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Exodus 23:20-33

Possessing the Promises

  • Rich Jones
  • Weekend Messages
  • February 3, 2019

These verses are filled with promises for Israel. There are amazing promises that are part of the Law of Moses. But they are also conditional. “If you will truly obey My voice and do all that I say…” These rules are good for us to study because there are principles contained in these rules that show us God’s heart. There are also many promises God gives the believer today and we need to see how these apply to our lives.

  • Sermon Notes
  • Scripture

Possessing the Promises

Exodus 23:20-33

In Exodus 23, Israel is at Mount Sinai receiving what will be called the law of Moses.It was the 10 Commandments, and so much more.These were the rules and principles that were to guide their lives as they entered the land God promised them.

God wanted justice and righteousness and respect for one another. There were rules of charity and generosity. There were rules in the kind treatment of animals and the forgiveness of debt. There were instructions to help them understand how to be men and women with the heart and character of God.

You see that clearly in certain ordinances such as in 23:4-5, “If you meet your enemy’s ox or his donkey wandering away, you shall surely return it to him. If you see the donkey of one who hates you lying helpless under its load, you shall refrain from leaving it to him, you shall surely release it with him.” What character we would have if we lived these words today.Jesus taught principles that were similar; “I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven.”

Some of the rules were certainly interesting.For example, verse 19, “You are not to boil a kid in the milk of its mother.”Very likely, God gave that rule so they would be distinct from the pagan nations around them.There is something cruel about the thought of boiling the kid of a goat in the milk of its own mother.It’s also likely, that God did not want the mixing of life – milk – with death.

Unfortunately, that’s one rule that has been taken to the extreme in Israel even today.When you travel to Israel, you cannot get milk in any form at dinner in the remote chance that whatever meat you choose might get mixed with the milk of its mother.But you can’t even get chicken with milk together and the last I checked you can get milk from the chicken.

The verses I want us to look at today, however, are filled with promises for Israel.There are amazing promises that are part of the Law of Moses.But they are also conditional.“If you will truly obey My voice and do all that I say…”

These rules are good for us to study because there are principles contained in these rules that show us God’s heart.There are also many promises God gives the believer today and we need to see how these apply to our lives.

I. God Will Be with You Along the Way

  • God told Israel that he bore them on eagles’ wings and brought them to Himself, that they would a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.
  • God brought them to Himself and then promised to be with them along the way.
  • This is one of the greatest promises for the believer today. Jesus is Immanuel – God with us. 

Matthew 28:20, “I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

Hebrews 13:5-6, Be content with what you have; for He Himself has said, “I will never leave you, nor forsake you,” so that we confidently say, “The Lord is my helper, I will not be afraid. What will man do to me?”

  • God’s presence is a promise and with it comes personal application.

A.  God will bring you safely home

  • God promised to send an angel. Many believe this was the pre-incarnate Christ that we see in many places of the Old Testament.
  • The promise was that He would go before them to guard them along the way and to bring them to the place which God prepared.
  • It’s very encouraging to know that God goes before us; that he knows what’s ahead in the journey of life, and that He will bring us safely home.

John 14:1-6, “Do not let your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me.In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you.If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also.”

  • God never promised a life free from troubles. He did promise to be with us in the storm and He promised to bring us safely home.
  • The hymn Amazing Grace has that famous line, “Through many dangers, toils and snares, we have already come, ‘twas grace that brought us safe thus far, and grace will lead us home.”
  • God didn’t promise smooth sailing, but He did promise safe passage. Jesus said, “Nothing can snatch you out of My Father’s hand.”
  • In fact, it’s often the troubles and storms that teach us the greatest lessons. 

James 1:2-3, Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance.

  • Some of the greatest men of faith in the Bible are those who suffered the most. It appears that those with the greatest calling endured the greatest storms.

Illus - Joseph endured one tragedy after the other, but God was preparing him to keep Israel alive with a great deliverance. David was anointed to become the future king of Israel and endured many difficulties. Then there is Jeremiah and Ezekiel and Daniel; each of them with their stories of troubles and difficulties – and the favor of God.

