Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Exodus New Direction New Life #6 Destroying the Old Gods

Exodus New Direction New Life #6 Destroying the Old Gods



Text: Exodus 5-12

Review Exodus 1-5. It has taken us 6 weeks to cover 5 chapters but today we are going to make up some time and cover Chapter 5 – 12, 8 chapters and I promised it would be short so we can have plenty of time for the baptism. So lets get right into it. I’m not even going to tell a joke this morning. You can tell I’m up for the challenge.


Battle of Bondage Exodus 5:1-9


 And afterward Moses and Aaron went in, and told Pharaoh, Thus saith the LORD God of Israel, Let my people go, that they may hold a feast unto me in the wilderness.  And Pharaoh said, Who is the LORD, that I should obey his voice to let Israel go? I know not the LORD, neither will I let Israel go.  And they said, The God of the Hebrews hath met with us: let us go, we pray thee, three days' journey into the desert, and sacrifice unto the LORD our God; lest he fall upon us with pestilence, or with the sword.  And the king of Egypt said unto them, Wherefore do ye, Moses and Aaron, let the people from their works? get you unto your burdens.  And Pharaoh said, Behold, the people of the land now are many, and ye make them rest from their burdens.  And Pharaoh commanded the same day the taskmasters of the people, and their officers, saying, Ye shall no more give the people straw to make brick, as heretofore: let them go and gather straw for themselves.  And the tale of the bricks, which they did make heretofore, ye shall lay upon them; ye shall not diminish ought thereof: for they be idle; therefore they cry, saying, Let us go and sacrifice to our God.  Let there more work be laid upon the men, that they may labour therein; and let them not regard vain words.

Ruler of Egypt Uses Labor to Keep the Hebrews Slaves

In response to Moses asking for time for the Hebrews to go apart and worship God he increases the workload.
Claiming they are idle and have too much time he seeks to take away their time to seek their God.

Ruler of Darkness Uses Labor to Keep Us From Serving God

Our world has grown increasingly busy. There are more things to take up your time and resources than ever before. We will our lives with work and study from the time we are 5 until we die.
And where our ancestors worked 12 or 13 hours a day and still had time to read their Bible, pray at every meal and pray before they went to sleep, we don’t seem to have a minute to devote to God.
Our time is filled with recreation, relaxation and diversion. We fill our hours with computers, internet enabled devices, television, or music, and forget to take even a few moments with God.

Adults in the United States will spend more than five hours each day on “nonvoice mobile activities,” including Internet use on phones and tablets, and about four-and-a-half hours watching TV – Huffpost (2017)

Young people aged between 16 and 24 spend more than 27 hours a week on the internet, - communications watchdog Ofcom reported (2017)
Pharaoh filled the Hebrews day with hard labor to keep them from God and the ruler of this world gods of this world seems to have filled our lives with diversions and  has accomplished the same thing.

I’m not trying to tell you to quit all TV, Internet and media. We use the internet to reach out to people with the gospel and tell them about our church. We just need to be careful that we don’t fill our ears with the world’s noise and not hear the voice of God.

Illustration: Parable of the Rich Fool Luke 12:16

Thou fool this night shall thy soul be required of thee. Then whose shall those things be, thich though hast provided. So is he that layeth up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God!
We need to understand the danger of filling our lives with things that keep us from God.
Transition: The Battle to Destroy the Old Gods only begins with hard labor. It begins in earnest in the next few chapters.

Battle of Belief Exodus 6-11 Key Verse 6:1-7

Exodus 6:1-7  Then the LORD said unto Moses, Now shalt thou see what I will do to Pharaoh: for with a strong hand shall he let them go, and with a strong hand shall he drive them out of his land.  And God spake unto Moses, and said unto him, I am the LORD:  And I appeared unto Abraham, unto Isaac, and unto Jacob, by the name of God Almighty, but by my name JEHOVAH was I not known to them.  And I have also established my covenant with them, to give them the land of Canaan, the land of their pilgrimage, wherein they were strangers.  And I have also heard the groaning of the children of Israel, whom the Egyptians keep in bondage; and I have remembered my covenant.  Wherefore say unto the children of Israel, I am the LORD, and I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians, and I will rid you out of their bondage, and I will redeem you with a stretched out arm, and with great judgments:  And I will take you to me for a people, and I will be to you a God: and ye shall know that I am the LORD your God, which bringeth you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians.

God Battles The False Gods of Egypt

Each plague was a battle against the gods of Egypt.

Water to Blood

 Exodus 7:19 And the LORD spake unto Moses, Say unto Aaron, Take thy rod, and stretch out thine hand upon the waters of Egypt, upon their streams, upon their rivers, and upon their ponds, and upon all their pools of water, that they may become blood; and that there may be blood throughout all the land of Egypt, both in vessels of wood, and in vessels of stone.
Hapi was the "spirit of the Nile" and its "dynamic essence." Hapi was the god of the annual Nile inundation. Epithets for Hapi describe him as being the "lord of the fishes and birds and marshes."
 One of the greatest gods of Egypt was Osiris, the god of the underworld; the Egyptians believed the Nile was his bloodstream.
During this first plague, the Egyptians would have to wonder where was Tauret, the hippopotamus goddess of the river. Where was Nu, the god of life in the Nile?

