Exodus 4: What Do You Believe?
Moses answered: What if they do not believe me or listen to me and say, the Lord did not appear to you? ( Exodus 4:1)
Jesus said to her: I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies, and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this? (John 11:25)
Did you ever read something in the Bible and believe God had said He would do something- but you doubted He would do it for you or in your life? Then you can empathize with Moses. And Paul would write about skeptical Jews and unbelievers in I Corinthians 1 the Jews demand miraculous signs.. Yet while Jesus was in Jerusalem, many people saw the miraculous signs He was doing and believed in His name. But Jesus would not entrust Himself to them, for he knew all men. He did not need mans testimony about man, for he knew what was in man. (John 2)
The story of Moses and the Exodus is not only a story of how to listen to God; but also a story of how to believe God. We will find we are not that different from Moses. Moses had the distinction of God speaking to him through a burning bush here in the beginning of this story. We have the Old and New Testament, Gods Word to us. We profess we believe in God, we believe in His Word, but do we believe God? Believing God is what faith is really about. And remember: Without faith it is impossible to please God and anyone who comes to Him must believe that He is( exists) and rewards those who earnestly seek Him. Hebrews 11: 6
God has promised the land flowing with milk and honey to Abraham and his descendants. It is the land of His Promises. The Promised Land, Canaan, in the Bible is not heaven. It is not pie in the sky when I die. It is Christ Himself , right now in the present , living His victorious life through me. Today you are in one of three places. You are in Egypt, which is a picture of the world and you are enslaved by the Egyptian slave masters, which are a picture of the flesh, the old sin nature. If you are, you can trust Christ now as your Savior. He will be your deliverer as you post the blood of the Lamb on the door post of your heart. He can take you out of Egypt. Then you can be either in the wilderness or in the Promised Land. The wilderness is a picture of the carnal Christian. Redeemed by faith, believing in Christ, you have been set free from what enslaved you. Now you have let a defeated foe enslave you again. You believed in your Redeemer to take you out of Egypt, but you do not believe He can take you into the Promised Land. As Paul would later write to the Galatians- having begun in the Spirit are you now going to finish in the flesh?
What we will witness in this story is a generation who will not believe God and not believing God will cause them to live the rest of their lives in the wilderness. This life is a life that enjoys neither the sins of the flesh, the fleshpots of Egypt or the milk and honey of Canaan. Or you can live where your Redeemer wants you to live- in the Promised Land. A life of victory, although there will certainly be battles.
So this is what we want to learn- how to live by faith, walk by faith so we can live in the Promised Land. We want to live a life believing God. We want to live what the Bible describes as an exchanged life: I am crucified with Christ; nevertheless I live; YET NOT I, but Christ liveth in me. And the life I now live in the flesh, I live by faith in the Son of God, Who loves me and gave Himself for me. Galatians 2:20. Want to trade in that old life or a new one? It all depends on what and who you believe.
Here is what we are to believe:
- God is who He says He is.
- God can do what He says He can do.
- I am who God says I am.
- I can do all things through Christ, who strengthens me.
- Gods word is alive and active in me.
Here is an example of how those principles of faith can be applied in this story of two blind men: As Jesus went on from there, two blind men followed Him calling out, Have mercy on us, Son of David! When he had gone indoors, the blind men came to him and He asked them: Do you believe that I am able to do this? Yes Lord, they replied. Then He touched their eyes and said, According to your faith will it be done to you, and their sight was restored. ( Matthew 9)
Do you see what happened? They believed He was who he said he was. They believed He could do what he said he could do. He told them their faith in him would empower them to see- to be healed. He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him and believe He is who he says he is. The word of God was alive and active in those two blind men and it can be so in your life. What do you believe? Do you believe this?
Abraham believed God and it was credited to him as righteousness. ( Romans 4:3)
And we will see as the story of Moses, the Israelites and the Exodus from Egypt unfolds- by faith Moses refused to be known as the son of the Pharaohs daughter. By faith Moses chose to be mistreated along with the people of God; by faith he left Egypt, by faith he kept the Passover and sprinkled blood so the destroyer of first born would not touch the first born of Israel. By faith they would pass through the Red Sea on dry land.
The more we believe God, the more we are likely to see and experience His intervening power. Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God. (Romans 10:17) Faith is also a fruit of the Spirit. The more we are filled with the Spirit, the more faith we receive. We are filled with the Spirit when we yield to the Spirit. The Spirit convicts of sin, righteousness and judgment. If we do not heed the voice of the Spirit, we harden our hearts and God says if we continue to do that- to grieve the Spirit, quench the Spirit- we will not enter His rest. We will stay in the wilderness.
