Unfortunately Sometimes the technology that we have is not as reliable as we would hope. Due to a minor technical bug the sermon recording for this week is unavailable. Being the first week of Home groups I wanted to make sure you at least had my notes for the first part of this Rescue series.
Sorry for the inconvenience.
We are starting a brand new series this week called "Rescue: How far will God go?" We are journey through the first 15 chapters of the book of Exodus.
· Why are we doing this series? We ultimately want every series to advance our vision and our mission. Our vision is to be, "A church that unites with God in making all things new." For that vision to be fulfilled, we need the Spirit of God to lead the People of God in the Mission of God. We believe this series will advance our mission. Our mission is "equipping people to live like Jesus." When we ask how Jesus lived, we see that He knew God, reflected God, and revealed God. While there is overlap in each of those aspects, this series is aimed most heavily at "knowing" this God who will do anything to save His children. Our hope is that people will know Him more fully. "Knowing" God in this way is the foundational for us to both reflect Him and reveal Him to the rest of the world.
Part 1 - 9/7/14
Dominant Thought: God will do anything to save His children.
Goal: I want to introduce series. This includes introducing the situation the Israelites faced and the question of the series, “How far will God go to save His children?” My goal is for people to realize that the way in which we answer this question is directly related to how faithful we are.
Text: Exodus 1
• Everyone faces moments in life where they need help: Sometimes it as small as needing directions or a baby crying because it needs its diaper changed or our car won’t start or because a child has climbed something and can’t get down. Sometimes it is more serious: continual tutoring is needed, a job is lost, finances are running on empty, a sickness impacts an entire family, a relationship ends unexpectedly and the break up leads to a breakdown, addictions cannot be broken.
• Needing help is absolutely no fun. It raises questions of fear and doubt, “What if this doesn’t turn around in a hurry? What if I am all alone? What if nobody can help?” Needing help is uncomfortable. We are vulnerable. We are not in control. We are admitting that something is beyond our ability to handle. Something is too difficult to deal with. We are confessing that we are not enough. We cannot be totally independent.
• Needing help causes some to stall their engines and give up. Give up hope. Give up trying. It causes others to dig their heals in and grit their teeth and try harder. It causes some to bury their head in the sand and pretend that the situation is not real. It causes some to run and hide from the situation, to withdraw. it causes some give in to despair. It causes some to stubbornly and pridefully refuse to call out for help or refuse to grab when they are down. It causes others to be as grateful for help as a thirsty desert wanderer is for a glass of cold water.
• Needing help is so uncomfortable that we take steps to avoid situations where we might need help. We avoid risks and doing anything new that might put us in a position where we need help. We buy insurance or concoct a back-up plan to avoid needing help. Yet, inevitably, all of us eventually find ourselves in need of help. In need of a rescue.
• While we don’t enjoy being the ones in need, we can surely relate to people in such need. We can identify with them. When others are in need of help and that help comes, inspiration washes over our whole selves. We are grateful and proud and moved to emotion. This week I was reading a book written by a man who responded immediately to 9/11. He told his wife that he was born for this. But even he was inspired by others, who refused sleep for days and risked their own safety to go dig their brothers and sisters out of the rubble.
• This rescue was great. In fact, I believe, there are two factors that simultaneously combine to make a rescue great. First, how dire is the situation of those in need? How desperate? How drastic? The greater the situation, the greater the rescue. Second, how deep is the love of the rescuer for the one or ones she or he will rescue? How wide is it? How full is it? The greater the love, the greater the rescue? In stories of great rescues, there is one in great distress. In fact, the better that the author or director of such stories portrays this conflict, the greater the story. The greater the eventual rescue. And the clearer the picture of the love of the rescuer for the rescued, the greater the eventual rescue. When we read or watch these stories, we ask questions like, “How far will the rescuer go?” The deeper the love, the more dire the situation, the greater the rescue.
• This is the premise for this series. The story in which we will be reading is a story of one of the great rescues of all time, the Exodus from slavery in Egypt. If you think about it like a movie or a book, the message this week will be setting the stage for what happens later. We are introduced to some key characters in this story and to the situation in which they find themselves.
