Today, we begin a new message series called “Exodus – God’s Plan” based on the book of Exodus. We’re going to learn about God’s plan for His people, past, present and future. Not only did God have a plan for His people, He has a plan for each of our lives today. Whether you’re 15 or 80, God’s got a plan for the rest of your life. Whether you’ve been following God for years or haven’t been following Him for years, God’s got a plan for your future. We can’t undo the past, but God has a great future for you, both in this life and for eternity.
Jeremiah 29:11 (ESV) For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.
Now the plans that God has for His children do not automatically happen. Quite frankly the devil also has plans for your life, plans for evil, plans to destroy you. Whose plans are you going to follow with your life? Greatness in God’s eyes comes from overcoming adversity with God’s strength. If you’re going through a tough time in life, don’t count yourself out. God has a plan.
Our message this morning is entitled “God Hears” or “How God Answers Prayer.” Hundreds of years before where our story begins in Exodus, God spoke to Abram and told him what would happen to his descendants.
Genesis 15:13-14 (ESV) Then the LORD said to Abram, “Know for certain that your offspring will be sojourners in a land that is not theirs and will be servants there, and they will be afflicted for four hundred years. But I will bring judgment on the nation that they serve, and afterward they shall come out with great possessions.
In Genesis we learn that Joseph was sold into slavery in Egypt, but rose to a high position in government. The family of Joseph moved to Egypt and over the course of 320 years, they multiplied greatly in number and became very strong. God used the protection and safety of Egypt to allow Israel to become a great nation.
We learn at the beginning of Exodus that the Egyptians had begun treating the Israelites harshly as slaves. The Israelites began to call out to God to save them from their distress. God heard their prayers and began to prepare a man to be their deliverer.
In our series, we’re going to learn how God took a man who was almost killed as an infant, a man who had a poor self-image, a man who couldn’t speak well and delivered a nation. Not through the strength of man, but through the power of God. The man whom God chose to bring about the answer to the Israelite’s prayer was named Moses. As we go through the message this morning, remember that just as God had a plan for Moses, so God has a plan for your life. We must …
The Egyptian Pharaoh had just published an edict that all newborn Israelite boys must be thrown into the Nile River. Moses’ parents defied the edict by hiding Moses, choosing to obey God rather than man.
Exodus 2:3 (ESV) When she could hide him no longer, she took for him a basket made of bulrushes and daubed it with bitumen and pitch. She put the child in it and placed it among the reeds by the river bank.
Moses was found in the river by the Pharaoh’s daughter, who had him raised by his mother until he was weaned. Moses was then taken to be raised as Pharaoh’s daughter’s son. Moses than grew up as a member of the royal Egyptian court. Yet, somehow, because of his mother’s early teaching and prayers, he identified as a Hebrew. When Moses was 40, we learn of his first action in life, the rescue of a fellow Hebrew from an Egyptian.
Exodus 2:11-12 (ESV) One day, when Moses had grown up, he went out to his people and looked on their burdens, and he saw an Egyptian beating a Hebrew, one of his people. He looked this way and that, and seeing no one, he struck down the Egyptian and hid him in the sand.
What happened became known in Egypt and Moses had to flee to the desert in Midian, where he stopped at a well.
Exodus 2:16 (ESV) Now the priest of Midian had seven daughters, and they came and drew water and filled the troughs to water their father’s flock.
Moses helped these women defend themselves against some shepherds. He eventually married one of the daughters named Zipporah. Meanwhile, back in Egypt, things were not going well for the Israelites.
Exodus 2:23 (ESV) During those many days the king of Egypt died, and the people of Israel groaned because of their slavery and cried out for help. Their cry for rescue from slavery came up to God.
God heard their cries and was preparing the way for them to be rescued. God chose to use an imperfect human being named Moses to be their deliverer.
Let’s think for a bit on how God was preparing Moses through tough times. Moses was not raised by his parents, but by pagan Egyptians in the royal court. He spent the first 40 years of his life living as an Egyptian, yet somehow kept his belief in the God of the Hebrews. At age 40, Moses defended a Hebrew slave from a slave master and was forced to flee to the desert of Midian. As we’ll see, God was calling Moses to deliver the Israelites, but God’s timing was 40 years in the future. The next 40 years of his life were spent in that Midianite desert, herding the flocks of his father-in-law.
Yet, in those 80 years, God was preparing Moses to be the answer to the Israelites prayers. God was preparing Moses to be the deliverer of Israel from slavery. These events in Moses’ life may appear to be random, but God was behind each and every incident. In the same way, God is preparing you for His plan for the rest of your life. God is preparing you to help rescue people in bondage to sin. God is preparing each one of us to be used to answer the prayers of people. People who are calling out to God for deliverance from the cruel taskmasters of sin. Trust God’s preparation, He makes no mistakes. Next we must …
Moses had been in the royal palace of Egypt, with every luxury available at his wish. Now, he was almost 80 years old. For the past 40 years, he had been working for his father-in-law tending his flocks. He must have thought that his life would amount to nothing.
Exodus 3:2 (ESV) And the angel of the LORD appeared to him in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush. He looked, and behold, the bush was burning, yet it was not consumed.
