- Sermon Notes
The Most Important Question Ever Asked
God called Moses to deliver the people of Israel from the slavery and oppression they were suffering in Egypt. He gave Moses powerful signs to demonstrate his power and convince the sons of Israel that he had met with God and God had sent him to be their deliverer.
When Moses met with the Hebrew leaders and demonstrated the power of God they did believe that God had sent Moses, that He was concerned about them and that He had seen their affliction. The people then bowed low and worshipped.
Moses, and Aaron, his brother, then appeared before Pharaoh with the message God had given them, “Let my people go that they should celebrate a feast to Me in the wilderness.”
Some suggest this was a bit deceptive since God’s ultimate plan was to completely free the Hebrews, not just give them a long weekend of rest from their labors. But God instructed Moses to begin with this small request and thus the hardness of Pharaoh’s heart would be revealed in that he would not let them go for even such a small thing as going three days in the wilderness to celebrate a feast and worship God.
Pharaoh responded to Moses with a question that makes perfectly good sense, “Who is Jehovah that I should obey his voice? I don’t know this God Jehovah.”
That question is still being asked today, “Who is God that I should listen to His voice?” It is the most important question you will ever answer because it will determine the outcome of your life. If God created the heavens and the earth, we most certainly should want to know Him and listen to His voice.
I. One Day Everyone Will Know Him
- Pharaoh had never heard of Jehovah, though he had heard the names of more than 100 Egyptian gods. There were so many Egyptian gods you could hardly count them. They often had the body of a human and the head of either a human or some kind of creature.
- Each of the gods had their own appearance and most of them imitated some aspect of creation. There was a lion, a jackal, a hawk, a crocodile, a cat, a frog, even flies.
- There was Osiris, Isis, Set, Horus, Ra, Thoth, Anubis, Hathor, and on and on. The Egyptians believed that they themselves were the descendants of gods and superior to all other races on earth.
- From the perspective of Pharaoh, the God of Israel could not have been very powerful if the people of Israel were slaves to the superior Egyptians. Therefore, Pharaoh’s response was reasonable, “Who is Jehovah that I should obey his voice? I do not know this God Jehovah. And besides, I will not let Israel go.”
A.Creation itself reveals the glory of God
- The heavens and the earth that God created declare the glory of God.
Isaiah 44:24, Thus says the LORD, your Redeemer, and the one who formed you from the womb, “I, the LORD, am the maker of all things, stretching out the heavens by Myself and spreading out the earth all alone,”
- Our response is to be amazed at God, rather than be amazed at the things God created.
Illus – People often see something wonderful and say, “That is amazing.” But we should also recognize that the One who created it is yet more amazing!
- Some even take it further and adopt the New Age philosophy, “This rock, this tree, this thing is a god.”
- How ridiculous to honor anything as god which has no life or power on its own.
Romans 1:22-23, Professing to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man and of birds and four-footed animals and crawling creatures.
B.God makes Himself known
- “I don’t know Jehovah,” Pharaoh said. At this point, this is understandable. But God made Himself known to Pharaoh so that he was without excuse.
Exodus 7:5, “The Egyptians shall know that I am the LORD when I stretch out My hand on Egypt and bring out the sons of Israel from their midst.”
- At first, it may have seemed that the God of the Hebrews was not very powerful. After all, they were still slaves and Pharaoh was still the singular power in that part of the world.
- Also, their gods did seem to have spiritual reality. The demonic world is a spiritual reality. Some are drawn to its power, but they are spiritually blind.
- This is not a contest between Moses and Pharaoh, this is a spiritual battle. We are in a spiritual battle today.
Ephesians 6:12, Our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world, forces of this darkness, against spiritual forces of wickedness in heavenly places.
Illus – There was an Egyptian god, Thoth, who was the god of magical powers. Egyptian magic was called heka and all their gods and even the people were thought to have this magical power in varying degrees.
Priests were the main practitioners of magic. The most respected users of magic were the lector priests, who were supposed to have the power to make wax figures come to life and, interestingly, to be able to roll back the waters of a lake.
