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Even Those Who Reject God Will Know God

Date: Jul. 11, 2021

Author: Jimmy Mei

Exodus 6:13-7:7

Key Verse: Exodus 7:5

And the Egyptians will know that I am the Lord when I stretch out my hand against Egypt and bring the Israelites out of it.

Introduction

Good morning and welcome to our IIT Sunday Worship Service. Today, we are continuing our study of Exodus with the theme of ‘Getting to Know God.’ This passage is divided into 2 sections: first, a genealogy of the first three sons of Jacob leading to Moses and Aaron and second, a reaffirmation of the mission that God has given to Moses. In these two sections, we will visit the past, subsequently reconvene in the present with Moses’ current personal struggle, and then envision the future through God’s confirmation of his plan. With regards to our theme of who God is, this passage is a reminder that God does not forget the past or his people, that God is with us and watching over us presently, and that God has a plan and purpose for us with a clear vision for our future. Because God encompasses all aspects of our lives, he is undeniable, so that even those who reject him are forced to acknowledge him and know who He is. In addition, we must remember to maintain perspective: our God does not work on the timescale of human lives; rather, he works on the timescale of generations and beyond. Therefore, we can truly only appreciate God’s plan for the future if we study and remember what God has already done in the past to set up in preparation for it. This magnitude is beyond what we can understand, but this is the magnitude that we must acknowledge and appreciate that God is on. Let’s pray before we begin.

Part 1: God’s plan has been in motion since Abraham

In order to reinforce the point that God works on a different timeline than man does, I want you to reflect on the fact that the story of Exodus actually begins in Genesis. Moses’ leading of the Israelites out of Egypt were envisioned even before there was such a concept of “Israelites.” The Israelites are so named because Jacob, the son of Isaac, the son of Abraham, was given this name by God. In Genesis 35:10, it says, “God said to him, ‘Your name is Jacob, but you will no longer be called Jacob; your name will be Israel.’ So he named him Israel.” Jacob’s, or Israel’s, descendants are therefore, the Israelites. Yet in Genesis 15:13-14, we see that God already knew these people would exist when he was speaking with Abraham, Israel’s grandfather, before Abraham even had kids yet: “Then the Lord said to him, ‘Know for certain that for four hundred years your descendants will be strangers in a country not their own and they will be enslaved and mistreated there. But I will punish the nation they serve as slaves, and afterward, they will come out with great possessions.’” Now, that time is coming to pass in our study of Exodus. Just take a second to appreciate that this moment in our study of Exodus was already centuries in the making.

Moses is about to witness God punish the nation they have served as slaves. Yet, he, himself, was still unsure as to why God wanted to use him. In fact, Dan’s message a few weeks ago on Exodus 4 was entitled ‘Moses’ Reluctance.’ Moses actually asked God in Exodus 4:13 to “Pardon your servant, Lord. Please send someone else.” However, I believe this genealogy is here because God wanted to show that his calling of Moses was no accident; it has been God’s plan all along. Moses’ survival despite Pharaoh’s decree was no accident; Moses’ familiarity with Egyptian culture and the Egyptian court was no accident. He was always meant to lead the Israelites out of Egypt. Going back and revisiting his ancestry helped to emphasize this fact. It was to stress to the Israelites that God foresaw this already. Chapter 6, verses 26-27 say, “It was this Aaron and Moses to whom the Lord said, ‘Bring the Israelites out of Egypt by their divisions. They were the ones who spoke to Pharaoh king of Egypt about bringing the Israelites out of Egypt-this same Moses and Aaron.” Reading this part of the passage reminds of the genealogies leading to Jesus. It reads as the culmination and fulfillment of God’s promise. The feeling I get is: remember back then, when I said such and such would happen? Well, here it is! And this is how we got there. God is going, remember when I said that a Savior would be born? Well, here he is and this is how he got here! Here God is going, remember when I said I would bring you out of Egypt? Well, I am, and these are the guys that are going to do it!

Reading about Moses and his genealogy made me curious and wonder if I could trace my own genealogy. I did some research into my family history to see if I could go back 400-500 years like Moses did. Here’s what I found: my family name, Mei, initially originated during the Shang Dynasty in Henan (a central Chinese province) sometime between 3000-3500 years ago. However, about 400-500 years ago, someone from that main ancestral village traveled to southeast China and noting the area to be fertile and possessing good feng shui, decided to stay in what is now Taishan of Guangdong province. He and his wife had four sons; anyone with the surname Mei from southern China is descended from this very family. Personally, I am a descendant of the youngest of the four sons. Tradition dictates that when a male in this family gets married, he adopts a chosen name, the first part, of which, is shared among all males in that generation, regardless of which of the four branches they are descended from. This way, the 10thgeneration of males from the first son will have the shared character of their given married name as the 10thgeneration of males from the second, third and fourth sons. This determines the relative distance of kinship and standing within the larger family body.

