05 Moses

05.2 Moses 5, Day 2

A Hard Heart

 I know a thing or two about having a hard heart, both physically and spiritually.  I have coronary artery disease and am alive today only because of God’s hand in working through surgeons, medications and a persistent, dedicated and faithful wife.  So I understand how plaque forms and hardens on the linings of the heart and the damage, pain and death that it can cause.  I also lived for a number of years professing to be a Christian while not facing the reality that for that to be true I didn’t just need to know about Christ but I need to walk with Him every day.

So, here is my perspective on how God hardened Pharaoh’s heart.

The Egyptians, under Pharaoh, worshiped over 8700 gods.  That is literally one god for every hour of the day, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.  Each of those gods was like a little bit of dirt, a little bit of impurity in the fluid going in and out of Pharaoh’s heart every day.  Now the bible tells us that faith in God is like pure living water.  In John 7:37-38 Jesus says, ““If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’” 

When I describe it to the kids I ask if they have ever taken a drink through a straw.  You know what it feels and tastes like to take a drink of nice cold, pure, clear water.  Now, imagine that someone had put a whole lot of dirt into your water – what would happen when you tried to drink it?  It would clog up the straw and make it so nothing would flow through it.

In my opinion God didn’t harden Pharaoh’s heart by adding hardness.  God hardened Pharaoh’s heart by removing His grace.  Because we are all God’s creation, God is a part of each of our lives.  Yes, we are born in sin in a sin filled world, but God is with us and working in and through us even before we acknowledge and accept him.  While we are still sinners, He has saved us from our sin.  That is the clear flowing water of life that flows through our spiritual heart.  That is the water of life that keeps us moving forward even when we fill our lives with things other than the one true God.

It is a question for all of us – what impurities are we muddying the waters of our hearts with?  Are we calling on God to leave us to our sins or to wash them out of our system through the power of His spirit.

My Answers:

3.
a.
The interaction with the Israelite foremen had negatively impacted his confidence. (iIspeak with faltering lips).  He was again feeling inadequate, insecure and afraid

b.
See, I have made you like God to Pharaoh and your bother Aaron will be your prophet

c.
God is patient and in control.  It is not our own strength but God’s strength that will pervail.

4.
a.
The heart is a pump, it has ins and outs that are like big straws.  Pharaoh decided that instead of the Living Water of God flowing through him, he would add a bunch of other gods.  The Egyptians worshiped over 8700 different gods.  Each of those was like dirt.  When God hardened pharaoh’s heart it wasn’t because he added hardness; he withdrew His grace

b.
horrible suffering through 10 plagues plus the destruction of their army (11th plague)

c.
The people suffer, the nation deteriorates and goes to ruin while other nations rise and eventually conquer it.

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04 Moses

04.5 Moses 4, Day 5

Part I: Pass the Burden and Part II: Outlaw to Obedience

In life we have burdens.  Some burdens are physical.  Some are injuries from situations or other people.  Some are products of our own fears, inadequacies and insecurities.  We know they are there.  They interfere with our health, our sleep and our relationships with others.  And, like those in our reading today, we often try to pass them to others.

When Moses told Pharaoh God’s command to “Let my people go”, Pharaoh became burdened.  Who is the Lord that Pharaoh should obey?  Is Pharaoh’s authority being questioned?  Is he at risk of losing power or prestige?  Do people think him weak?  Is he making the right decision?

Pharaoh attempts to shift his burden to the Hebrews.  He feels burdened so he increases their burden.  He tells the slave masters and overseers.  They tell the slaves.  When results wain, the burden on the slave masters increases and they increase the burden on the overseers by beating them.  When the overseers are beaten they go to Pharaoh and attempt to shift the burden to “your people”.

When that is not successful, the foremen pile the burden onto Moses and Aaron as a curse.  Moses feels burdened and passes it to God.  Why? Why?

But there it stops.  God doesn’t pass the burden, He simply says “I am the Lord.”

