As the last sermon in our series, we will take a look at how the book of Exodus closes: with detailed instructions about building and using the Tabernacle. While it may seem odd to end an epic story like the Exodus with an instruction manual, it is actually an appropriate ending that highlights the point of the Exodus. God has set His people free to worship Him. As we take a closer look at the Tabernacle, we find several reminders about our lives and a wake up call to fully engage in worship toward the Lord.
From April to July, we are going to follow the Exodus storyline, discovering God’s rescue plan for the people of Israel from their slavery in the land of Egypt. We have titled this series, “Exodus: God is Here.” And the reason why has everything to do with the WAY that God rescues His people. What sets this Exodus story apart is the fact that God rescues His people by His presence. He draws near. He enters in. And He personally engages the details of the story so as to lead the people of Israel to a better place. All throughout the Exodus story, God delivers His people for His presence, by His presence. In the Exodus story, God is here. And the way God rescues is a very beautiful thing.
Immediately after their Golden Calf rebellion, the Lord presents Israel with an interesting proposition. He invites Moses to go ahead and lead Israel into the Promised Land with the fulfillment of their dreams: direction, protection, and a land filled with milk and honey. However, it would happen without the presence of God. He informs them that He cannot come with them due to their sin and stiff-necked rebellion. Through this story, we will discuss the true nature of rest, the counterfeit forms we settle for, and the deepest longings of our hearts. What is true rest and where does it come from? For the people of God, the presence of God is everything.
After a few months of wilderness provision and deliverance, God invites His people Israel to meet up on Mt. Sinai to hear His voice and establish covenant. Many people call this event "Israel's Wedding Day." However, instead of intimacy and relationship, Israel ends up backing away in fear and sin. And what was intended to be a glorious experience for God's people, ends with Moses up on the mountain receiving the Law and the people down below making a Golden Calf to worship. This is a story of covenant broken by idolatry that calls for mediation and rescue. And yet again, God steps in to deliver His people- this time from idols that seek to enslave us.
In Exodus 16, the children of Israel leave the rejoicing and rest of the oasis found in chapter 15 for the Desert of Sin. In spite of all that’s been provided in miraculous fashion up to this point the fearful faithlessness of the people rises up at the first opportunity. Thankfully however, His provision is not based on Israel’s worth and the Lord feeds and cares for them without fail for 40 years in the wilderness. As beautiful as God’s provision in the wilderness is, it pales in comparison to the Bread of Life provided in Jesus.
As the people of Israel continue their Exodus journey out of Egypt on the long detour, God eventually leads them to a decisive confrontation on the shore of the Red Sea. Not too long after their release, Pharaoh once again changes his mind and unleashes his army of chariots to capture his slaves and bring them back to Egypt. With the Sea before them and Pharaoh's army behind them, God fights for His people and leads them through the waters before destroying their foes. This week we will look at the way God delivers His people from the shame of the past when it comes crashing into the present. It's a beautiful picture of repentance and deliverance.
Last week’s story was fun to watch as God definitively intervened on behalf of the Jews through the plagues and Passover. By His mighty hand and outstretched arm, God stepped into the suffering of His people and He set them free. Finally, after years of waiting, the Jewish people headed out of Egypt with hope and plenty of plunder under their arms. However, God's ultimate goal for the Jews was not just break their bondage, but to lead them to a new life of freedom in the Promised Land. And on their way out of the land, God does not take them on the shortest route home. Instead, He orchestrates a detour to accomplish His divine agenda. This week will focus on the divine detours of God and His purposes on the longer road.
In Exodus 6:1, God promises Moses, "Now you will see what I will do to Pharaoh" - No more waiting, no more guessing, and no more mystery. And that is exactly what He does. After a season of talking about deliverance, God executes judgment on Egypt and the hard heart of Pharaoh through the 10 plagues. The first nine produce short-term effects, but eventually, through the death of the firstborn sons of all the land, the people of Israel are ordered to leave. The Jews are given explicit instructions regarding the blood of a lamb and they are forced to choose whether they will take God at His word. We will focus on God's judgment in His rescue plan that demands a faith response to Him through the blood of the Lamb.
At the end of Exodus 2, we discover the joy-filled announcement that God will rescue His people from their oppression and slavery in Egypt. He heard their groaning. He remembered His covenant. He saw His people and He knew. However, instead of instant and immediate relief, things actually get worse for Israel before they get better. As Moses comes before Pharaoh and demands that he let God's people go, it results in harder work and greater suffering in the lives of the God's people. And the result is disillusionment and frustration with the deliverance of God. This story provides us with a framework for dealing with the setbacks we encounter in God's story of rescue.
This week we will be talking about suffering as we watch the Hebrew people go from being a free and privileged people to being oppressed and enslaved in the land of Egypt. In Exodus 1 and 2, the Pharaohs become increasingly threatened by the multiplying Jews and eventually enslaved them to ruthlessly build their cities in hard labor. Over time, things go from bad to worse as they move from loss, to oppression, to injustice. In the moments of our suffering, we have choices to make about our response. Through the opening chapters of the Exodus story, we are challenged to trust in God's unconventional ways and to take our pain honestly to the Lord.
In order to launch the Exodus story, we are going to start with the story behind the story. The people of Israel did not start in Egypt and were not always slaves needing deliverance. We are going to look at the end of Genesis to see how the family of Jacob ended up in Egypt and what God was doing in the dysfunctional family of Joseph. After the passing of Jacob (Israel), Joseph's brothers fear a response of retaliation and retribution from their brother that they wronged so many years before. However, Joseph extends forgiveness and grace because he understands his place in the story. He (1) avoids God's seat, (2) accepts God's storyline, and (3) acts out God's love. This is key for anyone wanting to move closer into God's rescue and redemption.