Lessons from a Humiliated Pharaoh

This is Part 2 of the Series “The Effects of Knowing God” For the previous post, click here.

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What effect does knowing God have on your life? What effect did it have on the Pharaoh of the Exodus account?

Picture in your mind Moses and Aaron in the court of Pharaoh…

A line of foreigners, servants and gifts winds between gleaming pillars of alabaster. Pharaoh reclines lazily on his throne, receiving tribute from conquered lands, Occasionally sparing a glance or a nod for these lesser mortals. As he waves two Ethiopians away, two plainly-clothed men approach the throne carrying no gift at all. One is clothed as a shepherd, the other a slave.

The man on the right squares his shoulders and speaks:

“Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, ‘Let my people go, that they may hold a feast to me in the wilderness.'”

Pharaoh jerks his head back in shock, one eyebrow arched menacingly.

Both feet press into the stone floor as he leans forward. The one on the left looks a little familiar, but it’s unlikely. The man to the right, the speaker, bears all the marks of servitude—the slight hunch of the shoulders, the leathery skin, and the eyes that flicker of fear.

Filthy Hebrews. 

Who is this God they’re talking about? If the Hebrews have a god, he’s certainly weaker than Ra…

Weaker than me, he thinks to himself.

Pharaoh’s mouth curves into a sardonic smile. “Who is the Lord, that I should obey his voice and let Israel go? I do not know the Lord, and moreover, I will not let Israel go.” (Ex 5:2)

Pharaoh is about to get the introduction of a lifetime… Continue reading

The Effects of Knowing God

 

ben-white-131241Do you know God?

In some form or fashion, everyone “knows” God… Continue reading

Finish strong (Day 26 of the #encourage marathon)

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Welcome to the finish line! We made it to the end of our marathon! Continue reading

Run with Endurance (day 7 of #encourage marathon)

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Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.

Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted.

‭Hebrews‬ ‭12:1-3‬ ‭ESV‬‬

It’s Day 7 of our 26-day #Encourage Marathon! One week down! (You can read yesterday’s post here.)

Someone out there is running sluggishly, ready to give up. It might even be you.

The first three verses of Hebrews 12 is a continuation of Hebrews 11, which listed some of those whom I affectionately call the “heroes of faith.” They are witnesses of the power of faith, obedience and endurance. A form of the word ‘endure’ is used 3 times in the first 3 verses of this text. Repetition of a word is a literary device used to emphasize a concept. The author is saying, in effect, “don’t be sluggish, don’t get tired—ENDURE.”

The Hebrew writer encourages us to do three things in this passage to successfully run our race:

Ditch the baggage.

Would you run farther with a heavy backpack or without? Would you run faster with extra weight or without?

While carrying weight for training can increase your strength, it will also wear you out more rapidly. I’m not really a marathon watcher, but I believe that the most I’ve seen those runners carrying are a bottle of water and maybe a phone. Sometimes they have a small fanny pack or belt to hold water/food/etcetera. The water keeps them hydrated, the phone gives them music to keep their mind off the pain. Beyond that, they’re dressed lightly and carrying nothing else. Why? So they can endure to the end of the race. Every additional weight is a liability.

Run your race with God in the same way. Get rid of the sin that wants to hang on. Detach yourself from the physical allurements of life. If we keep trying to take it all with us, we won’t make it.

Endure.

Take time to read Hebrews 11 and take note of who is named:

  • Enoch – walked with God for 300 years (Genesis 5.22-24). It’s hard enough for most of us to do 30-60 years!
  • Noah – built the ark, preached for 100 years.
  • Moses – put up with the Israelites for God’s sake.
  • Joseph – taken as a slave, thrown in prison and still served faithfully
  • Abraham – left everything He knew based on Gods promises and waited two decades to see the promise of offspring.

Also notice how/what they endured in verses 33-38:

  • stopped the mouths of lions (Daniel)
  • quenched the power of fire (Shadrach, Meshach, Abednego)
  • escaped the edge of the sword
  • made strong out of weakness
  • put foreign armies to flight (Gideon, David)
  • tortured
  • mocking
  • flogging
  • chains
  • imprisonment
  • stoned
  • sawn in two
  • killed with the sword
  • Went about in skins of sheep and goats, destitute, afflicted, mistreated… wandering about in deserts and mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth. (most of the prophets including John the Baptist)

Look at the example.