  • The disciples of Jesus went through many storms to strengthen their faith and prepare them for God’s purpose in their lives.

Matthew 14:24-25, The boat was already a long distance from the land, battered by the waves; for the wind was contrary. And in the fourth watch of the night He came to them, walking on the sea.”

  • He only came to them after they were battered by the waves, facing a contrary wind into the fourth watch of the night.

B. Listen to the voice of the Lord

  • God promised to send His angel to guard them along the way. But they must listen to His voice.
  • This is very important because many people long to see the promises of God in their lives but miss the part about listening to the voice of the Lord.
  • As New Testament believers we have a different relationship to God. They were told, “Do not be rebellious for he will not pardon your transgressions.” In Christ, the payment for sin was Christ Himself and all who come to Him for forgiveness will find it.
  • There are promises that comes with listening to the voice of the Lord. 

Luke 6:47-48, “Everyone who comes to Me and hears My words and acts on them, I will show you whom he is like: he is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid a foundation on the rock; and when a flood occurred, the torrent burst against that house and could not shake it, because it had been well built.

  • There is this great promise in verse 22 - that God would be an enemy to their enemies and an adversary to their adversaries. It’s a great promise and many have seen the amazing victories of Israel, but God isn’t blessing Israel today because they truly listen to His voice. In fact, much of modern Israel is secular.
  • No, God is watching over Israel because His promises are true, and He isn’t finished with Israel. He is setting the stage for the revealing of the last days.
  • There is a similar promise in the New Testament for believers in Christ.

Romans 8:31, What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?

  • The fact that God is for you has greater significance than anything being against you. This is a rock on which to stand. 

Psalm 27:1, 3, The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear?The Lord is the defense of my life; whom shall I dread?...Though a host encamp against me, my heart will not fear; though war arise against me, in spite of this I shall be confident.

Psalm 71:5, You are my hope; O Lord God; You are my confidence from my youth.

C. He promises His favor

  • In verse 25, God said that He would bless their bread and their water and remove sickness and miscarriage from them in the land of promise.
  • This is a blessing for Israel in the Promised Land if they would sincerely listen to the voice of the Lord. Though the promises to Israel were tied to their being in the Promised Land, He does desire to bless and heal our lives as well.
  • The favor of the Lord is on his people. We favor our children and desire to bless them and so the Lord does so with us as well. 

Psalm 1:1-3, How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, nor stand in the path of sinners, nor sit in the seat of scoffers! But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His law he meditates day and night. He will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in its season and its leaf does not wither; and in whatever he does, he prospers.

  • He promised to send His terror ahead of them. In other words, people would hear and know that God was with them.
  • He promised to send confusion to their enemies and cause that which was meant to harm them to be defeated. 

Illus – In the famous Six-Day War of 1967, Israel was only 19 years old as a nation.Three Arab nations were again amassing on their borders intent on invading and destroying Israel; Egypt, Jordan and Syria.

Within a few days Israel had captured the Sinai, pushed back Jordan, taken Jerusalem and was ready to accept a cease fire. Radio Damascus however broadcast that Israel was fighting in the streets of Damascus, the capital of Syria.The Syrian soldiers, listening in confusion, retreated, surrendering the Golan Heights.

Interesting side note factoids: the intent of those Arab nations in 1967 was not to create a new Palestinian state, it was to expand their own borders.After the war ended, the Israeli Knesset voted unanimously to give back all the land they had taken in exchange for peace.It was flat-out rejected by the Arabs.

II. Trust that God’s Timing is Perfect

  • God wanted Israel to possess the land of promise and said that He would go before them and drive out the enemies before them.
  • He even said that He would use hornets in driving them out. Hornets would certainly do it, if you’ve ever been stung by a hornet, you know it’s much worse than being stung by a bee.
  • But there is an important principle that follows that promise that is important for us to understand as well.