The interesting thing about this progression is that up until the last step burden wasn’t off-loaded, it simply multiplied.  When Pharaoh increased the burden on the Hebrews it in no way decreased the burden he felt – there was just more burden.  When the overseers blamed Moses, their burden didn’t decrease, but Moses’ increased.  But when Moses passed it to God everything changed.  Not only did God take on the burden, but he actually removed it from Moses.  How things would have been different if Pharaoh had stopped and taken his burden to The Lord instead of denying Him.  How things would have been different if the overseers turned directly to God instead of blaming Pharaoh or cursing Moses.

We face these same challenges daily.  We are tempted to try to pass our burden to others: to be mad a co-worker, short with our spouse, harsh with our children.  But none of those “pass the burden” tactics make anything better – taking it to the Lord is the only source of relief.  Matt 11:28, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.

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Bonus:  Moses’ Outlaw Roots

When we think of Levites we think of priests.  But, as we read these verses starting at Exodus 6:13 we need to keep in mind that was not yet the case.  Jacob’s first three sons were the outlaws of the family.  In Genesis 49, Jacob brings his sons together for a final blessing before he dies and, in essence if not in direct words, curses the linage of his first three sons: Reuben, Simeon and Levi.

How interesting that these three sons are the ones Moses includes in this strangely placed lineage.  But all of us have lineage.  We are a product of our parents and our grandparents and great grandparents and the choices they made.  Like Moses, we can continue down the same path or we can face the road in front of us and go a different direction.

God was shifting into a higher gear and Moses was choosing a new direction.  His heritage was anger and fury.  His ancestry was killing others in anger.  His curse was to be scattered.

But his choice now was to change from outlaw to obedient servant of God.  From fury to faith.  From being scattered to being used by God to gather His people to Him.

We have the same choice.  Are we defined by the actions of others or are we defined by our obedience to God?

 

My Answers:

8.
a.
He talked about His mighty hand and that He is The LORD.

b.
I am The LORD

c.
His commitment to them.  His singular might (not relying on anyone else and no doubt present)

9.
a.
I will bring you out. I will free you. I will redeem you. I will take you as my own people. I will be your God. I will bring you to the land. I will give it to you. I am the LORD

b.
Ezek 36:26 – I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you.

10.
Discouragement over our circumstances can prevent us from receiving the comfort we desire.  It can also stand in the way of us accepting God and His will for us.

11.
a.
Amram – Kohath – Levi

b.
Elisheba.  Ndab, Abihu, Eleazar, ithamar.  Eleazar married one of the daughters of Putiel, had Phinehas

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04 Moses

04.4 Moses 4 Day 4

Shifting Gears

Have you ever ridden in a vehicle with a stick shift?  Here is my illustration:

You are sitting in the passenger seat next to a race car driver, a professional.  You’re excited.  You’re ready to go.  He’s at the line ready to go and he steps on the gas and… you’re off.  That sudden burst of acceleration sets you back in your seat.  The thrill, the power of the engine, the feel of the vehicle.  When, all of a sudden he steps on the clutch and the acceleration slows.  You slip forward in your seat and you panic.  Did the ride stop?  Is that the end?  I thought we were going. I thought we would just keep going faster and faster, racing forward.  What went wrong?

This is what Moses’ experience must have been like.  But God wasn’t hitting the brakes, he was tapping the clutch, he was simply shifting gears.

Why did this happen?  Why didn’t God just have Moses do the miracles and have the people set free?  We see similar things in our journey as Christians.  We’ll work with a new believer only to see them stumble in their faith.  We’ll pray for those in our groups, but see them still struggle.  We’ll have a spirit filled event that gives us clarity of direction only to face obstacles that cause us to question our understanding or ability.

But the point of a Christian life is not simply to get from point A to point B – to get from this life into heaven.  The reason to sit next to a race car driver is for the journey not just the destination.  Seeing them in command of the vehicle, feeling the way they handle this instrument and any obstacle, that is where the joy is.

Don’t panic when God pops the clutch to shift you out of first gear – the journey isn’t ending, it is just about to get more exciting.

 

My Answers:

6.
a.
Why have you brought trouble on this people? Is this why you sent me?

b.
That he had failed or misunderstood.  That something had gone wrong or that God had changed His plan.

7.
a.
Only temporarily.  We have stepped away from deals in business because, while lucrative, they did not fit our values and obedience to honor God.  We lost in the short run, but it always has turned out for the better.

b.
Remember God does not change, that He and His plans are perfect.  While I am short sighted, He sees eternity.  He knows what is best and what needs to be done – a bump is not a cliff.