Suddenly, God broke through after 40 years in the desert in the form of a burning bush. Moses moved closer to see what was going on and God spoke from the bush.
Exodus 3:6 (ESV) And he said, “I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” And Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look at God.
Moses’ father Amram and his mother Jochebed had hidden him in a basket in faith. God had honored their faith and was now appearing before Moses. The time had come for God’s plan to be put into motion. The preparation of Moses had been completed. Even though Moses might have thought that life had passed him by, the best was yet to come. God now began to make clear His calling for Moses.
Exodus 3:9-10 (ESV) And now, behold, the cry of the people of Israel has come to me, and I have also seen the oppression with which the Egyptians oppress them. Come, I will send you to Pharaoh that you may bring my people, the children of Israel, out of Egypt.”
Moses probably had no communication with what was going on with the people of Israel in Egypt for the last 40 years. But God had heard the prayers of the oppressed people. God was calling Moses to go to Pharaoh and bring Israel out of Egypt. Moses needed to trust God’s timing.
In the same way, we also need to trust God’s timing in His plans for our lives. When Moses defended the Israelite back in Egypt, he was 40 years early on God’s timing. Sometimes, God shows His plans to us and we want to make them happen ASAP. Yet, more often than not, God need to prepare us for each step in His plan for our lives. As we trust God’s timing, He will open the right doors at the right time.
God was calling Moses to be the answer to the prayers of his fellow Israelites. God often calls believers today to be the answer to the prayers of others. God’s plans for your life and not just about you and God, they’re about you, God and other people. God was calling Moses to lead an entire nation out of Egypt, the reigning world power. Yet, for the past 40 years, he had been herding flocks for his father-in-law. But Moses had been faithful during those 40 years, he had learned humility, he had learned to hear from God.
As we are faithful in the everyday tasks of life, God is preparing us to make a difference for eternity in other people’s lives. We must learn to not move ahead of God nor lag behind, but trust God’s timing. Finally, we need to …
God then gives Moses the details of His plan for Moses to deliver Israel. I’d encourage you to read Exodus 2-4 this week to get the complete picture. The first step in God’s plan is for Moses to talk to the leaders of Israel. He is to tell them what God has instructed him to say. God promises Moses that they Israelites will listen to what he has to say. Together they will go to Pharaoh and ask to be able to leave. Yet Moses really doesn’t trust God’s plan, he isn’t sure that it is going to work.
Exodus 4:1 (ESV) Then Moses answered, “But behold, they will not believe me or listen to my voice, for they will say, ‘The LORD did not appear to you.’”
In fact, Moses counters God’s promise that the people will listen with the exact opposite, they will not listen. Moses had fled Egypt as a fugitive. He was not exactly ready to return. So, God gave Moses three supernatural signs to demonstrate to the Israelites that God was with him. The three signs were turning his staff into a serpent and back again, turning his hand leprous and back healthy and changing the Nile river water into blood. The first two signs, God had Moses perform to show that they worked. But Moses was not convinced to trust God’s plan.
Exodus 4:10 (ESV) But Moses said to the LORD, “Oh, my Lord, I am not eloquent, either in the past or since you have spoken to your servant, but I am slow of speech and of tongue.”
Moses continues to try to get out of God’s plan. He believes that he is not up to speaking to the Israelites or the Pharaoh. Whether Moses just has a poor self-image or is afraid isn’t clear. What is clear is that Moses doesn’t yet trust God’s plan. God asks Moses who made his mouth? God promises to teach him what to speak.
Exodus 4:13-14a (ESV) But he said, “Oh, my Lord, please send someone else.” Then the anger of the LORD was kindled against Moses and he said, “Is there not Aaron, your brother, the Levite? I know that he can speak well.
Moses still is not ready to trust God’s plan. So after God speaking to him in a burning bush, showing him supernatural miracles, promising to be with him, Moses wants out. God becomes angry, but allows Aaron, Moses’ brother to speak for him. So, finally Moses trusts God’s plan.
Have you ever made some of the same excuses that Moses made when God calls you to do something for Him? First excuse, God, your plan, just isn’t going to work. Second excuse, God, I don’t have what it takes to do what you’re asking of me. I’ve never done this before. Third excuse, God, please send someone else to do this. Bottom line for Moses and us is that God has made us. He has prepared us to do everything He calls us to do, with His supernatural power.
God has everything under control. When you follow His directions, His plans will always work out. We must trust God’s plan.
Oftentimes we think of the characters in the Bible as superheroes, doing things we could never attain to. Yet, we learn from Moses’ life that he was far from perfect. He got confused about God’s timing to be Israel’s deliverer. Then he had all kinds of excuses why he couldn’t do what God was calling him to do. Yet, this reluctant Moses finally chose to believe God. Through God’s power mixed with Moses’ faith, the world was changed forever.
What is God calling you to do with the rest of your life? Moses was 80 years old when God called him. Two-thirds of his life was over, yet in the last third he accomplished great things for God. God has a plan for the rest of your life. Trust God’s preparation and timing. Trust that God has all the details of His plan for you worked out. God has all the power you need to carry out His plan. God’s plan for your life will impact eternity. God’s plan for your life will be the answer to other people’s prayers. Let’s trust God and move forward in faith.