Saturday, November 2, 2013

Get Ready!

Scriptural Reading: Exodus 4:10-16
Devotional Reading: Exodus 3:7-17

I love to read and meditate as to the messages displayed on marquees in front of churches and schools. Recently I saw a church marquee which read “God does not call the qualified. He qualifies the called!” That is an energizing message if you don’t feel you quite measure up to the task God has called you to do. He will give you everything needed in order to do that task. Moses had been called by God. Yet he attempted to give God excuses because he did not feel he was the man for the job. In his attempt to persuade God to send someone else on the mission to Pharaoh to rescue the Israelites Moses stated and God responded in Ex 4:10-12, “O my Lord, I am not eloquent, neither before nor since You have spoken to Your servant; but I am slow of speech and slow of tongue.” So the Lord said to him, “Who has made man’s mouth? Or who makes the mute, the deaf, the seeing, or the blind? Have not I, the Lord? Now therefore, go, and I will be with your mouth and teach you what you shall say.” (NKJV) God further instructs Moses to (1) take his brother Aaron to be his spokesman to the people and (2) take a rod in which to use for signs (Ex 4:14-17). Moses was not only called, but he was qualified!

This quarter of study is entitled “First Things”. We are in Unit III – “First Freedom” of the three units of the quarter. This is the first lesson of a four-lesson study. We shall study how God prepared and actually delivered Israel from bondage.

Why were the Israelites in Egypt? While Abraham’s son Ishmael dwelt in the wilderness of Paran which is associated with Mount Sinai in Egypt, God commanded his son Isaac to remain in the Land of Promise (Gen 21:21; 26:2). Isaac’s family was obedient unto the Lord and faced the famine in their land rather than go to Egypt where there was plenty of food and water. God blessed Isaac a hundredfold (Gen 26:12). Down through the generations we see God’s plan unfold. In giving His covenant God promised Abraham in his sleep as recorded at Gen 15:13b, “Know certainly that your descendants will be strangers in a land that is not theirs, and will serve them, and they will afflict them four hundred years." (NKJV) Joseph, a grandchild of Isaac, was sold by his jealous brothers to a caravan of Ishmaelites (Gen 37). A number of devious actions were taken against him, but God was always with him. Joseph succeeded in becoming a governing official in Egypt, second only to Pharoah (Gen 42:6; 45:26) He was able to bring his family out of Canaan during its famine and place them into security. However, Joseph, his brothers, and the Pharaoh who had been kind to the Israelites died (Exo 1:6) There were only seventy Israelites who entered Egypt. But God had blessed them tremendously. His blessed increase is recorded at Exo 1:7, “The children of Israel were fruitful and increased abundantly, multiplied and grew exceedingly mighty; and the land was filled with them.” > (NKJV) The new Pharaoh saw them as a threat. He designed a plan to have the Hebrew midwives kill the males at birth. The plan did not work because it was not God’s plan. So he devised another plan to kill the young males after birth. However, the boy Moses was saved, according to God’s will, and raised in Pharaoh’s palace. Exo 1-2:10 Moses did not remain in the palace because it was not God’s will. He attempted to protect a Hebrew and killed an Egyptian (Exo 2:11b-12). The Hebrews did not appreciate his attempt and the Pharaoh was furious. Moses fled to Midian to hide where he took a wife (Exo 2:21-22) and began his family. Pharaoh died and God acknowledged the cry of the children of Israel as recorded at Exo 2:23-24 “Now it happened in the process of time that the king of Egypt died. Then the children of Israel groaned because of the bondage, and they cried out; and their cry came up to God because of the bondage. So God heard their groaning, and God remembered His covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob.” (NKJV)

The Israelites had been in Egypt for approximate 420 years (Gen 15:13b) and the time had come for their release. God chose Moses, a Levite, to be the one to lead them out of their slavery. While Moses was tending sheep on Mount Horeb, the Angel of the Lord appeared in a burning bush to issue Moses the call (Exo 3:1-6). Once God had the undivided attention of Moses, He explained the purpose for His appearance as recorded at Exo 3:7-10. It reads, in part, “I have seen the oppression of My people who are in Egypt, and have heard their cry because of their taskmasters, for I know their sorrows. So I come down to deliver them…and to bring them up from that land to a good and large land, to a land flowing with milk and honey,…Now…the cry of the children of Israel has come to Me, and I have also seen the oppression with which the Egyptians oppress them…I will send you to Pharaoh that you may bring My people, the children of Israel, out of Egypt.” (NKJV) God had witnessed the struggles of His children while under the oppression of the Egyptians. The cries of the Israelites did not go unheard; the cruelty of the Egyptians was not sight unseen by our God. He knew this would occur and He broke His silence after 420 years. It was now time for the person He had chosen to implement His plan to deliver His people. His call was made while Moses was employed tending his father-in-law’s sheep. He was not a lazy man.