Jesus is the ultimate example of endurance. The passage says, “[Jesus] for the joy set before Him, endured the cross, despising the shame…” I posted about joy being a good motivator on day 4. Jesus knew that there was coming joy, and for it and for us he endured.

Many who teach and speak about acquiring wealth or achieving success often say that the best way to succeed (in whatever goal you pursue) is to read about, listen to, and/or observe those who have succeeded. These examples are not just motivators, but demonstrators. You see how they achieved success and you are thereby able to emulate their behaviors and choices in the hopes that you also will succeed.

Our goal is heaven (and to bring as many with us as possible). Since Jesus achieved His aims with glorious success, He is the ultimate example. Many of the “heroes” listed above were good examples, but they had their shortcomings. Jesus showed neither foible nor failure. He lived life flawlessly. In our race, let’s commit his example to our mind as we run so that we do not grow weary.

Don’t slouch your way through this race. Run it with endurance. And while you’re running, encourage others to do likewise.


I hope you’ll continue to join me on FacebookTwitter and here at Elihu’s Corner for this marathon. Share this verse on your Twitter feed or Facebook page (#encourage). Take time today to copy down this verse for yourself. Send an email or text to someone you know who would benefit from this encouragement.

I’m a little behind on my passage-copying, but I have some time set aside this afternoon to get caught up. I cannot encourage you enough to write down these verses. Studies have shown that the physical act of writing increases retention far more than typing or reading.

[If you click on the link in the above passage, it will take you to BibleGateway.com. From here, you can click a share link which allows you to share directly to Twitter, Facebook or send an email.]

If you missed the original post listing all 26 passages, click here to download the PDF list.

Lord, why did you ever send me? (Moses part 2)

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Yesterday, we looked at Moses and his reluctance to fulfill God’s command. After trying to get out of it, Moses finally obeyed God’s commission and traveled to Egypt.

Moses’ Trust-Training was underway.

Before listing God’s promises and subsequent fulfillment, consider an important piece of information. Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy (aka the Pentateuch) were all inspired by God and written by Moses. He recorded his own foibles in these texts, but there’s more to it than that.

In writing these books, Moses also recorded God’s promises and their subsequent fulfillment.

It is almost impossible to be a writer and be unaffected by the content of your writing. In some way, those words will impact the mind and heart. I am confident that as Moses recorded this narrative in Exodus, he was touched by the sheer number and accuracy of God’s fulfilled promises and prophecies. Recalling what God had done surely trained his mind to trust in the Lord and the veracity of His word. Moses knew that if God made a promise or prophecy, He would see it fulfilled no matter who or what tried to interfere.

With all that being said, here is a list of the things God promised and prophesied in chapters 3 and 4 of Exodus along with their subsequent fulfillment:

  • Promise: 3:12 – “this shall be the sign for you, that I have sent you: when you have brought the people out of Egypt, you shall serve God on this mountain.”
    Fulfillment: Exodus 19
  • Promise: 3:16-18 – “Go and gather the elders of Israel together and say to them, ‘The LORD, the God of your fathers… has appeared to me… and they will listen to your voice.”
    Fulfillment: 4:29-31 – “Moses and Aaron brought together all the elders of the Israelites, and Aaron told them everything the Lord had said to Moses. He also performed the signs before the people, and they believed. And when they heard that the Lord was concerned about them and had seen their misery, they bowed down and worshiped.
  • Prophecy: 3:19 “But I know that the king of Egypt will not let you go unless compelled by a mighty hand.”
    Fulfillment: 7:13-14, 23; 8:15, 19, 32; 9:7, 12
    “But Pharaoh’s heart was hard and he would not listen, just as the Lord had said.” (8:19)
  • Promise: 3:20 “So I will stretch out my hand and strike Egypt with all the wonders that I will do in it; after that he will let you go.
    Fulfillment: The Ten Plagues, Exodus 7-12
  • Promise: 3:21-22 “And I will give this people favor in the sight of the Egyptians; and when you go, you shall not go empty, but each woman shall ask of her neighbor, and any woman who lives in her house, for silver and gold jewelry, and for clothing. You shall put them on your sons and on your daughters. So you shall plunder the Egyptians.
  • Fulfillment: 12:35-36 “The Israelites did as Moses instructed and asked the Egyptians for articles of silver and gold and for clothing. The Lord had made the Egyptians favorably disposed toward the people, and they gave them what they asked for; so they plundered the Egyptians.”