Frogs

  Exodus 8:2 And if thou refuse to let them go, behold, I will smite all thy borders with frogs: 8:3 And the river shall bring forth frogs abundantly, which shall go up and come into thine house, and into thy bedchamber, and upon thy bed, and into the house of thy servants, and upon thy people, and into thine ovens, and into thy kneadingtroughs: 8:4 And the frogs shall come up both on thee, and upon thy people, and upon all thy servants.
 The frog was considered the theophany of the goddess Heqt, the wife of the creator of the world and the goddess of birth. Heqt was always shown with the head and body of a frog. Amulets and scarabs worn by Egyptian women to protect them during childbirth would often bear the image of Heqt for protection. Heqt was believed to assist women in childbirth

Lice (Gnats, Fleas, Sand Fleas)

 Exodus 8:16 And the LORD said unto Moses, Say unto Aaron, Stretch out thy rod, and smite the dust of the land, that it may become lice throughout all the land of Egypt.
 The word "lice" is rendered as "sand flies" or "fleas" in some translations. The Hebrew word kinnim comes from a root word meaning "to dig"; it is probable that the insect in question would dig under the skin.
This plague would have been an embarrassment to Geb, the great god of the earth. Egyptians gave offerings to Geb for the bounty of the soil -- yet it was from "the dust of the soil" that this plague originated.

Swarms Flies (Beetles)

 Exodus 8:21 Else, if thou wilt not let my people go, behold, I will send swarms of flies upon thee, and upon thy servants, and upon thy people, and into thy houses: and the houses of the Egyptians shall be full of swarms of flies, and also the ground whereon they are.
 Notice the word “of flies” is in italics in the KJV, the Hebrew simply says "swarms" -- the phrase "of flies" was added by the translators.
It is very likely that the "swarms" in this passage were swarms of the scarab beetle. The scarab was actually a dung beetle -- an insect that feeds on the dung in the fields. The plague of swarms of scarabs, with mandibles that could saw through wood, was destructive and worse than termites!
Deification of the scarab beetle is still seen in Egypt today. Amon-Ra, the creator and king of the gods, had the head of a beetle. "Ra, the Sole Creator was visible to the people of Egypt as the disc of the sun, but they knew him in many other forms. He could appear as a crowned man, a falcon or a man with a falcon's head and, as the scarab beetle pushes a round ball of dung in front of it, the Egyptians pictured Ra as a scarab pushing the sun across the sky." (Geraldine Harris, Gods & Pharaohs from Egyptian Mythology, p. 24).

Livestock Diseased

 Exodus 9:3 Behold, the hand of the LORD is upon thy cattle which is in the field, upon the horses, upon the asses, upon the camels, upon the oxen, and upon the sheep: there shall be a very grievous murrain.
 The Egyptians worshiped many animals, and many animal-headed deities. The god Apis was represented as a bull, and had been worshipped in Egypt since around 3,000 B.C. The Apis bull was the living image of the god Ptah. He was also associated with Re, from whom he borrowed the disk he wore between his horns.
Hathor was the cow-headed goddess of the desert. "The cow was the living symbol of Isis-Hathor, represented sometimes as a cow, at others as a woman with a cow's head, at others as a horned woman." (How and Wells, Commentary on Herodotus, p. 185).
The goddess Hathor was the symbolic mother of Pharaoh, and the king of Egypt was referred to as "the son of Hathor." In addition to the gods already mentioned, this plague would have been a direct insult to Khnum, the ram-god, and to Bast, the cat goddess of love.

Boils

   Exodus 9:8 And the LORD said unto Moses and unto Aaron, take to you handfuls of ashes of the furnace, and let Moses sprinkle it toward the heaven in the sight of Pharaoh. 9:9 And it shall become small dust in all the land of Egypt, and shall be a boil breaking forth with blains upon man, and upon beast, throughout all the land of Egypt.
This plague was probably skin anthrax, a black abscess that develops into a pustule. This plague was accompanied by painful boils that affected the knees, legs, and soles of the feet (cf. Deut. 28:35). This explains why Pharaoh's "magicians could not stand before Moses because of the boils, for the boils were on the magicians and on all the Egyptians" (Exo. 9:11).
This medical malady was an affront to Imhotep, the god of medicine. Imhotep who was a physician, architect and chief adviser of King Zoser (ca. 3150 B.C.). He did so much for Egyptian medicine that later generations worshiped him as a god of knowledge, author of their sciences and their arts -  (Will Durant, The Story of Civilization, Volume One, p. 147).
 This plague would have also been an affront to Serapis, the deity in charge of healing, and to Thoth, the ibis-headed god of intelligence and medical learning.

