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Redemption: A Preview of What's to Come
01/29/2006
Scripture: Exodus 1-15
Track 5 of 27 in the Transforming Story As God Gave It series
Running time: 31 minutes, 46 seconds.


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Chuck Sackett Speaker: Chuck Sackett
Dr. G. Charles Sackett is minister of Madison Park Christian Church.

View all sermons by this speaker.


Sermon for Sunday, January 29, 2006
5th sermon in a 27 part series covering the entire bible
"A PREVIEW OF WHAT'S TO COME"
The Transforming Story
As God Gave It
(Exodus 1-15)
Copyright 2005 G. Charles Sackett


And that's our story. We are free. You know we started in Genesis 1 and 2 where God created the Universe. He made it all good, intending to have a perfect relationship with us and to live with us in the Garden. By Genesis 3 we have already messed it up. We talk about the fall of humanity.

We move to Genesis 12 and we begin to see how God is going to redeem His community of faith. We watch as He works through Abraham, Isaac and Jacob as He prepares to bring a people that will produce a redeemer. We see rather unusual shift at the end of Genesis where we actually focus on Joseph's story rather than Jacob's because Joseph is the one who gets us into Egypt.

Once we're in Egypt, God has an opportunity to bring us out. In fact that becomes the language of redemption. To come up out of Egypt. That's what we just saw. God redeeming His people. That's the story, creation, fall, redemption.

We pick that story up with Joseph down in Egypt. Seventy people from the family making their way to spend their time in the land of Goshen as God continues to work out His plan of redemption.

We're going to look at the first few chapter of Exodus. We'll just pick up a verse or two. If you have your Bibles, we're going to start in Exodus 1:8. After Joseph has died there is . . .a new king, who did not know about Joseph, it says, who came to power in Egypt. "Look," he said to his people, "the Israelites have become much 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,. . . . . . . . What you see is this change of leadership in Egypt which puts Israel into a position of slavery. In fact, now for 430 years they're going to be under the oppression of the Pharaoh. They're locked up in this land of Goshen. That's where they live and yet, they are slaves making bricks, helping to build the buildings of Egypt. They are under this kind of oppression.

The story is going to sound familiar because as these people begin to multiply and begin to become so numerous, the Pharaoh says, "we have to do something about that." And so they kill all the sons. That should be a familiar story to you. Because every time it seems that God is up to something, God is going to be active, somebody comes along and tries to kill the boys. It's a reflection of Revelations 12 when God is acting to bring forth His Son and Satan comes along and tries to kill the male child. That occurs in every story starting with Moses, moving to Samuel and on to Jesus where someone comes along to take this lineage and to destroy it.

And then you know the story, after this decree, every male child in Egypt is supposed to be destroyed. There is a son who is born. His name is Moses and in order to protect him, his mother puts him in a little basket and sticks him in the Nile River where he gets into the bull rushes and Pharaoh's daughter, herself (I take it as a providential act of God) comes along, finds the child. Wants the child to live and so Miriam, Moses sister, comes to Pharaoh's daughter and says, "I see you found a little baby. I could go find an Egyptian woman who would take care of the child for you." And she goes and gets her mother. Moses' mother. And Moses is raised then by his birth mother until he's old enough to go into the palace of Pharaoh, where he lives and grows and is educated. In fact he stays there for approximately forty years learning the ways of Egypt. And yet, he still knows about his history. He understands his Israeli background.

And so, he goes out one day to see his own people and he discovers this Egyptian task master and he's beating up one of the slaves and so he kills the Egyptian and buries him in the sand. He goes out the next day and he sees two Israelites who were fighting with one another and he asks them why they're fighting. Why would they fight with each other? And their response to him, "Are you going to kill us like you did the Egyptian?" He gets scared and he runs. He makes his way to the land of Midian and in Midian he marries a woman by the name of Zipporah. There he stays. In fact, he stays there for an extended period of time. Forty more years, is where he's going to end up in that particular land.

During that time, the story turns and we begin to hear that Israel begins to moan and to groan about the circumstances that they're in. You come to Exodus 2:23. During that long period, the king of Egypt died. The Israelites groaned in their slavery and cried out, and their cry for help because of their slavery went up to God. God heard their groaning and he remembered his covenant with Abraham, with Isaac and with Jacob. So God looked on the Israelites and was concerned about them.

