Currently we’re in a message series called “Exodus – God’s Plan” based on the book of Exodus. We’re studying how God worked through a man named Moses to save a nation and impact our world today. As we study stories from the Old Testament, we need to remember that first of all, they are true stories. And secondly that these stories can teach us important principles that affect our lives today.
1 Corinthians 10:11 (ESV) Now these things happened to them as an example, but they were written down for our instruction, on whom the end of the ages has come.
So from the stories of the Exodus, we can learn how trust God in the difficult situations we face in our lives today. Let’s just take a few minutes to review the story of Moses so far. If you missed last Sunday’s message, How God Answers Prayer, you can watch it on our website or Facebook page. The nation of Israel was living in Egypt and was growing large in numbers. The Pharaoh wanted to reduce their numbers, so he commanded that all new born baby boys be killed. In that time period, Moses was born. As we’ll see today, behind the governmental power of Pharaoh lay the evil power of Satan himself. Satan’s plan was to kill all the babies to eliminate Moses, the future leader of Israel. Down through Israel’s history, Satan enticed people to offer their babies as sacrifices to idols by burning them in a fire.
Leviticus 18:21 (ESV) You shall not give any of your children to offer them to Molech, and so profane the name of your God: I am the LORD.
Today, we see it in the scourge of abortion, where in unborn babies are sacrificed to the idols of pleasure and convenience. Moses’ parents were people of faith and choose to obey God by keeping Moses alive. Moses lived in the Pharaoh’s court for 40 years and then fled to the desert for another 40 years. At 80 years of age, God called Moses to return to Egypt to set His people free. Today’s message picks up the story at that point and is entitled “Confront Evil.” God calls believers to not turn a blind eye to evil, but to confront it.
Ephesians 5:11 (ESV) Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them.
Today, we’re going to learn how God enables us to accomplish difficult tasks, such as confronting evil. When we confront evil, we are not merely interacting with people, but with the Satanic demonic powers behind them. As Moses confronted an evil Pharaoh, he was also confronting the demonic spirits behind the gods the Egyptians worshipped. When God calls us to a difficult task, we must …
Exodus 5:1-2 (ESV) Afterward Moses and Aaron went and said to Pharaoh, “Thus says the LORD, the God of Israel, ‘Let my people go, that they may hold a feast to me in the wilderness.’” But Pharaoh said, “Who is the LORD, that I should obey his voice and let Israel go? I do not know the LORD, and moreover, I will not let Israel go.”
Moses and Aaron got their courage up and somehow got a meeting with the Pharaoh of all Egypt. The told him just what God had told them to say. God had warned Moses that Pharaoh would not let the people go, but surely Moses was hoping that he would Yet, Pharaoh would not even discuss the issue. He didn’t know who the Lord was and he wanted to keep the Israelites as his slave labor force. Not only did Pharaoh refuse to let the people go, now things went from bad to worse.
Exodus 5:6-8a (ESV) The same day Pharaoh commanded the taskmasters of the people and their foremen, “You shall no longer give the people straw to make bricks, as in the past; let them go and gather straw for themselves. But the number of bricks that they made in the past you shall impose on them, you shall by no means reduce it, for they are idle.’
Moses’ request angered the Pharaoh, so he now gave the order that the Egyptians should not give straw to the Hebrew slaves to make bricks. They would have to glean their own straw from the stubble in the fields, yet would have to produce the same number of bricks. Pharaoh accused the Israelites of being idle or lazy. So Moses’ attempt in freeing the Hebrews was appearing to backfire. Not only was his request ignored, the work of the slaves was not made even more difficult. The Hebrew foremen of the Israelites slaves next came to Moses …
Exodus 5:21 (ESV) and they said to them, “The LORD look on you and judge, because you have made us stink in the sight of Pharaoh and his servants, and have put a sword in their hand to kill us.”
Not only had Moses been rejected by the Pharaoh, now even the Israelites leaders were accusing Moses of causing great problems. Things were not going as Moses had thought. The plan didn’t seem to be working. Moses had obeyed God, but the expected promise had not materialized.
Let’s talk about what happened to Moses in light of God’s plans in general. God’s plans for His people are never easy. God gives us a vision and a plan to achieve that vision. We begin to carry out God’s plan, but usually, there is some major difficulty. The reason for the difficulty is that the power of evil is very real. Evil and the powers of Satan will fight against God’s vision for your life with everything they have. In fact, the push back is often so strong, that we may feel like giving up.
It usually feels like the death of the vision. Things appear to be hopeless. And of course, that is Satan’s strategy. To get God’s people to give up on God’s vision for their lives when the going gets tough. We must realize, as we’ll see in this story, that the resistance is not primarily with other people, but with evil spiritual forces that are seeking to derail God’s plan. When we’re prepared for resistance, for rejection, for difficulty, we can continue to believe God and keep on following the plan. If you give up when the going gets tough, when it seems like the vision has died, the vision, God’s plan will never be accomplished. Sadly, that happens in many people’s lives. Rather than giving up, we must learn to …
Exodus 5:22-23 (ESV) Then Moses turned to the LORD and said, “O Lord, why have you done evil to this people? Why did you ever send me? For since I came to Pharaoh to speak in your name, he has done evil to this people, and you have not delivered your people at all.”
As Moses was very reluctant to follow God’s plan to begin with, it should not surprise us that he seems ready to give up, now that the going is tough. First Moses blames God for doing evil to the Israelites. Then he blames God for sending him. Finally, he blames God for not delivering the people. Moses is not a happy camper here. Obviously, he was looking for instant results, for the immediate delivery of the people, which didn’t happen. Again, we have a timing issue. God is going to deliver His people, but it won’t be easy and it is going to take a lot more time. What happened next?