Thunder, Lightning and Hail

 Exodus 9:18 Behold, tomorrow about this time I will cause it to rain a very grievous hail, such as hath not been in Egypt since the foundation thereof even until now.
Since this plague originated from the sky, it would have been an insult to Nut, the sky goddess. "Her most general appearance, however, is that of a woman resting on hands and feet, her body forming an arch, thus representing the sky. Her limbs typified the four pillars on which the sky was supposed to rest. She was supposed originally to be reclining on Geb, the earth, when Shu raised her from this position." (Lewis Spence, Ancient Egyptian Myths and Legends, p. 173).
Nut was also considered by the Egyptians to be the mother of five other gods: Osiris, Hathor, Set, Isis, and Nephthys.
During this plague, you have to wonder: Where was Shu, the wind god? Where was Horus, the hawk-headed sky god of Upper Egypt?
Isis and Seth supposedly protected the crops, but the burned fields testified of their impotence.

Locusts

 Exodus 10:4 Else, if thou refuse to let my people go, behold, to morrow will I bring the locusts into thy coast: 10:5 And they shall cover the face of the earth, that one cannot be able to see the earth: and they shall eat the residue of that which is escaped, which remaineth unto you from the hail, and shall eat every tree which groweth for you out of the field
Where were Nepri, the god of grain, Ermutet, the goddess of childbirth and crops, Thermuthis, the goddess of fertility and the harvest was speechless or Seth, another god of crops?

Darkness

 Exodus 10:21 And the LORD said unto Moses, Stretch out thine hand toward heaven, that there may be darkness over the land of Egypt, even darkness which may be felt. 10:22 And Moses stretched forth his hand toward heaven; and there was a thick darkness in all the land of Egypt three days
This plague of darkness was an insult to Egypt's religion and entire culture. The sun god Amon-Ra was considered one of the greatest blessings in all of the land of Egypt.
Amon and Ra were originally two separate deities. Ra was a sun god whose cult was centered at the city of Heliopolis, and is usually represented in art with a man's body and a falcon's head surmounted by a solar disk. Ra was believed to sail across the sky in a boat each day and under the world at night.
In Egyptian mythology Horus was the god of light who personified the life-giving power of the Sun. He was usually represented as a falcon-headed man wearing a sun disk as a crown. The reigning kings of Egypt were believed to be incarnations of the god Horus.
Once again, the gods of Egypt were silent. Where was Ptah, the chief god of Memphis, and the one who created the moon, the sun and the earth? Where was Tem, the god of the sunset? Where was Shu, the god of sunlight and air?

  Death of the Firstborn

 Exodus 11:4 And Moses said, Thus saith the LORD, About midnight will I go out into the midst of Egypt: 11:5 And all the firstborn in the land of Egypt shall die, from the first born of Pharaoh that sitteth upon his throne, even unto the firstborn of the maidservant that is behind the mill; and all the firstborn of beasts.
This plague was directed against Pharaoh the supreme, living god and  a final blow to "all of the gods of Egypt" (Exo. 12:12) and would show the total inability of the gods of Egypt to protect their subjects. In the face of unparalleled tragedy, "all of the gods of Egypt" were silent. Where was Meskhenet, the goddess who presided at the birth of children? Where was Hathor, one of the seven deities who attended the birth of children? Where was Min, the god of procreation? Where was Isis, the goddess of fertility? Where was Selket, the guardian of life? Where was Renenutet, the cobra-goddess and guardian of Pharaoh?
reference http://www.padfield.com/

Timeline and Summary

 John Davis gave the most concise overview of the plagues: "June: the Nile becomes stagnant and red with microscopic organisms. July: Frogs abound after the inundation of the Nile. Hot summer and damp autumn months: Lice, flies, murrain and boils. January: Hail and rain. (This date fixed by the effect on the crops mentioned). February: Appearance of locusts in early spring, over the green crops. March: Darkness from great sandstorms. April: Death of the firstborn, dated by the Passover celebration" (Davis, p. 93).

Transition: Today there is still a battle raging between the gods of this world and the true God of Creation and Revelation.


The Church battles the God of this World though the Gospel

In this day and age God is still battling the gods of this world. It is not with plagues and wonders as it was in Moses time but with an even more powerful weapon, the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Though the plagues seem powerful they were not supposed to win the heart of the Egyptians but to show God’s power over the false gods of the Egyptians. They accomplished that which God willed for them.

The Gospel has a different design it is intended to win the battle over the gods of this world, not by showing them as ineffective and weak but by winning the hearts of those who believe in them.
Paul says in Romans 1:16-17 For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith.

As Moses was given the Rod to show the Egyptians the power of God, we have been given the Gospel to show the world the love of God.

Jesus told us, Mark 16:15 Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.
Moses task of freeing the Hebrews may have seemed impossible but by the power of God it was done. Our commission to preach the gospel seems even more impossible but God has given us the gifts needed to carry it out and everyday people all over the world are hearing the Gospel and are being set free from the gods of this world.

