The Most Important Question Ever Asked
November 11, 2018
Here we are in Exodus looking at the life of Moses. God had an encounter with Moses on the mountain of God. There was a fire in this Bush that did not consume it and God spoke to Moses out of this fire telling Him He would be the deliverer of Israel, and gave Him these miracles, this power of God demonstrated, to convince the leaders of Israel that God had sent him.
So Moses went to the leaders of Israel and demonstrated the power of God. His staff, He threw it down it became a serpent. He took hold of it again, it became a staff. He put His hand into His cloak, pulled it out it was full with leprosy, put it back in pulled it out and it was healed immediately. The leaders of Israel believed. When they heard that God was concerned for their cry, it touched them. It says they bowed down low and they worshiped.
Moses and His brother Aaron, remember that God gave Aaron his brother to be with him because Aaron was fluent in speech and articulate, and Moses said he was slow in speech. Moses and Aaron, they go before Pharaoh with the message that God had given to them. They come and says that Jehovah, the God of Israel, has called us to go into the desert to have a celebration and let the people go for this time in the desert.
Now, at first as some suggest, well, wait a minute, it was God's intent to bring them out of Egypt entirely. That's true, but God instructed Moses to begin with this small request, and thus the hardness of heart of Pharaoh would be revealed and 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 responds to this. When Moses said, "Jehovah, Yahweh, God of Israel has said this to us," Pharaoh responds and said, "I don't know Jehovah. I don't know this God, and why should I listen to His voice? Who is this God that I should listen to His voice?"
So, He says, "And besides that, I won't let you go." Now that question, who is God that I should listen to His voice? That question is ringing through the centuries down to our years today. The answer to that question will determine the outcome of your life. If God created the heavens and the earth, then we most certainly should know Him and desire to listen to His voice. Let's read the account of this story, it's very fascinating. Exodus 5:1, "Afterward, Moses and Aaron came and they said to Pharaoh, thus says the Lord."
Now, by the way, in your Bibles when you have LORD all in caps, L-O-R-D all in caps, that is the name of God, Jehovah, Yahweh. That is the distinguishment for us to recognize that. It says, "Thus says Jehovah, Yahweh, God of Israel, let my people go that they may celebrate a feast to me in the wilderness. Pharaoh said, 'Who is Jehovah that I should obey His voice to let Israel go? I don't know Jehovah, and besides that, I won't let Israel go.' 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 lest He fall upon us with pestilence or with the sword.'
"The king of Egypt said to them, 'Moses and Aaron, why do you draw the people away from their work? Get back to your labors.' Then again Pharaoh said, 'Look, the people of the land are now many and you would have them cease from their labors?' So the same day Pharaoh commanded the taskmasters over the people and their foreman and He said, 'You are no longer to give the people straw to make bricks as previously. Let them go and gather straw for themselves, but the quota of bricks which they were making previously, you shall impose upon them. You are not to reduce any of it because they are lazy.'
"Therefore, they cry out, 'Let us go and sacrifice to our God.' 'They're saying that because they're lazy. Let the labor be heavier on the men. Let them work at it that they may pay no attention to these false words.' So the task masters of the people and the foreman," These would be like Hebrew foremen, "They went out and they said to the people, and they said, 'Thus says Pharaoh, I'm not going to give you any straw. You go and get straw for yourselves wherever you can find it, but none of your labor will be reduced.'
"The people scattered to all the land of Egypt to gather stubble for straw and the taskmasters pressed them and they said, 'Complete your work order, your daily amount just as when you had straw.' Moreover, the foreman of the sons of Israel whom Pharaohs taskmasters had set over them were beaten. They were asked, 'Why have you not completed your required amount, either yesterday or today, and making bricks as previously?'
"The foreman of the sons of Israel, they came and they cried out to Pharaoh and they said, 'Why do you deal this way with your servants? There is no straw given to your servants yet you keep saying to us, 'Make bricks,' and behold, your servants are being beaten. It is the fault of your own people.' But Pharaoh said to them, 'You are lazy, very lazy, and that's why you say, 'let us go and sacrifice of the lord.' Go and work, for you shall be given no straw, yet you must deliver the quota bricks.' The foreman of the sons of Israel saw that they were in trouble because they were told, 'You must not reduce your daily amount of bricks.'
