Know that I am the LORD
Key Verse: chapter 6:7a “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.”
If I make a brief summary on today’s passage, the story will be like this: Moses challenged Pharaoh by saying, “Let my people go.” But Pharaoh did not show any respect to the words of God.Rather he oppressed the Israelites harshly. Then Israelites began to blame Moses and almost cursed him. (5:21) After being rejected by Pharaoh and the Israelites, Moses cried out to God. God encouraged him and sent him again to Pharaoh. And after that, God sent him again and again more than ten times until the end of Exodus chapter 12.
A question came to mind. “If God is almighty, why didn’t he rescue his people in one blow? Why did God send Moses again and again so that people might think that God only barely rescued them from Egypt?”
When we are in a troubled situation, all our concerns are focused on getting out of the difficulties or to get something from God. However, God’s concern is different from ours. God’s concern was not taking the Israelites out from slavery as quickly as possible. God wanted to fulfill his purpose through the process of rescuing Israelites from the Pharaoh’s grip. We can find that purpose through today’s passage.
- Pharaoh and Egyptians need to know that God is the LORD.
Look at 7:5. “And the Egyptians will know that I am the LORD when I stretch out my hand against Egypt and bring the Israelite out of it.” Israelite is a descendant of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, who are the fathers of faith. They were chosen by God to bless all the other people on earth by being a holy nation and a kingdom of priests. However, their faith was not influential to the Egyptians at all. Rather they themselves were deeply influenced by the Egyptian idols. Israelites were miserable slaves in Egypt. It was impossible for them to be freed from their slavery. However, God wanted to demonstrate “who the LORD is” to the Egyptians by bringing the Israelites out of Egypt.
Chapter 5 starts with the word “afterward.” Afterward means that Moses and Aaron gained trust from the elders of the Israelites after performing signs. They acknowledged Moses and Aaron as their leaders and servants of God. With great courage, Moses and Aaron went to Pharaoh and proclaimed the message of God. “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.’”(5:1b) What was Pharaoh’s response? Look at verse 2. “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.” Who is Pharaoh? He is the absolute power in Egypt. He regarded himself as a son of god. Egypt was the most powerful nation at that time. They had the most advanced technology including science and math. They built a huge pyramid, which is today one of the 7 wonders of the world. Delta deposited from the Nile River brought an abundant harvest. Mummies they made more than 3000 years ago are still preserved. Egypt had so many gods, which they thought were much more superior to the God of Israel. (slide : the idos of Egypt) Therefore, Pharaoh had no reason to listen to God’s words or acknowledge him. However, God sent Moses again and again to Pharaoh with the mighty signs so that he and all the Egyptians might learn who the LORD was.
There are so many Egyptian-like people in this world. Sometimes, they say that they are atheists although they have many idols in their lives. They say, “ where is God, show me.” They may be very successful, rich and influential in society. Sometimes, we are like miserable slaves compared to these people, where we work every day from hand to mouth. However, God is also the God of Egyptian-like people. God wants to demonstrate “Who the LORD is” to them by using the ordinary people like us. Even though we don’t have millionsof dollars, we have heavenly peace that no one can take away or buy with money. We have the hope of the kingdom of God, which is ever increasing, not fading away when time passes by. These are real wonders of God that Egyptian-like people can never taste or possess.
Do you know that Egypt was one of the centers of early Christianity? Alexandria in Egypt was the place where the Old Testament was translated to Greek, which was Septuagint. Egypt was a majority Christian country between 11th and 14th century before the Muslim’s invasion. Many Coptic Christians are killed by Muslims these days in Egypt. Overall in history, God’s purpose was fulfilled.
Then, what should we do? How can we help the Egyptian-like people to know God? Do we have to persuade and convert them to Christianity? Look at 6:29. “he said to him,”I am the LORD. Tell Pharaoh king of Egypt everything I tell you.”God said to Moses, “Tell Pharaoh king of Egypt everything I tell you.” God said, just tell him. Telling is not persuading, not pleading, not negotiating, nor compromising. Even though we tell them, they are not going to be changed right away. However, in God's time, God will show them signs and wonders with his mighty hand. We just need to tell them. Just telling itself is not a difficult thing. The difficult thing is our life style. We should live as an instrument of God. They should be able to see that “God is the LORD” through our lives.