• I want you to pay extra close attention, because the manner in which God rescues His people in Exodus points ahead to the greatest rescue story of all time. One in which He sends His Son Jesus. We can witness several connections: the need for us to be rescued or the slavery in which we find ourselves, the lengths He is willing to go, what He expects after the rescue, and why He even rescues us anyway.
• So, today, we are covering Exodus 1. We will talk about three items to set the stage. First, HOW God’s people arrived in Egypt. Second, WHY they found themselves in slavery. Third, WHAT their bondage looked like or how dire their situation was.
I. The HOW: How they got here (v.1-7)
A. Be fruitful and multiply. To understand how they found themselves in this situation in Egypt, we need to go all the way back to the very start of Scripture. When God created people, He gave them the first command, “to be fruitful and multiply.” God gave them freedom to eat from any tree in His creation, but commanded them not to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. They thought God was holding out on them, so they disobeyed. This is when evil and brokenness and pain entered this world. This evil escalated over the next few generations. And, just a few chapters into the story, God found that this world was full of evil. That He needed to save this world from itself, so He destroyed the whole world and everyone in it (with the exception of one extended family). After this, he commanded these people to be fruitful and multiply.
B. Covenant: Several generations later, God approached a 75-year-old, childless man named Abram. This man and His wife, up to this point in their lives, had known the pain of being unable to be fruitful and multiply. But God initiated a covenant or promise relationship with Abraham. God promised Abram descendants more numerous than the stars in the sky, and that these ancestors would be a nation. They would have a land to call their own. He would be bless them so they could bless others. They would be His representatives to the rest of the world. His relationship with them would be special so they could make Him known to the rest of the world.
C. History: Twenty-five years later, at the age of a 100, Abraham and his 90-year-old wife had a son named Isaac. Isaac married Rebekah. They had a son named Jacob. This Jacob would eventually be renamed Israel and had 12 sons. Jacob showed favoritism to one of his sons, Joseph, which caused his brothers to sell him into slavery. They thought they had seen the last of him, but through the providence of God, Joseph found Himself in Egypt. And eventually, he rose to prominence and influence and became Pharaoh’s right-hand man. Through a famine, and seeking food in Egypt, Joseph’s brothers became united with him. They moved their entire family to Egypt. However, even though that generation passed away, God was keeping His original promise to Abraham. These descendants were being fruitful and multiplying. Though this was the providence of God, it was also part of the reason that the Egyptians opposed them. This is where find ourselves in Exodus 1. That is HOW they got there, which the first seven verses briefly covers. Exodus 1:8-10 speak to WHY they arrived in slavery and oppression.
II. The WHY: Paranoia of a king (v.8-10)
A. Then a new king, to whom Joseph meant nothing, came to power in Egypt. “Look,” he said to his people, “the Israelites have become far too numerous for us. Come, we must deal shrewdly with them or they will become even more numerous and, if war breaks out, will join our enemies, fight against us and leave the country.” (Exodus 1:8-10)
B. Summary: This new king meant a new dynasty. This meant that there would be some real and consequential changes. Like a newcomer to any office, he looked at his situation and saw some of his inherited challenges. One of them was this large colony of foreigners. These verses not only show how he responded, but I also think they provide insight into this man, who, as we will see, is a main character in this story.
C. WHY: This characterization reveals the WHY this slavery happen: this Pharaoh looked at this world merely through the lens of himself. He was self-centered, which resulted in deep paranoia. Notice the language. First, “meant nothing.” He didn’t view the Israelites people, just potential problems. He just thought of what they could bring to the table. He wants them for their service, but he also sees what else they could contribute: conflict and opposition. Second, notice the “us” language. The Israelites could become too numerous for “us” and may fight against “us.” He interprets life through how something will affect himself or his people. Though he wears the facade of self-sufficiency and projects this notion of independence, we see result of his view of life: pure paranoia, a suspicion, an unwarranted mistrust, a hyper sensitivity.
D. Us: Quite frankly, we see here how his issues affects a whole nation of people. We understand this, as we know, that people can be the cause of pain in our lives. They can open wounds and create scars. They can almost single-handedly put us in a position, where we need help and need rescued. That is exactly what he did. These next verses reveal their oppression.
