“How free am I? How does God's sovereignty interact with our free will? Do we even have free will or is our life's course determined by God or by other forces beyond our control?
If you're a film-goer, you may be able to think of a number of big-screen characters who've struggled with these questions. First, there was Truman Burbank, played by Jim Carrey. The Truman Show told the story of his dawning realization that his entire life—including his job, house, marriage, neighborhood, friends—was constructed and orchestrated by TV producers who had turned his entire existence into a reality TV show viewed by millions of people around the world. When the penny finally drops, his mind is sent into turmoil and he becomes desperate to try to escape his phony existence.
Then there was Neo, in The Matrix, famously swallowing the red pill and having his eyes opened to the reality that all human experience was just simulated reality. The truth was that human beings were simply an energy source for the machines which held them in slavery. Neo made it his quest to fight for freedom against these machines.
A third film, The Adjustment Bureau saw Congressman David Norris (played by Matt Damon) bristling at the idea that his relationship with the only woman he has ever really loved must be ended because it's not part of the predetermined ‘plan’ for his life. He won't stand for it and promptly decides to fight this destiny using nothing but the brute force of his own love-struck willpower.
These are just a few of the films that explore issues of human freedom and determination. That it is such a common subject only serves to underline how deeply such themes resonate with us. The thought of being mere puppets in someone else's show, or pawns being moved around some great chessboard, is an outrage to us.”
Source: Adapted from Orlando Saer, Big God (Christian Focus, 2014), pp. 34-35.
Knowing God through His attributes
I have learned to know God as Healer, Provider, Guide, Father, Sovereign, Holy, Omnipotent, Omniscient, and Omnipresent, Just, Loving, Immutable (Unchanging), Majestic, Good, Faithful, Merciful, Gracious, and Eternal
I have also learned to know God through many of His other attributes
Through what attributes have you gotten to know God?
In Genesis 5:22-6:12 we learned what God would do for the Israelites. The Lord made seven “I will” statements concerning the Israelites. Through His liberation, adoption, and provision, the Israelites understood that God was Lord. The same would be true for Pharaoh and the Egyptians. As we will see today, the Lord made two “I will” statements concerning Pharaoh and the Egyptians. Through what God was going to do to them, they would learn that God is Lord. What the author wants us to learn today is that . . .
BIG IDEA – We can know God through His attributes.
We see His attributes displayed through his mighty acts
GOD (Exodus 6:28-7:7)
Repetition (vv. 6:28-30)
What we see in verses 28-30 is a repetition of what the author said in verses 10-12
Sharing the same information again is an example of “resumptive repetition” [Alexander, Apollos Old Testament Commentary, Volume 2, Exodus, 139]
The narrative is resuming, so the author repeats some information to refresh the readers memory concerning what was said previously
“This is the seventh time Moses protests. Like Moses, we have a tendency to argue. But, again God didn’t give up on Moses. And He won’t give up on you.” [Courson, Jon Courson’s Application Commentary, Old Testament, Volume 1: Genesis-Job, 249]
PRINCIPLE #1 – God will not give up on us!
Aren’t you glad to hear that this morning
We may argue with the Lord about what He is calling us to do, or we may just flatly refuse to do it
But the Lord knows us better than we know ourselves and He knows what He wants to accomplish through us
He is patient with us, just like He was with Moses
We can know God through His attributes.
How many of us are currently arguing with the Lord or giving Him excuses about why we cannot do what He is calling us to do? (you don’t have to raise your hand today, but I want you to think seriously about it)
#1 – My Next Step Today Is To: Rejoice in the fact that God will not give up on me, but will wait patiently for me to be obedient.
Isaiah 41:10, So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
Hebrews 13:5-6, Keep you lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have; because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” So we say with confidence, “The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?”