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04 Moses

04.3 Moses 4, Day 3

Whose side are you on?

The foremen/overseers were in a unique position.  On one hand, they were part of the management team.  They were overseers pushing the Israelite slaves to produce the work. They took their orders directly from Pharaoh (vs 6. “Pharaoh gave this order to the slave drivers and overseers). They went with the slave drivers and gave the orders to the people, speaking on behalf of Pharaoh (v10-11). On the other hand, they were Hebrews themselves, not Egyptians.

Those who have chosen to follow Jesus live in a similarly unique position.  We live in a fallen world with earthly leaders and day-to-day problems.  On the other hand we are foreigners in this land because we are people of God, set apart for His glory and His kingdom.  And, like the overseers, those we live and work with every day can quickly turn on us and we are faced with a decision, do we bend to them or do we stand with our brothers?

When the foremen/overseers face oppression themselves, they chose to stand with the oppressed, their fellow servants.  They stood up to Pharaoh and asked “Why?”.  They drew a line separating themselves from Pharaoh.  “The fault is with your own people,” they told him. Clearly they knew the risk of their action: “put a sword in their hand to kill us.”

We tend to get down on the foremen for their “lack of faith”, but would we have the faith to do the same? How often do we stay silent about of faith to not be seen as “obnoxious” in our workplace?  How often do we yield to world driven forces that take us away from our commitment to God?  It may be a Sunday morning soccer game, a BSF night meeting, a work request that stands in the way.  Each is nothing more than one more straw, not a big thing, just one more brick in the wall.

But isn’t it interesting that straw and bricks were the tools of oppression of the Hebrew people by Pharaoh?

My Answers:

5.
a.
They went and appealed to Pharaoh

b.
They found Moses and Aaron and said, “may the Lord look on you and judge you! You have made us obnoxious to Pharaoh and his officials and have put a sword in their hand to kill us.”

c.
Many, many times – most of the time I’m not blaming a specific person, mostly trying to shirk responsibility myself.  Like the foremen I would blame the Egyptians, Moses, other foremen, etc., etc.  Not so much to blame them but to keep from accepting responsibility.

 

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04 Moses

04.2 Moses 4, Day 2

Reasonable Request Reflects Reality

One of our questions today asked if the request of Pharaoh made by Moses and Aaron was reasonable?  That is a very interesting question on a lot of levels.  If the goal was to free the Israelite people from bondage, is it deception to ask for a 3-day pass?

But I believe, like everything else in the bible, this is here for a purpose.  Let’s look deeper.

1. There was no law against worship.  Egypt didn’t have a state religion, in fact the Egyptians worshiped many different gods and had feasts and feast days for many of them.  Everything from the sun god to the god of the Nile, the frog god and the god of flies.  They lacked not for gods and temples to worship them.  So it was not unprecedented for people to worship.

2. Pharaoh had the authority to grant the request.  As is evident later in Exodus 5, the slave drivers took their orders from Pharaoh.  He gave the quotas and provided the raw materials for their work.  He was the one in charge and the only one in Egypt with authority to grant this request.

3. It was not an ongoing or outlandish request.  They were not asking for a stop to labor or a 50% reduction in work.  They weren’t asking to go to work for Egypt’s competitors. They weren’t asking for major, ongoing concessions, just a respite for worship.

I think this is here so we can truly see Pharaoh’s heart and his view of the Israelite workers.  If this request and response weren’t here, then we wouldn’t know.  We may have thought that, while slavery is never good, but maybe things weren’t so bad.  Maybe if they had just worked with Pharaoh he would have been supportive.  Maybe if presented with the option, Pharaoh would have chosen God.

But, here we see the truth.  Pharaoh didn’t know the Lord nor did he want to.  Pharaoh did not care about the Hebrews. To Pharaoh, they were a resource.  They were machines in the production or buildings.  They were slaves.  They weren’t people.

But to God, they were people.  They would be His people and He would be their God.