That’s FIVE promises/prophecies that God gave to Moses, and they were ALL fulfilled, just as God said they would be. I know that the list is a bit tedious to read through, but it really makes the significance of God’s trustworthiness POP! And, as I said above, Moses wrote this all down. He could see, in retrospect, what the Lord had done not just for the Israelites, but for him as well. God had demonstrated his faithfulness over and over and over.

And yet….

Before the Ten Plagues even had a chance to happen, Moses hit a snag with Pharaoh and the Israelites. Pharaoh was offended that Moses dare to ask the for the Israelites to go and worship, so he creates more work and toil for the Israelites. Moses immediately doubts himself:

“O Lord… Why did you ever send me?” (6.22)

Immediately God replies:

“Now you shall see what I will do to Pharaoh…” (7.1)

And Moses did. Repeatedly. Plague, after plague.

By the time the Israelites were delivered, Moses had great confidence in the Lord. He was put to the test when the Israelites found themselves trapped—the ocean in the front, the Egyptian army behind, and mountains on both sides.

Moses says to the people (who are crying out in terror):

Fear not, stand firm, and see the salvation of the LORD, which he will work for you today. For the Egyptians whom you see today, you shall never see again. 

The LORD will fight for you, and you have only to be silent.”

Exodus 14.13-14

Moses finally understood that he could trust in the Lord, no matter how dire and desperate the situation.

He finally saw that if he but trusted in the Lord and obeyed his commands, great things could be accomplished.

Are you plagued by doubt today? You may be asking, as Moses did, “Lord, why did you bring me here?” I have asked that question of the Lord more times than I care to admit. He does not always give us the why, and that is when we need to rely on the trust that He has developed in us through His word, through prayer, through renewal and through praise.

If you are doubting the power of the Lord, take time to write down all the times when God has taken care of you. Write down answered prayers. I mentioned this in a previous post on prayer: a friend of mine recommended writing prayer requests on an index card and then, when the prayer is answered, filing it behind a “fulfilled” tab to see the results of God’s care pile ever higher.

Read. Pray. Renew. Praise. Repeat.

Solid Trust requires training.

Let us press on to know the Lord and trust Him completely… no matter how inadequate we may feel for the task.

Lord, please send someone else…

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In the previous posts on Gideon, we examined how Gideon was trained to trust in the Lord step by step. Today, let’s look at Moses.

Gideon and Moses have a few things in common.

1) God saw the potential in both men even though they did not.

2) They were both a bit scared of carrying out God’s commands.

3) Both were trained to trust.

Moses is one of the most highly respected men in history. His commendations include:

  • Author of the Pentateuch.
  • Hero of Faith (Hebrews 11)
  • Lawgiver
  • Meekest Man on Earth.

In light of all those glowing accolades, it’s rather surprising to think that he was actually afraid to carry out God’s command.

Exodus chapter 3-4 records God’s first meeting with Moses. As always, I suggest reading the chapters for yourself to get the full context.

Moses was tending his sheep when suddenly he saw a strange sight. It was a bush engulfed in flames but not consumed. That got Moses’ attention. When God sees Moses turn to check out this strange sight, he speaks through the bush. After a few brief words of introduction and explanation, the Lord says to Moses:

Come, I will send you to Pharaoh that you may bring my people, the children of Israel, out of Egypt.” (Exodus 3:10)

I can just picture Moses with a mixed look of terror and shock on his face…

But Moses said to God, “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the children of Israel out of Egypt?” (Exodus 3.11)

Even though Moses had been brought up in the house of the Pharaoh, he had given all that up. He was only a humble shepherd now. He did not see what God saw.