"When they left Pharaohs presence, they met Moses and Aaron who were waiting for them, and they were hot. They confronted Moses and Aaron and they said to them, 'May the Lord God look upon you and judge you. You have made us odious in Pharaoh's sight and in the sight of his servants to put a sword in their hand to kill us.' Moses returned to the Lord and He said, 'Oh Lord, why? Why have you brought harm to this people? Why did you ever send me? 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'."
Now, there's more to this story, but we're going to look at the rest of these verses around it on Wednesday at our verse-by-verse service. I want us to look at these verses because there's so much here for us to understand, particularly this question that pharaoh's asked, who is Jehovah? Why should I listen to His voice? Here's the thing that we've got to start with to recognize, it's this, one day, hey, everyone will know Him. Scripture says that there will come a day when every knee will bow, every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father. He will make Himself known to all.
I. One Day Everyone Will Know Him
Now, Pharaoh had never heard of Jehovah, though he had heard of the names of more than 100 Egyptian gods. There were so many Egyptian gods, you could hardly count them. They would often have 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 like the head of a lion on the body of a man, or a jackal or a hog or a crocodile head, on the body of a man. That's an interesting one. Or a cat or a frog, even flies.
There was Osiris, Isis, interesting, Set, Horus, Ra, Thoth, Anubis, Hathor, on and on and on. Interestingly, the Egyptians believed that they themselves were the descendants of gods, and therefore, they believed that the Egyptian race was superior to all races on the 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.
Actually, when you step back and see it objectively, Pharaoh's response is actually reasonable. "I don't know Jehovah, I don't know this Yahweh, and so why should I obey His voice? I don't know this God. Jehovah, you say His name, besides that, no, I will not let Israel go." What you have to recognize when you read this story is, well, God is going to make Himself known. You don't know Yahweh the God of Israel? Well, you will, because God is going to make Himself known. In fact, one of the things we've got to recognize is that creation itself reveals the glory of God.
A. Creation itself reveals the glory of God
The heavens and the earth that God created declare the glory. Look at Isaiah 44:24, "Thus says the LORD," notice all caps, "Thus says Yahweh, Jehovah, your Redeemer, and the one who formed you from the womb, I Jehovah and the Maker of all things, stretching out the heavens by myself, spreading out the earth all alone. God and God alone, one God over all the earth." See, our response is to be amazed, but how much better to be amazed at the God who created all things?
Have you ever been like to the beach and you stand out there and the sunset is absolutely glorious? I remember one time, I was driving down the road and I just couldn't believe my eyes. The sunset was like this brilliant red and it was like a third of the way up the sky. I had to pull the car over, take all these pictures, call all my friends, "Are you seeing what I'm seeing?" Because this is absolutely amazing. How much better to say, "Hey, the God who created such things, He is amazing, because He created all of this to declare His glory."
Some even take it further and they adopt a new age philosophy, "This rock, that is a god. This tree, that is a god. All things, that is a god." How ridiculous to honor anything as God which has no life or power on its own.
In Romans 1, "Professing to be wise they became fools and they exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible men and of birds and of four-footed animals and crawling creatures," because here's the thing that we got to see out of this…
B. God makes Himself known
God will make Himself known. God makes Himself known to all of us. He's going to make Himself known to Pharaoh, and He makes himself known. At this point, when He says, "I don't know Jehovah," this is a reasonable thing, but God certainly is going to make Himself known to the point that Pharaoh will have no excuse.
In effect, interestingly in Exodus 7:5, it says, "The Egyptians," God speaks, "The Egyptians shall know that I am Jehovah when I stretch out my hand in Egypt and bring out the sons of Israel from their midst." Here's an interesting fact though, that many don't recognize. When Israel comes out of Egypt, many Egyptians come with them because, in fact, God makes Himself known as the great God over all the earth and many Egyptians say, "That's my God." It says, "When they leave they are a mixed company of peoples." Very, very interesting.
