Track 7 of 14 in the Moses: A Man of Selfless Dedication series
Running time: 54 minutes, 46 seconds.
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Speaker: Mike Nobis
Sunday School Teacher, Former Elder at Madison Park Christian Church. Mike is President of JK Creative Printers & Mailing in Quincy, IL. He is married to Pam and has three children, Tom, Tyler and Jennifer. Mike has three grandchildren: Ryne, Ivy and Alicia.
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A Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day
Ever had one of those days that started out bad and only got worse as the day went on? These are the types of days that make you wonder why you even got out of bed in the morning. You ask yourself, “What did I do wrong to deserve a day like this?” We all have them, you are not alone. What is important is what you do or how you react when a day like that comes into your life.
What usually makes your day a bad day? What is the difference between a good day and a bad day? By nature, when you are having a bad day, do you let everyone know you are having a bad day or do you keep to yourself and deal with it in a quiet way? What are some of the tips you use in holding things together when you find yourself having a bad day? Can we overpower these types of days and not let them get the best of us? What suggestions do you have?
Moses was no different. Being a human being, he too experienced bad days. What is interesting about God sometimes, after he gives you a task to do and empowers you to carry it out, often bad days are close to follow. It is almost like God allowing us to test out the promises He gave us before the big event. I recently bought a new bike to get back into the habit of riding like I use to do several years ago. Before I went out on my first long ride, I took short little ones to get use to the feel and to make sure the bike was set right. It allowed me to make adjustments so it could perform the way I wanted it to. It gave me confidence that I was ready.
Sometimes bad days come into our lives so we can test out God’s promises. It allows us the opportunity to see what God can really do. These days give us confidence in knowing God is there and that we can do what He asks no matter what bad day is placed in our path. In chapters 5 &6 of Exodus, Moses has a very bad day, a day that started out bad and rapidly got worse as the day went on. I imagine Moses reflected back to the burning bush experience and wondered, "Did I really hear God’s voice?" If God really wants me to deliver Israel from bondage, why did it start out this way?
Think back to your most recent bad day; was it God’s fault or was there someone else in the middle that caused it?
In our lesson today, there are three main characters; God, Moses and right in the middle, Pharaoh. The predominate personality of course is God. The predominate human personality is Moses. But the catalyst between the two is Pharaoh. He is the reason things get messed up for Moses. He is the one who caused Moses to have a very bad day. What I find interesting in these verses, tucked inside this very bad day are a lot of positive things. Even though things are tough for Moses, a lot of positive moments are present; present in such a way that makes the day turn out okay.
Think about your latest bad day, while you were struggling with the negative issues of the day, what positive things were happening at the same time?
Exodus 5:1 Afterward Moses and Aaron went to Pharaoh and said, “This is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says: ‘Let my people go, so that they may hold a festival to me in the desert.’”
We didn’t spend the time to study the events when Moses and Aaron went to the people and shared with them God’s plan. In short, the people of Israel and the elders declared that they would stand with Moses and they praised God for coming to their rescue. That event was an awesome “Bible conference”. You have been to these, these are the ones that when it is over, everyone is pumped up, positive about the direction God is leading and really on a mountain top high.
The elders of Israel thought this rescue was going to be a quick and easy slam dunk. They probably imagined that Moses would walk into Pharaoh’s court, blowing him away with a few miraculous signs, and the gates of Egypt would swing wide open allowing Israel to walk out on their merry way. But it wasn’t going to work that way. There would be major difficulties with Pharaoh. In fact, God warned Moses that it was going to take some convincing to get Pharaoh to let the people go. But God promised that He would do what it took to convince Pharaoh to let the people go and all of Israel would know it was God who did the convincing.
How many great things in life come easy? How precious is something if it didn’t take effort, sacrifice or great pain to obtain? Be honest, how many of you really believe that? Then why is it we complain so much when life gets tough and the goals and dreams we seek to achieve have so many ups and downs? Why are we not joyful when the pits of life are happening? Life is better when things aren’t easy…at least that is what I heard some people say? What is the positive in verse 5:1? Why?