Illustration: The Gospel and How Billy Sunday Got Saved

One Sunday afternoon in Chicago in 1887, a group of professional ballplayers with the Chicago White Stockings, now called the White Socks, entered a bar. When they came out, they saw a group of people playing instruments, singing gospel hymns, and preaching the Gospel, testifying of Christ's power to save from sin.

Memories of a log cabin in Iowa, an old church, and a godly mother raced through the mind of one of the ballplayers. Tears came to his eyes. Presently he said, "Boys, I'm through! going to turn to Jesus Christ. We've come to the parting of the ways." Some of his companions mocked him, but others were silent. Only one encouraged him. He turned from the group and entered the Pacific Garden Mission.

Later the ballplayer told what occurred. "I called upon God's mercy. I staggered out of my sins into the outstretched arms of the Savior. I became instantly a new creature in Him!

The converted ballplayer was Billy Sunday, one of the most popular ball players of his time. He became the most popular evangelist of the early 1900’s in America. Today nobody remembers the famous baseball player but we still remember Billy Sunday, the evangelist that used that same radio to preach the gospel and reach people all over the United States in the 19He became the world-renowned evangelist. - Encyclopedia of 15,000 Illustrations: Signs of the Times.
The power of the Gospel saved Billy Sunday and it is still saving people today from the gods of this world.

Transition: Only Final battle is left it is the battle of blood and it is fought with the angel of death.

Battle of Blood Exodus 12:3-7

 Speak ye unto all the congregation of Israel, saying, In the tenth day of this month they shall take to them every man a lamb, according to the house of their fathers, a lamb for an house:  And if the household be too little for the lamb, let him and his neighbour next unto his house take it according to the number of the souls; every man according to his eating shall make your count for the lamb.  Your lamb shall be without blemish, a male of the first year: ye shall take it out from the sheep, or from the goats:  And ye shall keep it up until the fourteenth day of the same month: and the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill it in the evening.  And they shall take of the blood, and strike it on the two side posts and on the upper door post of the houses, wherein they shall eat it.

God Slays the Firstborn of Egypt

In the last plague, God sheds Egypt’s firstborn blood and brings deliverance though the blood of a slain lamb.
Pharaoh was a god to the Egyptian people they believed he was born of the god Amon-Ra and the goddess Hathor and yet the Angel of Death walked into his house into his very bed chamber and took his firstborn child. There was no power in Pharaoh to compare to Jehovah. Pharaoh’s son who died because his father would not humble himself before the true God.
Then later that night God delivered his people from judgment and from captivity by the blood of a shed lamb. There was power in that shed blood by the will of God. Power to save and power to deliver those who believed the word of God through Moses and Aaron. Through that blood, God delivered his people from bondage.

God Slays His Firstborn Son

It seems so cruel to us that God would slay the innocent that night in order to show his power, but the reality is that no child ever had to die.
Remember that this plague, by far the worst of all the plagues, is also the last. God has shown his power in every home, palace and temple of Egypt. None have escaped the plagues upon their land, upon their person and upon their cattle. God has in no uncertain term declared unto all who would hear, “I am God.”

Yet the Egyptians would not listen when they are told your children will die. Have you ever seen a stronger example of miracles not producing faith? The people go to bed that night after a year of the most undeniable signs and wonders and they hold the life of their children in their hands as proof of their stubborn hearts and unbending wills.

As well to blame God as to blame the police officer who comes and warns you to leave because a hurricane is coming and will destroy you and your family. God warned them but they would not believe and they suffered a terrible price for their unwillingness to listen to God.
Today our children are still dying.

Our news is filled with babies who are being aborted, with children who are gunned down in drive-by shootings, with teens who commit suicide or take drugs until death takes them.
The innocents are dying while their parents reject God, and the Gospel of Jesus Christ, ignoring the warnings of the approaching death angel.

The death angel approaches the families of our land and we don’t know the time or night when he will pass over our house, but he is coming. He may not come when your children are young and pliable. He may come when they are teenagers and rebellious. He may not even come when they are still living at home but he will come. He always comes.
How can we protect them? We protect them in the same way that the Hebrew parents protected their little ones on that first Passover night, they sprinkled the blood of the lamb on the doorposts and lintels of their home. For God said, “When I see the blood, I will pass over you.”
We must apply the blood of God’s own lamb, Jesus Christ, to protect our home and our families. We must tell our children of Jesus, the son of God, given by God on the cross of Calvary to save our souls. We must take our children to Sunday School, to Church and to Bible Study. We must make sure we pray with them, read the Bible with them and tell them over and over again as John told the disciples, in John 1:29 “Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.”

Illustration: Imagine the Terror of that night

Can you imagine the terror of that night? I remember watching the movie “The Ten Commandments” and this scene especially struck my mind and heart.