< >The Israelites need to know that God is the LORD.Moses! Know that I am the LORD
God also wanted his servant Moses to know who the LORD is. It required a great courage for Moses to challenge Pharaoh at the beginning. However, he was rejected by Pharaoh on the spot and also by his people again. Moses was so discouraged. Look at 5:22,23. “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.”
We understand Moses’ hardship. However, what Moses was saying to God sounded like whining. His protest to God can be shortened with three words; ‘why’, ‘why’, ‘at all’. No one can be a champion with a onetime match. Although Moses was already wonderful and a fully devoted servant of God, his understanding of God was not deep enough. God wanted him to grow as a spiritual champion. Look at 6:2. “God also said to Moses, “I am the LORD.”Look at verse 6:28,29a. “Now when the LORD spoke to Moses in Egypt, he said to him, “I am the LORD.” Whenever God spoke to Moses, God started the conversation by saying, “I am the LORD.”
The more Moses challenged Pharaoh by obeying God’s command, the deeper he experienced God. When he experienced God deeper and deeper, his motivation and relationship with God was changed. In the beginning, his concern was taking the Israelites to the land of Canaan. But later, in Exodus 34:13, he confesses to God:“If you are pleased with me, teach me your ways so that I may know you.” He also pleaded to God in Ex 34:18. “Now show me your glory.” Moses’ prime concern became God himself. His earnest concern became to see the glory of God. God was pleased with this Moses. God spoke to Moses face to face as a man speaks with his friend.(Ex 33:11a) This is what God really meant when He said, “know that I am the LORD.” Knowing God is different from knowing about God. We may know many things about God through Bible studies, but we might not have any relationship with God unless we obey his words.
God wants us to know God himself, his being, not the benefits that come from him. Sometimes we feel that life is boring. While we repeat the same thing every day, we are gaining more grey hairs and losing the excitement of life. However, when we struggle to know God, we can experience the new joy of discovering God himself, experiencing the power of his words, and growing in building our character. May the LORD bless us to have this desire.“LORD, I want to know you.”
Here, I want to think about God’s promises. Look at Ex6:4, 8. “I also established my covenant with them to give them the land of Canaan, where they lived as aliens.” “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.” God explains the reason he tries to rescue the Israelites. It is because he make a promise to the patriarch. Abraham never asked God to give him a promise. God is always the one who gives us the promise and binds himself to that promise. This is the only way God can save sinners. If God’s salvation depended on human condition, no one could be saved. We cannot change nor negotiate the promise of God. We are only the beneficiaries of the promises of God.
In today’s passage, we can see the arrogance of Pharaoh. Moses was too weak. The Israelites were filled with unbelief. Situations were not favorable at all for God to save the Israelites. However, God keeps his promise because He is the LORD. This principle is applied to us in the same way. Although we are weak and not worthy in many ways, God saves us based on his promise. Our salvation does not depend on our goodness, but depends on God’s faithfulness. And this gives us hope in God. When we acknowledge our weakness, and follow God’s leading through obedience, God completes the salvation work in us.
In conclusion, we are on the journey to spiritual Canaan, which is the heaven that Jesus promised. This journey is a spiritual battle and doesn’t finish within a one round match. Many sufferings and frustrations will shape us and lead us to know that God is the LORD. Our life goal shouldn’t be just getting into heaven. Knowing God, Knowing Jesus should be our goal. Heaven is not our final destination. It is the new beginning. Jesus promised that he will surely come again. He said in Jn14:3 “And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.” Do you know how many promises Jesus made? I don’t know. Why don’t we count it by reading the whole gospel book in January? Let’s remember Jesus’ promises. Let’s remember his faithfulness. May the LORD bless us to have the desire to know that God is the LORD.
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