Put yourself in the place of Pharaoh. Describe for me the statement Moses gives and the immediate thought or understanding of Pharaoh when he heard it? We have to understand the personality of Pharaoh. Here is a man who is a god in this land. He was worshipped. Gigantic sculptures were erected in his honor. What he said was law and there was no appeal. Death happened at the casual snap of his fingers. But most of all, most likely demonic powers resided in him and the people around him. He was no man to mess with. But Moses and Aaron had the one, true God behind them and Pharaoh was no match for God. I am sure Moses thought God would strike the man-god down to prove God was no one to mess with. But that was not to happen.
Hove you ever took a step unaware that where you were stepping was very slick ice? What happened? What went through your mind while you were lying on the ground?
Moses was about to take his first step out on the ice unaware of what he was stepping out on.
Exodus 5:2 Pharaoh said, “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.”
Moses was prepared for that response. Even though Moses knew personally who it was he was dealing with, God also instructed him to reply with the following proposal once Pharaoh rejected the first demand. God knew what Pharaoh would say and he knew Pharaoh would reject any command because he was a god.
Exodus 5:3 Then they said, “The God of the Hebrews has met with us. Now let us take a three-day journey into the desert to offer sacrifices to the LORD our God, or he may strike us with plagues or with the sword.”
Someone explain to me what a smokescreen is? When someone uses a smokescreen verbally, what does that mean? Do they work? How does one see through a smokescreen? What was the smokescreen Moses used?
Exodus 5:4-8 But the king of Egypt said, “Moses and Aaron, why are you taking the people away from their labor? Get back to your work!” Then Pharaoh said, “Look, the people of the land are now numerous, and you are stopping them from working.” That same day Pharaoh gave this order to the slave drivers and foremen in charge of the people: “You are no longer to supply the people with straw for making bricks; let them go and gather their own straw. But require them to make the same number of bricks as before; don’t reduce the quota. They are lazy; that is why they are crying out, ‘Let us go and sacrifice to our God.’
Was Pharaoh fooled by the smokescreen? (In a way, yes. In human terms Pharaoh saw through the request. He knew the festival idea was not true. However, he didn’t see that the request was also a trap, a trap that would lead to the release of Israel by God.)
Can you imagine what the reaction was after Moses and Aaron returned from their meeting with Pharaoh to learn that Moses and Aaron only made things worse for the people of Israel? Things didn’t get better, they got worse. God told Moses that he heard the cries of His people and He saw the abuse the task masters had given. The reason why God sent Moses to Pharaoh was to rescue them from the oppression. All the people praised God and believed what Moses told them.
Have you ever been given a task to do you absolutely disagree with? In fact, the command was so outrageous; you are stunned and can’t believe what you are being told to do? It could be something like firing an employee who well liked but is no longer viewed by management as needed anymore. It could be a command that is just plain stupid. Even worse, it could be a command that is even just plain evil. What goes through your mind or what are your first reactions?
The Israelite foremen were stunned when they heard that they now had to meet the same quotas without the use of straw. They went to Pharaoh to negotiate with management to see if they could change his mind. The problem was, he didn’t care a fig what the rank and file had to say. The message was simple, “Work HARDER”. The reason God sent Moses to Pharaoh was to rescue them from the oppression. All Moses and Aaron did was get them harder labor.
Exodus 5:19-21 The Israelite foremen realized they were in trouble when they were told, “You are not to reduce the number of bricks required of you for each day.” When they left Pharaoh, they found Moses and Aaron waiting to meet them, and they said, “May the LORD look upon you and judge you! You have made us a stench to Pharaoh and his officials and have put a sword in their hand to kill us.”
A bad day just got worse; not only was Moses and Aaron unable to convince Pharaoh to let them go out into the desert for a three day festival, they just now caused the situation to get worse. The people are under heavier burdens.
Look closely at what Moses did? What mistakes did he make when approaching Pharaoh? Did he say to Pharaoh exactly what he was supposed to say? Did he do it at the right time, spoken in the right way? What did Moses do wrong?
