 430 years. The Hebrews had also served the gods of Egypt. Joshua said to the Israelites after crossing the Jordan River, "Now fear the LORD and serve him with all faithfulness. Throw away the gods your forefathers worshiped beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the LORD." (Joshua 24:14) When Moses went up on Mt Sinai they demonstrate how Egyptian culture had influenced them. "When the people saw that Moses was so long in coming down from the mountain, they gathered around Aaron and said, 'Come, make us gods who will go before us. As for this fellow Moses, who brought us up out of Egypt, we don't know what has happened to him.'" (Exodus 32:1)

It is necessary for them to recognize God the same way the Egyptians recognized God. But now God reveals himself as their protector. They begin to see the hand of God as a protective hand. The next six plagues only affect the Egyptians. Imagine the plague of flies touching all of Egypt but not the land of Goshen where the Israelites lived. And so it was with the plague on the livestock, the plague of boils, the plague of hail, the plague of locusts and the plague of darkness. It would be something like our tropical rains in Florida. Sometimes we can see it rain on the other side of the street and not on our side of the street. But this wasn't rain it was devastation brought by the hand of God. It was more like hurricane Andrew multiplied ten times.

God demonstrates to Israel not only the fact that he is God, but that he is a God that can protect them and deliver them. Here God demonstrates for all of us how he can place a protective shield around each of us to protect us from the schemes of Satan. God is all-powerful as a protector and a provider. He has demonstrated his power over the Egyptian gods and the Pharaoh.

1 Corinthians 10:12-13
So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don't fall! No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.

1 Peter 1:5
Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.

Ephesians 6:16
Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.

Conclusion:

We begin to understand how God had a comprehensive plan for learning that taught each group at each group's own level of learning. So it is today. Where we are in our walk with God is not as important in our process of learning as having a heart that is willing to learn.

Where do you see yourself in this story? Are you Moses who has been struggling to follow God all your life but you need to know God more fully? Do you continue to move forward faithfully and persistently? Are you receiving, believing and speaking the truth? Do you recognize the power of God to bring his efforts in you to fruition?

Maybe you are like the Hebrews who are crushed by affliction? You want relief but find it difficult grasp the purpose of your affliction.

Maybe you are like the magicians whose gods proved impotent but you have trouble releasing your grip on them?

You may be like Pharaoh, with a believing faith and recognition of your sin but you continue to want to control your own life.
 
 

 

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