Four Hundred and Thirty years of what is apparently silence and yet God is paying attention. God is listening. He hears what Israel is doing. He sees their oppression and he begins to act. In fact, as Moses is out tending his sheep one day, he sees a bush that is burning. It gets his attention, because as the bush burns, it doesn't get destroyed. It just burns. So he finds himself, in curiosity, making his way to the bush, when out of the bush comes this voice that says "Moses" "Take off your shoes. You are on holy ground." That gets his attention. I suspect it probably would ours too. And he engages God in a conversation.

God says, "Moses, what I want you to do is I want you to go back to Egypt. I want you to bring my people out." In the midst of the conversation, Moses has a question.

Exodus 3:13. Moses said to God, "Suppose I go to the Israelites and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,' and they ask me, ‘What is his name?' Then what shall I tell them?"

God said to Moses, "I am who I am. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: ‘I am has sent me to you.'"

God also said to Moses, "Say to the Israelites, ‘The Lord, the God of your fathers — the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob — has sent me to you.' This is my name forever, the name by which I am to be remembered from generation to generation.

I am. Moses doesn't know. Moses isn't sure who God is in this bush and yet, when he asks God for identification, God's simple statement is, just tell them I am. It's a verb. In English we write it Yahweh. It's a word that none of the Israelites would ever pronounce in the future. If they saw it, they wouldn't say it. They would substitute the word Lord. In fact, in your English text, you'll notice in the Old Testament, every time the phrase LORD, written in all capital letters occurs, it's this word for God. The personal name of God. When you go back to Egypt, you tell them I am, sent you.

Course you know the story. There is a bit of interaction between Moses and God and Moses rather eloquently says, "I don't know how to talk." After a rather extended conversation which he argues the fact that he doesn't know how to talk, God finally says, "I'll send your brother, Aaron. He'll talk for you."

If you've read Exodus you remember that, actually, Aaron doesn't do much talking. Moses, who can't talk, does most of the talking.

But in the midst of that you get introduced to a concept that Moses begins to work with. That is this idea of knowing God. He first gets introduced to Him as I am. He goes and confronts Pharaoh. He says, "God says I want you to let my people go. They need to go out into the wilderness and they need to have an opportunity to worship."

In Exodus 5 you get introduced to this theme that then runs through the rest of the story up to the Red Sea.

Exodus 5:2. Pharaoh's response to this request is this. "Who is the Lord that I should obey him and let Israel go? I do not know the Lord and I will not let Israel go."

That theme of knowing God now dominates the rest of this story.

If you turn over, just one same verse, Exodus 6 when Moses is in a conversation with Israel, talking about leaving Egypt, he says to the Israelites. Exodus 6:6. . . . . . ‘I am the Lord, and I will bring you out from under the yoke of the Egyptians. I will free you from being slaves to them, and I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with mighty acts of judgment. I will take you as my own people, and I will be your God. Then you will know that I am the Lord your God, who brought you out from under the yoke of the Egyptians. And I will bring you to the land I swore with uplifted hand to give to your fathers.

That idea of knowing God dominates this. It occurs in six or seven different places in the rest of the first fifteen chapters. Every time it comes in this context of this is happening so that you will know that I am the Lord your God. That's the theme of the Exodus story. That's the theme of redemption. That you and I would come to the place that we know God. Not just that we understand who he is, but that we live in relationship with Him and we know Him personally and He knows us.

Well, as the story goes on, what we end up with is Moses in confrontation with Pharaoh, in which case there are ten plagues. You probably have heard of them before.

What I need to do is set it in the context of what's really at stake here. This is a matter of sovereignty. This is which god rules. This is Israel's God, I am versus the gods of Egypt. And it's a direct confrontation.

There are ten plagues. You may remember them from when you studied them in school. Well, I have to write them down because I can never remember them in order.

Blood

Frogs

Gnats

Flies

Livestock dying

Boils

Hail

Locusts

Darkness

and the death of the first born.

Ten plagues, every one of them a direct assault on an Egyptian god. Twice the Egyptian magicians are able to perform the same kind of act as God. The next eight, they can't even come close.