Moses did nothing wrong. In fact he did it exactly and spoke exactly the way God told him to. When we find ourselves in situations like this, we make a common mistake. We ask God two mistaken questions: Why and How? We begin by saying, “Why? Why me? Why now? Why this?” And then we ask, “How? How in the world am I going to get through this or out of this?” Have you ever asked these questions of God when finding yourselves in a very bad day that is getting worse?
Exodus 5:22-6:1-2 Moses returned to the LORD and said, “O Lord, why have you brought trouble upon this people? Is this why you sent me? Ever since I went to Pharaoh to speak in your name, he has brought trouble upon this people, and you have not rescued your people at all.” Then the LORD said to Moses, “Now you will see what I will do to Pharaoh: Because of my mighty hand he will let them go; because of my mighty hand he will drive them out of his country.” God also said to Moses, “I am the LORD.
Moses is a lot like us. When we find ourselves in trouble, too many times we expect the situation to be the end of us. But in this bad situation for Moses and also in our bad situations, it is not the end, for God, it is only the beginning. We only see the immediate, perceived, bad moment not realizing that the bad moment is exactly what God had planned. It is only a small second in the timeline of God’s plan. God reassures Moses that because Pharaoh did not obey God, He can now show Moses and Israel plus Egypt, that He is the Lord.
That is great news. Moses had to feel better after his talk with God. Moses probably left thinking, “Oh now I get it. I can’t wait to tell everyone things are okay.”
Exodus 6:6-9 Therefore, say to the Israelites: ‘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 Abraham, to Isaac and to Jacob. I will give it to you as a possession. I am the LORD.’” Moses reported this to the Israelites, but they did not listen to him because of their discouragement and cruel bondage.
Hang the preacher! Isn’t it interesting that when things go wrong in the church, it is always the preachers fault? If you don’t think this is true, when have you ever seen a congregation fired? Or when a team is doing poorly, it is the coach or the manager that gets the ax; very seldom do the players ever get fired. And when a congregation is mad at the preacher; they don’t listen to his message. Israel didn’t want to listen to the man who just made their work harder. Moses stood up to tell them what God told him and they told him to take a hike.
So what do you do if you’re Moses and the already bad day just got even worse? Not only is Pharaoh not listening to what Moses had to say; his own people are mad, angry and ready to hang him. Have you ever ended up in a failed situation, knowing you were going to fail but you let someone talk you into doing this unsuccessful mission? What normally is your response to the person who got you into the mess?
Exodus 6:10-12 Then the LORD said to Moses, “Go, tell Pharaoh king of Egypt to let the Israelites go out of his country.” But Moses said to the LORD, “If the Israelites will not listen to me, why would Pharaoh listen to me, since I speak with faltering lips?”
According to Moses, whose fault was it that the plan didn’t work? What common mistake did Moses make and what conclusion did he assume? There was no mistake and Pharaoh’s refusal to let the people go had nothing to do with Moses. It was all God’s plan. What mistake or assumption do we often make when things don’t go the way we planned?
Too often the focus is on us and not on God. We don’t see God’s plan in things because we are watching and focusing on our own faults, mistakes and weaknesses rather than watching God do His thing. So many times we miss the opportunity to watch God work in mighty and miraculous ways. Do you know why? Because instead of standing still and watching Him pull off our deliverance, we seek out our own alternative. We look for the backdoor, the shortcut. In a weak moment we hear the Devil’s voice and take matters into our own hands instead of staying with the Lord’s plan and waiting on Him to work. The devil’s escape plan is so close at hand and it appears to be the quick and easy way. Unfortunately, the easy way leads to disaster.
The answer is Jesus. In days that are bad going to worse, we need to get our eyes off of ourselves and focus on Jesus. He promises to carry us through all situations only if we let Him do His thing, on His time table and on His terms.
3 principles to remember from this lesson:
1. Circumstances that turn against us force dependence 2. Circumstances that force dependence teach us patience 3. Circumstances that teach us patience make us wise
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