Here is what I want us to see in this story as we study Gods ways and study the life of Moses and how Moses responds to these principles: Does Moses have trouble with the following:
Does Moses believe God is who He says He is? Well at this point the jury is still out as far as Moses is concerned. He wants more evidence.
Does Moses believe God can do what He says He can do? Obviously he doubts it, because he keeps expressing his lack of faith. Moses appears to be a man who requires signs.
Does Moses believe he is who God says he is? No. Moses will continue to tell God he is not capable of doing these things. So obviously Moses does not believe ( if we can use the New Testament terminology) that Christ can do all things through him. And obviously also, the Word of God is not active and alive in the life of Moses at this time.
Moses believes in God. But Moses is having trouble believing God. Can you identify with Moses? He is insecure. He is a product of his lifes failures up to this point. Moses is not only insecure, he is stubborn, a skeptic and just a little bit of a pessimists as well. So lets pick up the story here in chapter 4. God in speaking to Moses has told him what to say. God has assured him the elders of Israel would listen to him. God has given him instructions in what he is to say to the Pharaoh. Has told Moses how, He, God will deal with the Pharaohs stubbornness by striking the Egyptians with all types of wonders.
Moses again responds to God by answering what if they do not believe me or listen to me and say, the Lord did not appear to you? Do you see immediately when we look at our check list of what we are to believe Moses does not believe God can do what He says He can do through Moses ?
God is about to give Moses three signs so Moses can believe : He is who He says He is and can do what He says He can do and He can do it through Moses.
First sign: Throw down the staff in his hand. The staff turns into a serpent. ( I picture it as a Black Mamba or a King Cobra, the most feared and deadly snakes on the face of the earth.) What does Moses do? The same thing I would do- he ran from it. I ran from God for 31 years. Your old nature fears God- for your old nature knows what God will do with it- crucify it. King Herod feared a baby born in Bethlehem. Why? Because this baby was a threat to his throne. The serpent has a lot of connotations in the Bible, but we must not overlook the fact that God has once again used something ordinary- first a bush then a shepherds staff, a wooden rod probably about 6 feet long. Here is what we also see: when we turn by faith to take hold of what we fear- we experience the power of God and reality of faith.
When I was lost and without hope of ever getting sober, what I feared most was Gina, my wife discovering the truth about me and leaving me. I also feared my boss finding out and firing me. When by faith I turned from what I had for years run from and by faith took hold of it- then I began to experience God. I began to know God and like Moses, I began to learn His different names. And come to believe He is who He says He is and can do what He says He can do. I also came to believe I am who He says I am. I believe I can do nothing apart from Him, but can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.
But herein lies the problem, if I do not keep Gods Word active and alive in me- my faith grows stale. My conscious awareness of Him at all times grows sporadic. I am tempted to take my eyes off of him as the world around me distracts me.
After the rod-to-snake-to rod again experience, God tells Moses this is so you may believe that I Am has appeared to you. Have you had your rod-to-snake experience? Have you had God do something in your life that only God can do- in order you may believe He is who He says He is?
Next sign- God tells Moses to put his hand inside his cloak. When Moses did this and took it out again- his hand was consumed in leprosy. Then God instructs Moses to return the leprous hand inside his cloak and when he does and takes it out again- it is restored, healed. Both of these miracles confirm the miracles are by the power of God, not Moses. Leprosy is a picture of sin in the Bible, it was also one of the most feared diseases in those times. There was no cure for leprosy and it led to a painful death.
The people of Israel were polluted by sin, as deadly as leprosy. Only God can cure us of sin. He healed us and did what only God can do, cleansed us of our sins, our leprosy.
God then tells Moses if they do not believe the first two signs to take water from the Nile and pour it on the ground and it would turn to blood.
Now having witnessed these three miraculous signs, Moses is convinced and rearing to go forward, right? Wrong. Can you believe what you read next: Moses said to the Lord: O Lord I have never been eloquent, neither in the past or since you have spoken to your servant. I am slow of speech and tongue. (Exodus 4: 10)
Do you see where Moses has disconnected? He is coming to believe God is who He says He is, but He is not sure He can do what He says He can do through him, Moses.
Do you see what the problem is? The Word of God is not active and alive in Moses life at this time. .but the message they heard was of no value to them, because those who heard did not combine it with faith. ( Hebrews 4:2b)
God has told Moses I AM I AM. And Moses has responded- I am not.