Exodus 6:1 (ESV) But the LORD said to Moses, “Now you shall see what I will do to Pharaoh; for with a strong hand he will send them out, and with a strong hand he will drive them out of his land.”
The Lord now begins to encourage Moses by giving him His promises regarding the plan. The Lord assures Moses that God will work on Pharaoh so that Pharaoh will send the people of Israel out of the land. They will be delivered in the future, even though it does not look hopeful right now. Moses needs to learn patience. God then gives Moses further instructions.
Exodus 6:6 (ESV) Say therefore to the people of Israel, ‘I am the LORD, and I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians, and I will deliver you from slavery to them, and I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with great acts of judgment.
God next instructed Moses to speak again to the people of Israel. To tell them that the Lord would deliver them. And that He would deliver them with great acts of judgment, judgement on the gods of Egypt. Pharaoh hadn’t listened to Moses, nor heeded his words, how would the people of Israel respond to Moses speaking for the Lord?
Exodus 6:9 (ESV) Moses spoke thus to the people of Israel, but they did not listen to Moses, because of their broken spirit and harsh slavery.
The people were so weighed down with their slavery, having to make bricks and gather their own straw, that Moses’ words seemed like a fantasy. Moses had made their life more miserable, not less, so they also did not listen to or believe Moses’ words. Yet, we see that Moses was still obeying God, speaking what God told him to speak. First to the Pharaoh and now to the people of Israel. Moses was discouraged, but he was not giving up. He was beginning to rely on God’s promises, even though their fulfillment was in the future.
We learn in Hebrews 11 that Moses was a man of faith. Even though the vision of delivering God’s people seemed faint, Moses kept on obeying God’s commands. That’s the key element in how faith is expressed. Hearing from God and then obeying God. God’s plans for each person’s life are different. What are God’s plans for your future? If you aren’t sure, ask Him. God doesn’t give all the details of His plans all at once.
Oftentimes, we have to obey God and rely on His promises, even though we don’t know everything that is going to happen. It’s not enough just to know what God’s plan is for your life, you need to know what He wants you to do. When you hear from Him, just keep on following His instructions. When you do that, you will face opposition. But keep on persevering, keep on believing God even though you may be discouraged. Obey God, even though you don’t know all the details. God will always tell you enough to show you the next step you must take.
Exodus 7:1-2 (ESV) And the LORD said to Moses, “See, I have made you like God to Pharaoh, and your brother Aaron shall be your prophet. You shall speak all that I command you, and your brother Aaron shall tell Pharaoh to let the people of Israel go out of his land.
In the Egyptian culture, the Pharaoh was considered to be divine, a god. He and the Egyptians worshipped other gods, but he was considered to be a god himself. According to the Bible, there is only one true God, the Lord. All other supposed gods are simply demonic spirits. In these verses, God tells Moses that He is making Moses like God to Pharaoh and Aaron as his prophet. Moses would speak all the words that God commanded him to speak then Aaron would speak the same words to Pharaoh. The message would be the same as before, that Pharaoh would let the people go from the land of Egypt.
Exodus 7:3-4 (ESV) But I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and though I multiply my signs and wonders in the land of Egypt, Pharaoh will not listen to you. Then I will lay my hand on Egypt and bring my hosts, my people the children of Israel, out of the land of Egypt by great acts of judgment.
The Lord then tells Moses what is going to happen. He says that he will harden Pharaoh’s heart, that Pharaoh’s heart would be stubborn and rebellious to obey God. As we look through Exodus, we see verses that say God would harden Pharaoh’s heart and verses that say that Pharaoh would harden his heart. Which is it? The Bible tells us that both are true, Pharaoh hardens his own heart and God hardens Pharaoh’s heart. The age-old tension between human responsibility and God’s sovereignty. God was making clear to Moses that even signs and wonders would not get Pharaoh’s attention. It would take God doing great acts of judgement for Pharaoh to release Israel. Moses had to learn to trust God to carry out His plan.
While Moses needed to obey God and speak to Pharaoh, what would the ultimate results depend on? It would not depend on Moses’ words, but on God’s power in great acts of judgement. So, it is always God that gives the power to carry out His plan. If the plan that you’re following for your life is something you can carry out, it’s not God’s plan. God’s plans for your life always require His power to be completed. God’s vision for your life always requires His power to be fulfilled.
And standing in the way of God’s plan for your life will often be people with hardened hearts, just like Pharaoh’s. Hardened hearts are opportunities for God to receive glory. People’s hardened hearts can never stop God’s plan if we keep on believing and obeying God. Behind a hardened heart that opposes God’s plan for your life lies the evil one Satan. As you continue to follow God’s plan, people with a hardened heart who oppose that plan, have two basic options. The first option is to let God soften their hearts, so that they can repent and turn to God. Or, the second option is that they continue to harden their hearts against God, which will ultimately result in eternal destruction. Despite opposition, we must trust God to carry out His plan.
God’s plan for your life will involve accomplishing difficult tasks. Tasks may be difficult because you’ve never done something like that before. Or tasks may be difficult because there is opposition from the enemy, often through people. When you confront evil in God’s plan, be prepared for rejection and difficulty. Be ready for some persecution from those who aren’t following God. But don’t give up, keep on following God’s plan. Learn to rely on God’s promises. God’s promises can give you hope and encouragement throughout life. God has many promises in His Word and He can directly speak promises into your life, specifically for His plan for you. Don’t despair that you don’t yet know every detail of God’s plan for you. Trust God to reveal His plan for your life, one step at a time. Finally, know that God’s power is available and essential for you to confront evil and accomplish His plan.