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A Time of Misery
Scripture: Genesis 47:5-6; Genesis 46:31-34; Exodus...
Track 1 of 14 in the Moses: A Man of Selfless Dedication series
Running time: 1 hour, 09 minutes, 09 seconds.

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Mike Nobis 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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I find Moses a fascinating man. Like most of the great heroes in the Bible, the real man, Moses, was nothing like the person most people envision today. When we think of Moses the image of Charlton Hesston comes to mind. He was tall, muscular, tan from the sun and good looking. He was polished in speech and he had an air of authority when he gave commands, he was full of confidence and a real super hero. We see him the way Hollywood saw him. But when we look into scripture, the real man was nothing like that at all. In fact, if he were a member of this class today, you would probably find him sitting in the back row and not saying a word. He wasn’t shy but he wasn’t bold either.

When we turn to the most reliable source concerning the life of Moses, the Bible, we will get an accurate picture of who this man was. What is important to understand is he was a man very similar to you and me. He was simply a man, a person who made mistakes and a person who relied on many individuals to help him complete his calling from God. He was a person called by God for a special task. God set into motion a series of events that placed Moses in a position to be a powerful person for Him. What I want to focus on are the choices Moses made when confronted with opportunities and challenges that made him useful for God’s purpose.

Imagine 400 years from now archaeologists are digging where your house once stood. In the rubble and the dirt from centuries of time, bits and pieces of your life in the 21st century are found. What do you hope they find and what do you want them conclude about who you were?
The one thing an archaeologist considers when looking at antiquities from an era long ago are the times in which the person lived. In reality, you are a product of your time. That is important to remember when we sift through the bits of information we have about Moses. He too was a product of his time. The judgments we make about him and the actions he took all have to be in reference to the times he lived in.

The life of Moses marks the beginning of a major change in the relationship between man and God. It is this period of time when God needed someone to step up and assume a critical role as God transitioned from one dispensation of time to another. Up until this point, the relationship God had with man was through the patriarchs. He moved and worked with man through a single individual, the head of a household (Abraham, Isaac, Jacob…). But when Moses comes onto the scene of history, God will move from the era of the patriarchs to relating to a whole nation of people. At first Moses might have been reluctant and scared, but in the end, he yielded and became God’s instrument in his own generation.

How might history be different if Moses refused to be the person God called him to be?

In the history of mankind, there are only three dispensations of time; the time period of the patriarchs, the period of the Law and the period of the end times. When Jesus came onto the scene, the period of the Law ended and Jesus ushered in the end times. Today, you and I live in the last dispensation of time. The next big event that will happen will be the time when Jesus returns. Just like Moses, you and I are called to step up and become an instrument of God in our own generation. Like Moses, we too might be reluctant or scared, but in the end, it is important that we yield to what God calls us to.

How important is the birth of one single child? Have you ever wondered what the world would be like if you were never born? What is wrong with the reasoning that says, “I don’t want children; it is unfair to bring them into a world that is so evil and troublesome. It is better to abort them than let them experience the troubles of our time.” What can the consequences be to a nation that practices the act of abortion?

Baby Moses was just one child. When he opened his eyes for the first time, his world was very different than our own. In fact, his world was much different from the time when his nation first moved to Egypt. Joseph and Moses mark a series of events that God puts into place (province of God) to transition from a relationship with just a few men (patriarchs) to a relationship with one nation of people (period of the Law). All along the way, God places before Moses opportunities for him to make choices. In many cases he made good decisions, in others he didn’t chose well. Our study is going to focus on the choices Moses made and the affects they had on the world around him.

A Time of Transition

Genesis 47:5-6 Pharaoh said to Joseph, “Your father and your brothers have come to you, and the land of Egypt is before you; settle your father and your brothers in the best part of the land. Let them live in Goshen. And if you know of any among them with special ability, put them in charge of my own livestock.”

After Joseph and his brothers were reunited after many years, all of Joseph’s family was invited to move and live in Egypt, which they did. For 71 years life for the family of Jacob was peaceful in Egypt. Jacob died and was buried back in Hebron and things went well. Joseph lived to be about 110 and died in Egypt and was buried in Egypt. He died a very import man and was probably buried with high honors befitting the second most powerful man in the nation. With the death of Joseph, the relationship between the family of Jacob and the kingdom of Egypt also changed. It was gradual at first but it didn’t take long for the relationship to plunge to the bottom.

There are two factors that led to the change:

• They were shepherds – Joseph gave them a warning

Genesis 46:31-34 Then Joseph said to his brothers and to his father’s household, “I will go up and speak to Pharaoh and will say to him, ‘My brothers and my father’s household, who were living in the land of Canaan, have come to me. The men are shepherds; they tend livestock, and they have brought along their flocks and herds and everything they own.’ When Pharaoh calls you in and asks, ‘What is your occupation?’ you should answer, ‘Your servants have tended livestock from our boyhood on, just as our fathers did.’ Then you will be allowed to settle in the region of Goshen, for all shepherds are detestable to the Egyptians.”