Read Psalm 23:1-6
The Lord did not answer Moses’ question directly, instead He encouraged Moses with the fact that He was in control [Merida, Christ-Centered Exposition: Exalting Jesus In Exodus, 47]
Moses would be God’s representative to Pharaoh
Representative (vv. 7:1-2)
God responded to Moses’ objection by telling him that he would be God to Pharaoh
In the original Hebrew, there is no preposition attached to “god” [Hamilton, Exodus: An Exegetical Commentary, the second footnote for 7:1, 111]
The NIV adds the word “like” to “god,” which is not necessary
Moses’ did not actually become divine, but rather he was put in a position of authority and power over Pharaoh [Mackay, Exodus: A Mentor Commentary, 135]
Aaron, the prophet
In Exodus 4:16, we saw that it would be as if Moses was God to Aaron, also
In that same verse, we also see that it would be as if Aaron was Moses’ mouth
That idea is further developed here with Aaron being Moses’ prophet
A prophet in the Old Testament was the mouthpiece of God for the people
They were to do and say everything the Lord instructed them to do and say, no matter how difficult it was going to be
The prophets in the Old Testament had to share hard things with the rulers and people of the day
The Lord’s message through them had to do with punishment for their wickedness, if they did not repent
It was not a feel-good message
Moses was to say everything the Lord commanded him to say
As we will see in the remainder of Exodus, Moses does not always use Aaron as his mouthpiece/prophet – there were times when Moses spoke directly to Pharaoh himself
Aaron would be the one who would tell Pharaoh to let the Israelites go out of Egypt
The Lord told Moses everything that would happen with Pharaoh as they approached him
Ruler (vv. 7:3-5)
PRINCIPLE #2 – God is sovereign!
What we see through God hardening Pharaoh’s heart is that He is sovereignly accomplishing His plan and purpose
We can know God through His attributes.
The book of Exodus is really about Yahweh and not Pharaoh or the Israelites
“When God is said to harden the human heart, it is then argued, he does not override the will of the individual, but permits the individual to harden his own heart. Consequently God allows individuals to resist his will by withdrawing any restraining influence upon them or by introducing the circumstances which he knows will lead to this defiant action on their part. They take the action themselves, and what God has permitted is described as if he had done it directly. . . . It is not that God is going to introduce evil into Pharaoh’s heart – that was not needed; it was already there.” [Mackay, 137]
PRINCIPLE #3 – God will allow us to have our heart’s desire.
Just like God withdrew any restraining influence upon Pharaoh and did not override his will, He will withdraw His restraining influence upon us and not override our will
The Lord will not force us to do anything against our will
Read Romans 1:18-25
The Lord certainly grieves when we choose to harden our hearts toward Him and His perfect plan and purpose for us
In what areas of your life are you currently hardening your heart?
Do you recognize that God has withdrawn any restraining influence upon you and is not overriding your will?
Is the Holy Spirit prompting you about something you are currently doing, because it is wrong?
Is the Holy Spirit prompting you about something the Lord wants you to do, but you are resisting?
Are you listening to the Holy Spirit?
#2 – My Next Step Today Is To: Confess my hard heart about ________________ and follow God’s sovereign plan and purpose for me.
The first “I will” statement involved the hardening of Pharaoh’s heart
Part of the hardening of Pharaoh’s heart will be seen in the fact that, although the Lord would multiply His miraculous signs and wonders in Egypt, Pharaoh would not listen to Moses or Aaron
The Lord told Moses ahead of time that even though Pharaoh is going to experience many signs and wonders through him, Pharaoh would not listen to him
Those signs and wonders would not soften Pharaoh’s hard heart
“It was in one respect not surprising that Pharaoh would not acknowledge what was so clearly spelled out in the ensuing signs and wonders. To have done so involved abandoning all his claims to supremacy. He fought to the last to avoid giving up the ideology that underpinned his power.” [Mackay, 138-39]
When Pharaoh would refuse to listen to Moses and Aaron, then God would move to phase two, which is where we find the second “I will” statement
The second “I will” statement involved God’s mighty power
PRINCIPLE #4 – God is all-powerful!
His power is going to be displayed through laying His hand on Egypt and with mighty acts of judgment
All of this was a forewarning of the ten plagues that the Lord is about to unleash on Pharaoh and the Egyptians
While Pharaoh’s magicians were able to duplicate the initial sign (staff into snake) and the first two plagues (water to blood and frogs), they would recognize the finger of God with the remaining eight plagues
Through the mighty acts of judgment, the Lord would bring out His divisions, His people the Israelites
The author uses the same word as he did in Exod. 6:26, “divisions,” to describe the Israelites
“[Armies] is used of Israel, with reference to its leaving Egypt equipped (ch. 13:18) and organized as an army according to the tribes (cf. 6:26 and 12:51 with Num. 1 and 2) to contend for the cause of the Lord, and fight the battles of Jehovah.” [Keil & Delitzsch, Commentary on the Old Testament, Volume 1, The Pentateuch, 306]
The Lord hardened Pharaoh’s heart and laid His hand on Egypt through mighty acts of judgment so they would know that He was the Lord
We can know God through His attributes.