 

My Answers:

3.
a.
The sacrifices they would offer to the Lord would be detestable to the Egyptians and they would stone the Israelites

b.
Yes, they did not ask for Pharaoh to free the Egyptians, just to give them the opportunity to worship God by holding a festival in the wilderness a 3 day journey

c.
I do not know the Lord – why are you taking them from their labor, get back to work, they are numerous (i.e., it would be a major impact to productivity to shut down for 3 days)

4.
a.
Slave drivers were Egyptians, Forement (overseers) were Hebrews

b.
They were taking the brunt of the punishment and blame, they were being beaten, they were in a position of authority and honor (better to be foreman than making the bricks).  They are “part of management”

 

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03 Moses

03.5 Moses 3, Day 5

If you are relying on God, leave your baggage at home

One of our questions was how Moses prepared for the trip back to Egypt.  On the surface, this looks like a very simple question.  But, it actually is much deeper.  At first blush we think, Moses packed up and left.  But that isn’t the case.

First, let’s compare to Moses and Jacob and their return from running away from home in fear of their lives.  Jacob was away from home for 20 years and he returns with wives and children and donkeys and servants and flocks and gifts.  Moses is gone for 40 years and returns with a donkey, a wife, 2 sons and a stick.

But their purpose in returning was very different.  Jacob was returning to make a home.  Moses was returning to lead the people out.  Moses didn’t pack up.  He just left.  He took himself and his family and submitted to God and put his future in God’s hands.

But as important as what Moses didn’t take, let’s look at what he did drag along on the trip.  Moses had a burning bush moment.  He was called by God, by name, and given a specific commandment, “Go.”  He went, but he brought along un-repented and un-corrected sin.  Moses knew the commandment that all male son’s of Abraham were to be circumcised as a covenant to God.  Moses’ sons were clearly sons of Abraham, both their father and mother descended from Abraham.  Evidently one of Moses’ sons had been circumcised, so ignorance or lack of ability could not be argued either.  Simply, Moses had decided not to give one of his sons to God.  He had held him away from God, not giving God what was His.

Some commentators will lay the blame on Moses’ wife.  And the fact of the matter is that there is simply not enough information in these verses to draw firm conclusions.  But I don’t think this was Zipporah’s issue.  It doesn’t same God set out to kill Zipporah.  God’s anger was at Moses.

Moses received a calling and gave all the outward signs that he was putting his full faith and obedience in God, but he wasn’t.  He was still carrying with him this un-corrected sin, this act of rebellion against God.

Zipporah, Moses’ wife, saw what was happening and took the initiative to remove the uninvited guest on the journey, this un-corrected sin.  She took the physical embodiment of this rebellion and placed it under Moses’ heel.  Through the blood of her son she renewed her marriage vow to Moses and saved him from God’s wrath.

If you are a christian you have been called.  When God invited you to accept Jesus in your heart, you, too, had a burning bush moment, an encounter with God.  If you have accepted that gift and you accept to walk with God and trust in Him and obey Him then you, too, need to dump the baggage of un-repented and un-corrected sin.  God does not expect us to be perfect (yet), but he does expect us to cut ties with our old ways.

What do you need to remove from your journey with God? Sinful pictures, inappropriate media, connections with sinful friends, bad language?  What do you need to throw out, erase, crush, or burn?  What are you dragging along that should have been left behind?

If you don’t know what those things might be, then ask someone who loves you.  The baggage that we carry and try to hide is normally very evident to those who love us and love God.  Will it be pleasant or easy?  Maybe not.  But if you continue to walk with God there will be a time that God demands it go or you go.  God is not in the business of caring for your un-repented and un-corrected sin.  He is in the business of caring for you.

And when you do let it go, look at what happens.  We find the amazing answer in 3 words in Exodus 4:31.  Moses and Aaron told and showed all that they were commanded to do to the elders of Israel.  Moses and Aaron obeyed God by showing these things to the elders, “AND THEY BELIEVED.”  Don’t miss that.  When do you think the last time was that the elders of Israel believed?  “They bowed down and worshiped God.”  These are men who may not have fully believed their entire lives.  Moses was 80.  When he was born they were already in horrible bondage.  But in one day, in one conveyance of the word of God and the hope it brings, “they believed.”