I happen to be the 20th generation of the youngest son and the character assigned to my generation is the character for reverence (恭). My given married name (恭权) translates to ‘reverent of what is right and true.’ I was moved when I found this out; based on this passage, and what we have now learned of God, this was no accident. In the same way that God had planned for Moses to lead the Israelites out of Egypt 430 years before he actually did, I feel that God, even centuries years ago, had called me to have reverence for the truth. The truth is: God is a master planner and I pray God may give me the strength to accept and live by his calling all of my days.

Part 2: Moses is still unsure but God is sure

After revisiting his family history, we come back to Moses’ present day dilemma. What has changed from our time with Moses since his uncertainty in Chapter 4? Apparently, not much; in fact, he’s even more discouraged after his initial meeting with Pharaoh because he has made things even harder for the Israelites. Exodus 5:23 says, “Ever since I went to Pharaoh to speak in your name, he has brought trouble on this people, and you have not rescued your people at all.” And Exodus 6:30 says, “But Moses said to the Lord, ‘Since I speak with faltering lips, why would Pharaoh listen to me?’’ Verse 30 actually returns us to the scene that we took an interlude from immediately before we got into the genealogy. It’s as the reader is expected to start questioning whether or not this Moses is the one God meant to use. The genealogy is there to stress that: yup, this is the one and the very same Moses. And the two verses immediately after the genealogy serve to remind us of that scene of uncertainty, juxtaposing the uncertainty of man against the certainty of God.

In the beginning of Chapter 7, we see God’s response to Moses’ insecurity. Did God lose his temper with Moses? He did not. Rather, he just reiterated the plan again and re-affirmed what would happen. What’s the plan again? Verses 1-4 say, “Then the Lord said to Moses, ‘See, I have made you like God to Pharaoh, and your brother Aaron will be your prophet. You are to say everything I command you, and your brother Aaron is to tell Pharaoh to let the Israelites go out of his country. But I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and though I multiply my signs and wonders in Egypt, he will not listen to you. Then I will lay my hand on Egypt and with mighty acts of judgment, I will bring out my divisions, my people the Israelites.’ God was extremely patient with Moses and re-affirms him.

What does God re-affirm? First, that even though Moses himself claims to have faltering lips, God affirms that he will be with him and will give him all the tools he needs so that Moses will even be like God to Pharaoh. How many times are we have been unsure of ourselves, thinking that something is impossible or that our circumstances are overwhelming? How many assignments, how many exams, how many job searches, how many health issues, how many family situations, have we prayed for (sometimes without believing that we will get an answer)? The truth is, we do get answers to our prayers; though, not everything turns out the way we want. God, however, seems to always be able to use it to teach us something and advance his plan.

The issue is perception. First, as Christians, we acknowledge that God is the Creator, and therefore, Lord of all Creation. Second, we acknowledge that God is good. When we remember that God works on a completely different scale of time than we do, we are able to interpret the events of our lives that allows us to see God’s plan more clearly. Would it have been my plan to have my parents’ divorce? No, but if not for that, I wouldn’t have been able to come to church and meet God. Was it my plan to go to Ohio for school? Not particularly, but I used that opportunity to grow independently in faith or started my walk down my current career path. Did I plan to stay here in California after I finished my training? Not a chance, I thought, and yet that’s what happened. Despite my own personal weaknesses, my own personal plans, my own personal doubts, God’s plan marches on and someday, I hope to have some greater insight into the specific reasons why God wanted my family and I to stay here.

Second, God re-affirms that his patience and desire to work through us, even though, as imperfect vessels, we really just seem to make things more difficult. If you think that you are too weak, too undeserving, or too sinful to be used by God, you’re wrong. In fact, God’s glory is revealed because we are weak; because we are weak, we can easily acknowledge that everything we do and accomplish is by the grace of God alone and not by our own strength or ability. It is not that God wants us to have faltering hearts, but that God can use us despite our faltering hearts. This is something I always appreciated about our ministry; I am not a theologian, I didn’t go to divinity school, and I am not an academic biblical scholar. Yet, God calls me to speak here today based on my personal experience with God. My goal is only to honor God and honor God’s word by sharing what God has taught me with you. If you have learned something new, seen God in a new light, or felt moved by this passage, I know it is not due to anything I have done, but purely what God has done and what God has chosen to reveal to you. I have no qualifications other than that I am a servant of God, doing my best to answer God’s call with a “Yes, Lord” as often as possible.  