In the middle of the night you see the homes where the people live, you see the lamps lit and their doors closed against the night and against the terror that waits there. As you watch a mist forms in the sky around the full moon and slowly drops into the streets of the towns and villages of Egypt. The mist moves through the streets and enters into the homes that have no blood upon the door. In the homes of the Hebrews you hear the voices of their Egyptian neighbors screaming in anguish and they discover their first born child has been slain and they listen as the death angel  passes over them.
It is a dramatic, horrifying scene but is it any less horrifying looking around us at the children who are living in homes without the blood of Christ today. Is it any less heartbreaking to hear of a child dying from abuse, a child suffering molestation, a child taking an overdose? Is it less a tragedy now than then? I believe it is a worse tragedy for us, for the Egyptians had but a year to come to know the one true God and we have had centuries. The death angel still takes lives because we are not living under the protection of the blood of Christ.

Conclusion

The Old Testament account of the plagues of Egypt show us the judgment of God upon the sin and false god of this world. There are many today who claim it is wrong to talk of God’s judgment, wrong to speak of Hell, wrong to warn of the coming Angel of Death. Yet Moses was told by God to go and tell Pharaoh and we are sent by God to tell the world, who is truly God.
We have the proof in the Gospel, we have the miracle in the new birth, and we have the revelation of God Himself in His Word. We have what we need to win this battle for the souls of man and the lives of our families. We are in a battle, but it is a battle won by Christ on the cross and we are here to tell others of that great victory.


Monday, February 12, 2018

Exodus: New Direction, New Life #5 Signs, Sayings and Sons Text: Exodus 4



Exodus: New Direction, New Life #5

Signs, Sayings and Sons Text: Exodus 4


Introduction: The Stolen Turkey
Ducking into the pastor’s office with a turkey in his arms, Brian said, "Forgive me, Pastor, for I have done a terrible thing. I stole this turkey to feed my family. Would you take it back and so I won’t fell guilty?"
"Certainly not," said the Preacher. "The right thing to do is to return it to the one you stole it from."
"I tried," Brian sobbed, "but he refused. Oh, Preacher, what should I do?"
"If what you say is true, then it is all right for you to keep it for your family."
“Oh, thank you so much, Pastor. And then Brian hurried off with the turkey in his arms.”
Then the pastor locked up the church and returned home to see his wife in tears.
“Why dear, what’s wrong?”
She looked up with tears in her eyes and said, “Someone stole the turkey I was making for you!”

 Its not easy being a pastor in God’s service. I’m sure Moses realized this and though they didn’t have turkeys to steal back in Exodus 4 they still have turkeys who had to be ministered to. Let’s look at the fourth chapter of Exodus and see what it took for God to bring Moses into His service and lets look for those things that would apply to any leader for God, be it in the church, the family or in life.

Signs Exodus 4:1-9

  And Moses answered and said, But, behold, they will not believe me, nor hearken unto my voice: for they will say, The LORD hath not appeared unto thee.  And the LORD said unto him, What is that in thine hand? And he said, A rod.  And he said, Cast it on the ground. And he cast it on the ground, and it became a serpent; and Moses fled from before it.  And the LORD said unto Moses, Put forth thine hand, and take it by the tail. And he put forth his hand, and caught it, and it became a rod in his hand:  That they may believe that the LORD God of their fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, hath appeared unto thee.  And the LORD said furthermore unto him, Put now thine hand into thy bosom. And he put his hand into his bosom: and when he took it out, behold, his hand was leprous as snow.  And he said, Put thine hand into thy bosom again. And he put his hand into his bosom again; and plucked it out of his bosom, and, behold, it was turned again as his other flesh.  And it shall come to pass, if they will not believe thee, neither hearken to the voice of the first sign, that they will believe the voice of the latter sign.  And it shall come to pass, if they will not believe also these two signs, neither hearken unto thy voice, that thou shalt take of the water of the river, and pour it upon the dry land: and the water which thou takest out of the river shall become blood upon the dry land

God Gives Moses Signs

Review last week in Exodus 3, Moses left the sheep while he went to see the burning bush. From that fire God spoke to Moses and told him it was time to bring God’s people home. Time to deliver them from slavery and cruelty. Time to set His nation free. Now in chapter 4 God begins to convince Moses that he is God’s man for that world changing task.
He begins by showing Moses His power through Moses. He turns the shepherd’s rod into a serpent and then back again. Followed by turning Moses hand leprous. Two signs that I’m sure go Moses attention very quickly. These two miracles showed that God was empowering Moses, making Moses THE man of God. Later, even great signs would be given by the hand of Moses and his brother Aaron to deliver Israel from Egypt.

What signs show God’s men today?

There are many that still claim miraculous signs today. They make this claim to try and prove that they are God’s leaders. Though now that I think about it I haven’t seen any turning staffs into serpents or giving themselves leprosy. I wonder why that is? Actually, those who claim miracles today in the same way that Moses, Elijah or the apostles did are charlatans and liars. I say that without any reservations or fear of contradiction. I do not say it to be mean, but it needs to be understood clearly.

Why can I be so sure? Because a full exhaustive study of God’s word shows that miraculous signs are used by God during critical times of his plan for mankind, not at the quim of someone putting on a show or trying to get rich. Here are those “times of signs” in the Bible.

  • Miracles of Creation.
  • Miracles of the Exodus and Conquest.
  • Miracles of Elijah and Elisha.
  • Miracles of the Messiah and early Church
  • Miracles of the Tribulation.