What can happen when a person or a group of people are looked upon with suspicion? Once the suspicion starts, what other events can happen? Suspicion…prejudice…persecution…genocide

Joseph knew the Egyptians would not want to import a group of people who were considered a lower class of life. Shepherds were considered low-life. We saw this even in our own country. When the west was young and cattle ranching was a growing and profitable industry, sheep herders were not welcome. The effects of sheep on the range were bad for cattle. Cattle ranchers and shepherds didn’t mix. The same would be true in Joseph’s day. That is why he emphasized them being experts in livestock.

Is America any different than Egypt. What is our history like when it comes to welcoming foreigners? What about today?

• There was a new king

Exodus 1:8-10 Then a new king, who did not know about Joseph, 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, fight against us and leave the country.”

The best way to control a group of people you fear is to make slaves out of them, to treat them harshly and to afflict them with hard labor. The ones that are not useful, they are eliminated. If they continue to grow beyond control, then genocide is justified. We see in history that this logic was used a lot. Man left unchecked has not changed over the centuries of time. It makes no difference when in time man lives. Today, what we consider the era of modern man, genocide existed and still exists. It is happening today for the same reasons it happened in the time of Moses. This was the world Moses was born into.

If God loved Jacob and God loved Joseph, how could he allow his family to suffer under such harsh conditions? Why did God allow this terrible thing to happen to a nation that was peaceful? What kept Israel from being exterminated and from giving up?

Genesis 15:13-14 Then the LORD said to him, “Know for certain that your descendants will be strangers in a country not their own, and they will be enslaved and mistreated four hundred years. But I will punish the nation they serve as slaves, and afterward they will come out (Exodus) with great possessions.

How important is it for us to have promises from God? What role do these promises play? Do you know how many promises there are that God gives us today and what they are?

In addition to the promises that helped to sustain the people, God also relied on those who were Godly and did what they had to do to play their part in God’s plan. During hard times, there are people of courage who perform daring acts of courage that results in the saving of many lives. Pharaoh noticed that the harsh conditions didn’t decrease the number of Hebrews in his land, in fact, they continued to grow. This caused Pharaoh to turn to more ruthless tactics. If persecution doesn’t work, then genocide is the next step. Pharaoh turned to infanticide.

Exodus 1:15-17 The king of Egypt said to the Hebrew midwives, whose names were Shiphrah and Puah, “When you help the Hebrew women in childbirth and observe them on the delivery stool, if it 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.

Why kill the boys and let the girls live? What did Pharaoh fear? What risks did these midwives take? Why

What about you, in desperate times, are you a person who by nature plays it safe or do you have a tendency to take risks even if the risks could cost you your life?

One of the sad realities in history is looking at the overall population in Germany when the cruelties of Nazi Germany were in full swing. How could a nation of people allow such evil to exist in their country? Where was the average person when the Jews were being treated so poorly? Where were the Christians in Germany? Some will say that what was happening was the law of the land. Even in scripture we are taught to obey authorities and to live quiet, responsible lives.

Romans 13:1 Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God

Titus 2:9-10 Teach slaves to be subject to their masters in everything, to try to please them, not to talk back to them, and not to steal from them, but to show that they can be fully trusted, so that in every way they will make the teaching about God our Savior attractive.

When the midwives disobeyed, were they wrong to do so? Were they going against God’s law? When is it okay not to submit to man’s law and to resist?

Be careful here, there is a danger taking this principle too far. The Exodus passage does not teach children to disobey their parents, wives to usurp their husband’s leadership in the home or anyone to reject ethical authority. The passage does make one thing clear; submission to civil authority has limits. Peter himself was faced with the same problem and his response was the following:

Acts 5:29 Peter and the other apostles replied: “We must obey God rather than men!

If you look at the foundation at Christianity, from the beginning up to today, resistance and rebellion played a huge role. Even the formation of our country rested on the same foundation. Resistance to evil and rebelling to change the situation around us for the good of mankind is what America is all about. We are to engage evil and to overpower it. When our country accepts the concept of staying within ourselves and only concentrates on our prosperity, that is when our greatness will be lost. America can’t turn a blind eye on injustice around us.

Unfortunately Israel’s problems didn’t end with the midwives, Pharaoh just took the next logical step, he ordered everyone in Egypt to do what the midwives refused to do, if they found an infant Hebrew boy, they were commanded to throw the boy into the Nile River. This action by Pharaoh was meant to destroy the Hebrew people; but it actually opened the door for their redemption. Moses survived his birth and ended up in the hands of Pharaoh’s daughter as her son.

Over and over again we will see in Exodus three life-sustaining truths:
• Hard times don’t erase God’s promises
• Harsh treatment doesn’t escape God’s notice
• Heavy tests don’t eclipse God’s concern