Once Moses received God’s call I can hear him say, “Are you kidding me?” Those may not be the exact words he used, but he was full of excuses. Has God called you to do something that you did not believe you were qualified to do? He stands by your side and your excuses are unacceptable to Him because He qualifies you. God allowed Moses to respond to the call to which God objected to his excuses as recorded at Exo 3:11-12. It reads, “But Moses said to God, ‘Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh, and that I should bring the children of Israel out of Egypt?’ So He said, ‘I will certainly be with you. And this shall be a sign to you that I have sent you: When you have brought the people out of Egypt, you shall serve God on this mountain.’” (NKJV) Is this the same guy that killed the Egyptian who was beating a Hebrew slave? (Exo 2:11b-12) Or did he lose his courage as he aged? He could be killed by the Egyptian leader for following his God. And the Israelite leaders and followers were yet in bondage as slaves and did not accept him nor feel they were strong enough to leave Egypt on their own. It does not matter what the mindset of Moses, God steps in and promises to be with him every step of the way. Man will break their promise, but God can never lies (Num 23:19). Then God goes one step further to clear any doubt to this future emancipator. He provided him a sign as evidence that God had chosen Him to be the deliverer from captivity and to lead them to the Promised Land. What was the sign? The Lord instructed Moses to serve God on Mount Horeb once the people are brought out of Egypt. He insured His success.

But the sign from God was not sufficient for Moses. He had yet another excuse. Many times we need immediate evidentiary proof for the unbelievers. Moses remembered how he was treated as a young man when the Hebrews rebelled against him once they knew he had killed an Egyptian (Exo 2:14). He believed they still had disrespect for him. Why would they believe him now after he had been gone for forty years? Moses inquired as to God’s identification and He responded as recorded at Exo 3:13-15. It reads, “Then Moses said to God, ‘Indeed, when I come to the children of Israel and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they say to me, ‘What is His name?’ what shall I say to them?’ And God said to Moses, ‘I AM WHO I AM.’ And He said, ‘Thus you shall say to the children of Israel, ‘I AM has sent me to you.’” Moreover God said to Moses, Thus you shall say to the children of Israel, ‘The LORD God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has sent me to you. This is My name forever, and this is My memorial to all generations.’” (NKJV) Moses inquired of God identification and was given two (2) names for His identity forever. First, He is known as ‘I AM WHO I AM’, Jehovah, Yahweh, YHWH the self-existent, Eternal God who has always been, am, and shall always be: the God almighty, by whom all things have their being, and the God of mercy, mindful of His promises. The Jews considered the Hebrew word “YHWH” to sacred to utter. It is probably pronounced Yahweh which is translated to Jehovah in English. God does not change and He is beyond searching and finding out. Just know that He is faithful. Second, He is known as ‘The LORD God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has sent me to you. This is My name forever, and this is My memorial to all generations.’ God directed Moses to make Himself known to the people by the religion of their fathers. In this way they would know He had not forgotten them and the covenant promises He had made to His people. His new name included the covenant first given to Abraham and repeated to both Isaac and Jacob. These three godly men were distinguished among their heirs. The Israelites would listen to a leader who comes in the Name of the LORD God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. It shall be His Name forever as a memorial to all generations.

Moses was then left with the issue of obedience to the LORD God versus continuing to make excuses. Before he was able to identify another excuse, God reiterated His message of deliverance from Egyptian bondage to the Promised Land by His chosen. He told Moses, as recorded at Exo 3:16-17, “Go and gather the elders of Israel together, and say to, “The LORD God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob, appeared to me, saying, ‘I have surely visited you and seen what is milk and honey.’” (NKJV) Moses was instructed to go to the elders of the tribes of Israel. They would listen and cause understanding amongst the people once he introduced God as the LORD God of their fathers.

It seemed as if it would be impossible, but Moses walked by faith. Because he believed God he followed Him by sight and the author wrote of him in the hall of faith as written in Hebrews 11:24-28. He rejected the luxury of the palace of which he had been raised, associated with the sufferings of his people, demanded their release from slavery from Egyptian bondage in accordance with the will of God. Just as he walked by faith, so must we. God promised us at Deut 7:9, “Know therefore that the LORD your God is God; he is the faithful God, keeping his covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love him and keep his commandments.” (NKJV)

Written by Deborah C Davis

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