Program for Learning Involves Everyone
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
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.
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
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
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
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
Above all, taking the
shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts
of the wicked.
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
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.