A. Victory may come little by little

  • In verse 29, God said that he would not drive their enemies out in a single year but would drive them out little by little.
  • This is important because many people would like instant victory. We live in a culture that highly values instant everything. 

Illus – We used to make instant potatoes at the restaurant.There was even a little dimple for the gravy. We have instant messaging so every minute can be consumed.

  • And that leads many people to expect instant spiritual victory. 

Illus – In Africa, many assume that sin is due to demons and want to have someone to pray it out, but that is not the problem. What is needed is to learn to gain victory step by step.

Philippians 3:12-14, I press on so that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of my Christ Jesus.I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do; forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

B. God waits until you’re ready

  • There are things God waits to give you until you have more spiritual maturity.If God did this or that in your life in an instant, you wouldn’t be ready.
  • We need to grow in our spiritual walk, and we need to grow into what God has in store for us. 

Illus – It’s like when a young person wants to get married. They know just the kind of person they want to have for a spouse but forget that they aren’t at that point of maturity themselves.I remember having a conversation with my son, asking what kind of wife he would like to have.He gave a great answer.I then asked, “What kind of man will you have to become to attract a woman like that?”

Illus - When we first started the church, 18 people attended the first service.I remember feeling nervous and overwhelmed when the church doubled in size.There were 35 people there that morning.

  • There are challenges and problems you don’t even yet know about and God is preparing you to be ready for what is coming your way.
  • We need patience and trust that God’s timing is perfect. 

C. Make no covenants of compromise

  • God told them that they should make no covenant with the inhabitants in the land or with their gods, “lest they make you sin against Me; for if you serve their gods, it will surely be a snare to you.”
  • This was an important instruction and Joshua failed on this when the Gibeonites came to them with a deception that they came from a far away country to honor God.
  • Joshua didn’t check with God and as result made a covenant he should not have made.
  • Some people make a covenant with some trouble in their lives when they say, “This thing is too difficult to defeat, I’ll just have to live with it.”
  • Verse 33 is powerful, “They shall not live in your land, lest they make you sin against Me.”
  • God doesn’t just take us out of Egypt, out of the land of oppression; He also leads us into the place of victory.
  • But we need to understand that there will not be complete victory until we stand before the throne of heaven and are rid of this old flesh of ours.
  • They key is to know that God is with us and does not want us to give up or give in; He goes before us to guard us and lead us on the way.

Ephesians 6:10-11, Finally, be strong in the Lord, and in the strength of His might. Put on the full armor of God, that you may be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil



Exodus 23:20-33    NASB

20 "Behold, I am going to send an angel before you to guard you along the way and to bring you into the place which I have prepared. 21 Be on your guard before him and obey his voice; do not be rebellious toward him, for he will not pardon your transgression, since My name is in him. 22 But if you truly obey his voice and do all that I say, then I will be an enemy to your enemies and an adversary to your adversaries. 23 For My angel will go before you and bring you in to the land of the Amorites, the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Canaanites, the Hivites and the Jebusites; and I will completely destroy them. 24 You shall not worship their gods, nor serve them, nor do according to their deeds; but you shall utterly overthrow them and break their sacred pillars in pieces. 25 But you shall serve the Lord your God, and He will bless your bread and your water; and I will remove sickness from your midst. 26 There shall be no one miscarrying or barren in your land; I will fulfill the number of your days. 27 I will send My terror ahead of you, and throw into confusion all the people among whom you come, and I will make all your enemies turn their backs to you. 28 I will send hornets ahead of you so that they will drive out the Hivites, the Canaanites, and the Hittites before you. 29 I will not drive them out before you in a single year, that the land may not become desolate and the beasts of the field become too numerous for you. 30 I will drive them out before you little by little, until you become fruitful and take possession of the land. 31 I will fix your boundary from the Red Sea to the sea of the Philistines, and from the wilderness to the River Euphrates; for I will deliver the inhabitants of the land into your hand, and you will drive them out before you. 32 You shall make no covenant with them or with their gods. 33 They shall not live in your land, because they will make you sin against Me; for if you serve their gods, it will surely be a snare to you."

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