Egyptians will know that God is the Lord
“Notice there are two ways to ‘know Yahweh.’ First, you may know Him by experiencing His mercy of salvation (6:6-8). Second, you may know Him by experiencing His wrath in judgment (7:4-5). Everyone will eventually acknowledge that He is God (Phil 2:10-11).” [Merida, 47]
Philippians 2:10-11, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
“The awesome nature of what will happen to them and around them will be such that the Egyptians will no longer be able to entertain any doubts about the reality and supremacy of the Lord.” [Mackay, 139]
God would make Himself known through His power
God’s sovereignty was evident through the hardening of Pharaoh’s heart, which caused God to act in a mighty way, so that the Pharaoh and the Egyptians would know that He is the Lord
With Moses’ objections satisfied, we see what He and Aaron do
Respectful (v. 7:6)
They did just as the Lord commanded them
Moses wrote this narrative after they had been set free from Egypt, so he is able to say that he and Aaron did just as the Lord had commanded them
They went to Pharaoh, performed the miraculous signs and wonders, and told him to let the Israelites go out of his country
PRINCIPLE #5 – God is pleased when we obey Him.
It took a little bit, but Moses was obedient to the Lord
Moses was able to look back on his obedience and realize that the Lord was pleased with him and Aaron and that the Lord was glorified through their obedience (the Egyptians knew who God was)
I know the same is true for me
When I have been obedient to the Lord, I can look back and recognize that God was pleased with me, and more importantly, He was glorified through my obedience (people know who God is)
Have you experienced the same thing?
#3 – My Next Step Today Is To: Obediently do ______________, so that God will be pleased and glorified.
When we are obedient to the Lord, others will be able to know who He is
We can know God through His attributes.
Moses and Aaron’s obedience came at a ripe old age
Ripe (v. 7:7)
Moses was 80 years old and Aaron was 83 years old when they spoke to Pharaoh
PRINCIPLE #6 – We are never too old to serve the Lord.
The flip side of this is also true – we are never too young to serve the Lord
Whenever He calls us, at whatever age we are, we need to be obedient
Is the Lord calling you today? (Will you answer His call?)
“D. L. Moody once said that Moses spent forty years in Pharaoh’s court thinking he was somebody; forty years in the desert learning that he was nobody; and forty years showing what God can do with a somebody who found out he was a nobody. Moses is now on the threshold of this final period when he learns what God can do through him because he is totally dependent on him.” [Mackay, 140]
Rejoice in the fact that God will not give up on you, but will wait patiently for you to be obedient.
Confess your hard heart about ________________ and follow God’s sovereign plan and purpose for you.
Obediently do ______________, so that God will be pleased and glorified.
We can rejoice in the fact that God will not give up on us, but will wait patiently for us to be obedient.
We need to confess our hard heart and follow God’s sovereign plan and purpose for us.
We can obediently do what God is calling us to do, so that He will be pleased and glorified.
“As a 15-year-old girl in 1927, Lois Secrist promised God she'd go overseas as a missionary, perhaps to Africa or India, helping the needy. But Lois never made that trip of mercy.
At 23 she married Galon Prater, a handsome farmhand who became a heavy drinker.
Many years later, Galon did become a Christian and testify about the peace of Jesus to his drinking buddies. But by then he was almost 80 and nearing death. When he died January 9, 1988, Lois's childhood desire of becoming a missionary returned.
At first she resisted. At age 76, she felt her opportunity to serve overseas as a missionary had slipped away.
‘I said, ‘Lord, I'm too old to go now. I can't do this,’’ Lois admits.
But this great grandmother was determined to fulfill her unforgotten promise. Lois, pricked by the memory of ignoring God's calling as a teenager, would not refuse a second chance at becoming a missionary.
So at 87, Lois Prater has become the unlikely builder of an orphanage in the Philippines, a lifeline to 35 children whose lives have been rescued from neglect, begging in the streets, and parental abuse.
Today the 35 orphans living in the two-story, 2,000 square foot white stucco home call Lois ‘Lola,’ which means ‘grandmother’ in their native Tagalog language.
Lois's ‘children,’ as she calls them, range in age from eight months to 10 years. Each of their stories is heartbreaking.
Lois has built the orphanage without taking out a loan, relying instead on individual financial support from across the United States. Because of her age, she is not supported by any church denomination and depends solely on private donations.
When asked if that makes her nervous, she says confidently, ‘I serve a mighty God. He's in control. I feel I'm not talented enough to do any of this. But God enables me. My responsibility is to do what I can.’”
Source: Gail Wood, "Mission Delayed," Virtue (June/July 1999).