God says to Moses- Who gave man his mouth? Who makes him deaf or mute? Who gives him sight or makes him blind? Is it not I, the Lord? Now go and I will help you speak and will teach you what to say. Exodus 4:11-12.
But Moses said, O Lord ,please send someone else to do it. Then the Lords anger burned against Moses Moses said please dont send me- God is displeased with Moses.
Without faith it is impossible to please God and those who come to Him, must believe that He is and is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him. Hebrews 11:6
Do you believe God is who He says He is? Yes or No. It is a simple question- but on it rests where and how you will live your life on this earth. In Egypt. In the wilderness or in the Promised Land. Where you spend eternity also rests on how one answers this question.
Do you believe God can do what He says He can do? Yes or no. Or do you have an asterisk by that statement. And your exception is He can do what He says He can do- but probably not in my life. Like Moses you believe God is able- but I am not. You are half right and you are so close to stepping into the Promised Land.
Do you believe you are who God says you are? Yes or no. Again a simple question- but there can be no doubts. If you doubt you are double minded and James tells us in James 1: But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That man should not think he will receive anything from the Lord; he is double-minded and unstable in all his ways.
Now if you have answered the first three questions with yes, then there should be no doubt about the answer to the next question: Do you believe you can do all things through Christ who strengthens you? Be honest. Do you set some limitations? Why?
And last but not least- is Gods word active and alive in your life?
Now perhaps you are thinking rationally and your logic is going something like this: well Moses had an experience that I have not had. God has not spoken to me through a burning bush in an audible voice. Havent had the rod-snake-rod experience, nor the leprous hand or the blood to water deal. If I had experienced those- I would probably have not been afraid to do what God told me to do or believe Him for anything.
Lets think for a minute what God has done for you and me, if we are His children, saved and sealed: He did not spare His own Son, but gave Him up for us all- how will He not along with Him graciously give us all things? (Romans 8)
If you have been born again, you have eternal life. Eternal life begins at salvation. To have eternal life means you have the Son, Jesus Christ. You have Him living in you. He is the Way, the Truth and the Life. When you have the Son, you have Life.
He is coming again. He may come in our lifetime or we may die before He comes back. Jesus referred to the death of a believer as being asleep, as in Lazarus is asleep. And Paul tells us when the Lord returns visibly to earth in His second coming, He will set down on the Mount of Olives. If we are alive, we will be caught up in the air( raptured) but we will not precede those which are asleep.(I Thess. 4)
So if you have been born again, you have become a new creature. When was your Bethlehem? Mine was September 16, 1977. That was my Bethlehem, that was the day, Jesus Christ was formed in my life. He came to take up residence in my heart, which He now inhabits. Between that day and the day in the future when returns to the Mount of Olives, the Bible tells us we are to: offer our bodies as living sacrifices , holy and acceptable unto God which is our reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world,but be transformed by the renewing of your mind that you may prove what is that good, and acceptable and perfect will of God. ( Romans 12: 1,2)
Did you see what we must do- transform our minds- renewing it with the word of God. Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God.
Lets take our list and see how it checks out from the last to the first.
Is Gods word active and alive in your life? This is key.
Do you believe you can do all things through Christ? If Gods Word is not active and alive in your life, you will be like the Galatians having begun in the Spirit and now trying to finish in the flesh.
Do you believe you are who God says you are? The Word of God tells us we are joint heirs with Jesus, blessed with every spiritual blessing, forgiven of our sins, justified and indwelt and sealed by the Holy Spirit and much, much more.
Do you believe God can do what He says He can do? Have you experienced God doing something in your life only God can do?
Do you believe God is who He says He is? If this is settled why would you doubt or worry. Jesus told us if we earthly fathers know how to give good gifts and we are evil, how much more will our Heavenly Father give us. After all- He spared not His only Son but gave him up for us all.
Then lets think about what God has done:
He has spoken to you and me through His Word- not a burning bush.
He has empowered us to take up the spiritual serpents, the fears in our lives, we have run from by the tail. God can then turn these fears into rods, staffs in our lives that God can work through.
He has healed us from the leprosy of our sins. His blood applied to the door posts of our hearts has spared us from the wrath of God. He wants us to live in a land that flows with milk and honey a place He has promised us was ours.
We can only get into the Promised Land by the same way we got out of Egypt- by faith.
God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Sprit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, and taken up in glory. I Timothy, 3:16
Where do you want to live the rest of your life on earth?
What do you believe? Do you believe this?