Yet these constitute a very small amount of the total time since creation. The vast majority of the Bible is not about people believing God by miracles but people believing God without miracles.
What of our own Biblical time? Do we live in a time of great signs and miracles or a time of faith in God’s promises? Should we expect God to prove Himself to us as he did to Pharaoh?

What did Jesus say? Matthew 16:4 A wicked and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given unto it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas. And he left them and departed.
What did Paul say? Romans 1:17 For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith.

We are called not to seek signs but to walk by faith.
The signs of God’s reality, of his transcending His creation and involving Himself in the lives of mankind today are still evident though, they are the touch of His Holy Spirit upon a heart. They are the working out of His love though a lifetime of service. They are the signs of sacrifice and faithfulness on behalf of others. These are the signs which should mark the leader, the parent or the teacher who God has called.

Paul said, in Galatians 6:17 “From henceforth let no man trouble me: for I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus.”

If you want signs from God to mark the true men of God? Look for the scars of their service carried in their life and in their body. They are not hard to find and they are impossible to counterfeit.
Illustration: The Man with the Scarred Hands asks for the child

Let me tell you a story that should illustrate this. In a small village one dark night there was a terrible fire that engulfed a house where a man, his wife and child lived. The flame seemed to come up instantly and before anyone even knew there was a fire the bottom floor was fully aflame. As the town gathered to try and help, someone asked if anyone had seen the family when they heard above the sound of the flames a baby cried. Suddenly a man from the crowd and began climing a drain pipe on the outside of the house to the baby’s room. The crowd watched him disappear inside and then reappear with the baby in his arms. He then slid down the metal pipe handed the baby to the pastor of the church and disappeared. They could not save the house or the parents. This was a long time ago before child services or child care agencies and the village had to decide what to do with the child. Who would care for it. So a few weeks after the fire they met at the church to decide who should adopt the infant. One man and his wife came forward they had a nice farm and had lost a child a few years ago and they would be willing to adopt the baby. Another man stood up and said that he would be willing as well. When asked what he offered to show he would be a good father to the child, he said, “I have nothing to offer except these hands” He held out his hands palm outward for all to see the burns and scars that he would carry all his life, received when he had climbed the hot pipe to rescue the crying baby. The village voted to give the man the son he had saved. They could not argue with his scars.

When Jesus appeared after his resurrection, do you remember what proof He offered to Thomas? John 20:27, “Then saith he to Thomas, Reach hither thy finger, and behold my hands; and reach hither thy hand, and thrust it into my side: and be not faithless, but believing.”
Transition: Look for the scars of service to know a person in real service to God.
After God show Moses signs, He then begins dealing with Moses speech.

Sayings Exodus 4:10-17

 And Moses said unto the LORD, O my Lord, I am not eloquent, neither heretofore, nor since thou hast spoken unto thy servant: but I am slow of speech, and of a slow tongue. And the LORD said unto him, Who hath made man's mouth? or who maketh the dumb, or deaf, or the seeing, or the blind? have not I the LORD?  Now therefore go, and I will be with thy mouth, and teach thee what thou shalt say.  And he said, O my Lord, send, I pray thee, by the hand of him whom thou wilt send.  And the anger of the LORD was kindled against Moses, and he said, Is not Aaron the Levite thy brother? I know that he can speak well. And also, behold, he cometh forth to meet thee: and when he seeth thee, he will be glad in his heart.  And thou shalt speak unto him, and put words in his mouth: and I will be with thy mouth, and with his mouth, and will teach you what ye shall do.  And he shall be thy spokesman unto the people: and he shall be, even he shall be to thee instead of a mouth, and thou shalt be to him instead of God.  And thou shalt take this rod in thine hand, wherewith thou shalt do signs.

God Gives Moses Speech

Moses was afraid to speak publicly, or some believe that he might have had a stammer. Whatever the reason he did not feel adequate to the task of calling God’s people together or of speaking before the court of a King. It is interesting that Moses seems to have a greater fear of the disbelief of God’s people than he does of Pharaoh not believing him.

Here God give him two assurances.
First, God gives himself to empower Moses speech.
Verse 11-12 And the LORD said unto him, Who hath made man’s mouth? or who maketh the dumb, or deaf, or the seeing, or the blind? have not I the LORD?  Now therefore go, and I will be with thy mouth, and teach thee what thou shalt say.
 God promised Moses He would speak for him. He would put the words that needed to said in Moses mouth.

Secondly God also gave Aaron to empower Moses heart.
 Still Moses was afraid, so much so that he asks God to send someone else.
 Vs. 13 And he said, O my Lord, send, I pray thee, by the hand of him whom thou wilt send.
God until now had not been angry with Moses but this near refusal after God’s promise stirred the Creator to anger. Yet he does not give up on Moses, even in that anger. Aren’t you glad God can control his anger, especially when he’s angry at you?
 So, God then gives Aaron to empower Moses’ heart.