Illus – In fact, when Moses and Aaron stood before Pharaoh, Aaron threw down his staff it became a serpent, but the magicians did the same. Then the serpent from Aaron’s staff swallowed the serpents of the magicians.
- Then when Moses struck the Nile and the waters became blood, the magicians were able to do this also and Pharaoh was unconcerned.
- When God brought a plague of frogs out of the waters so that the land was filled with frogs, the magicians also did the same.
- But when God brought forth gnats out of the dust of the earth, the magicians said, “This is the finger of God.” But still Pharaoh would not recognize the God of Israel.
- Finally, when God sent hail upon the land of Egypt and all their crops and the livestock in the fields were destroyed, Pharaoh relented…
Exodus 9:27-28, Then Pharaoh sent for Moses and Aaron, and said to them, “I have sinned this time; the LORD is the righteous one, and I and my people are the wicked ones.” Make supplication to the LORD, for there has been enough of God’s thunder and hail;”
- Each of the plagues God did in Egypt are actually prophetic of the plagues that God will do in the Tribulation seven-year period of God’s wrath that will come at the end of the age.
A.We should obey His voice
- “Who is Jehovah that I should obey his voice?” Pharaoh asked. God made Himself known to Pharaoh and He is making Himself known today as well.
Romans 1:20, For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse.
- If you know God, that He is creator of heaven and earth, then listen to His voice and draw near.
- There is an obvious trend happening today; the world is moving farther and farther from belief in God and will not listen to His Word.
- These are the days to become stronger in faith and not be concerned what other people think. Too many want the approval of the world and to be accepted as ‘cool’ by the world.
Illus – A few years ago I was saying goodnight to our granddaughter and at some point, I said, “That’s cool.” Aviah then responded, “Please don’t be one of those dads that tries to be ‘cool’ by using cool words.” Of course, I had to play that up. “Okay,” I said, “that’s groovy. I’m hip with that. Solid, man. I can dig it.” I may not know modern slang, but the 60s I got.
- The question is, who influences who? We weren’t called to fit in, we were called to stand out. The gospel is what the broken lost world needs.
App- The problem is that when someone says, “Who is God that I should obey Him?” they open their lives to the consequences of not listening.
- There are inevitable consequences when people violate the laws and principles of God’s Word. “The way of the transgressor is hard,” the scripture says.
- But the one who listens to the Word of God will find his life blessed. God gave his Word to protect us from the dangers and devastations and plagues that come from going our own way.
- God didn’t give His Word to be a heavy burden and to keep us from a happy, blessed and wonderful life. It’s exactly the opposite.
- The Word of God was given that we might be blessed with a rich, abundant, joy-filled life.
Matthew 11:28-30, “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”
Psalm 1:2-3, The one who delights in the law of the Lord, and in His law meditates day and night, will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and its leaf does not wither; and in whatever he does, he prospers.
- How much better to discover who God is and be blessed in obeying His voice, than to be like Pharaoh and discover who God is by the disaster that comes from disregarding God’s Word!
II. Faith Will Sustain You in Times of Trouble
- Pharaoh’s response was to make the burden even greater for the Hebrews by forcing them to make bricks without providing straw.
- In other words, things got worse before they got better.
A. Keep troubles in the right perspective
- For the Hebrews this must have seemed the greatest problem they had yet faced, and it seems they could only see the troubles immediately in front of them.
- But God was doing something so much greater!
- The trouble is that many want to know what God is doing right now. Moses was told in advance and even then, it didn’t help much. Even he complained to God (verse 23).
- We need faith to trust that God knows what He is doing and that He is able to do what He says He will do and that He has our best in mind…
Jeremiah 29:11, “I know the plans that I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope.”
A. Don’t let frustration defeat your faith
- It’s instructive to see the frustration that builds in this story. The foremen turn to Pharaoh for help and get a reprimand instead.
- They then turn to Moses and Aaron and speak with strong words of anger and accuse them to their face.
- Frustrations can make you do and say things that hurt relationships. Frustrations divide relationships: financials troubles cause couples to fight, family stresses cause parents and children to be at odds with each other, churches become divided over minor things.