Now, at first, it may have seemed that the God of Hebrews was not very powerful. After all, they're still slaves, Pharaoh was the power of the world. Their God did seem to have a spiritual reality. There is a spiritual reality behind the forces of darkness. What is that power? That is Satan. The demonic world is a spiritual reality, and some are drawn to its power. I remember, when I was a youth leader many years ago and I was working with high schoolers particularly, I was actually amazed. Many of the high schoolers were fascinated by satanism. Not kids in my youth group, but their friends.
I was very interested, very intrigued, like I would ask them, "Why? What is so interesting to you about satanism?" Their answer was intriguing. Their answer was, "Because there's power there. There is real power there." To which I said, "If there is power there, do you not recognize that there is a power that is greater than that?" That is a spiritual blindness. See, this is not a contest between Moses and Pharaoh. This is a spiritual battle. In fact, we are in a spiritual battle today. Do you see what's happening in the world right now? You look on the news, you see what's happening in the various places in the world.
Is there not something inside of you that can sense that there is a spiritual force of darkness behind what is happening in the world today? We are in a spiritual battle today. Ephesians 6:12, "Our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against rulers, against powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against spiritual forces of wickedness in heavenly places." Right now, today, there is a spiritual war going on in this world. Interestingly, in Egypt, there was an Egyptian god, Thoth, who was the god of magical powers.
In Egyptian magic, which was called Heka, all the 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. They were supposed to have power that can make wax figures come to life. Interestingly, they were supposedly able to roll back the waters of a lake. Do you see that God is going to demonstrate a power over these Egyptian gods to make Himself known?
In fact, when Moses and Aaron stood before Pharaoh, Aaron threw down his staff, it became a serpent but the “Magicians”-- don't you say that, “Magicians”
? I made that word up.
It's a spiritual word. It's going to take a life of its own, I'm telling you. These “Magicians”, they threw down their rods and Pharaoh was unimpressed. "My magicians can do that too." Then Aaron's serpent swallowed theirs up, an indication of things to come. When Moses struck the Nile and the waters became blood, the magicians were able to do the same thing. Pharaoh was unimpressed. God brought a plague of frogs out of the waters so the land was filled with frogs. Magicians could do that. Pharaoh was unimpressed.
When God brought forth gnats out of the dust of the Earth, however, the “Magicians” said, "This is the finger of God. This is far beyond us." Still, Pharaoh would not recognize the God of Israel. Finally, when God sent hail upon the land of Egypt and all their crops and their livestock and their fields were destroyed, then Pharaoh relented. Exodus 9:27-28, "Pharaoh sent for Moses and Aaron." He wants them to come now. "And he said to them, 'I have seen this time. Jehovah is the righteous one. I and my people are the wicked ones. Make supplication to Jehovah for me. There has been enough of God's thunder and hail'."
What's interesting is that all of these plagues that we see done by God in Egypt are actually prophetic. They are prophetic of the plagues that God will do at the end of the age during the time of tribulation. For the time of tribulation is God's wrath poured out on the world and He makes His power known through these various plagues. You see an interesting parallel, for in the latter days, there will be a spiritual battle. Dimensions of which this Earth has never seen for the anti-Christ that will arise in the latter days is in fact empowered by Satan himself.
C. We should obey His voice
These plagues that we see in Egypt are prophetic. God is making himself known. So, therefore, yes, yes, we should listen to His voice. Is God proving himself to you? Then, yes, listen to His voice. Who is Jehovah? I don't know this God, Jehovah. He's going to make Himself known. The thing is, He has been making Himself known since the beginning of creation. Look at Romans 1:20, "Since the creation of the world, His invisible attributes, His eternal power, and His divine nature have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made so that they are without excuse."
