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A Heart For God: God's Ways Are Not Our Ways (Exodus 5:1-23)

Monday, June 18, 2012

God's Ways Are Not Our Ways (Exodus 5:1-23)

(This is supplement 1 to the #HeartChat Bible study taking place every Friday morning at 9:30 a.m. Eastern, 6:30 Pacific USA. Pastor Mike is teaching his Escape from Egypt series on Twitter. Click here for class schedule and links to the notes. Click here to follow Pastor Mike on Twitter.)

INTRODUCTION

This teaching is based on a 9-part sermon series I preached in August 2004. The "Escape from Egypt" study is relevant to our day as God will be dealing with a new Pharoah (Antichrist) soon. (Revelation 13:1-18)

MEMORY VERSES

"'For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Neither are your ways My ways,' declares the Lord. 'For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways, And My thoughts than your thoughts.'" (Isaiah 55:8-9)

IF WE WERE IN CHARGE

Think back over your life. And if we were in charge we would have had this and that take place. Right?

And we would have had it that the car didn't break down. And that our husband or wife didn't lose his or her job! And things would have been a whole lot easier and worked out a whole lot faster with no headache or heartache. Isn't it true if we were in charge, we'd have done things a little bit differently (a whole lot differently?) than many times God does things?

We'd have had it so we wouldn't have to suffer or be put at risk or jeopardy or face anything that would challenge us or test us. And yet that's how God many times works - just that way!

God's ways are not our ways.

FROM SOMEBODY TO NOBODY AND BACK AGAIN

It's Moses' story. He was found in a river by Pharoah's daughter after his mother hid him there. (Exodus 2:1-9) He was then raised and schooled and received his degree from the educational system of Egypt. (Exodus 2:10) Later as an adult he killed an Egyptian who was abusing one of his own, a Hebrew. (Exodus 2:11-14) Then he ran for his life when Pharoah found out about it. (Exodus 2:15) And finally, after many years in the wilderness as a sheepherder, Moses came across a burning bush where God then commissioned him to rescue Israel. (Exodus 3:1-10)

Moses' story is about a "somebody" becoming a "nobody" and back again. Do you see that?

God turns "nobodies" (the people the world throws away and will have nothing to do with) into "somebodies." (1 Corinthians 1:26-29)

God's ways are not our ways.

CONTEXT OF PASSAGE

People are excited with Moses coming to town and his message. (Exodus 4:27-31)

MOSES AND AARON BEFORE PHAROAH

Moses and Aaron approach Pharoah with a message from the Lord. (Exodus 5:1) And Pharoah's just supposed to jump, right? (Exodus 5:2) That's how we (Americans) would have written the script. But what have I been saying?

God's ways are not our ways.

(And Moses needs a little bit more breaking to make sure he stays a nobody with the miracles yet ahead?)

CLASH BETWEEN HUMILITY AND PRIDE

Pharoah's response to Moses' persistence (Exodus 5:3): "Let the people go? Are you crazy? They're my workforce." (Exodus 5:4-5)

Pharoahs were looked at as "gods." And as Moses has been humbled through his many years in the wilderness (and is humbled even further in this episode! - and just when we think we've been humbled enough God humbles us more!) and has been brought to the point of putting his trust in and reliance upon God, Pharoah is just the opposite.

It's interesting when you know about this particular Pharoah: "Moses' old enemy, Thutmose III, [is] dead. The new Pharoah, Amenhotep II, [is] probably 22 [years old] when confronted by the 80-year-old Moses." (Teacher's Commentary 81) (Exodus 7:7)

But this Pharoah is in charge and ain't no one gonna tell him what to do. "Who does this old guy think he is anyway?"

BRICKS WITH NO STRAW

In response to Moses' request, Pharoah increases the workload of the Israelites. (Exodus 5:6-12) "Mixing straw with mud made bricks stronger and more durable. Pharoah [has] supplied the slaves with straw, but now he [makes] them find their own straw and keep up their production quota as well." (NLT 102)

And it gets real hard for the Israelites now. Before Moses came it was bad, but now it's gotten worse. And as God is in the process of delivering them from Egypt (bringing about their escape). But you wouldn't know it!

And we obey the Lord, and we do what God says, and then what do we get? Hardship results. And as sometimes obeying God results in things getting harder and tougher and more intense and we can face a breaking point.

FOREMAN ARE BEATEN

And as now the foremen are beaten. (Exodus 5:13-14) Things are getting real tough. The limit is pushed. It starts with no straw, but now people are getting hurt. And it's all on account of Moses and his grandiose idea of saying to Pharoah, "Let my people go."

"The mode of beating was by the offender being laid flat on the ground and generally held by the hands and feet while the chastisement was administered." (JF&B Commentary)

And it's these same foremen who have just spoken to Pharoah after having been beaten (Exodus 5:15-19) who wait for Moses and Aaron and then communicate their despair and frustration to them. (Exodus 5:20-21)

MOSES' RESPONSE

You might not think Moses is a real good leader reading what he says after all that's transpired. (Exodus 5:22-23) And you might be tempted to think that you would have done better. But you wouldn't have. Trust me.

And yet there's something good in these verses that you might not notice otherwise. And though Moses is basicallly whining and saying, "Woe is me. I want out of this pastorate. I want to go to another church." And though Moses is speaking like that here, he is doing something good at the same time. And there is something in these verses if you look close enough that you might not notice otherwise.

Listen. Moses goes to God with his problem. It's as simple as that. It's not so much about what Moses says. It's not so much about how Moses feels and that Moses wants to quit his ministry. Instead, it's about him going to God with his problem.

And sometimes things turn sour when God steps in to bring about deliverance (an escape from Egypt).
God's ways are not our ways.

STUDY QUESTIONS

1. We each have our stories - tales of times in our lives where we were pushed to the limit and then God came through. Can you remember a story from your own life?

2. Moses wants to quit his (quote) "pastorate" (church!) after things get worse rather than better. (Exodus 5:22-23) Have you ever wanted to quit something that you knew in your heart God called you to do?

3. God turns "somebodies" into "nobodies" and "nobodies" into "somebodies." What do you think that means?

4. Memorize Isaiah 55:8-9 and be ready to tweet it in bible chat. :)

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