God’s Promises To Us

Do you realize that in this case Moses was not at all unique? We have been given precious promises that should give us the courage we need to serve God in every situation.
Just like Moses, He has promised us the words when we need to speak for him. He has promised to bless our speech.

Look at Matthew 10:19  But when they deliver you up, take no thought how or what ye shall speak: for it shall be given you in that same hour what ye shall speak.
He has also promised us one to walk with us, one who will bless our hearts, even more than Aaron was a blessing to Moses.

Matthew 28:18-20 And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.
With the promise of Jesus to be with us, what task for God can we not face? What challenge can we not meet? What obstacle can we not overcome?
As Paul said, “If God we for us, who then can be against us?

Illustration: I Just Helped Him Cry

The Most Caring Child - Author and lecturer Leo Buscaglia once talked about a contest he was asked to judge. The purpose of the contest was to find the most caring child. The winner was a four-year-old child, whose next-door neighbor was an elderly gentleman who had recently lost his wife. Upon seeing the man cry, the little boy went into the old gentleman's yard, climbed onto his lap and just sat there. When his mother asked him what he had said to the neighbor, the little boy said, "Nothing, I just helped him cry." – By Ellen Kreidman from A 3rd Serving of Chicken Soup for the Soul
Sometimes that exactly what we need to make it through. We just need to know that God is aware of what is happening, and that Jesus is there to walk with us though the trial and the challenge. That confirmation of God’s knowledge and Jesus’ presence is often in the form of one of God’s children being sent by Him to give that comfort and hope.

 Sons Exodus 4:18-31

 And Moses went and returned to Jethro his father in law, and said unto him, Let me go, I pray thee, and return unto my brethren which are in Egypt, and see whether they be yet alive. And Jethro said to Moses, Go in peace.  And the LORD said unto Moses in Midian, Go, return into Egypt: for all the men are dead which sought thy life.  And Moses took his wife and his sons, and set them upon an ass, and he returned to the land of Egypt: and Moses took the rod of God in his hand.  And the LORD said unto Moses, When thou goest to return into Egypt, see that thou do all those wonders before Pharaoh, which I have put in thine hand: but I will harden his heart, that he shall not let the people go.  And thou shalt say unto Pharaoh, Thus saith the LORD, Israel is my son, even my firstborn:  And I say unto thee, Let my son go, that he may serve me: and if thou refuse to let him go, behold, I will slay thy son, even thy firstborn.  And it came to pass by the way in the inn, that the LORD met him, and sought to kill him.  Then Zipporah took a sharp stone, and cut off the foreskin of her son, and cast it at his feet, and said, Surely a bloody husband art thou to me.  So he let him go: then she said, A bloody husband thou art, because of the circumcision.  And the LORD said to Aaron, Go into the wilderness to meet Moses. And he went, and met him in the mount of God, and kissed him.  And Moses told Aaron all the words of the LORD who had sent him, and all the signs which he had commanded him.  And Moses and Aaron went and gathered together all the elders of the children of Israel:  And Aaron spake all the words which the LORD had spoken unto Moses, and did the signs in the sight of the people.  And the people believed: and when they heard that the LORD had visited the children of Israel, and that he had looked upon their affliction, then they bowed their heads and worshipped.

God Claims Moses’ Family

This is a very interesting turn of events we see now. Moses has left Midian and is traveling back to Egypt when very suddenly the Bible says that God meets Moses and seeks to kill him. This seems to be because of the objections of Zipporah his wife to circumcising their sons.
While Moses then is sick or in some way threatened by God, she takes a flint knife and performs the circumcision. Wow what a story. Have you ever heard anyone preach on this? Well, maybe I shouldn’t either. But you can’t help but wonder.
Why would God take such an unyielding stand against the man he had just commissioned to save His people?

I think the key is in verse 22, Where the Lord says, “Israel is my son, even my firstborn.”
Foremost in God’s priority was his relationship with the nation of Israel. He viewed them as his son.
To mark that relationship He had instituted the rite of circumcision upon all the males of Israel. The removal of the foreskin was the mark of a people trusting God and not in their own strength.
Now God has called Moses who is destined to be the greatest leader of God’s people until the Messiah and that is not an overstatement.

Moses, this great leader of the Hebrews, has neglected his own son’s circumcision.
We are not told why but it seems that Zipphorah did not want the rite performed upon her son.
 The Midianites were descendents of Abraham through his wife, Kittorah and so probably practiced the rite of circumcision though perhaps not at the same time. It may have been at 13 years old according to the example of Ishmael. The Muslims who are descendants of Ishmael, still circumcise at 13, just in case you know of any teen boys thinking of converting that would probably convince them not to.

 Perhaps Zipporah just didn’t want it done and Moses let it go, but God would not let it go.
 When they stopped to rest God sought to kill Moses. This may have been through sickness, or perhaps as dramatic an event as the burning bush with a drawn sword in the hands of the Angel of the Lord, as Joshua was confronted and the prophet Balam.