III. The WHAT: Oppression (v.11-14)
A. So they put slave masters over them to oppress them with forced labor, and they built Pithom and Rameses as store cities for Pharaoh. But the more they were oppressed, the more they multiplied and spread; so the Egyptians came to dread the Israelites and worked them ruthlessly. They made their lives bitter with harsh labor in brick and mortar and with all kinds of work in the fields; in all their harsh labor the Egyptians worked them ruthlessly. The king of Egypt said to the Hebrew midwives, whose names were Shiphrah and Puah, “When you are helping the Hebrew women during childbirth on the delivery stool, if you see that the baby is a boy, kill him; but if it is a girl, let her live.” The midwives, however, feared God and did not do what the king of Egypt had told them to do; they let the boys live. Then the king of Egypt summoned the midwives and asked them, “Why have you done this? Why have you let the boys live?” The midwives answered Pharaoh, “Hebrew women are not like Egyptian women; they are vigorous and give birth before the midwives arrive.” (Exodus 1:11-19)
B. Summary: It is important to realize that this population growth is from God, and that it can’t be stopped. We will see throughout this story of the conflict between God and this Pharaoh. Pharaoh tries to stop this act of God. In the previous verses, he said that we must deal shrewdly with them. He was saying that he thought he could outsmart the Israelites and their growth. In these verses, we see his plan. Actually, his three plans.
C. Plan A: Plan A was to oppressed them with forced labor. They put slave drivers over them. Beating them. Forcing them to stay in check. Treating them as less than human. The language in this section is also telling. It is mentioned twice, presumably for emphasis, that the Egyptians worked them ruthlessly. They dreaded the Israelites, and sought not only to work them, but to make their lives bitter. This Pharaoh thought he could control this population boom by making the Israelites powerless and providing now human way out. But in the end, Pharaoh could not control the population boom by oppressing them with forced labor.
D. Plan B: Then he tried Plan B, since Plan A failed. Plan B was to have the midwives immediately murder baby boys. He was trying to control this population boom from behind the scenes. However, this assumed cooperation by the Hebrew midwives, which they did not give.
E. Plan C: Pharaoh then moved onto Plan C, which we see in the last verse of this chapter. Plan C was death by drowning. Throw every boy in the Nile, but let the girls live.
• We have asked the question, “How far will God go to save His children?” We have set the stage for the rest of this series and the rest of the book. They arrived this place in Egypt, because God was keeping His promise. His promise of making them into a numerous people who would become a nation. He was fulfilling the promise He made to Abraham generations before. His promise was coming true, even though it made no sense. Even though they had a self-consumed, suspicious, paranoid maniac after them. How far will God go? We will see that God will do anything to save His children.
• What this first chapter shows us is how God works. God humbles those who exalt themselves. People who only see the world as how it affects them. God also exalts, or lifts up, those who humble themselves. God humbled three attempts of a powerful Pharaoh, but worked through humble midwives. What is interesting about this chapter is that we know their names, the names of Shiphrah and Puah. He is at the very top of the org chart and they are at the very bottom. They are the servants to the slaves. They don’t count. They don’t matter. But in God’s chart, the midwives are the heroes. They risk their lives to accomplish God’s purpose. We can feel unimportant or insignificant. Like we don’t count or don’t matter. When that happens think of Shiphah and Puah. Faithfulness is what really matters. Their names are recorded and celebrated, but Pharaoh’s didn’t even make it into the book. How far will God go to save His children? He will do anything to save His children, including using people who others would look at as insignificant.
• As we journey through this series, through this book, a second question will rise to the surface. How far will you allow God to go to rescue you? We are funny creatures. “Sometimes we willingly accept a hand from someone else. Other times, we stubbornly insist on doing things ourselves. Like the man or woman driving late at night who is hopelessly lost, we refuse to stop and ask for directions. We would rather stay lost than admit we need help. We have the strangest ability to live in the worst situations and pretend everything is under control. Life goes so much better when we can admit we need help. All of us face moments when we need a deliverer.” These two questions “How far will God go?” and “How far will you allow God to go?” are tied together. This is evident in the lives of Shiphrah and Puah. Shiphrah and Puah faithfully risked their lives because they knew how far God would go to rescue His children. They were faithful, because they knew He is faithful.