[God] said, “But I will be with you, and this shall be the sign for you, that I have sent you: when you have brought the people out of Egypt, you shall serve God on this mountain.” (Exodus 3.12)

God never gives a command and says, “Good luck! You’re on your own!” To Gideon, he said, “The Lord is with you, O mighty man of valor.” To Moses, he says, “But I will be with you…”

Do you ever feel like God is asking too much of you at a given time?

My friends, whenever God asks us to do something, He promises to be there every step of the way. These accounts in the Bible are there to teach us the faithfulness of God and how He cares for those who follow Him. We simply need to trust and obey. This is why reading the Bible daily is so important. It helps us develop our trust in God’s promises.

Leading hundreds of thousands of slaves out of most powerful nation of the known world is no mean feat. This is a monumental task! Moses is plagued by uncertainty, but God will train him to trust.

In chapter 4, Moses makes two excuses as to why he may not be the best candidate for the job. After each excuse, God provides a way around the self-perceived weakness.

Excuse#1: They won’t believe me.

Then Moses answered, “But behold, they will not believe me or listen to my voice, for they will say, ‘The LORD did not appear to you.’” (4.1)

Moses is saying, “Lord, if I go, they’re going to think I’m making this up!”

God is ready with an immediate solution. He has Moses actively participate in 2 miracles: Moses’ own staff turns into a serpent and then back into a staff, and Moses’ hand becomes leprous and then clean once more. Then God tells Moses, “if they still don’t believe, you will pour out water from the nile on to the ground and it will turn to blood.” Miracles in the Bible are often used to confirm that a person is sent from the Lord and that their message is true.

Excuse #2: I am not a good public speaker.

God is ready with another answer:

“Who has made man’s mouth? Who makes him mute, or deaf, or seeing, or blind? Is it not I, the LORD? Now therefore go, and I will be with your mouth and teach you what you shall speak.” (Exodus 4.11)

God is, in effect, telling Moses, “You just saw 3 miracles. I am the Lord that does those miracles. I am the Lord that made the mouth of man. Do you honestly think I can’t help you communicate My words to Pharoah? Don’t you trust Me?”

Finally, Moses can see that he is not going to get out of this commission using his excuses, so he says,

“Lord, please send someone else.”

Have you ever felt that way? Maybe you’ve even communicated those very words to God in prayer.

How many times do we find ourselves engulfed in circumstances that seem unmanageable? How many times are we called to do something and we just don’t see how we can accomplish it? As with Moses, God will never call us to do something and then abandon us. He will always be there to strengthen us, help us, and—best of all—be with us.

We are all called to different tasks during different seasons of our lives. It could be that in this season of life you are called to change diapers, wipe noses, kiss bruises and—above all—nurture a helpless little child. It could be that you are caring for an elderly parent that may or may not be a pleasant patient. Maybe you are working 12-hour days doing stressful or unpleasant work to provide for your family. You might be the student working full-time and schooling full-time with sleep and study crammed in between. Maybe you are called to be single and you aren’t sure how to cope with the loneliness. We often look at people like Moses and think that our job is unimportant by comparison. God has given you and me an appointed task for today. We need to carry it out with joy and diligence no matter how big or how small it may seem.

Above all else, we need to trust Him to provide what we need to accomplish our commission.

I love this quote from Elizabeth Elliot:

“This job has been given to me to do. Therefore, it is a gift. Therefore, it is a privilege. Therefore, it is an offering I may make to God. Therefore, it is to be done gladly, if it is done for Him. Here, not somewhere else, I may learn God’s way. In this job, not in some other, God looks for faithfulness.”

Elisabeth Elliot

Moses asked God to send someone else, and unsurprisingly, God became angry. God provides one more solution: Aaron, Moses’ brother is a good speaker. I’ll tell you what to say, you pass it along to him and he will speak for you. Stop making excuses and get moving. (my paraphrase)

According to Exodus, Moses doesn’t say anything else, but as we read further, we see him proceed to carry out the command of the Lord.

The training of Moses has begun.

Tomorrow, I will list out the promises that God makes to Moses in chapters 3-4 and their subsequent fulfillment so that we can see with clarity how Moses was trained for the enormous task of leading the people out of Egypt and all the way to Canaan.

Do not be discouraged, my friends. Give your tasks to the Lord. Don’t ask someone else to do what has been appointed to you. Trust God to give you what you need to carry it out.

~Elihu