- As for you, walk in the integrity of your heart and with all steadfastness of faith!
Psalm 15:2-3, 5, He who walks with integrity, and works righteousness, and speaks truth in his heart; he does not slander with his tongue, nor does evil to his neighbor, nor takes up a reproach against his friend; …He who does these things will never be shaken.
App – don’t let the unbelief of others shipwreck your faith or your relationship to God!
- Instead of arguing with the foremen, Moses turns to God with the concerns of his heart. There his faith will be strengthened by God’s words and actions.
- Do you believe in the favor of the hand of God?
Illus – I was using an extension ladder and lowering the top ladder with the rope when it came loose and came crashing down, smashing my left hand that was holding the lower ladder. It should have broken my fingers, but amazingly it didn’t even hurt. Why? My wedding ring took it all and I was saved. The favor of God.
Psalm 62:5-8, My soul, wait in silence for God only, for my hope is from Him. He only is my rock and my salvation, my stronghold; I shall not be shaken. On God my salvation and my glory rest; the rock of my strength, my refuge is in God. Trust in Him at all times, O people; pour out your heart before Him; God is a refuge for us.
Exodus 5 New American Standard Bible (NASB)
5 And afterward Moses and Aaron came and said to Pharaoh, “Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, ‘Let My people go that they may celebrate a feast to Me in the wilderness.’” 2 But Pharaoh said, “Who is the Lord that I should obey His voice to let Israel go? I do not know the Lord, and besides, I will not let Israel go.” 3 Then they said, “The God of the Hebrews has met with us. Please, let us go a three days’ journey into the wilderness that we may sacrifice to the Lord our God, otherwise He will fall upon us with pestilence or with the sword.” 4 But the king of Egypt said to them, “Moses and Aaron, why do you [a]draw the people away from their [b]work? Get back to your [c]labors!” 5 Again Pharaoh said, “Look, the people of the land are now many, and you would have them cease from their labors!” 6 So the same day Pharaoh commanded the taskmasters over the people and their foremen, saying, 7 “You are no longer to give the people straw to make brick as previously; let them go and gather straw for themselves. 8 But the quota of bricks which they were making previously, you shall impose on them; you are not to reduce any of it. Because they are lazy, therefore they cry out, ‘[d]Let us go and sacrifice to our God.’ 9 Let the labor be heavier on the men, and let them work at it so that they will pay no attention to false words.”
10 So the taskmasters of the people and their foremen went out and spoke to the people, saying, “Thus says Pharaoh, ‘I am not going to give you any straw. 11 You go and get straw for yourselves wherever you can find it, but none of your labor will be reduced.’” 12 So the people scattered through all the land of Egypt to gather stubble for straw. 13 The taskmasters pressed them, saying, “Complete your [e]work quota, [f]your daily amount, just as when [g]you had straw.” 14 Moreover, the foremen of the sons of Israel, whom Pharaoh’s taskmasters had set over them, were beaten [h]and were asked, “Why have you not completed your required amount either yesterday or today in making brick as previously?”
15 Then the foremen of the sons of Israel came and cried out to Pharaoh, saying, “Why do you deal this way with your servants? 16 There is no straw given to your servants, yet they keep saying to us, ‘Make bricks!’ And behold, your servants are being beaten; but it is the fault of your own people.” 17 But he said, “You are lazy, very lazy; therefore you say, ‘Let us go and sacrifice to the Lord.’ 18 So go now and work; for you will be given no straw, yet you must deliver the quota of bricks.” 19 The foremen of the sons of Israel saw that they were in trouble [i]because they were told, “You must not reduce [j]your daily amount of bricks.” 20 When they left Pharaoh’s presence, they met Moses and Aaron as they were [k]waiting for them. 21 They said to them, “May the Lord look upon you and judge you, for you have made [l]us odious in Pharaoh’s sight and in the sight of his servants, to put a sword in their hand to kill us.”
22 Then Moses returned to the Lord and said, “O Lord, why have You brought harm to this people? Why did You ever send me? 23 Ever since I came to Pharaoh to speak in Your name, he has done harm to this people, and You have not delivered Your people at all.”