In this contest of sovereignty it becomes ultimately clear which god is really God and that is the God of Israel. And in this dialog, you let my people go, Pharaoh keeps saying, "No, I'm not going to let my people go. Every time that there is a refusal, there comes another plague. Every time there comes another plague, comes this comment. I'm gonna do this so that you'll know that I am the Lord and I'm taking you out of Egypt.

We come to the end, just before that tenth plague, and God says, I want you Israelites to get ready because you're going to have to consecrate yourselves. You're going to have a meal together. It will be your last meal in Egypt. Find a perfect lamb, kill it, roast it, no leavened bread. Eat it at night. Eat it dressed and ready, your staff in hand. Eat it standing up because I am ready to act. We call that Passover. That term, Passover, comes because on that particular night death was going to pass over Egypt and going to destroy the first born of every living thing. And so God says, "Take the blood of that perfect lamb. . . . ." By the way, are you beginning to sense something that shows up in the New Testament here? I hope you're catching that imagery. "Take this blood of the perfect lamb, cover the door posts of your house so that when death passes over, it knows not to stop here." And death came that night. All the first born in Egypt died. None of the first born of Israel died who painted the door posts with the blood.

That meal, by the way, has been brought with us all through the Old Testament into the New. Every year, Israel celebrated the feast. Seven days of no leaven and then a major meal where they gathered together to remember the Exodus. We still do that you know. We come to a table set with unleavened bread and grape juice in memory of the Lord's Supper. So that we will never forget the redemptive act of God.

That night, Israel, ready to leave, and Egypt ready, to finally let them leave collect all of the booty that they want. God says, "I want you to ask the Egyptians and they'll give you whatever you need. They have gold. They have silver. They have all of this precious cloth. Stuff that was to be used later to build the tabernacle. And they began to leave.

They made their way through the desert, and frankly, they're on their way to freedom when suddenly they run into a major problem. It's called the Red Sea. They stopped. They murmur. They groan, and it gets worse. You talk about "the hard place and the rock". In front of them is the Red Sea. They turn around and they see the dust arising because Pharaoh has changed his mind and he's now coming to get them.

God speaks to Moses and says, "Don't let that trouble you. You just trust me and keep moving."

This pillar of cloud and fire that had been leading Israel during this journey from Egypt over to the Red Sea now moves from in front of Israel, to behind Israel where it blocks the path of the Egyptians.

Moses turns. He takes the rod that he has been carrying, the rod that he had used that turned into a snake, the rod that has been his statement of leadership. He places it in the Red Sea. The water parts and Israel walks across on dry land. It took about two minutes and 40 seconds for you to watch that. Actually, we cut some of it out. It's actually like a five minute scene.

I've tried to figure out how in the world you get a handle on what actually happened that day. Because it wasn't a five minute story that you can read.

Those of you who are familiar with St. Louis will be able to appreciate that. Those of you who aren't familiar with it, you just take a nap for a second. Go down there like you're going to go to the Cardinal ball game from the Illinois side and you're going to stop on the bridge. You're looking up the river. The arch is on your left. East St. Louis is on your right. The ______ bridge is right in front of you. Now just pile all the water up underneath that Edes Bridge. Dry out that land where the river boat is. Move the river boat and then imagine standing there and watching every man, woman and child inside of Interstate 270, all of St. Louis, walking between the legs of the arch from the Missouri side to the Illinois side and, you have approximately what happened that day when Israel crossed the Red Sea. A million people moving across on dry land. And then, as this little clip portrayed, when the enemy started to come,

God allowed the waters down and they were free. That's redemption's story. That as the people of God, we have been redeemed from our slavery. We have been set free and that story, that story begins to run its way all the way through the rest of the Old Testament. You see it, absolutely everywhere you turn. It is the story of redemption. It is first celebrated in Exodus 15 Miriam's Song that she leads. It's this elaborate relaying of how the mighty hand of God came across and saved Israel. She sings it before the people. It is the only legitimate response to the activity of God. The only real response that you can make to God's mighty arm is to rejoice in worship. And that's what Israel does. And that song, then carries its way through the rest of Israel's history.