There's no one who can stand before the great throne of the living God and say, "Well, you didn't show me. I didn't know there was a God. I didn't know this." God says, "I demonstrated to you. I made myself known to you." No one is going to have an excuse. By the way, everyone is going to stand before the throne of God. Here's the thing that's very interesting, if you have received Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, one of the aspects of receiving that son whom God sent with His heart and with His message is with an invitation to have relationship through adoption. You are adopted now.
When you receive Jesus Christ, you have a relationship to God by which He adopts you as a son and as a daughter and gives you eternal life, so that when you stand before the great throne of the living God, you can stand there with confidence. You know why you can stand there with confidence? Because you can stand there before that great throne and you can say, "Hi, Dad." He is your Father. You've been adopted. You have a relationship.
God has proven Himself to you. God has made Himself known to you. If you know Him, then you listen to His voice and you draw near to Him. Now, there's an obvious trend that's happening in the world today. You can see it. Anyone with spiritual discernment can see it. The world is moving farther and farther from belief in God. It will not listen to His word. These are the days. We are living in days to become stronger in faith and not be concerned about what other people think. Many people want the approval of the world.
Why would you want the approval of the world that's drawing farther away from God? But many people do. They want to fit in. They want to be approved of. They want to be considered as, you're one of them. They want to be considered cool, which reminds me of a funny story. I was talking to my granddaughter that we've adopted and saying goodnight or something. At some point, I said, "Oh, that's cool." She said, "Oh, don't be one of those dads that tries to be cool by using cool words." Of course, I'm going to let that one go, so I said, "Okay, that's groovy. I'm hip with that. That's solid. I can dig it."
Okay, I may not know modern slang, but '60s, I got. It's like, people saying cool things to fit in. Well, wait a minute. We weren't called to fit in. We were called to stand out. The Gospel is what this broken world needs. This is a lost world. It's broken. There's a lot of hurt. This is the time to stand up and let the Gospel made known. The problem is that when someone says, "Who is God? Who is God?" Which is a very common thing today. "Who is God that I should obey Him or listen to His voice?" When the people say that, they're opening their lives to the consequence of not listening.
There are inevitable consequences when people turn away from God, refuse to listen. It says, "The way of the transgressor is hard, but the one who listens to the Word of God will find his life is blessed." God gave His word to protect from the dangers, from the devastations, from the plagues that come from going our own way and rejecting His word. See, God did not give His word to be a heavy burden. God didn't give us His word 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, and joy-filled life.
Look at Matthew 11:28-30, "Come to me," Jesus said. "All who are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me. I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls, for my yoke is easy, my burden is light." That's God's heart right there. Pastor Matthew is speaking on that tonight. Come hear it. It's a great understanding of God's heart for us. Then in Psalm 1:2-3, I love this perspective.
It says, listen, "The one who delights in the law of the Lord, and in His law meditates day and night, he will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water which yields its fruit in season and it's leaf does not wither, and in whatever he does, he will prosper." The blessing of the Lord, the favor of God. Has He not proven Himself? If He has proven Himself, then listen to His word. 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 when you disregard His word?
II. Faith Will Sustain You in Times of Trouble
Then we see this. Going to Exodus 5, notice this that transpires towards the end of this chapter. When the troubles get worse-- It's going to get worse. It's going to get worse. Here's one of the keys that we've got to recognize, that faith will sustain you in times of trouble. Faith is the key. Pharaoh's response is to make the burden even greater on these Hebrews, forcing them to make bricks without providing the straw. Those things are going to get worse before they're going to get better. One of the things is this, the lessons of the story is to keep troubles in the right perspective. Faith is the key. Faith is the key.
A. Keep troubles in the right perspective
For the Hebrews, this must have seemed like the greatest problem they'd ever faced, and it seems that they could only see the troubles immediately in front of them. God was doing something far greater, but they couldn't believe it. Their faith needed to grow. Faith is the key. If they could only see and believe that God was doing something far greater. See, the trouble is that many people want to know what God is doing right now, but faith trusts. Faith trusts God. You're doing something far greater. I don't know what it is, but I believe you. Even Moses was told in advance, and he also needs to grow in his faith.