 Whatever way it happened Moses was incapacitated, and Zipporah had to circumcise her son with a stone knife in order to save her husband’s life. She then threw the foreskin at Moses feet and said, “You are a bloody husband to me.”  She complied but did so in anger at having to do in order to save her husband’s life.  Moses may have let her go back at this time to Jethro to wait until he returned from Egypt as we do not hear about her again until Moses and Aaron leave Egypt and meet Jethro once they are out.

 God Claims A Pastor’s Family

This is a passage I don’t readily preach on. Its not one I would quickly pull out when I get asked to preach at a conference. It is difficult in its interpretation and difficult in its application but I believe it is a very important aspect of God’s calling to service.
God in this passage is making it very clear that when he calls a man into leadership he calls his family as well. It is also very clear that this will often bring problems and resentment.
There is no getting around it, no way of ignoring it for long as Moses found out. When God calls a man to follow Him it also means He is laying claim to that man’s family.
This is what God’s word says

1 Timothy 3:1-13
 This is a true saying, If a man desire the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work.  A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach;  Not given to wine, no striker, not greedy of filthy lucre; but patient, not a brawler, not covetous;  One that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity;  (For if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?)  Not a novice, lest being lifted up with pride he fall into the condemnation of the devil.  Moreover he must have a good report of them which are without; lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil.  Likewise must the deacons be grave, not doubletongued, not given to much wine, not greedy of filthy lucre;  Holding the mystery of the faith in a pure conscience.  And let these also first be proved; then let them use the office of a deacon, being found blameless.  Even so must their wives be grave, not slanderers, sober, faithful in all things.  Let the deacons be the husbands of one wife, ruling their children and their own houses well.  For they that have used the office of a deacon well purchase to themselves a good degree, and great boldness in the faith which is in Christ Jesus.

Many of God’s leaders have been called to serve only to find that their families will not follow.
The conflict and hurt we see in this incident with Moses and Zipporah is a small reminder of the conflict and pain that is seen in a leader of God whose wife will not submit.

 Pastors have left the ministry, missionaries have left the field because of this terrible sorrow.
 Worse perhaps are the men who God called but they could not respond because their wives told them “I will not go with you!” Oh to stand before God one day and have to explain why they would not submit to God’s will for their husband’s life and for their family.

A pastor is only as faithful as his family enables him to be. I thank God every day for mine which have blessed me by honoring me as both their father and their pastor. I never had to choose between my love for God and my love for my family.

Wives, children of pastors and missionaries listen again, “A man of God is only as faithful as his family enables him to be.”

Illustration: The Puppy with the ruined leg

                 A store owner was tacking a sign above his door that read "Puppies For Sale." Signs like that have a way of attracting small children and sure enough, a little boy appeared under the store owner's sign. "How much are you going to sell the puppies for?" he asked.
                 The store owner replied, "Anywhere from $30 to $50." The little boy reached in his pocket and pulled out some change. "I have $2.37," he said. "Can I please look at them?"
                 The store owner smiled and whistled and out of the kennel came Lady, who ran down the aisle of his store followed by five teeny, tiny balls of fur. One puppy was lagging considerably behind. Immediately the little boy singled out the lagging, limping puppy and said, "What's wrong with that little dog?"
                 The store owner explained that the veterinarian had examined the little puppy and had discovered it didn't have a hip socket. It would always limp. It would always be lame. The little boy became excited. "That is the little puppy that I want to buy."
                 The store owner said, "No, you don't want to buy that little dog. If you really want him, I'll just give him to you."
                 The little boy got quite upset. He looked straight into the store owner's eyes, pointing his finger, and said, "I don't want you to give him to me. That little dog is worth every bit as much as all the other dogs and I'll pay full price. In fact, I'll give you $2.37 now, and 50 cents a month until I have him paid for."
                 The store owner countered, "You really don't want to buy this little dog. He is never going to be able to run and jump and play with you like the other puppies."
                 To this, the little boy reached down and rolled up his pant leg to reveal a badly twisted, crippled left leg supported by a big metal brace. He looked up at the store owner and softly replied, "Well, I don't run so well myself, and the little puppy will need someone who understands!" By Dan Clark - Weathering the Storm

That’s what a good wife and family do, they know you in all your faults and failures and the all the things the rest of the world doesn’t ever see, but they stay with you anyway. God knew that the family was needful and that His called servants would need them every day of his service. Thank God he claims the pastor and the family for Himself and I believe He will reward them according to that great sacrifice and service.

Conclusion

Servants of God, those called by God to lead, let me conclude by asking you.
Do you have the real signs of God’s calling in your life?
The touch of the Holy Spirit,
The outward work of love?
The signs of sacrifice and faithfulness?

Do you lean upon those God has place in your life to overcome your own weakness?
Do walk daily with Jesus Christ?
Do you nurture and cherish the friends God has blessed you with?

Finally, Men of God what you doing to insure you will always have a faithful family?
Moses almost lost everything because he failed to lead his family.
Zipporah submitted but almost too late.

I believe that it is your responsibility to make sure your wife, sons and daughter are faithful to God. You do that by being faithful to them.