Joshua 24, when they're finally ready to lead into the promise land, they re-sing the song. They tell the story. It shows up all through the Psalms, almost the whole story. In Psalm 105 and in Psalm 136 bits and pieces of it through the rest of the song. A major chunk of it in Isaiah 43; 51; 63. The story being told, being remembered that God had done something incredible. It carries over into the New Testament when Stephen is making his speech in the Book of Acts. The bulk of the speech is the rehearsal of the redemptive story of God taking His people out of Egypt.

It shows up in Hebrews 11 when we're reminded of these acts of faith when they trusted God to lead them out of Egypt. The phrase "out of Egypt" becomes the dominant image of God's redemptive story.

In fact, if you remember last summer when we started through the Ten Commandments, the opening verse in Exodus 20 is this. Not the law, but this. Remember "I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, . . . ." that redemptive graceful act of God underlies everything that happens.

You read through the book of Leviticus, this book of law and it will say. "Do this because "I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt." It occurs all over the place. It occurs, for example, in Leviticus 11:45; 19:36; 22:31-33. That story, that is the story; God leading us to redemption.

Well, the "Rest" of the Story is pretty simple. They cross over to the other side. Now they've got to have something to drink, something to eat. So Moses takes his staff, strikes a rock, out comes water. They're hungry so every day there's manna on the ground. Well, every day except Saturday. They gathered up enough on Friday for both days. They ate. When they got tired of having manna, pancakes every day, three meals a day. God sent quail. And they wandered in the wilderness. They wandered there because of their disobedience for forty years while a generation of people died off. But God took care of them every single day. That's the story. Redemption. Creation, fall, redemption, but this story should sound familiar to you because this story is lived out in the "other" story that we are familiar with. And, in fact, it is most clearly lived out in the Gospel of Matthew.

Matthew, written to the Jewish nation, virtually retells the Exodus story as if you were reading Exodus 1-15. You remember how it starts? There is this unusual birth, not unlike the unusual birth of Moses. And, then in Matthew 2. God says to Mary and Joseph, "take your Son, and go to Egypt where you'll be protected until the king dies." As the king died in Exodus and after the death of the king, God says, "bring my Son back."

Hosea says about that event, that is exactly what's being talked about when He says, "Out of Egypt I have called My Son." So Jesus comes up out of Egypt even as Israel came out of Egypt. Where does He end up? He ends up in the water.

Comes to the Jordan River with John the Baptist just as Israel crossed through the Red Sea, Jesus crosses through the waters of His baptism at the hands of John the Baptist and on the other side of that experience, do you remember where He ends up?

Matthew 4. For forty days He ends up in the wilderness. You remember how long Israel is in the wilderness? Forty years. And in that time God gives Israel the law and at the end of that time Jesus teaches Matthew 5 the Sermon on the Mount where He compares His understanding of God with that Old Testament law. Matthew almost perfectly parallels Exodus 1-15 as God calls His Son up out of Egypt and produces once again the redemptive act to free His people.

But the comparison doesn't stop at Matthew because it gets moved into your life. It's a rather fascinating thing that happens over here in 1Corinthians 10 because the very act of Exodus is compared to your own personal experience with God.

1Corinthians 10. As Paul is writing to this Corinthian church, he says this in 1Corinthians 10:1 For I do not want you to be ignorant of the fact, brothers, that our forefathers were all under the cloud and that they all passed through the sea. They were all baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea. They all ate the same spiritual food and drank the same spiritual drink; for they drank from the spiritual rock that accompanied them, and that rock was Christ.

Their experience parallels our experience in that they have to pass through the water just as we passed through the baptismal waters whereby we are identified with Christ even as Christ parallels Moses. Their experience was to place their trust in Moses leadership and to allow him to lead them into the future. And the rock, it says, that rock from which the water from the nourishment came was Christ.

Just as you and I understand God's leadership in our lives and we identify with Christ in Christian baptism, we too, place our trust in the God who provides for us through Christ, that kind of spiritual life and nourishment.

Our identify with Christ no longer enslaved in our own personal Egypt is the story of redemption.

So, what does it all mean? It means at least this? This story is an eternal story and that story needs to be told and re-told from generation to generation. In fact, you're here this day, maybe some of you specifically because we're going to be dedicating parents to the raising of their children. That is this story.