Third, God re-affirms that the plan has not changed. He will still send Moses and Aaron to speak with Pharaoh. Pharaoh will refuse them, God will perform signs and wonders, but Pharaoh’s heart will still be hard and God’s mighty judgment will rain down on Egypt. If it sounds like we have heard this before, it’s because God has already told this to Moses in the previous chapters, but let’s not be so quick to judge. Most things in life require repetition before the lesson is learned. In school, one might have to repeatedly study the same thing, re-reading the same passage multiple times before understanding it. I know I’ve had to do that and continue to have to do that. God knows this as well, and as we saw earlier, He is so patient with us. He repeats the same promise over and over again to us until we can truly accept it. That is why it is important for us to hold key verses, especially a life key verse in our hearts, so that when we start to feel doubt creep into our heart, we can be reminded of God’s promise. Personally, mine is Genesis 12:1-3 “The Lord said to Abram, ‘Go from your country, your people, and your father’s household to the land I will show you. I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you; I will make your name great and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you and whoever curses you, I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.” Whenever, I start to doubt God’s plan, I just remind myself that God promised to lead me to the right place and will make me a blessing wherever I go. I can have peace in my heart knowing that even though I may not be sure, God is surely in control.

Part 3: God will be known

God reaches his conclusion in verse 5: “And the Egyptians will know that I am the Lord when I stretch out my hand against Egypt and bring the Israelites out of it.” The culmination of this portion of God’s plan results in two things: first, he fulfills his promise to Abraham all the way back in Genesis, that his descendants would be freed from the nation they become slaves to; second, during this process, the Egyptians will know that I am the Lord. Don’t get me wrong, the Egyptians did not have any desire to know God. Remember Pharaoh’s words in Exodus 5:2: “Pharaoh said, “Who is the Lord, that I should obey him and let Israel go? I do not know the Lord and I will not let Israel go.” God definitely heard those words loud and clear; God will make himself undeniable through many signs and wonders.

God’s performance of signs and wonders during this time to make himself known actually foreshadows the birth and life of our Savior, Jesus Christ, on Earth. Similarly, when Christ was born, his birth and the signs associated with it fulfilled many prophecies of his coming and signaled who he was to those who were observant enough. During his time on earth, Jesus performed many miracles and healed many who were sick. While this was great for those who benefitted from his blessings, it also created many enemies from those who saw his growing influence as a threat to their own influence and power. The Pharisees and Sadducees were always plotting to catch Jesus in a trap and eventually plotted his capture and sentencing to death on the cross. The death of a leader should have been a crushing blow to Christianity and I’m sure the devil meant it to be such. Yet, God even used this as part of his plan to redeem his people and give salvation to those who believed. At the end, when Jesus died, Matthew 27:54 says, “When the centurion and those with him who were guarding Jesus saw the earthquake and all that had happened, they were terrified, and exclaimed, “Surely he was the Son of God!” No one could deny who Jesus was.

It also foreshadows the end times and the Second Coming of Christ. When the events of Revelations occur, who can deny who God is then? Eventually, every knee will bow before God and everyone will know him eventually. Even if we deny God our entire lives, 2 Corinthians 5:10 says: “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each of us may receive what is due us for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.” When you are standing before God, how can you deny who God is anymore? Hopefully, as believers, we get to know God and worship Him for who He is before we get to that point.

What about the people who never get to read a Bible or meet a believer? How will they be judged? I don’t know the exact criteria for sure, but what I do know is that God does make himself known. How? Not everyone gets to see huge miracles or signs being performed in their lives. However, if you are observant enough, I think it is possible to see God working. Because man is created in God’s image, the qualities of God will always shine through. Man needs purpose; man needs companionship; man needs something to worship. These are common needs observed in any society around the world. Man needs God and if man looks hard enough, he will find God because God has been reaching out the entire time.

In fact, God has been working throughout all of history to get us even to this point. Each civilization laid down the foundation for the next to build upon. Each technological advancement made the next step that much easier to take. If you told someone in the beginning of the 20th century that by the beginning of the 21st century, you could see someone 2500 miles away preaching live to you from their home to yours, that would have been incredulous. Yet, that’s exactly what is happening now.

I imagine this is the magnitude of impossibility that Moses was facing when he was communicating his doubts to God. How would a bunch of powerless slaves overcome the most powerful nation on earth at that point? Why would a powerful ruler just allow free labor to walk away for nothing? But because of God’s patience and reassurance, Moses would slowly accept God’s plan and mission for him. Verses 6-7 read: “Moses and Aaron did just as the Lord commanded them. Moses was eighty years old and Aaron eighty-three when they spoke to Pharaoh.” Moses may have been reluctant, but nevertheless, he did it. Despite his own doubts, his belief in God and God’s promise was stronger.

Through this passage, we can see that God tirelessly but patiently carries out his plans, fulfills all his promises, and reveals who He is to all people. God is working all the time, everywhere and weaving it into a story. I challenge you guys to reflect on your past to remember how God has brought you to where you are. I challenge you to meditate on your current struggles in life to see how God is challenging you to grow. I challenge you to have a vision of God’s plan for your future so you may see how God intends to fulfill his promise to you. Through these exercises, I hope God makes himself more and more known to you; I hope you get to know God better and better. Amen.

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