 

My Answers:

8.
Sought approval of Jethro.  Took his wife and sons, put them on a donkey took the staff of God in his hand and started back to Egypt

9.
‘This is what the Lord says: Israel is my firstborn son, and I told you, “Let my son go, so he may worship me.” But you refused to let him go; so I will kill your firstborn son.’”

10.
a.
Failed to circumcise his son

b.
Zipporah, his wife

c.
What un-corrected sin do I still carry even after all these years of being called to follow Christ?

11.
He was obedient and brave.  This was a man who was a slave and left Egypt to meet with Moses.  Slaves don’t just up and leave.

12.
Moses told Aaron EVERYTHING.  They together brought the elders together and told them EVERYTHING the Lord had said and performed the signs. “AND THEY BELIEVED”

 

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03 Moses

03.4 Moses 3, Day 4

Insecurity, Inadequacy and Fear

Insecurity, Inadequacy and Fear are three of the top 10 barriers that those of us called to serve the Lord allow to stand in the way of serving Him fully and whole heartedly.  Some will read the verses in our study today and see an impertinent or obstinate Moses.  But I think this is far deeper and more meaningful.

When we stand in the presence of God we will speak the truth.  Scripture tells us that every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord.

I think what we see is Moses revealing his heart and soul layer by layer in the presence of a loving and patient God.  Yesterday we discussed the first 2 barriers.  I don’t know who I am and I don’t know who you are, God.  God addressed those.  Now we move deeper past the surface.

1. I am insecure.  What if they don’t believe me?  What if I lay myself out in front of them and they reject me?  God answers this by making Moses more secure and teaching him about God’s plan.  God shows him how to perform miraculous signs.  He doesn’t just tell him these signs, He allows Moses to practice the signs and to experience there impact first hand.  He teaches Moses what he is to do and enlightens him that they may not believe the first sign or the second sign and they may not listen to Moses, but they will believe the third.

2. I am inadequate.  I am not eloquent.  I am slow of speech.  What if I don’t have the words to convince them?  What if I don’t know what to say or how to say it?  God patiently reminds him not of Moses power but of Gods.  Who made it so men can speak?  This is not a barrier, because it is not a barrier to God.  God tells him again, “now, go” and reminds him that God will not only help him speak but actually teach him the very words to say.

3. I am afraid.  No one likes to admit we are afraid, but we all experience fear and it can paralyze us.  I believe Moses’ final request, that God send someone else, is an expression of his fear.  And how does God address this?  In two ways.  First, if you are going to have fear in your life, let it be a reasonable fear of the Lord.  God’s anger burned against Moses.  The shift from petty fears to righteous fear that Moses must have experienced at that moment must have been palpable.  But God did not use fear to be the motivation for Moses to obey.  This is very important.  God revealed Moses’ fear for what it was in comparison to the fear of God, but He didn’t leave Moses with something to move away from, He gave Moses something to look forward to.  The conversation between God and Moses reveals that Moses and Aaron knew each other as brothers.  Moses knew that Aaron could speak well.  Moses had been away for 40 years, away from home and family, and God overcomes his fear with a promise of hope and love and reuniting.  He tells Moses that Aaron is already on his way to meet him.  (Don’t miss that.  God didn’t yield to Moses’ fear, he had sent Aaron on his way before this conversation happened.)

God helps and is patient of us in exactly the same way.  He overcomes our feelings of insecurity and inadequacy.  He overcomes our fear with hope and love and reuniting.  He has given us the promise of a promised land that makes the land of Canaan look like a wasteland.  He has given us a promise of his presence that makes the pillar of fire look like a flashlight with weak batteries.

Like Moses, He has given us a sign and a promise: when our mission here on earth is done we shall return to a holy place to worship Him.

 

My Answers:

7.
a.
1. What if they don’t believe me or listen to me?
2. Pardon, I have never been eloquent… I am slow of speech and tongue.
3. Pardon, Please send someone else

b.
v2-9 foresight into miraculous signs
v11-12. who gave human beings their mouths?… Now, go; I will help you speak and teach you what to say
14-17. The Lord’s anger burned against Moses – gave him helper, Aaron

c.
I don’t know what to say.  I don’t want to offend.  I’m not the right person.  I’m too sinful to be believed.  I’m not holy enough.  God has been patient with me, taught me, and has taken up residence in my heart.

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