We need faith to trust that God knows what He's doing, that He's able to do what He says He will do, and that He has, in fact, the best in mind for us. Jeremiah 29:11 is one of the famous verses that speak to that, "I know the plans that I have for you, declares the Lord, Jehovah. Plans for welfare, good, and not for calamity. My plans are to give you a future and a hope," but they're frustrated.
B. Don’t let frustration defeat your faith
This is the key for us to grasp. Don't let frustration defeat your faith. It's instructive to see the frustration that builds in the story.
The foremen, they turn to Pharaoh for help and they get a reprimand instead. They're growing in their frustration because it's getting worse. So then they turn on Moses and Aaron and they speak angry strong words and accuse them to their face, "May God judge you. What have you done to us? You've made us odious to Pharaoh and his people, to put a sword in their hand to kill us. May God judge you for that." Frustration. Many people-- it's the situation and they get all frustrated. Don't let frustrations defeat your faith. They can make you do and say things that hurt. That hurt you, that hurt relationships.
Frustrations divide relationships. Financial troubles cause couples to fight. Family stresses cause parents and children to be at odds. Churches often become divided over the smallest things. "As for you," He says, "As for you, walk in the integrity of your heart. Walk in the steadfastness of your faith." God is doing something. Psalm 15:2-3 and then we had verse 5, "He, who walks in integrity, works righteousness, speaks truth in his heart. He does not slander with his tongue. He does not do evil to his neighbor. He does not take up a reproach against a friend.
"He, who does these things," which is to say, walk in integrity, speak truth in his heart, "He, who does these things will never be shaken." Don't let the unbelief of others shipwreck your faith or your relationship to God. Faith is the key. Faith will sustain you. God is doing something far greater. Instead of arguing with the foremen, Moses turns to God. He brings the concerns of his heart. There, his faith is going to be strengthened by God's words and by God's actions. Do you believe that the favor of God is on your life? Has God proven himself to you? Do you believe that God has something greater in mind?
I tell you what, I could write a book on the demonstrations of God's favor. I could write a book on it. It's been amazing how God has proved Himself to me over and over and over. Just one story. A funny story that happened sometime ago. We were here in the church doing a project here in the sanctuary, very high up in the light. We needed an extension ladder. An extension ladder is essentially two ladders in one, right? You've got to have the base ladder, then you have the upper one that will slide up and lock and you can go way high. The church has one. We were way up there.
We finished our project and I'm trying to bring this ladder down. The upper one is way up there, I'm trying to bring it down. As I'm trying to lower it with the rope, my hand loses its grip on the rope and the upper ladder comes smashing down right onto my hand.
I know. Here's the thing. That could have broken every finger in my hand, because that's a heavy ladder,it came smashing down. Here's the thing. It didn't even hurt. Say what? It smashed my hand, but it didn't even hurt. Say what? How was that possible? Exactly. This is what happened. I got my hand on the rung of the ladder. When I gripped the rung of the ladder, it pushed my ring up like this, so when the ladder came down, it came down exactly on that ring. That ring took the entirety of the brunt of that fall. Her love saved me.
Can you just imagine? Can you just imagine what would happen. Would have broken my fingers. This is the hand that plays the piano. I tell you, God has proven Himself to me. Has He proven Himself to you? Psalm 62:5-8, "My soul, wait in silence for God alone. For my hope is from Him. He alone is my rock and my salvation, my stronghold. I shall not be shaken. On God, my salvation and my glory rests. The rock of my strength. My refuge is in God. Trust in Him at all times, O people. Pour our your heart before him. God is a refuge for us." That is a good Psalm right there. That is a good Psalm.
He alone is my rock. He's my salvation. He's my stronghold. I will not be shaken. On God, my salvation and my glory rests. The rock, 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. Has God proven Himself to you? God proven Himself to you? Then yes, listen to His Word and trust Him. Frustrations, troubles, difficulty, arise. But He's proven Himself over and over and over. God is doing something far greater. Trust Him, He's a rock to stand on.