In the account that occurs in the book of Deuteronomy after the crossing of the Red Sea, just after the giving of the law, here is this statement that occurs at the mouth of Moses. Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your mind and with all your strength. "And you shall teach this to your children. You will communicate it to them while you walk down the path. You will write it on the door posts and the gates of your house. You will put it on your clothing. You will tell the story to another generation who will tell the story to another generation, who will tell the story." That is our responsibility, you know. That's what our job is as parents, to tell this story. To take the story of redemption from one generation to the next and that generation takes it to another. That is my job as a parent. To communicate this redemptive story to another generation.

This story, this redemptive story reminds me that God never abandons His people. Four hundred thirty years of silence and yet, God is not absent. He is there; hearing, working and ready to act. I understand. I know that there are times in the life of a person when it feels as if God may be absent. When it's hard to see where God's presence is and yet, you need. Rest assured God has not left. He is there and listening and watching and aware, ready to act.

This story teaches us that God is able, but not only able, willing to save. Here's Israel, His people, caught between this hard place and a rock, and it's very clear without the help of God they're not going to survive. In fact, it not only teaches us, God's willingness to save, God's willingness to redeem, it teaches us there is no way you and I are going to do it on our own.

You stand at the edge of the Red Sea and you look behind you and you have the Egyptian army bearing down on you and you recognize this one truth very clearly. I CANNOT DO THIS BY MYSELF!

This story reminds me that all of redemption is in God's hands, not mine. It's not about us. This is about Him and what He's done. But once redeemed; once you've listened; once you've heard; once you've responded, you take up the mantel of responsibility.

If you still have 1Corinthians 10 there, take a look at 1Corinthians 10:5 the verse that follows this repetition of Israel's history. 1Corinthians 10:5 says, Nevertheless, God was not pleased with most of them; their bodies were scattered over the desert.

In a little one chapter book, Jude, right before the book of Revelation; Jude, in writing about the redemptive story says this in Jude 5. Though you already know all this, I want to remind you that the Lord delivered his people out of Egypt, but later destroyed those who did not believe.

We become responsible for our story. While redemption is free, while redemption is the act of God as a statement of grace, once I have been redeemed, it becomes my responsibility to be faithful. To live that story out and to share that story with another generation. Once I come to know God, my job is to live like I know God. As if He walks with me through the desert of my life.

That is the story. The redemptive story of God. That God is in Christ pulling the world to Himself. But just as He redeemed His captive people, Israel, he longs to redeem you. And it comes to the place in every person's life where you recognize that you stand on the edge of the Red Sea. You're stuck. You cannot redeem yourself. There is not a thing you can do to help yourself. This is going to be God's act, but you trust. And in the trust, God acts and He opens the way before you.

But it doesn't end there. You haven't been redeemed until you're on the other side of the Red Sea. Had Israelites decided to stay on that side, the Egyptian army would have taken them. And they would have been captured just like anybody else. It wasn't until they took that path through the Sea that they got to the other side and God's redemptive act was complete in their lives.

That is the picture of the New Testament, you know. Coming to faith in Christ but deciding, that not only do you believe in Him, you're willing to trust Him and obey Him. And just as they walked through the Sea and under the cloud, you walked through the grave of baptism. Just as they identified with Moses, you identify with Christ. Just as they walked. out the other side, a redeemed person, this text says, you come up out of the waters having been redeemed from your sin, raised to walk in new life. This is a statement of who we are. It's what we're about. We are the people who trust Him for redemption and obey Him so that we can experience that redeeming act of God in our lives.

Did you hear it in the text? Because it is the driving theme of all of Scripture. They didn't know that these things are done so that you will know. And that is the call of God. To make your heart passion, knowing God.

We had some folks experience that this week. I'm going to introduce them to you right after we get done singing. A young couple who has come to us just a month or so ago, December. If I remember right, December 18th was their first Sunday here and on Monday they became obedient to Jesus Christ and were baptized into Him, raised to walk in Him a new life. And on Wednesday, a man who has sat in our chairs for ten years, gave His heart in more complete obedience during the journey. I love that about God. Don't you? That in a month, or in a decade He never quits calling. He just keeps drawing you to Himself. You listen long enough and God will reach down in your heart and call you too. And your heart passion, this one thing that you want more than anything else will be to know Him.

That's why we're here, so you can know Him. We want to help you do that.

Let's stand and make this song our testimony of knowing Him.