March 23, 2020
Exodus 6:1-8 (NIV)
Then the Lord said to Moses, “Now you will see what I will do to Pharaoh: Because of my mighty hand he will let them go; because of my mighty hand he will drive them out of his country.”
2 God also said to Moses, “I am the Lord. 3 I appeared to Abraham, to Isaac and to Jacob as God Almighty, but by my name the Lord I did not make myself fully known to them. 4 I also established my covenant with them to give them the land of Canaan, where they resided as foreigners. 5 Moreover, I have heard the groaning of the Israelites, whom the Egyptians are enslaving, and I have remembered my covenant.
6 “Therefore, say to the Israelites: ‘I am the Lord, and I will bring you out from under the yoke of the Egyptians. I will free you from being slaves to them, and I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with mighty acts of judgment. 7 I will take you as my own people, and I will be your God. Then you will know that I am the Lord your God, who brought you out from under the yoke of the Egyptians. 8 And I will bring you to the land I swore with uplifted hand to give to Abraham, to Isaac and to Jacob. I will give it to you as a possession. I am the Lord.’”
Will we trust the Word of God or defer to the experience of people? This is the question.
The Word of God is powerful. We believe it. These eight verses from Exodus today are packed with powerful declarations from the mouth of God. Seventeen times he says some form of I am or I will in these eight verses. Here’s the highlight reel. I am the Lord. I appeared. I established. I have heard. I have remembered. I will bring you out. I will free you. I will redeem you. I will take you as my own people. I will be your God. I will bring you to the land. I will give it to you as a possession. I am the Lord.
This is nothing short of incredible. It would be more difficult to be more reassured by the Word of God than one would be in this instance.
The truth is we never hear the Word of God in a vacuum. We almost always hear it in the light of our own experience; our experience of life, the world, sin, death, brokenness, betrayal, failure, success, trauma, pain, deception, disappointment, our strengths, our weaknesses, our Meyers-Briggs personality type, our enneagram number, our horoscope and a thousand other things.
In light of their slavery and most recent episode of making “bricks without straw”, the Israelites, including Moses, allowed their experience to override their faith in the Word of God.
9 Moses reported this to the Israelites, but they did not listen to him because of their discouragement and harsh labor.
Though the power of the Word of God is to the power of our experience as the power of the Sun is to that of the Moon, somehow our experience manages to tip the scale all too often. The Israelites’ powerful experience of “discouragement” and “harsh labor”, though clearly inferior to the power of God’s Word, overcame their confidence in the Word of God.
10 Then the Lord said to Moses, 11 “Go, tell Pharaoh king of Egypt to let the Israelites go out of his country.”
The experience of early failure in the mission also tipped the scale on Moses’ confidence in God’s Word. He regresses all the way back to his faltering speech excuse.
12 But Moses said to the Lord, “If the Israelites will not listen to me, why would Pharaoh listen to me, since I speak with faltering lips?”
The Word of God is just that, the Word of God. Our experience as human beings is just that, our experience. The thing that tells the difference is the quality of our faith. Will we offer faith in the face of our faltering experience? Will we trust God’s Word anyway? The tumor is malignant and the cancer has spread. The marriage is irreconcilable. Your son or daughter has forayed into a socially affirmed yet biblically forbidden lifestyle. Will we place our faith in the Word of God or defer to our experience and that of others?
And the next thing you know, we are taking a commercial break for something completely different, a fourteen verse genealogical diversion (see Exodus 6:13-27).
Faith in the Word of God leads to another kind of experience. Given time and patient trust, faith in the Word of God leads to the indelible, life changing experience of the faithfulness of God to the promise of his Word. All of this will form the curriculum for the people of God for the next forty years.
Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. 2 This is what the ancients were commended for. (Hebrews 11:1-2)
People who say such things . . .
Father, I want to be a person who says such things. The old hymn comes to mind, “Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus, just to take him at his word, just to rest upon his promise, just to know thus saith the Lord. Jesus, Jesus, how I trust you, how I’ve proved you over and over. Jesus, Jesus, precious Jesus, O for grace to trust you more.” That about says it all for me today, Lord. Come Holy Spirit, and train me be such a person of faith. I pray in Jesus name, Amen.
What is it that most convinces you that your experience or that of another should be trusted over and above the Word of God? How do you see this struggle in your own life? How are you doing with it?
Don’t forget our OPEN SEEDHOUSE this week. Everything we have in digital format is offered to you at no charge. Here’s a recommendation for future sowing and disciple making. Grab a digital copy of Long Story Short: the Bible in Six Simple Movements. Check out the digital streaming video too.
For the Awakening,